Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns



I have my new Kindle.  I sit in my study at home and every morning I read my Columbus Dispatch and Washington Post and Nepszava, as well as some blogs.  And of course, some books, any time I feel like it.  While I don't read everything on my Kindle, I use it to read the fat books (Burlingame's Lincoln, for example), and those that I want immediately in hand (takes less than a minute to download a whole book!) because I am thinking about something the book ponders (Ryan and Cantor's Young Gun's).  It goes almost without saying that I have many other books on it, from Shakespeare (all of it) to Jane Austen to Tolstoi to Yeats, to the Bible  I read into these anytime I feel like it, in airpots and planes, and in my car waiting for snowstorms to calm.  Now I know I will never be stuck without a book ever again.  I promised this to myself during those lonely ten hours at at the Agra airport in 1987.  I have been carrying books around ever since and that's why I have had to use chripractors from time to time.  Now I just carry my Kindle.  And I am still  amazed by this great gift.

Bill Buckley used delight in talking about his visit to the University of Salamanca, the second oldest university in Europe.  There was a room, not much bigger than my study at home, which housed the entire known literature of the West, as of the 13th century.  The monks and scholars entered the room to do their studying.  But they were notified by a sign above the arch, a bull of excumminication, signed by Pope Gregory IX: Remove a book from that library, and you go to hell.

That there are now more than one copy of each book is self-evident.  That this is a great good is self-evident.  It is good thing to remind ourselves of this massive fact, from time time.  And we should be grateful that we have full access to the human mind, almost the whole of it, at any time, in any place.  This is amazing.
Categories > Leisure

Discussions - 8 Comments

The family has been asking what to get me for Christmas. That's what I want, "full access to the human mind, almost the whole of it, at any time, in any place."

Thank you.

Well said, Dr. Schramm.

I've been eying those new Kindles for a while now, especially now that I've found out that there are around 33,000 books for free for the Kindle through Project Gutenberg (, including Plato, Aristotle, Thucydides, Cicero, Machiavelli, Locke, Hume... even some Mikszath :-)

I'll still stick with my paper books and live to "make love to them" as I once heard a slightly plump, but very witty and knowledgable Hungarian scholar of Lincoln once say. But, as an author, I certainly don't care what format people choose to buy my books in. As long as there are real books around for me to read during the course of my lifetime.

As one who has gotten into the habit of reading in bed, and preferring lighter books, Kindle is clearly the better alternative. BTW, it is amazing that so much of the world's most beautiful music is so readily available, even if it is surrounded by a lot of noise. Whenever I go to a child's dance recital (many over the years) I marvel at the huge selection which dance directors have to choose from. Maybe Irving Kristol was too miserly to give only "two cheers for modernity."

Of course, Kindle books can't be legally "shared" unless you lend someone your Kindle. One of the wonderful parts about owning a book is that you can give it to someone else (with your notes included). With the Kindle books, you are simply leasing them from Amazon. While they might provide a great deal of convenient access, they also limit your actually "owning" of the material itself.

That's copyright law Matt!

Even if you buy a book in hardcover, you don't "own" the material itself. If you give the book to someone else you no longer have a copy of it yourself.

You don't have the right of re-publication, or the right to make copies, or even the right to make derivative copies with (your notes included)...hence copy-(right). Who has the right to make copies? The author or the publisher the author liscensed his bundle of 17 USC 106 rights to.

Otherwise, Tony Williams is an author...he labors to create a book.(cost of creation?=$50k) once he makes a copy...cost of electronic duplication=(free+ fixed cost of USB memory stick.)

Actually as an author Tony Williams should care about what format people choose to buy his works in... once his book hits...PDF...forget ever getting money for it.

Amazon makes the Kindle, and Amazon also helps police copyright violations. It is much safer to sell your books in Kindle format and have the IP team at Amazon help to police your copyright. On the other hand if you are looking for mass pirateing(free regardless of public domain) it is probably better to buy a device like the Kobo and just go with all PDF(if the device is not wifi, then someone can't win a case against Sony, Amazon and Apple and force them to delete your illegal copies.)

Actually since copyright is only granted for a limited time, there should be a massive number of titles in the public domain... but Gutenburg needs to be careful because the University of Chicago press will not be happy if there are a lot of Tamas Bako's running around, or if an author's copyrighted version of a public domain book, ends up being copied.

There are a lot of books in the public domain that are actually copyrighted...some author writes a foreword, changes the cover art, puts it in a modern font and makes a few word changes for readibility...not to mention works that are translations.

For example: WK Marriot's translation/version of Machiavelli's "The Prince"-Public Domain.

Harvey Mansfield's translation/version of Machiavelli's "The Prince"-Copyrighted/owned by the University of Chicago Press.

Take the would think that it would be out of copyright.

The King James Version- Public Domain.

NIV- Copyright owned by Biblica Inc.

The Jefferson Bible- Public Domain(if you can find it, I found a public domain that was hypothetically copyrighted..)

But... The Life and Morals of Thomas Jefferson-Copyright Classic Books International.

I am tempted to write a parody on someone sharing the gospel using while using the exact words of the NIV version...being sued by Biblica Inc for copyright infringement, and loosing a fair use defense because they took the "heart of the work". Then a counter suit, based upon a reliance interest that the words of jesus were acurate and thus factual, and thus not copyrightable, because not subject to a modicum of creativity. Then a suit by a person who believes the bible is the literal word of god, and that the courts rulling is an establishment of religion, because by seperating out a copyrightable elements from non-copyrightable elements in effect answers a theological question concerning what parts of the bible are factual. Finally a Supreme Court case that says that Copyright law cannot protect the rights of biblical authors/scholars in new versions of the bible, without running afoul of the establishment clause.

Not that Biblica Inc is ever likely to sue you for pirateing its copyrighted NIV version, but it is true that copyright only allows you to share with a group of friends, the group of friends cannot be the public. To share or perform the work publicly you need a liscense, or else you are pirating the 106 rights of the author.

But what if a team of radical legal scholars conspired to pirate copyrighted versions of the bible across the world, performing it publicly as well, and made translations into foreign languages(unliscensed derivative products) and spread these as well?

John, yes, the implicit caveat is that I don't care what format it is . . . as long as my copyright/intellectual property is protected. If all books were free, I would stop writing.

Even if you buy a book in hardcover, you don't "own" the material itself.

I can re-sell a book. I can't re-sell an E-book.

It's two very different things: I can either 1) own a material object with content in it that I have autonomous control over (i.e. I can burn it, scribble on it, etc.) or 2) buy an E-book, which is bound to be protected by a DRM scheme and can be remotely taken from me, altered, or copied. A book also does not track my reading habits. Moreover, should you want to read your E-book on another machine, you very well might not legally be able to because of its DRM.

Actually as an author Tony Williams should care about what format people choose to buy his works in... once his book hits...PDF...forget ever getting money for it.

That is absolutely not true. If the MP3 business has taught us anything, it's that convenience can always produce more consumers than something being free. I can get any music I want through bit torrents (and PDFs, to be honest). But a lot of the time (most of the time) it's a huge pain in the ass. I usually just click that button in iTunes before I think to launch waffles or utorrent or frostwire.

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