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Mark Twain To Reveal All After 100 Year Wait

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the bruce-willis-is-dead dept.

Books 298

Hugh Pickens writes "The Independent reports that one of Mark Twain's dying wishes is at last coming true: an extensive, outspoken and revelatory autobiography which he devoted the last decade of his life to writing is finally going to be published one hundred years after his death. Twain, the pen name of Samuel Clemens, left behind 5,000 unedited pages of memoirs when he died in 1910, together with handwritten notes saying that he did not want them to hit bookshops for at least a century, but in November, the University of California, Berkeley, where the manuscript is in a vault, will release the first volume of Mark Twain's three-volume autobiography. Scholars are divided as to why Twain wanted his autobiography kept under wraps for so long, with some believing it was because he wanted to talk freely about issues such as religion and politics. Michael Shelden, who this year published Man in White, an account of Twain's final years, says that some of his privately held views could have hurt his public image. 'He had doubts about God, and in the autobiography, he questions the imperial mission of the US in Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines,' says Shelden. 'He's also critical of [Theodore] Roosevelt, and takes the view that patriotism was the last refuge of the scoundrel. Twain also disliked sending Christian missionaries to Africa. He said they had enough business to be getting on with at home: with lynching going on in the South, he thought they should try to convert the heathens down there.' Interestingly enough, Twain had a cunning plan to beat the early 20th century copyright law with its short copyright terms. Twain planned to republish every one of his works the moment it went out of copyright with one-third more content, hoping that availability of such 'premium' version will make prints based on the out-of-copyright version less desirable on the market."

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298 comments

Adding to the Speculation (4, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324186)

He had doubts about God ...

Indeed. See his later books like Letters from the Earth [google.com] and The Mysterious Stranger Manuscripts [google.com] (claymation here [youtube.com] ).

Twain also disliked sending Christian missionaries to Africa.

Oh I think that's putting it rather lightly. After reading about Twain's efforts to in King Leopold's Ghost [wikipedia.org] , I read Twain's King Leopold's Soliloquy: A Defense of His Congo Rule [montclair.edu] in which Twain rips the Belgian King Leopold II apart (in my opinion the farce Twain made of Leopold is better than the more direct Crime of the Congo by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle). We seem to think that human rights and anthropology are modern day efforts when historically artists like Twain were very politically active and quite in tune with the truths of corrupt governments (the United States notwithstanding).

I assure you that in Twain's mind at the time of his death, he had many issues that he held from his writings -- most likely because he felt we weren't ready for that level of truth yet. Really the only question for me is whether or not he still felt the need to drench these memoirs in satire and wit when a hundred years from then he can just out and out straight to your face tell you what he feels as he recounts his life. I'd imagine he knew that saying some of this stuff one hundred years ago would be career ending or life threatening ... and not until those involved, lampooned and criticized are long gone would the world be ready for this. This will most likely prove to be a delicious read indeed.

Re:Adding to the Speculation (4, Insightful)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324204)

Mark Twain had to have been one of the coolest guys who ever lived.

Re:Adding to the Speculation (1, Offtopic)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324242)

...not as cool as Lemmy who, for one, doesn't intend to dictate his vision of freedom and, for two, plays the best rock'n roll that is.

Re:Adding to the Speculation (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32324260)

I don't know. I always thought Carl was cooler than Lenny.

Re:Adding to the Speculation (4, Informative)

bigredradio (631970) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324318)

On the surface. Apparently he was a poor husband and neglectful father (It was in some documentary on PBS I saw years ago. Maybe Ken Burns.)

Re:Adding to the Speculation (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32324446)

Can't all be Jesus

Re:Adding to the Speculation (5, Insightful)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324540)

There are plenty of good husbands and good fathers in this world. There are very few writers of his calibre however. Saying that he was only a great man on the surface because he wasn't a great family man is like saying Alan Turing wasn't all that great because he was rubbish at water polo*.

For all I know Alan Turing was great at water polo, my point is that it is irrelevant.

Re:Adding to the Speculation (0, Offtopic)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324638)

For all I know Alan Turing was great at water polo, my point is that it is irrelevant.

There's no reference to water polo in his biographer's homepage.

Most probably because his prowess was such that any mention would steer the biography away from the purely "math guy" approach.

Re:Adding to the Speculation (5, Funny)

AGMW (594303) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324772)

There's no reference to water polo in his biographer's homepage.

Most probably because his prowess was such that any mention would steer the biography away from the purely "math guy" approach.

As I understand it Alan Turing did try water polo once but he pleaded with the powers the be that the sorrowful occasion be omitted from all records as it was such an unmitigated disaster. The horse drowned.

Re:Adding to the Speculation (0, Flamebait)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324714)

Alan Turing was rubbish at water polo, but I hear he played a wicked game of Marco Polo.

Re:Adding to the Speculation (4, Interesting)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324812)

There are plenty of good husbands and good fathers in this world. There are very few writers of his calibre however.

And these sets seem to have less overlap than simply statistics would suggest. Genius, and devotion to the pursuit of where that genius leads them, often result in someone who has many problems in other areas of life. Hell, just artists and writers in general whether genius or not tend to have these kinds of problems.

In other news, while Vincent Van Gogh may appear to have been a brilliant artist, did you know that in reality he was basically a raving lunatic not to mention quite an asshole? Yep, it's true. All those emotions you felt looking at Starry Night were actually invalid. Who knew? Science did, that's who.

Re:Adding to the Speculation (5, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324822)

There are plenty of good husbands and good fathers in this world. There are very few writers of his calibre however. Saying that he was only a great man on the surface because he wasn't a great family man is like saying Alan Turing wasn't all that great because he was rubbish at water polo*.

Not really. I know very few people that measure a man's greatness based on his water polo skills. But if you're not a good husband and father to the people you promised to be a good husband and father to, then you have lost a significant amount of respect from me.

If we said he was a "great writer," that's fine. But calling him a great man because of his writing is not merited, unless as a society, we actually want to ignore "humanity" faults in a person because of his literary work. Personally, I'd much rather have a great guy (great "man") as my neighbor than a great writer.

With all that said, I don't know much about him as a person, so I don't know if the original claim is true or not :)

Re:Adding to the Speculation (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32324888)

And what about good mothers and wives? In the last 50 years the emphasis on the women's role in the family has been downplayed significantly. All people ever talk about is men, completely disregarding the destruction of families taking place as women seek divorces and full-time employment at their children's and family's expense.

Re:Adding to the Speculation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32325430)

full-time employment at their children's and family's expense

Yet people continue to sell houses priced at such a level that not having two incomes comes at the "children's and family's expense". Or is little Timmy and little Tammy sharing a bedroom not such a bad idea?

Sure, daddy could rip the entire family from its roots and move somewhere "affordable"... assuming he can get a job in one of those little towns where a mortgage on a family sized house is reasonable. But hey, moving around every few years to chase the perfect (salary / living expense) ratio is totally not at the "children's and family's expense".

Re:Adding to the Speculation (4, Insightful)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325108)

How many lives has he touched with his brilliant writing? His writings have had an unmeasurable positive impact on the world and to ignore that seems almost criminal to me. "Just a great writer" does not really do justice to how good he was. His works aren't just nice stories, they are full of powerful and relevant social commentary as well, which was not lost on his readers at the time.

I'm not attempting to downplay the harm caused by being a negligent father but everyone has flaws. If we ignore the achievements of men because of their supposed shortfallings in other areas, then nobody is a great man, and what exactly does that say about society? And for what it is worth, he publicly stated on at least one occation that he supported extended copyright terms because it would allow his work to financially support his family after his death. Perhaps he wasn't a great father/husband, but it certainly doesn't sound like he created enough harm to outway his literary and intellectual accomplishments.

Re:Adding to the Speculation (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32325112)

You should probably rinse the sand out of your vagina and lie down until the irritation goes away. Maybe eat some chocolate.

Re:Adding to the Speculation (4, Insightful)

Ltap (1572175) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325152)

Ultimately, it's a question of priority. People have to sacrifice their family life and hobbies to concentrate on their great work, which is why so many writers have had terrible lives. It's better that Twain gave us something that will last us through the ages (his words) than to have been another generic family man.

As a competitor to Bill Gates, Mark Twain failed (5, Interesting)

Latent Heat (558884) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325306)

Mark Twain aka Samuel Clemens was a person who came from a humble background and married into wealth, but his appetite for the fine things that money could bring exceeded whatever came his way by way of his wife's family.

Having worked as a newspaper "printer's devil", he saw his path to the riches required for the life style to which he had become accustomed in the Paige Compositor -- essentially a Victorian Era version of MS-Word implemented largely in hardware, making "leveraged" investments in this invention.

The Paige compositor failed in the marketplace, more sophisticated than its competitor the Linotype -- kind of like the tale of a "death march" failed software or computer hardware project some 100 years later. Twain lost all of his money and then money he didn't have. To make good on his debts, he went on a worldwide lecture tool, essentially doing impressions of Hal Holbrooke pretending to be Mark Twain.

Not only did the speaking fees from this grueling tour pay back his debts in full and then some, it made him immortal. Were it not for the fame of the speaking tour and connecting with audiences around the world with his personal appearances in a day before TV and cable and talk shows, he may as well been forgetten as many a 19'th century humorist.

So remember, what made Mark Twain a household word even into the 21'st Century was one, the man's greed, and two, an antecedant to the personal computer.

Re:Adding to the Speculation (2, Insightful)

ultramk (470198) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325344)

Oftentimes, it seems like people who've significantly changed society or our culture for the better turn out to be difficult (at the very least) interpersonally. I'm not saying it's impossible for people to be great in every way, but it does seem uncommon.

Personally, I tend to judge people in a simple way: balancing their private and public lives, has the person made the world significantly better overall? In Twain's place, I would judge yes. Maybe he was a jerk in to his family or kids, but it seems like he wasn't SO MUCH of a jerk that it wipes out his other contributions. For a ridiculous contrast, look at that Rieser guy who murdered his wife and thought he could get away with it: sure, he came up with a file system people seemed to like, but his psychopathic behavior aside from that totally wipes out any good feelings I could ever have had about the guy.

I mean, can't you think of anyone who you totally respect, even though they have serious personal flaws that probably made people living around them miserable?

Nobody is perfect (1)

aepervius (535155) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325450)

By using your definition anyone could use *some* defect in anybody to destitute them from being "great men". I don't care shit that people were not great husband or father (and many will probably do too), as somebody said there is aplenty of them, so why should your definition have ANY bearing ? Heck some people might object declaring somebody a great man or woman because of their religious belief. Try picture "charles Darwin" a great man for some cultural group... [b]Somebody (man or woman) which research/scientific discovery/writing/philosophy/politics/whatever enhanced humanity's culture in a good way, is a great man, independently of his familial success[/b]. "we actually want to ignore "humanity" faults in a person because of his literary work" Indeed we do, and we routinely do so. Because what define a great man, is not being a good neighbour or a good dad. It is doing something great for humanity at large.

wrong example (1)

aepervius (535155) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325490)

Darwin was a christian, put instead anybody else atheist , or non christian. You get my drift on the definition of "great men".

Re:Adding to the Speculation (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325562)

Great men contribute great things to humanity as a whole, while good men provide for their friends and families. I was a good father, but I'll never rise to Twain's greatness; he gave mankind something unique and priceless. I was a good father, but the best I can hope for is that one of my kids (or yet to be born grandkids) becime great due to my parenting.

Re:Adding to the Speculation (4, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324848)

Saying that he was only a great man on the surface because he wasn't a great family man is like saying Alan Turing wasn't all that great because he was rubbish at water polo*.

Plenty of kids and neighborhoods are all the worse because of negligent/never_there fathers. No one grew up harmed because someone wasn't a good water polo player.

Re:Adding to the Speculation (2, Informative)

Machtyn (759119) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325014)

Unless their father was a terrible water polo player and ended up sucking too much water.

Re:Adding to the Speculation (1)

Wiarumas (919682) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325566)

I think this is pretty subjective and largely dependent on the individual's standards of what a good father should do/be. A negligent father that provides for their kids is not a good father, but is also not a bad one. Unless his wife and kids have suffered grave emotional and physical distress, then I wouldn't reflect his personal life's shortcomings onto his contribution to society via his writing.

Re:Adding to the Speculation (1)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325224)

Apparently he was a poor husband and neglectful father

Yeah, but Clementine managed to deal with that -- oops, sorry, thought you were talking about Winston Churchill.

rj

Re:Adding to the Speculation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32324392)

Mark Twain also secretly claimed to despise Internet narcissists fascinated with their own username.

Re:Adding to the Speculation (5, Insightful)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324416)

Whatever the substantive motives for the delay in publication are - that's probably also a nice publicity stunt; viral marketing is...old again?

Re:Adding to the Speculation (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325526)

Whatever the substantive motives for the delay in publication are -

He probably just wanted to make damn sure no one was still alive who could contest his version of his life when it was published.

Re:Adding to the Speculation (3, Informative)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324460)

For another good look at Twain's world view regarding mankind and religion, I'd say read What is Man? [gutenberg.org] .

Re:Adding to the Speculation (4, Funny)

Eil (82413) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325250)

I think I read that one, but the only line that I can remember from it is, "a miserable pile of secrets."

Re:Adding to the Speculation (3, Interesting)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324624)

...drench these memoirs in satire and wit...

I certainly hope so.

Re:Adding to the Speculation (1)

Bob-taro (996889) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325468)

I'd imagine he knew that saying some of this stuff one hundred years ago would be career ending or life threatening

I wonder why he'd want to wait until 100 years after his death to publish it, then? Wouldn't his death immediately make those issues moot?

Republishing and copyright (5, Insightful)

nolife (233813) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324264)

Twain planned to republish every one of his works the moment it went out of copyright with one-third more content, hoping that availability of such 'premium' version will make prints based on the out-of-copyright version less desirable on the market."

Exactly why the limits SHOULD be less then they are now. Back then, the length of the copyright period was actually promoting the publishing of new material.

alternatively... (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32324346)

...holding back "premium" material for the purposes of beating copyright. Imagine if DaVinci Code was released as a series every other year (if copyright ended 2 years) just to "renew" it.

Re:alternatively... (3, Insightful)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324580)

Nothing wrong with episodic content. I know at the very least a good deal of great Sci-Fi novels were first published one chapter at a time in SF magazines. If you don't make the first "episode" worth it, then nobody will bother with the rest.

Of course I get what you are driving at, having people fawn over Dan Brown every other year would get pretty tiring. ;)

Re:alternatively... (4, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324642)

I imagine if that were the case, massive numbers of readers would boycott Davinci Code. Although, is that really any different from how series like Babylon 5, Lost, and Stargate SG1 operate? You don't get the whole story at once... it's stretched out over 5-8 years.

Also: I think you misinterpreted Twain's point. He didn't "hold back" anything in his stories. He was simply planning to add more material, as a bonus. Since he died, that never happened.

Re:alternatively... (0, Troll)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324728)

You mean like every other book series on the market? You mean like serials published in magazines?

Re:alternatively... (1)

Draek (916851) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324808)

Well, if the content was good (see also: Asimov's Foundation) we'd get more content every other year, and if the content sucked (see also: Star Wars movies) we'd get the parts that didn't suck into the Public Domain available to all. It's a win/win scenario.

Re:alternatively... (4, Insightful)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324820)

That would actually work well, since it would not protect the version as released, only the additions to the work. People can still freely use the old version as-is, or even as a basis for their own derivative works.

If you want to continue profiting from your intellectual property, release a new version every few years that's better than the one you released before. People can then choose between the older version (which is free of copyright encumbrance) or the newer version (which you've put work into to make it more desirable than the old version). Just make sure you do it better than anyone else, because the instant copyright runs out anyone can use it as the basis for new art.

This is the way it should be. If you want to keep getting paid for something you wrote 50 years ago, then you should keep working on it and improving it. Your older versions (for what is not currently, and should be, a reasonable definition of "older") should be available for everyone after you've had a reasonable amount of time to profit from it. "Years" is reasonable. "Generations" is not.

Re:Republishing and copyright (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32324434)

It's damn lucky some bright entrepreneurs were able to pass these new laws so the industry doesn't have to deal with that whole "contribute new content or you won't get any money" racket that society had going.

Olden days... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32324484)

In the olden days, authors games the law; they may not like the law, but still obeys the letters of the law. Today publishers BUY the law; they write them and their politicians force them upon the populace.

Re:Republishing and copyright (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324898)

Exactly why the limits SHOULD be less then they are now. Back then, the length of the copyright period was actually promoting the publishing of new material.

Given the great gushers of new material being published per annum, current copyright doesn't seem to be doing any harm on that front. So, what exactly is your point?

That is a pretty good quote (4, Insightful)

bigredradio (631970) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324276)

patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel

Especially when discussing the Patriot Act. Just saying.

Re:That is a pretty good quote (4, Informative)

Jake73 (306340) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324504)

Penned by Samuel Johnson, actually. Not sure if the Shelden got his Samuels mixed up or if he was just saying that Clemens shared the thought that originated with Johnson.

But yea. Good quote.

Re:That is a pretty good quote (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32324868)

Penned by Samuel Johnson, actually. Not sure if the Shelden got his Samuels mixed up or if he was just saying that Clemens shared the thought that originated with Johnson.

But yea. Good quote.

Am I the only one who read that as Samuel Jackson at first? Actually, sprinkle in a few motherfsckers and I'd believe it!

Re:That is a pretty good quote (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324800)

It is a great quote. But it is also an extreme simplification and like most things best taken with a grain of salt.

Re:That is a pretty good quote (2)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325314)

The USA PATRIOT act had nothing to do with patriotism. They applied the acronym to hide the things they were doing in it to subvert freedom.

Re:That is a pretty good quote (4, Interesting)

Frequency Domain (601421) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325326)

I actually disagree with the quote. My observation is that patriotism is the first refuge of the scoundrel. Just look at how many current politicians try to wrap themselves in the flag. When people are attacking their opponents for not wearing a flag lapel pin, I take it as a direct admission that the attacker doesn't actually have anything of substance to contribute.

Wow! Just... wow! (4, Insightful)

jd (1658) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324302)

"Twain planned to republish every one of his works the moment it went out of copyright with one-third more content, hoping that availability of such 'premium' version will make prints based on the out-of-copyright version less desirable on the market."

If he was actually writing that additional content afterwards, he invented Release Early, Release Often.

If the content actually existed and it was a cynical ploy to sell more products, he invented the model Microsoft uses.

In either case, this puts his business acumen over half a century ahead of anyone else. That's genius.

Re:Wow! Just... wow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32324560)

Shame he didn't patent it THEN.

Re:Wow! Just... wow! (5, Funny)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324578)

Sadly he didn't secure a business model patent.

Re:Wow! Just... wow! (2, Funny)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325056)

All I've been saying since the late 90's is that George Lucas wasn't that original with bonus content re-releases.

For the record, his stance on copyright (5, Informative)

WillAdams (45638) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324334)

from a speech which he gave before Congress:

http://www.bpmlegal.com/cotwain.html [bpmlegal.com]

William

Re:For the record, his stance on copyright (5, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324696)

"I like that extension of copyright life to the author's life and fifty years afterward. I think that would satisfy any reasonable author, because it would take care of his children."

Sorry Mr. Twain but I don't think your daughters should be able to live in luxury, without working, while they collect money off your books for another 50 years. If you want to pass your existing money to them, that's fine, but the copyright should end the moment you die. Let your daughters go-out and work for themselves if they want to continue collecting money.

Copyright is intended to benefit the original laborer, not to set up an eternal money-making machine for people who did not do the original labor.

Re:For the record, his stance on copyright (2, Insightful)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324798)

A reason that copyright extends past death is to discourage murder to get access to copyrighted material.

Re:For the record, his stance on copyright (4, Funny)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325058)

A reason that copyright extends past death is to discourage murder to get access to copyrighted material.

That sounds more like a movie-plot risk than a serious concern.

The politicians sold you a line of BS there (5, Insightful)

FreeUser (11483) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325070)

A reason that copyright extends past death is to discourage murder to get access to copyrighted material.

I'm sure that's the spin policymakers put on it when they deformed copyright law. A better approach to discouraging murder would be to have set copyright terms...which coincidentally, was what we used to have. It used to be you could tell if a work was in copyright or not by looking at the copyright notice, subtracting it from the current year, and seeing if the result was greater than the copyright term. If you want the equivalent of "life plus fifty years" to benefit the kids, make copyright equal to the median life span + 50 years, and make that the set term. If you want more innovation, reduce that back to something reasonable, like 20 years.

Making copyright life+50 to avoid a mass of murdered authors is bullshit...that problem goes away as soon as you decouple copyright from an author's demise, as was its original implementation (in the US at least...in the UK, the earliest forms of proto-copyright went on forever, and some works still fall in the category).

Re:For the record, his stance on copyright (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32325164)

What a shitty reason.

Re:For the record, his stance on copyright (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325286)

Making it life + anything doesn't really help there. There's still an incentive to kill the author as soon as he stops regularly producing new work. Shorter terms provide a better incentive to keep creating. I have absolutely no sympathy with the idea that your descendants should get money from the work - if you want to provide for them, invest some of the royalties, or give them a decent education so they can earn their own money.

Re:For the record, his stance on copyright (1)

Hogwash McFly (678207) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325404)

That doesn't make sense. If copyright expires at the time of the creator's death then the copyrighted work becomes public domain. So who, exactly, is going to murder somebody just so that everybody (including competitors if we are talking about corporations here) can use the material freely? It's not like you get awarded the intellectual property rights of your murder victims. In what kind of situation would somebody murder a copyright holder to get 'access' to their work? Where's the incentive?

The only possibility I could foresee is if a beneficiary knocked off somebody that had written copyrighted works into their will, although that's no more encouraged by copyright expiration upon death than normal probate law encourages murder when people know they are written into a will.

Re:For the record, his stance on copyright (4, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325418)

A reason that copyright extends past death is to discourage murder to get access to copyrighted material.

Here's the choice:

1) Expiration at death -> Murder to put something into the public domain where EVERYBODY has access to it.
2) Expiration after death -> Murder by a family member to get control of the income from the copyright today

Seems to me that copyright extending past death is much more of an incentive for murder than it is against it.

Re:For the record, his stance on copyright (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32325294)

Copyright is intended to benefit the original laborer, not to set up an eternal money-making machine for people who did not do the original labor.

This is why death taxes, despite the scary name, are a great idea. Eternal money-making machines for people who do nothing of genuine value are bad.

Re:For the record, his stance on copyright (3, Interesting)

Derek Pomery (2028) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325088)

"I made an estimate some years ago, when I appeared before a committee of the House of Lords, that we had published in this country since the Declaration of Independence 220,000 books. They have all gone. They had all perished before they were ten years old. It is only one book in 1000 that can outlive the forty-two-year limit.

Therefore why put a limit at all? You might as well limit the family to twenty-two children. "

Which is interesting, since, our problem now is the many many many works that have not disappeared, that cannot be used by new authors.

That and concept of corporate ownership which he didn't seem to really be concerned about (Disney).

http://randomfoo.net/oscon/2002/lessig/ [randomfoo.net]
http://www.law.duke.edu/cspd/comics/zoomcomic.html [duke.edu]

Re:For the record, his stance on copyright (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325402)

Cool -- thanks for the link! The quick summary, for those who aren't going to read the whole speech, is that he wanted copyright to be a permanent property right, but since that was unconstitutional, he wanted it to last as long as possible. He makes the argument that putting a shorter term on copyright, such as the 42-year term they had at the time, is pointless, because so few books remain in print after 42 years. He claims that at that time less than 100 authors or descendants of authors in the US had ever benefited financially from a book that was more than 42 years old. Since there are so few of them, he claims that no harm is done by letting copyright last long enough to provide an income for their children. It's still true today that a copyrighted work's chance of remaining profitable for more than a few decades is virtually zero. But a lot of things have changed since the 19th century. The amount of copyrighted material is vastly greater. We have, say, Winnie the Pooh -- I don't know how much money Disney makes from Pooh merchandise every year, but I'm sure it's a lot of money. I don't know what the commercial situation was for sheet music copyrights in the 19th century, but America's only indigenous art form, jazz, relies heavily on a shared vocabulary of "standards." If a group of serious jazz musicians get together, one of them can call a tune like "Green Dolphin Street," or "A Train," and they're all supposed to know the changes and be able to start playing it. Because of our screwed up copyright system, these standards are never, ever going to come into the public domain. Even really square old tunes from 1923 are still under copyright, and I'm sure that Congress will keep extending their copyrights until after I'm dead.

A hundred years (5, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324344)

Please don't read the rest of this post until a hundred years after I'm dead.

-----No reading below this point-----

You all suck.

Cheers,

-----No reading above this point (in case you're reading this upside down while you drive in circles with an IPad on the steering wheel).-----

Re:A hundred years (2, Funny)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324662)

Wait, so if I read that upside down I'm allowed to read only the comment that we all suck and nothing else? Reminds me of the signs saying "no smoking outside this building".

Re:A hundred years (1)

Ogive17 (691899) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325184)

I got pulled over by a rent-a-cop (was in an apt. complex) years ago for driving the wrong way on a one way street. I told him I never saw the sign and asked where it was, he pointed to the sign sitting at the end of the road that is only visible if you enter the road from the correct direction. Then I just said "that's stupid, I'm going now" and pulled away.

He'd probably taze me if I did that now... oh for simpler days.

Re:A hundred years (5, Funny)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324804)

I picked up my monitor and rotated it around.

Screw you too.

Not all that exciting or new really. (4, Interesting)

Gavin Scott (15916) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324350)

From what I've been reading, all this material has been available for a long time to anyone who wanted to visit the library that holds it, and multiple biographies and even "autobiographies" have been published using information from it.

So there are unlikely to be any shocking new revelations here.

People will just get a chance to read things in his own words rather than the paraphrasing of a biographer.

G.

Of course... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32324364)

this being Slashdot, everything must automatically connect back to copyright law.

Re:Of course... (3, Insightful)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324752)

Of course, what part of "news for nerds, stuff that matters" don't you understand? While Twain is certainly worthy of an article in his own right, slashdot in general is a community that is very interested in copyright law. This makes sense since OSS/FOSS and copyright law are very much related. If you want articles that focus purely on literature, then I suggest you look elsewhere.

Re:Of course... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32325260)

Slashdot has only been interested in all this boring copyright junk in the last few years. Before that, it was a proper technical site where people discussed interesting things (and I don't mean Ubuntu).

It really just illustrates the shift to a more casual readership. Copyright bullshit is easy to debate, as anyone can sound like an authority with only a minimal bit of reading. Plus it appeals to the culture of entitlement that seems to have infected university-aged people nowadays.

The truth comes out! (4, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324444)

We finally get to hear his side of the story of meeting Guinan and Data.

Re:The truth comes out! (2, Funny)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324646)

And surely this will create some problems for him in the distant future, when his adversaries on the Riverworld have the benefit of such complete knowledge of his beliefs.

Re:The truth comes out! (1)

ratnerstar (609443) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324844)

And see how he really felt about James Bond [achewood.com] .

Re:The truth comes out! (1)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325296)

...and Peter Jairus Frigate.

rj

Mark, meet George (4, Funny)

dafz1 (604262) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324450)

"Twain planned to republish every one of his works the moment it went out of copyright with one-third more content, hoping that availability of such 'premium' version will make prints based on the out-of-copyright version less desirable on the market."

So George Lucas didn't come up with this first. Not that it makes it ok.

Re:Mark, meet George (5, Funny)

Loadmaster (720754) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324614)

Yeah, but Twain was trying to increase the value of the work not decrease it.

Re:Mark, meet George (2, Interesting)

orthancstone (665890) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324870)

Indeed, it seems Twain beat the movie industry at its own game. VHS->DVD->BluRay upconverts and "bonus content" releases? That's so 1900.

Re:Mark, meet George (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32325068)

I doubt that Twain had a Jamaican golden retriever-gecko side-kick planned for Huck.

It Wasn't withheld for the Political Views (3, Interesting)

tobiah (308208) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324496)

Mark Twain/Samuel Clemens didn't make any secrets about his political views. If there were personally damaging revelations in there (criminal or moral confession) I could see insisting it only be published after his death. But 100 years later? The only reason I see for that is the autobiagraphies contain socially damaging information about people who were close to him, so that it might not only hurt them but their descendants.

Re:It Wasn't withheld for the Political Views (1)

Galactic Dominator (944134) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325352)

He was a public figure. Controversial views can easily damage public opinion of someone if they are trying to appeal the mainstream. See Michael Jackson, Tom Cruise etc. My understanding of his late life jottings is that he did have plenty of secrets about his personal views. His more popular works obviously covered a wide spectrum, but he didn't often blatantly criticize he felt were absurd. Instead he wrapped his criticisms in humor and innuendo, letting the reader explore the view in a more self discovering manner.

Sadly, I don't think 100 years was enough as US has regressed enough in it views in the last 10 years to put us right at the trailing edge of Clemens era again in many ways.

FIRST POST, 1910 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32324498)

MAY 1910

REFRAIN FROM POSTING UNTIL 2010. AT THAT TIME, FORWARD TO SLASH DOT DOT ORG.

AC

PS PLEASE REPEAT THIS PARAGRAPH IN LOWERCASE TO BYPASS LAMENESS FILTER.

ps please repeat this paragraph in lowercase to bypass lameness filter.

ps please repeat this paragraph in lowercase to bypass lameness filter.

But will it (1)

Crash McBang (551190) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324558)

Be in 3D and have a tie-in to LOST?

Copyrights (2, Interesting)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324576)

ok, he wrote this thing over 100 years ago. So, who owns the copyrights to it?

Re:Copyrights (3, Funny)

Loadmaster (720754) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324658)

I'm not sure, but judging by the history of copyright laws I'd say no one/public, or Disney.

Re:Copyrights (3, Informative)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324664)

Nobody. Even if you were using today's rules, it's life + 70 years, which means that it would have expired 30 years ago. That makes this public domain.

Re:Copyrights (2, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325384)

Copyright extends from the date when it is published, not from when it is written (which is much harder to prove). The question is whether handing it over to UCB counted as publication - probably not, in which case the copyright is owned by whoever owns the physical manuscript.

In most cases this makes sense. Copyright doesn't exist to encourage people to write, it exists to encourage them to publish their writings and you shouldn't get any benefit from it if you are not publishing (DRM-locked distribution channels and regional distribution agreements violate the spirit of this).

Re:Copyrights (2, Interesting)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324712)

Nobody. It's before the existence of Steamboat Willie, and all the retroactive copyright extensions start right about there for some reason [opensecrets.org] .

Re:Copyrights (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32324734)

Interesting question. Does the copyright date take effect from when it was penned, or from when it was released? If it is the latter, surely his estate will hold the copyright. If it is the former, one can only assume it will be public domain the moment it is released.

Lost (2, Funny)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324690)

This is actually his "spoilers" on the "Lost" show. He was the original author of that too, but didn't want it to be shown on TV until now. He was too ashamed to admit that he wrote something that bad while he was alive.

Interesting (2, Insightful)

calderra (1034658) | more than 4 years ago | (#32324796)

"...and takes the view that patriotism was the last refuge of the scoundrel". Mark Twain, 1835 to 1910. World War I, 1914 to 1918. Imagine if work like this would have been taken seriously back then.

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32325454)

Assuming wide-spread adoption (global), then WWI wouldnt have happened either, because nobody would have been raised up by nationalist fervor.

Patriotism fueled the assassination of the arch duke. Patriotism fueled the angry mobs of people which flocked to war after said assassination.

I'd say Mr Twain has it right on the money.

"Doubts about God"? (1)

whitroth (9367) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325000)

Perhaps, for those who can't wait, you should read his Letters From The Earth, published 30 years after his death....

A paraphrase, Lucifer writing to St. Pete: these folks think that there's no sex in heaven... and those who hate utterly boring sermons and harp music are really looking forward to an eternity of that"

                  mark

Nothing shocking, probably. (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325002)

Samuel Clemens was a hell of a salesman.

He's going to be dead, he's not going to a dime of those sales.

However, if he puts his writings on hold for 100 years, then, well, that's a bit more of a sale than if he simply sold them posthumously.

NIKOLA TESLA (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32325012)

Mark Twain was one of the few good friends of NIKOLA TESLA. He got access to many machines and experiments of Tesla. Who knows, maybe something interesting will be included in the autobiography... provided it won't be edited by the same FBI officers who took away all Tesla stuff after his death...

Mod Samuel Clemens +5 insightful (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325032)

I have always enjoyed his works and his point of view. Calling "patriotism the last refuge of the scoundrel" is a statement that is true in our times and should have been stated 10+ years ago even though I doubt it could have stopped the invasion and occupation of Iraq or Afghanistan.

As far back as the beginning of the 20th century, the color of the hat of the U.S. shifted from white to grey... and lately from grey to black. In my opinion, this is simply tragic.

Because... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32325212)

He came from the future in to the past through LHC.
He didn't want them to come out until LHC was nearly ready to go in to full swing.

He placed a bet on LHCs first find so he can get the money in the future and so he can stop himself going back and breaking the loop ONCE AND FOR ALL.

Smart move! (1)

challman1 (1647351) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325414)

So he proposed a scheme that the pharmaceutical companies use today; take a protected work (drug) and modify it just enough as to make it a (derivative) new product and enjoy the benefits of the new span of copyright protection.
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