When Pirates Ruled America

Andrew AlbaneseAs the e-book price-fixing trial opened this week in Manhattan, attorneys quizzed attorneys – with predictable results, notes Andrew AlbanesePublishers Weekly senior writer. First in the witness box was Apple’s associate general counsel Kevin Saul.

“His testimony had all the thrills you might expect from watching one lawyer depose another lawyer,” Albanese tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally. “Saul was tedious, and if not evasive, then clearly reluctant. He relied heavily on ‘can you repeat the question?’”

Ahead of the American Library Association annual meeting in Chicago – one of the book world’s top drawers – Albanese previews an interview with Robert Spoo, Chapman Distinguished Chair at the University of Tulsa College of Law, whose latest book, Without Copyrights, details a country where copyright piracy ruled – the US in the late 19th century.

“At that time, U.S. copyrights did not extend to foreign authors,” Albanese explains. “Thus, the modern American publishing industry was built on, well, piracy! Only it wasn’t truly piracy—because the publishers were free under the law to take foreign works and reprint them without paying the authors royalties. But it certainly did chafe with the popular writers of the day, including Charles Dickens, Sir Walter Scott, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and George Eliot, to name just a few.”

Every Friday, CCC’s “Beyond the Book” speaks with the editors and reporters of “Publishers Weekly” for an early look at the news that publishers, editors, authors, agents and librarians will be talking about when they return to work on Monday.

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