Saturday, March 27, 2010

Divers and Sundry Words on The Podcast

Among other chores, I am redeeming this afternoon's unexpected solitude (Laurie has been called away to a baby shower) by choosing the material for my next podcast. In doing so, a few items have sprung to mind for me to address on this blog.

The first is that I haven't really explained the concept behind the podcast in detail. The podcast is simply me reading classic literature aloud for the amelioration of the general public. It is entirely plausible and not outside the realm of what has been discussed under my roof that in the future I may have another podcast of original material, much like an audio version of this blog. But as for now, I am reading aloud classic literature for people to listen to and enjoy.

Here's where you come in (don't worry. I'm not about to ask you for money.) Outside of the cost of the adapter, I haven't had to spend cent one on this podcast and therefore have no losses to recoup. Likewise, I am making no money off of it. Now, my understanding of copyright laws is VERY loose and full of hearsay, so I may be wrong in this.  As I understand it, a work of art becomes public domain somewhere around 95 years after publication or death of the artist or something like that. A quick spin around Google and Wikipedia pretty much tells me "playing it safe" means works before 1923 (which, if I also understand it, mainly boils down to long and high paid legal battles to keep day-cares from being able to paint Mickey Mouse on their walls.)

Since I'm not making any money off of the podcast, I'm not exactly sure how that works except I think it's safe to assume I can't legally read aloud a current NY Times Bestseller and offer it for free. To make a long story short, and since I'm announcing here and now that my interest in the subject of the longevity of copyright laws will pretty much cease when I click the publish button on this blog post, that means that I will only be reading works from works published before 1923. Unfortunately, people who I would love to read like George Bernard Shaw have such a confusing mix of UK and US copyrights at present that I think I would be safer and calmer if I just resolve to read only works published before 1923 (and, as years go by, bumping the date forward as we go I suppose.)  I think that's basically safe.  Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that means, in Shaw's case, we're fine to read from Back to Methuselah (published in 1921) but we dare not read from Saint Joan (published in 1923.  Which is unfortunate as it is a wonderful piece.)

And then there is the weird world of translations!  But don't let's further muddy the waters at the moment.  We'll worry about that as need arises.  And, as I'm sure you've all figured out by now, by "we" I mean "me."

Fortunately for our purposes, this leaves us with still a VAST pool of great literature to work with. In fact, if we choose to be optimists, we could make a fine argument that this means we will only delve into time-tested classics.  Let's pretend that's the case!

And, contrary to what I said two paragraphs ago, here is actually where you come in.  I will take requests although I will also retain veto power. 

Oh, by the way, that's Alexander Woollcott up in the picture there.  I doubt the photograph is public domain, so let's keep this whole conversation under our hats, eh what?

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