Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Galassi to Krozser to Chance

This is another rescued comment: Kassia Krozser (whom I often grumble about -- she's very Pollyanna-ish on e-books -- but is always worth the time to read) poked at Jonathan Galassi's recent New York Times Op-Ed piece on e-books, William Styron, and Open Road Integrated Media, and I had to throw my two cents in as well (mostly agreeing with her) --
Galassi really did get himself into a thicket there, didn't he? As other people have pointed out various places, he essentially argues that reprints by other publishers are immoral, which I don't think he expected to do. After all, how is Open Road all that different from the Library of America's publishing program, or a new edition of an old book from Penguin Classics or NYRB Review Press? He's arguing that all exploitation of a literary work, in any form, is the right of the original publisher -- presumably, that would apply to dramatic rights as well, and any other rights anyone can think of, now or in the future.

Damningly, he's also silent on the fact that the publisher-author relationship is governed by a contract -- both parties have rights and responsibilities, specifically enumerated in a legal document that they both agreed to. Instead, he does have a seigneural view of publishing -- of the publisher as the lord who deigns to publish a work by some lowly scribe, and should benefit from his munificence forevermore.

Even worse, there's now a correction -- Random House wasn't the original publisher of Styron's first book, so Galassi's argument -- such as it is -- would seem to indicate that Random shouldn't have any right to that book, since they didn't originate it.

Sloppy, sloppy thinking on his part there -- and you're very right to shine light on it and start to poke holes in his very flimsy arguments.


The Brillig Blogger said...

I'd taken a poke at this piece as well; also noticing the absence of the word "contract" anywhere therein. Can look at the Five Paragraph Essay - Not post on my blog.

The Brillig Blogger said... to give the direct link.

C.E. Petit said...

What I find funniest about the whole thing is that it represents a return to the pre-Statute of Anne (that is, seventeenth-century!) notion that authors don't own their works -- their patrons do. That is, Galassi wants to be Sam Goldwyn.

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