The MIA, the Barnesites and Trotsky

Juan Fajardo fajardos at
Thu Oct 26 01:08:55 MDT 2000

"Jose G. Perez" wrote:
> Pathfinder has either paid for or otherwise obtained the rights to
> publish these works in English from the holder of the copyright over the
> original works.. The copyright in a translation of a work is derivative from
> and subordinate to the copyright of the original work, assuming the original
> is still copyrighted.

Before I say anything else, I first want to make it clear that this is a
personal statement and that I do not want this to be taken as an
"official" statement or position of the MIA --that follows below this

How Pathfinder is run internally is not the issue, but the politics of
the matter are part of the problem.  One should be able to expect
socialist organizations to treat each other with at least a modicum of
comradeship, especially when the work they both do (e.g. disseminating
the works of revolutionaries) is in line.  Many in the MIA have not had
contact with the SWP except via print, but a portion of us who live in
the USA not only have had contact, but have belonged to it, to its youth
organizations, and have maintained positive feelings toward it despite
political or organizational differences, and have publicly defended the
SWP, even on this list.  The MIA would have gladly welcomed
collaboration with the SWP and Pathfinder as it has sought and
maintained collaboration and contacts with groupings around the world,
and I daresay we stil would.

Had Pathfinder or the SWP approached the MIA directly instead of using
big-muscle lawyers as intermediaries, if they had approached in a
comradely spirit, this would have been resolved I am sure to their
satisfaction and no one would have ever heard of the matter.

But hurt feelings are not the crux of the  matter.  As Jose points out,
it is a matter of copyright.  While we may question the "owning" of
revolutionary ideas, the MIA does not question that the Pathfinder holds
the copyright to its translations of Trotsky's works.  That's why we
removed the items they requested from our archives.  However, there is a
question of whether Pathfinder actually "owns" all that it claims to.

The MIA tries to take care to avoid violating copyrights and seeks the
earliest public domain sources for its texts as it can find.  That is
for the protection of the archive, for the protection of the text, and
is good research practice, although we quite clearly goof sometimes.
In any case, because of that practice, a number of the items in question
came from now-defunct periodicals of the Left Opposition, some of which
belonged to groups which broke with the SWP (e.g., the
"Shachtmanites").  Pathfinder is now claiming to "own" those words,
perhaps on the basis of later reprints by them or because of James
Cannon's personal association with Trotsky, or whatever.  So, while we
recognize Pathfinder's copyright over its work, including translations
of Trotsky, we question its apparent assertion to ownership over the
entire corpus of the Left Opposition.

 - Juan Fajardo


October 12, 2000

Herrick, Feinstein, L.L.P.
2 Park Avenue
New York, New York 10016

Attn: Mr. Rand

RE: Reply from Marxists Internet Archive to Complaint from Pathfinder

Dear Mr. Rand:

Like you, we would like to resolve this matter amicably. For this
reason, we have removed the material to which Pathfinder claims
copyright from our site, pending our investigation into the legal and
other aspects.

Of course, this action doesn't mean that we accept Pathfinder's claims
of copyright ownership on all documents. It is noted that on your list
of documents you enclosed with your letter included several documents
from "Founding of the Socialist Workers Party." These documents
themselves come from a now defunct 1938 journal entitled "Socialist
Appeal." We question Pathfinder's ability to own a copyright on this
publication or its contents.

Per your request of a full accounting of all sales of our CD the results
of this, which are public and available on our web site, are listed at
the end of this letter.

We are consulting with our legal advisors and will get back to you soon
if we have any more questions. Please feel free to write me at this
e-mail address or the above post office box if you have any further
questions or comments.

If you have any questions concerning this matter, please feel free to
contact me.

Very truly yours,

David Walters,
Director, Marxists Internet Archive

cc: Michael Smith, Esquire
35 Vessey Street
New York, New York 10007

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