[Marxism] Lawrence & Wishart: despicable bourgeois profiteers

Joaquín Bustelo jbustelo at gmail.com
Sat Apr 26 04:36:51 MDT 2014


On 4/25/2014 8:56 PM, michael yates wrote: "Can comrades explain to me 
what is so outrageous about the publisher's defense of its actions?"

Sure.

Lawrence and Wishart have just proved themselves to be opportunist 
bourgeois profiteers pimping of the workers movement by denying people 
access to works from a century and a half ago so they can extort money 
from, in the last analysis, college students or taxpayers.

Michael Yates hints that he might be OK with it because they 
co-published some book about a strike a hundred years ago.

Oh! I almost forgot. Eleanor Marx was involved. In the strike, not the 
book, but --perhaps-- that makes L&W A-OK.

Unbelievable.

Maybe Michael Yates should post to a Tea Party list, where bourgeois 
property has more respect, instead of this one, where I hope bourgeois 
"intellectual property" doesn't have quite the same standing.

Information wants to be free, especially if it can help working people 
understand the nature of the system so we can smash it.

David Walters and the MIA have NO CHOICE but to respect this bourgeois 
"intellectual property," or the MIA would be shut down. So I totally 
understand and support them in their stance of respecting bourgeois 
"intellectual property," including making nice-sounding diplomatic 
noises about copyrights, the DMCA, and so on.

But the rest of us are not under those constraints. People should 
download the material to be censored and share it as widely as possible, 
especially through torrents, which are a very efficient means of 
distribution, and through "darknet" sites, though that is quite a bit 
more complicated.

*  *  *

I'm not just  being ornery or ultraleft. This is the right policy, the 
right response, to a bourgeois publisher who PRETENDS to be an ally to 
the socialist movement, but instead seeks to EXPLOIT working people when 
the opportunity arises.

The argument is that the translations are "new," even if the works are 
old, and copyright fees are just because the people who made these new 
translations have to be paid royalties is 1,000% bogus.

Find me the translator who says they're getting royalties from sales of 
Marx and Engels translations and I'll show you a liar. Or any translator 
of ANY work. Apart from Gregory Rabassa, the translator of Gabo's One 
Hundred Years of Solitude, and one or two others, any translator who 
claims he or she has received one cent from royalties AFTER the initial 
fee is lying.

I've been translating "professionally" (i.e., for money) for more than 
four decades, and Rabassa is the only one of our tribe that I've ever 
met who got post-publication royalties. And as someone who has been and 
continues to be a "content creator," I totally support writers, actors, 
and everyone else like that who is involved in actually creating "works 
of authorship" getting paid.

But PUBLISHERS (whether known by that name or others, like Hollywood 
studios, record labels, TV networks, web sites, content aggregators, or 
whatever), are parasites. They are the ENEMIES of content creators 
(authors, translators, editors, film makers, etc.). In the real world, 
the monopoly that copyright law grants benefits THEM much much more than 
it does US, and is even a weapon used against us. The media monopoly 
mafia use their hoards of "copyrights" to tell us we either sell to them 
cheap, or we won't sell at all. They have tons of content that they 
already own and they don't needs ours.

And because they own the distribution channels, the threat is quite 
credible.

In practice, this works out to the overwhelming majority of content 
creators being forced to work under conditions where their EMPLOYER, a 
corporation, is the "author," and the actual creative human beings have 
no rights, none whatsoever, under copyright law.

This corporate monopoly has been based on the capitalist's control of 
the means of producing and reproducing works and distributing them.

What gave rise to this sort of copyright law is the printing press. You 
need to be a capitalist to have one.

We journalists know that "freedom of the press belongs to those that own 
one," but the same is true of copyright. Copyright belongs to the 
capitalists, to the bourgeoisie.

Digital technology and especially the Internet has given regular people 
--us-- tools to begin shattering that monopoly. David Walters and his 
friends in the MIA deserve credit for using those tools to give untold 
millions of people access to something that belongs to everyone.

Now, some will say that a publisher, even in this day and age, needs to 
recoup their investment in these "new" translations, otherwise there 
will be no more.

But in the REAL world, a publisher pays for a translation on the basis 
of the expected sales of a book over at most 2-3 years. The reason for 
that is simple, and mathematical. The money paid out for a translation 
is an investment, and the value of that investment compounds over time. 
Because it is a risky investment, it needs to have a high rate of 
return. Either you make back the money very quickly, or after a few 
years a $10,000 investment needs to yield double, triple or quadruple 
that figure (or even more).

Why? To compensate for inflation, pay for the publisher's bets that 
didn't work, provide the "normal" rate of return for a "safe" long-term 
investment and provide a hefty premium on top of that since this isn't a 
safe investment.

But these MECW works aren't five or ten years old, they were done 
DECADES ago. And they were not done as a profit-making capitalist 
venture. The technology available in those days did not allow massive 
free distribution, but the intent was clear from pricing that was a 
small fraction of comparable academic editions of other works from 
previous centuries.

Claiming bourgeois "intellectual property" rights on these works to put 
them behind a pay wall after they have been freely available for many 
years is obscene. L&W's suggestion that this will somehow preserve or 
guarantee the access to these works is ridiculous. There would be 
countless academic institutions quite willing to host the entire corpus 
for free, if given the chance.

What L&W are doing is pure and simple rapacious corporate profiteering 
by executives who had NOTHING to do with these editions, who contributed 
absolutely NOTHING, but now want to put them behind a pay wall, to 
pocket the profits.

So fuck them.

Let's pirate, not just the M&E collected works, but EVERYTHING under the 
imprint of these profiteering scumbags.

BOYCOTT anything you have to pay L&W for, unless you're accessing it to 
pirate it.

Joaquín




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