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Today’s Amazon exclusive on Einstein’s books should make you question the purpose of copyright

Amazon announced today that they had scored another ebook exclusive. Open Road Media have just signed a contract with Amazon to provide 7 recently converted books written by Albert Einstein. The seven digital works that will be exclusive to the Kindle Store are:

  • "Essays in Humanism": An inspiring collection of the great thinker’s views on a rapidly changing world;
  • "Essays in Science": An homage to the men and women of science, and an exposition of Einstein’s place in scientific history;
  • "Letters on Wave Mechanics: Correspondence with H. A. Lorentz, Max Planck, and Erwin Schrödinger": A lively collection of Einstein’s groundbreaking scientific correspondence on modern physics with other contemporary giants in his field: Schrödinger, Planck and Lorentz;
  • "Letters to Solovine: 1906-1955": A provocative collection of letters to his longtime friend and translator that spans Einstein’s career and reveals the inner thoughts and daily life of a transformative genius;
  • "Out of My Later Years: The Scientist, Philosopher, and Man Portrayed Through His Own Words": An inspiring collection of essays in which Einstein addresses the topics that fascinated him as a scientist, philosopher and humanitarian;
  • "The Theory of Relativity and Other Essays": E=mc2: It may be Einstein’s most well-known contribution to modern science, but how many people understand the thought process or physics behind this famous equation?
  • "The World As I See It": A fascinating collection of Einstein’s observations about life, religion, nationalism, and a host of personal topics that engaged the genius’s intellect.

So here’s a guy who has been dead for 55 years, won’t benefit from this transaction, and yet his works are still under copyright rather than belonging to us all. How is that right? What’s worse is that if you read over that list, you’ll see how little copyright matters to the creation of these works. Did he write the letters or essays because he planned to make a profit on them?

This is one of those rare occasions where I can’t help but feel that some publishers are ghouls, picking over the bones of the dead.

via Amazon

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Christopher Harris March 14, 2011 um 10:49 am

Even worse, these are another seven books that will be unavailable to libraries in an electronic format.

Nate the great March 14, 2011 um 11:13 am

That’s an even better point.


Mike Cane March 14, 2011 um 12:09 pm

Hey, there’s lots of money to be made on the backs of dead writers. Just ask Google.

Nate the great March 14, 2011 um 12:50 pm


good one

Gary March 14, 2011 um 1:22 pm

This article made it to the Zite technology section.

karen wester newton March 14, 2011 um 9:03 pm

You can blame Disney for this one. As the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney’s death approached, the corporation pushed to get copyright extended from "life+50 years" to "life+75 years." That’s the reason why so many books are public domain in other countries but still copyrighted in the US.

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