(Note the inscription: His work liveth for evermore. Sadly copyright restrictions have made that an ironic statement. But today we can begin to breathe new life into his writing!)
Public Domain day is the day when works fall out of copyright into the public domain. That means the works can be republished without paying copyright to authors/estates. While you may think that copyright is an important protection for an author (and indeed it is while they are alive) all too often keeping their work out of the public domain for half a century just means they become forgotten. The exceptions are those works which large publishers are prepared to put money into. Leatham doesn’t fall into this category. You might also think it’s only right and fair for the descendants of a writer to benefit from the royalties copyright provides – but again, after 50 years in reality this link has often been broken. Copyright exists these days mainly as a protection for the publishing business than for authors and it certainly can work against open dissemination of our written cultural heritage.
In 1996 the UK switched its copyright period from authors death +50 years to +70 years which meant that all the works of authors who died between 1925 and 1944 went back into copyright, and that the work of writers such as James Leatham, who died in 1945 did not come into public domain in 1996 but had to wait until 2016. In the case of Leatham this means that for nearly 70 years his work has been all but unobtainable.
But today’s the day. Today Leatham’s work becomes public domain and that means we can republish it. Sadly, in America they have frozen public domain until 2019 (in order to protect some ‘important’ that means ‘bankable’ works such as Disney!)
To celebrate this momentous day, the recently relaunched Deveron Press, has brought ‘Daavit’ back into print in a new paperback edition. You can buy it direct from the unco bookstore HERE
During 2016 Deveron Press will be republishing more of Leatham’s work. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the founding of The Deveron Press (May 1916-2016) we will be republishing Leatham’s classic political work ‘Socialism and Character’ – first published 1897 as well as publishing Leatham’s unfinished autobiography ’60 years of World-Mending’ for the first time. Later in the year we will republish Bob Duncan’s Biography ‘Leatham: Socialist Pioneer’ in a new paper and digital edition as well as Leatham’s biography of William Morris.
And if that’s not enough, to get as much of Leatham’s work out there as we can, we’ve re-established his Gateway Journal as an online monthly magazine, in which you’ll be able to read many of his articles which originally appeared in that journal. The Commemorative edition is available now and the January edition will be available online from 14th January. It’s in the public domain so it’s FREE!