Thursday, August 03, 2006

What Have Sonny Got to Do with Proust?

I am reading Proust in the pretty Penguin USA Deluxe edition - the one with the deckled edge and the french flap. Yes, affectations, but I like these pretty stuff on my bookshelf. But right now, only the first 4 books of the Proustian epic is available in this edition. it drives me nuts.

Did I mention my Sodom and Gomorrah is in the Penguin UK black hardcover edition? I got it for free so, no excuse.

According to this article:
Only the first four volumes of the new translation—from Swann's Way through Sodom and Gomorrah — are available here. For this we have Sonny Bono to blame. Just before he died in 1998, the congressman sponsored a bill to extend the term of copyright by 20 years: According to the Sonny Bono Copyright Act, passed later that year, rights would expire 95, rather than 75, years after an artist's death. Since Proust died in 1922, only those four volumes first published during his lifetime had passed into the American public domain by the time the Bono Act became law. It will therefore be at least 2018 before readers in the United States can find the final three installments of the new translation (The Prisoner and The Fugitive, and Time Regained) in their local bookstores.

So American readers are screwed because late congressman Sonny Bono (the male and dead half of the duo, Sonny & Cher) decided to intervene and extend the copyright period. This stupid law benefits nobody but parasitic family members of the dead authors.

This is what happens when celebrity goes into politics.

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