Jul 23 2011

Copyright and the Canon according to Trevor Sykes


Our Latin teacher, Fr Fraser, had a ‘canon’ of ten books which all educated people should have read.

He was never invited to submit his list to The Book Show on Radio National, but should have been.

However, finance writer Trevor Sykes was a recent guest. His list (below) had one book in common with Fr Fraser’s canon – can you guess which?

I found it interesting that all of Sykes’ choices are available ‘in the public domain’, and therefore can be downloaded free of charge (or nearly so) for Kindle or iBooks from either projectgutenberg.org or iTunes. It is a particularly erudite selection for someone Fr Fraser would have dismissed for studying ‘ecos’.

Project Gutenberg offers 36,000 ebooks for free download. These have all been digitised by volunteers – a massive undertaking. Each book is ‘out of copyright’ .

In Australia, copyright exists on a book for the life of the author plus 50 years.

In the USA, copyrights exists until 95 years after publication, and in the EU it is life plus 70 years.

As Orwell died in 1950, the Australia Project Gutenberg page is allowed to display ‘Animal Farm’ (published in 1945), but the main Project Gutenberg sticks to the USA law and does not yet allow it to be downloaded (not until 2040, in fact!).

Trevor Skyes is a Wodehouse buff. PJ Wodehouse is also one of my favourite authors. The tiny Seaforth Library had all 35 short stories and 11 novels featuring Jeeves and Bertie Wooster. (published between 1915 and 1974!)

As Wodehouse started publishing while still young, and lived till 1975 (the ripe old age of 94), even his 1915 ‘Right Ho Jeeves’ is still copyright in Australia (till 2025). It is however public domain in the USA. (Although the 95 year expiration is not yet up, all works published before 1923 are exempted and considered copyright free.)

The copyright laws are completely ridiculous!

Fr Fraser’s canon can be the subject of a future WILT.

Today, its Trevor Sykes’ turn.


The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli


The Prince - Niccolò Machiavelli  or http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1232

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Animal Farm - George Orwell or http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks01/0100011h.html

Right Ho, Jeeves by PG Wodehouse


The Bible

The Holy Bible King James Version. - King James I

The Way of Life by Lao Tzu


 Tao Te Ching - Lao Tzu or  http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/216

Trevor Sykes explains his selections in this recording.

if (FlashDetect.installed) { $(‘flash_embed-xJhhcliaie’).show(); $(‘quicktime_embed-xJhhcliaie’).hide(); } else { $(‘quicktime_embed-xJhhcliaie’).show(); $(‘flash_embed-xJhhcliaie’).hide(); }

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *