Works leaked online

These days its very hard for artworks not to be dispersed, specially if they are digital or become digitalised. The artist or author might not want to exhibit or publish it, but if it is out there, sooner or later it will find its way into the public domain. A recent example: last November three ‘unpublished’ short stories from JD Salinger appeared online. According to an article in the guardian:

Now, apparently accurate transcripts of three stories, whose original manuscripts are kept under lock and key in university libraries, have escaped into the world. (…) the source appears to be a scan of a pirate edition of the texts  (…). The copy, said to be one of 25 printed in London in 1999, was apparently sold on eBay in September (…). It sold for a mere £67.50, considerably less than a first edition of The Catcher in decent condition. The scans were posted on a members’ only site, called What.cd. The site later took the post down, but by then the stories were being commented on and copied across other sites, including Reddit.

So in this case it was already out there but only for a select academic public. Consequently it was released in the public domain unofficially.

I would say that the leaking is an essential part of the work. That it was leaked is not a surprise to anyone as the author is known for his withdrawal from public life and has not published work since 1965. Its like burying something prescious in the ground. Once it pops up, it (the original) has gained a lot of ‘aura’. A back story that will not only add a new layer to the book, it will always be part of the story. It will do the book a lot of good. Unless of course you think that the ‘unofficial’ publishing is a bad thing. But that is living in the analogue world.

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