back to article Great War diary reveals original Captain Blackadder

Blackadder would have approved. On 9 November 1916, Captain Alexander Stewart of Scottish regiment the Cameronians wrote from the Western Front: "I am very much annoyed by memos sent round from Headquarters that come in at all hours of the day and night; they stop me getting a full night's rest and some of them are very silly …


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  1. Syd

    PC Only

    The download is PC-only... which is nice, as it means they are using some lovely DRM! And, if you ask me (which no one did, obviously) 9.95 is a bit steep for an electronic product - Edmund Blunden's Undertones of War (a comparable WW1 memoir) is 6.99 on Amazon for the paperback.

    (Disclaimer: Blunden was my great grandfather, and although I personally don't receive any royalties, some of my long-lost cousins may!)

  2. Voice of reason


    How much does it cost to publish an eBook?

    From their website: "With no printers to pay or publishers taking a commission we are able to make the diary available for just £9.95" And they're contributing a whopping 50p to the Poppy Appeal - where's the other £9.49 going if it's not going to printers or publishers?

    This smacks primarily of an attempt to make some money out of Capt Alexander Stewart's diaries, he must be spinning in his grave. I'm not against people selling their memoirs, but please don't insult us be pretending that you're doing a public service by doing so. "I would like to share this amazing piece of personal history" Maybe it's just me, but when I share things with people, I tend not to do it to make a profit. At least half the money should go to the Poppy Appeal, if not all of it.

    Modern day Scots hero, John Smeaton, had the decency to give away half the money donated for him to Erskine, a military veterans charity in Scotland and share the rest with some of the others involved in the "attack" on Glasgow airport.

    Shame on you Jamie Stewart, you're giving Scotsmen a bad name with being so tight fisted!

  3. Alan Potter
    Thumb Down

    Promising book - poor interface

    I first heard about this book on the Radio 4 Today programme and at the time I couldn't remember what the URL was to find it, so I am greatly endebted to El Reg for publishing the story.

    I look forward to reading it, although there are a few misgivings. First, I thought I'd be able to download it as a proper ebook that I'd then be able to upload onto my PocketPC and read it on the train. Instead it is just an EXE file. I don't really want to have to sit in front of my PC and read the whole lot. Secondly, you cannot resize the app - it takes over the whole screen for some reason. Every time you load it you get a warning message from Microsoft saying that you're opening something from an unrecognised source and requires you to confirm that you wish to proceed, the software itself then requires you to enter the password every time. If you don't want to read it onscreen then you can print it - but not in an acceptable format. It's printed centred with a good 8cm margin top and bottom - a complete waste of paper.

    So while I'm sure the content is going to be fascinating, the application is a disaster... And while I accept that a lot of work has gone into the creation of this publication, £9.99 still seems a little steep for an eBook. Even if 50p or whatever is going to charity.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    At Least He Was Honest!

    May we never forget the sacrifices that so many made to give us the freedom we have had since. God bless their souls.

    It is unfortunate that stupidity crosses the generation boundary so easily though. We still have gross stupidity in conflict situations today. Sending troops to the front line without protective gear because it is hidden away in some store somewhere because someone hasn't signed a chitty. Or putting soldiers in harms way because we can't afford to buy new vehicles or aircraft.

    But perhaps the grossest of stupidities takes place at government level where they believe that armed conflict can win the peace.

    Never mind, at least GI Jane in the form of Paris Hilton can go entertain the troops, and our future is secure hiding behind ID cards.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Wait a bit ...

    ... It'll be a torrent soon enough, then download it, and donate a quid to the Poppy Appeal. Then you're in the moral clear.

  6. shadeofblue

    Callous profiteering!

    It's just criminal that you are exploiting the story of your grandfather. It needs to be told & spread as far as wide as possible, not with barriers in the way!

  7. Colin Wilson

    ebook / cost

    It could be "published" for free or minimal cost at

    I wonder if given the age, it is now out of copyright - it may be that any torrents that appear are perfectly legal !

  8. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. LaeMi Qian

    Usual author's return... about 1$ per copy-sold here in Aus. Lets assume 1 pound in UK, then the 50p to the poppy appeal might be appropriate.

    Where the other 9 pounds is going? Sounds like they are going to cover the costs of being suckered into buying into a dodgy DRM system!

    Offering a non-DRM eText for a few pounds and a hard-copy through an online small-run printery like CafePress* for 14.95 would sound like a more sensible approach.

    *I have no idea if CafePress is any good, it is just one I know of.

  10. Ivan Headache

    Out of copyright?

    70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the last remaining author of the work dies.

    If the author is unknown, copyright will last for 70 years from end of the calendar year in which the work was created, although if it is made available to the public during that time, (by publication, authorised performance, broadcast, exhibition, etc.), then the duration will be 70 years from the end of the year that the work was first made available.

    I recon that that puts it still inside copyright - especially as it has only just been published.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    broken links!

    If you read the pages, they hint at when you can find the password, after mentioning 400 times it starts with a capital P. The password page also contains an unprotected link to the downloadable file. I'm no brainiac when it comes to computers, but if I can find it then you dont need to wait for a torrent.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Hold On Guys

    I appreciate that some folks are up in arms about the charges being made with respect to this ebook, and the perceived profiteering that is taking place. And just maybe those comments are justified.

    But just maybe they aren't justified. We don't have the full SP on where the money gained is to be spent. I've got used to the press publicising half a story so as to increase the headline potential (that isn't a swipe at El Reg BTW - their sin is not mentioning Paris Hilton in the article...), so it is possible that the family members concerned aren't simply profiteering. And even if they were - so what? Who has been hurt as a result of that action being taken? For all we know their plans are to give the old boy a decent headstone with the proceeds, or put money towards another needy cause which might be private to them.

    What is actually criminal here is that some people are publicly suggesting that the material is posted on a web site for anyone to download. Whether we like it or not, that's stealing by anyone's definition.

    And even if I get annointed with the naughty oscar for being seen to support this families decision, my attitude is that if my offspring and their families to come can get a few bob out of my memory then I will have done them a favour. I sure wouldn't want them giving away the family silver just because it can be seen to be politically correct!


  13. Simon Bradshaw

    No, still in copyright

    'Captain Steward finished his diary in 1928, and eventually died of old age in 1966, aged 88.'

    Duration of copyright is author's death plus seventy years, so this work will not be out of copyright until 2036.

  14. Gower

    out of copyright....

    if its only just been released I assume it has also only just been copyrighted... as opposed to IP which has been in the public domain for centuries and as such has become widely distrubuted and no one is sure who has the rights to it...

    I read some previews of this and it does sound compelling but if its wrapped in DRM it puts me off, I think it would be better to go for a wider circulation as the world needs to rememeber our history of war... and how it doesn't actually solve anything...

  15. Misha Gale

    re: Out of copyright?

    No. In the UK literary works go out of copyright 75 years after the death of the author - 2046 in this case.

  16. IMVHO

    For crying out loud...

    It's a journal about a terrible experience that was, by the article, written with some care. Why argue about profit and percentages? Where's the "good deed" limit? Shall I publish my grandfather's memoirs with a 5% charity bid, or is 5.5% enough to quiet the choir? It's not the percentage, or the cost, that matters, it's the motivation behind each. On said motivation, there is speculation only. If you really want to know, then, send the bloke or publisher and email, or other query. Otherwise, speculate away... bah!

  17. Stephen B Streater

    He who is without sin

    He is under no obligation to give anything to charity. The book is his property - he can charge what he likes. Why are people complaining that he is only giving away 50p a copy? He is not stopping anyone giving to the poppy appeal.

    So I suggest all the whingers donate what they think is an appropriate amount to the appeal, and buy the book on its merits.

  18. Paul Sims

    Somme-thing for nothing?

    It's all too easy to get the download for free - personally I feel that asking £9.95 for this electronic version of the book is way too much. It would have been much better to have released it as a free download but request that readers donate to the Poppy Appeal. A paperback with relevant pics & maps etc would be a "value added" proposition and worth the moolah.

  19. Sceptical Bastard

    Oh, FFS!

    Stop bloody quibbling over whether or not it is right to charge for intellectual property and try to remember - especially at this time of year - that the author (like millions of his countrymen) bravely fought for Britain in a meaningless and unnecessary war. The author went through hellish experiences that we, sitting at our screens in cosy IT support offices, cannot imagine.

    Remember, too, that twice in the last century Germany started unprovoked wars of aggression causing the deaths of tens of millions of combatants and, in the case of WWII, systematically murdered seven million innocent civilians.

    Save your spleen for the perpetrators of war, not the descendents of those who bore its horrors with stoicism, fortitude and (as in this case) humour.

  20. Dax Farrer


    The web 2.0 Utopians are on again banging on about FREE. I can only think they have turned up for work out of the goodness of their hearts. (actually I doubt these wasters have jobs)

    Personally I have transcribed a handwritten book and its not something I would like to do again. Its boring laborious and thats just when you can read the sentence, when its bloody illegible then in the spirit of web 2.0 you just make it up. So there is a considerable creative input as well.

  21. triky

    no copyright

    the duration of a copyright is between 50 and 70+ years depending on the country. however, copyrights only exist where the person has actually copyrighted the work. i don't think that someone down the line can just appropriate the work (even if family) and copyright it in it's turn... in any case, copyright only exists where the person who has created the peice of work has himself copyrighted it...

  22. Spleen


    Last year I bought a full-sized hardback from Amazon for less than £10, including shipping. For £10 I expect a paperback at the very least. There is absolutely no way anyone should pay that much for a Word document.

  23. Charles Calthrop


    A sobering account of death and destruction- and the first comment is about bloody DRM. Bigger picture people! I bet you're all a bunch of pony tailled, balding, pot bellied cunts. God knows what would happen if the hun got uppity again (and, in my opinion he's been too quiet of late). I wouldn't want to be in a trench with you lot "'S not fair,, I've built my own rifle, sarge, and it won't fire the bullets you gave me"

  24. Tom Wilkinson

    An earlier Blackadder

    There is mention of a Blackadder during the English Civil War who might be closer to the original Rowan Atkinson Blackadder. The Marquis of Montrose led the Royalist forces in Scotland during the English Civil War. Always outnumbered, his generalship won several battles despite this. He was finally defeated at the Battle of Philiphaugh only when his army was surprised in camp. Responsible for scouting for the army? Yes, a Captain Blackadder...

  25. Paul


    If you think its a rip off then dont buy it. Just shut up. The world dose not owe you free books. If you made a polite comment saying that you felt that they may have over priced it, then fine, otherwise, shut up. I do feal that It is overpriced and will therefor not be buying it, but I will be at the front of the que if it ever comes out in a book. Not because of the cost of an EBook, just that I wont spend more that a couple of pounds on one because I don't like reading from a screen, and dont like wasting money on somthing I know I probably wont read properly.

    I realy hope someone dose pick it up and publish this book properly so that I can read it, whatever the price (I would expect to pay about £19.99 for the hardback, with explanitory maps, If there is anyone in publishing reading)

  26. Neil Barnes Silver badge


    My understanding is that copyright is vested (in the UK) as soon as the work is created in a physical form - i.e. as soon as it was written. But it expires 70 years after the author's death (special terms if the author is unknown). Copyright in a particular *printing or edition* expires after 25 years.

    There's no need to lodge or register copyright in the UK - it happens automatically.

  27. Bjorn

    @Sceptical bastard

    I think you'll find by actually spending 10 seconds looking up _facts_ that Germany was dragged into WW I due to their various alliances, a military buildup in Europe for the past couple of years, and military strategies from several of the involved players based on a rather offensive defense. Claiming they started it is a gross misrepresentation of facts.

  28. Dave Edmondston
    Thumb Down

    The protection on this website is disgraceful

    For the amount of effort this guy spent touting his 'book' - radio four, TV news reports, el reg, etc, etc; the site security is bloody awful.

    The download page talks of being directed to a 'thank you' page after you've paid for the download - guess what the URL is for that?

    On that page, they give you the password... no independent email, no 'unique' password for your email adress, etc, etc

    This guy seriously needs a professional web designer.

  29. Colin Guthrie


    I think people are missing a bit of perspective here.

    I heard about this on Radio 4 a while back too and thought it sounded interesting, but as with so many things of this ilk I reckoned I'd probably never get around to actually buying/reading it. That's just me tho', I tend to be lazy in that respect.

    So it's been on Radio 4 and now on the reg, but how many copies are expected to be sold? 100? 1000? Something as specialised as this, without any publisher promotion and distribution to book stores etc. such low numbers are likely (no doubt now bolstered by a bout of good publicity that was not guaranteed when the price was set).

    Taking on board the fact that it must have taken the collator at least 6 months to scribe and arrange, and assuming a sales run of 1000 copies that's only £9.5k of profit. That's hardly a huge salary/return for the efforts. Now, in fairness I'm making these figures up. I'd hope he'd sell a lot more than 1000 copies especially with the publicity he's had and perhaps he should now reduce the price to match this, and release it in a non-windows-only standard ebook format. Or better, perhaps a publisher will now take notice and produce a real version for those of use who still like to destroy trees for fun and profit....

    And as it was his grandson who did the transcribing and arranging, surely this work's copyright starts he dies, not his grandfather?

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Alan Potter

    If you don't like it full screen... try pressing ESC.

  31. Paul Talbot

    DRM = no sale

    @Dax Farrer, Paul:

    Yeah we always get people like you, completely misunderstanding the concept of DRM-free on stories like this. The complaint isn't about the price - although that does seem rather extortionate for what amounts to a transcription job with few other overheads.

    The complaint is that the resulting file is wrapped up in DRM to the point of uselessness, and we're apparantly expected to be OK about this due to a token donation included in the price. As ever with things like this, Captain Stewart's grandson has lost my money simply by putting the DRM onto the book. If the book was DRM free, preferably priced at the average paperback price or a little less, I'd buy it now. DRM? No sale.

    It's a shame as it sounds like a very interesting account of the war. But, I don't expect to be treated as a criminal and fleeced of an unjustified sum of money for the privilege of reading it.

  32. Charles Calthrop


    Well, it's good to know that 80 odd years of debate as to the causes of WW1 has been definitively answered by an IT worker with too much time on his hands. Quite a good Monday, all in all. Maybe you should write into History Today or something. It's just people have written millions of words on the subject and maybe you should let them know they can stop now you have the answer.

    They started the second one, too. Or was the fact that they supported a one bollocked obviously mad little fella with a stupid moustache not their fault either?

  33. Dave Edmondston
    Thumb Down

    @Charles Calthrop

    Believe it or not, issues like DRM to take preference to 20th Century history on a, erm, 'technology' website like the Reg. In my opinion, Bjorn made a valid point about the start of the war and did not try and give the cause of it.

    Furthermore, your comment "if the hun got uppity again (and, in my opinion he's been too quiet of late)" is just insulting to the multi-national readership of this site, which doubtless includes many Germans (including my girlfriend).

    If you want to vent your views, try this link:

    You may find their readership more sympathetic.

  34. Chris Adams

    Oh for the love of...

    The bloke wasn't sat in his trench with a fucking laptop, people! This was not an original piece of work created for the sodding web!

    I imagine a lot of work has gone into turning it into something readable on a computer screen and, in all likelihood, this has been done at expense, by a web publishing outfit who slapped the DRM on it and set the cost. I doubt the Family are going to be raking it in over this and, if the dosh they get back is comparable to other writers I know, then 50p to charity is a decent chunk of their coin.

    Actually, no, you're right, they carefully chose this method of distribution *specifically* to piss YOU off.


  35. laird cummings

    Bunch of greedy spoiled snot-nosed punks.

    "I wanna freebie! Waaah! I was asked to pay money! It's too much! I want to dictate what the seller does with the money! Waaaaaaaaah...!"

    What a bunch of sniveling snot-nosed punks. IT'S NOT YOURS. If you want it, you have to pay for it. If you don't like the price, then do without.

    Grow up, damn you.

  36. Mark

    So I don't buy it and the work is worthless

    a) I don't have a PC that will accept their DRM

    b) It is only a license, not a purchase (enforced because I cannot hack the computer to allow fair dealing and a turning copy for my S.O.)

    c) It will last only as long as the PC it was bought for

    d) it is massively overpriced

    I feel no need to buy it.

    Let's face it, if it were made available for download and had a "please enter how much you'd like to pay" and it was a standard text file, enough would pay to make it worthwhile and we would all be better off knowing what the hell these people were put thought by the big brass at the back.

    As it is, few of us will find out, unless we break the law. And I see no problem if someone else wants to because at least it then

    a) becomes a PURCHASE

    b) isn't tied to the PC

    c) lives beyond the system intended

    That it is free is because someone cannot legally ask for money to pass on to the author's estate and donate to the poppy appeal.

  37. Charles Calthrop

    at dave

    Nonsense, aside from the "my os >> your os", or dewey eyed nostalgia at bits of old kit, you'd be hard pressed to claim that most comments are here are about technology itself. I just find it kind of indicative of how spoilt we are that when we read a story about a guy digging other guys out of mud in the trenches the first comment is about DRM. I'm not saying it's not important, blah, I just think it's faintly ridiculous.

    Bjorn claimed Germany was "Dragged" into WW1 and said "Claiming they started it is a gross misrepresentation of facts." Which it isn't; it's a valid viewpoint (albeit there are others that it was US, or train times)

    It's not my fault you don't have a sense of humour. Nevertheless, if my joke about the germans upset you, apologies.

  38. Danny Traynor
    Thumb Down


    an .exe? wtf?

    A disgruntled Mac user

  39. jason ellis

    I think you guys are mixing stuff up

    The war letters mentioned on Radio 4's Today programme are published in a blog . The blog is nothing to do with this book, subject matter aside.

  40. Mark

    Re: Hilarious

    The Captain is Dead. He is no more. Complaining about how bad WW1 was will not bring him back.

    One way to make what he endured a legacy is to disseminate his readings far and wide. This will not stop stupid wars and the horror that the men in the front line may be put through for political expediency, but it may.

    DRMing is the best way to make sure this never happens.

    Since we can't bring him back, why not complain about DRM?

    If the grandson considers the money more important than the word, then that is his decision. However, unless he's informed about the downsides (you can be damn sure that he was sold DRM and NEVER told there was a downside) he cannot make the informed decision.

    If knowing the up and downs of using DRM are known and he still uses DRM then as the owner of the copyright, fair enough. It IS his decision.

    But I aint buying it and neiter are a lot of others. And that is OUR decision.

  41. Eric Olson

    The funny thing is...

    People talk about the DRM meaning they are licensing, not owning. What if the computer croaks, and they lose the work? They have to buy it again (or maybe there is a limit to the number of downloads, so you can replace it a few times). Guess what happens if a fire tore through your house today, destroying all your books, CDs, DVDs, computer, and other material goods? It's gone! You can't go back to a website and re-download everything. You have to buy it all again.


    Just deal with the fact that we don't actually own anything, material or digital. We are renting it until it gives up the ghost. That might be 1 year, it might be 99. It might last 100 generations. But there is no guarantee that you will have it for more than 10 minutes after you buy it. Yes, there are warranties, but they generally cover the workmanship, not the realities of life such as fire, flood, storm, theft, etc. Yes, we have insurance, but as most people will tell you, it's good for rebuilding what was lost, if within the confines of the policy. It's not as if it was free, because of the premium you pay, and there might be depreciation factored in, meaning you only get 70% of the replacement value.

    So, realize people that just because it's digital, and it's 0s and 1s instead of a book on your shelf, that it doesn't make it any better or more secure. Can we argue about pricing? Hell yes, but that's completely different, and that is set by free markets... which in this case are not well set, because it's still rather new. And we don't know what the production costs are, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it's a heck of a lot more expensive to transcribe, edit, and transform something written 90 years ago to a digital format than to move the latest crap-pop record to mp3, FLAC, or other format.

    In other words, realize that nothing is free or owned, and the best you can hope for is to take care of it. And if it burns, well, you're out of luck.

  42. Voice of reason

    Paying for stuff...

    Actually, the thing that annoyed me about this isn't the fact that it's not free, it's the fact that Jamie Stewart is making out that his motivation for publishing his grandfather's work is to SHARE it with a wider audience. If this in fact was his true motivation, he wouldn't be charging £9.95 a pop for the download, he'd have just transcribed it to HTML and bunged it on the web.

    I'm more than happy to pay for stuff, it just bugs me when people make out that they're doing something for a charitable cause, or for the public good, when clearly they aren't. Why lie about it?

  43. Anonymous Coward

    RE: Broken Links

    thankyou, I figured out how to download the book for free.

    I've donated £10 to the Poppy appeal.

  44. Mark

    Then I license them my money

    Will that be OK?

    I'll attach an EULA for my money. though if they go defunct, I get my money back (since it is still MY money, not theirs, it doesn't become part of the chattels).

    No worries.

  45. Matthew Brown

    Setting aside for a moment...

    the issue of I.P.R and charities, I'd like to see this in print form on Amazon or some other such place; Would definitely buy it.

  46. Michael Z. Williamson

    DRM, The Anchor On Progress

    My first novel, which sold out a PB print run in 21 days, now in its fourth printing, is available as a free download in a variety of formats. Help yourself. Donate if you wish. The time and labor it would take to either "protect" it, or stop someone else from posting it as .txt isn't worth it. I just chalk it up to free advertising. So do most other authors with Baen Books.

    You can also buy any of my Baen titles electronically for $5.

    Ten quid, or $22 US, is not only steep for a work like this, it's outrageous. What's more outrageous is I doubt Mr Stewart is getting more than 10% of that. He also probably isn't familiar enough with the publishing industry to know he's being fleeced.

    You are free to email me to discuss the concepts of e-Publishing, or send hate mail to my filter, through my site

    There are also lengthy discussions of it on the publisher's site

  47. Robert Long

    @Eric Olso

    "Just deal with the fact that we don't actually own anything, material or digital. We are renting it until it gives up the ghost. That might be 1 year, it might be 99. It might last 100 generations."

    The fact is that how long it lasts depends on how long people are interested enough/able to copy it. Which is the distinction between renting and owning - the DRM rental method prevents the copying that an owner is allowed.

    So get a grip and stop applying sixth-former debating society logic to the real world.

  48. Anonymous Coward

    Nothing wrong with it

    Why is everybody so upset about it not being free ? We all have to earn money in some way. I admit 50p to the Poppy Appeal does seem rather small, and it would have been a nice gesture - given the subject matter - if the book was simply free for download. But there is nothing actually wrong with making a buck in this way, IMHO.

    And thank you Capt. Stewart and the Cameronians, for everything.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I would gladly buy it if I could view it

    I would gladly buy it if they sold a version that could be viewed on my systems. (My household is Windoze-free.) Truth be told, I would then print out a copy, have it bound, and then delete the software.

  50. Anonymous Coward

    Right lads...

    ... time to go over the top! It runs under wine on Linux, so there's no excuse. Anyone seen hesitating will be shot for cowardice - and that includes you Private McFanboi!

    Ready lads, on my signal...

  51. Andy

    Just pay for it!!!!!

    I honestly can not believe the level of morally bankrupt, freeloading, entitlement obsessed idiots that seem to use the Internet.

    It doesn't matter if you don't like the price. You don't have to buy it. There is no need to own everything that is distributed over the Internet. Let's be honest if the family sold the book for 1p you'd still all be looking for the damn pirated torrent as people seem to have such a huge sense of entitlement that they see no reason anyone should be paid for anything and that the world owes them everything for free.

    Would the same idiots that are promoting how to theive the book from the website do the same from a real shop? Imagine a small bookshop with rather weak security, i.e. no CCTV, no security and the cash desk is around a corner so that the owner can't see you. Would you steal the physical book if you felt it was over priced and fortunately (for you) poorly protected? I'm sure that 99% of people wouldn't. However, the Internet allows freeloaders a wonderful anonymity and a disconnected feeling from the onwer\retailer that allows them to ignore any feelings of guilt.

    Should any of the freeloaders ever have the opportunity of making any money via the Internet then I hope their fellow freeloading brethren make sure this doesn't happen. There is, afterall, no honour amongst thieves.

    @ Robert Long. Eric Oslo was not applying sixth former debating logic, but using a very sensible anology. You, however, seem to be blinded by some technological utopian ideal that just because it is computer based it needs to be worshipped like a Messiah and set free. DRM may prevent copying to varying extents, but "copying" is a method peculair to only a few products. An owner of a vase has no easy method of copying his vase (and then sharing the damn things with the world and his wife). Just because you can copy it on a computer doesn't mean that you have to. Sure the nature of digital media makes it difficult to prevent and it can't be undone; but again doing something just because you can doesn't make it OK.

  52. Eric Olson

    @ Robert Long

    Not all societies allow for copying of a copyrighted work. The US has, through the Supreme Court and legislative action, enshrined a principle of "Fair Use." How far that goes it subject to debate. The specific act of copying broadcast shows to your VHS is covered. I don't believe that anyone ever really tested to see if that extended to the creation of tapes from other tapes, CDs, LPs, or other formats. Even though it was rarely policed, the copying of those formats and giving them to friends and neighbors was illegal, as it is then not for private use. And you can't really take a taped broadcast from your home to someone else's place for viewing, technically speaking. Hence the disclaimer after sporting events that the broadcast can only be copied for the express purpose of private use in your own home.

    So, with that in mind, how does the "rental" of DRM-laced formats differ from the purchase of a chair from a store? You can't "copy" a chair and have a second one or have a backup in case the original breaks. Now, you can make a "chair" that might look similar, but it is not a one-for-one copy, and then is your own creation. Now take a book, since that's the best analog, and actually is within copyright laws. Most books contain something similar to this (From US Print of a Terry Pratchett book): "No part of this book may be used or reproduced in ANY MANNER WHATSOEVER [my emphisis] without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews."

    I suppose if you though this was an incorrect interpretation of copyright law, you could break the spine, copy 300 pages, and then find a way to bind them together, doing all of that without destroying or damaging the original. Also, there cannot be simultaneous use of the book, since if you lend it out you can't read it.

    Should we call such limitations "Hardware Rights Management," because it's hardcoded into the specifications that one-to-one copying is being denied, and therefore decry that our "Fair Use" rights are being trampled? Does this all seem ridiculous? It had better. I am just taking the natural logical conclusion of previous posters to the extreme and applying it to everything in our world. The stuff in the real world has limits, based on materials, specifications, design, and the fact that it is a thing, as well as patent and copyright law. I fail to see how change from one material/format to another results in the old rules no longer apply, or that someone should automatically give up any and all rights controlling the dissemination of their work because they dared to make it available in a digital format.

    The music industry has given us a bad taste for DRM, and rightfully so. There might be better ways to protect a creator's content without resorting to complete lockdown. However, I think it's ridiculous to think that things published or sold on the internet are automatically given to a collective ownership, instead of being owned by real people or corporations. I hate DRM, I despise profiteering companies, and I believe that there is a better way to go about this. But when you advocate DRM-free media formats, and do not provide an alternative way for the artist/composer/producer/writer/author to be compensated, you advocate theft, you advocate pure greed on the part of the end user, you advocate the end of creativity but for the joy of making content without hope of compensation. And that's not a model that will last, because people need to eat, need to live, need to survive. They can't produce content if they have to spend 40+ hours a week working to make ends meet. At least not for a long period of time.

  53. Sceptical Bastard

    @Bjorn - don't lecture us on history

    Firstly, Bjorn, don't be so presumptious as to lecture me on "... spending10 seconds looking up facts..." For all you know, I might have read history for my degree and spent much of my adult life exploring the twentieth century's European political upheavals.

    Secondly, only a fool (or a German, of course) could possibly claim "... that Germany was dragged into WW1." Which are you?

    Yes, you are right that the Triple Entente and the alliances between the Central Powers made a pan-European war more, not less, likely. Yes, you are right that during the first decade of the century there was an 'arms race' (or, more accurately, a naval race) between Great Britain and Germany. And, though you don't mention it, the weakness of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (and, to a lesser degree, the crumbling influence of the Ottoman Empire) combined with a rising Serb nationalism meant the Balkan states were increasingly unstable: and that Serbia, in particular, had the support of Russia and, thereby, France.

    But you either fail to mention - or don't accept - that beneath those generic pre-WW1 tensions, the Junkers ethic held sway in Berlin: In fact (and it IS a fact) throughout the early years of the twentieth century Germany was bristling with Prussian militarism and was building up its navy for expansionist, rather than defensive, purposes.

    Most significantly, alone among the European Great Powers (Britain and Germany, Austro-Hungarian, France and Russia, and Italy) Germany's plans for general mobilisation involved the invasion of a sovereign state - Belgium. Germany's defensive strategy was based on the so-called 'Schliffen Plan' for a two-front war, a plan which inherently made a pan-European conflict inevitable.

    After the assassination of Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, the Austro-Hungarian politicians understandably took a belligerant stance. In this they were greatly egged on by the German chancellor and generals. Germany, in effect, pushed the Hapsburgs into conflict with Serbia. The result was inevitable, although its ultimate ramifications were unforeseen.

    In summary, although it could - tenuously - be argued that the Germans did not actually 'start' WW1, their aristocratic system, their elitist militarism, and their agressive mobilisation plans were the most important factors in bringing Europe to war.

    Bjorn, you wisely do not dispute the cause of WWII. That war was caused solely by German military aggression and was triggered by the invasion of Poland. Atrocities were committed by all sides (including Great Britain) but those perpetrated by Germany against civilians were the most cold-blooded and horrendous IMO.

    As I said in my original comment, it is important to remember what tens of millions of people suffered and who, directly or indirectly, caused that suffering. Personally, I think we have all forgiven Germany far too readily and far too soon - Bjorn would, it appears, take a different view.

  54. triky

    @ neil barnes

    ah ok. i see. indeed, i had a quick look at US copyright law and it does seem that it is automatic there as well... however, the law also states that 'mere ownership of a book, manuscript, painting, or any other copy or phonorecord does not give the possessor the copyright. The law provides that transfer of ownership of any material object that embodies a protected work does not of itself convey any rights in the copyright.'

    So i wonder, if one were to get a pirated copy online, and consequently discovered by law enforcement, whether one would actually be liable for copyright infringement. do you think that through inheritance, the copyright would vest itself in the heirs automatically?

  55. Stephen Gray

    I have a solution

    If you want to read the book buy it, if you dont want to read it then dont buy it, just remember it would be in German if Captain Stewart and others had the same kind of attitude as most of the tossers who are complaining they "cant get it free"

  56. Charles Calthrop

    To the guy who stole it

    Does that mean I can come to your house, help myself to what I fancy and then make a donation to Victim Support?

  57. Reece

    Does anybody know the email of the grandson?

    I have sent an email to the email provided on the page for the publisher but I would also like to make sure Jaime Cameron Stewart is informed of my actions.

    I have downloaded the ebook for free and asked the publisher to tell me by Christmas if they want me to delete it if they don't trust me to give them what I see is fit.

    As its a windows .exe file it is not going to be viewed on my normal ebook viewing machine anyway so I probably will just leave it unread.

    I have a Linux machine in my room that can have the screen turned towards my bed if I'm feeling lazy, plans for another machine in the lounge with a big screen to be primarily a Linux machine for TV/DVD watching but could be used for reading ebooks off of, and I'm thinking of buying a portable ebook viewer as well at some point in the near future (Windows .exe capability will not be on my checklist of questions to ask).

    I feel it is now my moral obligation to actively not read this ebook before Christmas as I have now sent this email. By that stage I will have probably placed it in one of my archive folders and forgotten about it but if anybody has any feedback to give me along the lines of "make a note in your diary and read this: its worth a lot more the 10 measly pounds and sitting in front of a Windows machine for a few hours!" it would be good to hear.

  58. SImon Hobson Bronze badge

    @ Eric Olson

    You have your analogy wrong - but then some of the anti-drm arguments are also wrong.

    A better analogy is this. You buy a TV, a sofa, table, etc for your lounge. You sit down to read a nice book or watch a DVD - all well and good.

    But then your wife decides she's like a different wallpaper - so you redecorate, move the room around a bit, and so on. Now you find that the DVD doesn't work and the book can't be read because you've changed the room.

    So if you want to argue that reading a book on the train isn't reasonable, or reading a book in the bath isn't reasonable, etc then go ahead - you just might find yourself sounding silly !

    Then there is the more practical aspects. With a real book you can read it on the train to work, read it while relaxing in the bath, read it while sitting outside on a summers evening. With this 'book' you can read it anywhere you want ... - err hang on, anywhere you want to provided it's somewhere you can (and can be bothered to) drag your computer to.

    Now as to those "but it stops us copying it" type of arguments. Well I'm anti-DRM myself, but those aren't sensible arguments and merely give the pro-DRM camps more amunition - as in "well the only reason for them wanting no DRM is so they can copy it and pass it around". So shut the f**k up about that one and stick to the real arguments : DRM prevents legally defined (in some places) fair uses (like reading/listening/watching where and when you want), it prevents long term ownership (computer dies, you lose your 'purchases'), it creates an air of mistrust which positively encourages a loss of respect for the author/copyright owners rights.

    I might have bought several copies (even though it is 'a bit pricy' for a non-printed book*) of this as I know a few people who might like it as a Christmas present - but I'm not going to. None of them has a Windows PC, none of them would consider reading a book on a computer screen, and as a matter of principal I don't intend rewarding anyone for such an ill thought out policy. I'll be sending an email telling them of this !

    * And yes I know VERY well what it costs to print a book. It would be possible to do a printed book of this size for this price AND make a profit - not a huge profit as something like this is NEVER going to be a Harry Potter ! So I conclude (like others) that either they are making a rather large profit margin, or have been screwed over by a publisher.

  59. Sceptical Bastard

    @ SImon Hobson

    Thank fuck! A sensible analogy at last, reasoned opposition to DRM, and a kick in the arse for the "I want everything for free" brigade.

    Well said, that man.

  60. Sergei Andropov

    @Sceptical Bastard

    "Personally, I think we have all forgiven Germany far too readily and far too soon"

    The First World War took place almost one hundred years ago. There are only about thirty surviving veterans of it on the planet; all of those involved in actually starting it have long since decomposed. How many generations is long enough? Should we be upset with people because of things that their ancestors did? Should I perhaps be up in arms because the French forced my ancestors out of Alsaß back during the Thirty Years War? That's precisely the kind of grudge-holding mentality that contributed to things like World War One.

  61. Sceptical Bastard

    @ Sergei

    Listen, mate, as a Saxon sympathiser I'm still really pissed off with the Norman French.

    My comment about Germany was not in reference to the first world war. It was motivated mostly by horror of that nation's genocide in 1942-45, and partly by Bjorn's aplologia for Germany.

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