Re: [rumori] Cheatahs? (literature, lifting and the law)

Anki Toner (
Sun, 11 Jul 1999 14:04:47 +0100

> tangent 3. also, there is the issue of plays as text/language/act. samuel
> becket will not grant performance rights to anyone who wants to change a
> SINGLE WORD of one of his plays in the act of presentation. they pulled
> rights not too long ago from a group which had kept the words, but reversed
> the gender of all the characters. sad, as this reversal seemed very
> becket-like.

What if I decided that "Hamlet" (public domain) or "Lolita"
(copyrighted), or a Becket, was, well, a good book, sure, but with some
mistakes, you know, imprecisions every now and then, you know what I
mean... What if I were smart enough to be right and could change some
words, maybe just fifty words, maybe a single word, and make thus a
better book (whatever this means).

Why should someone prevent me from doing so, even if it is the guy whose
work I am correcting? (As long as I credit him, and even document the
changes as footnotes). When it comes to the classics, it's hard to find
an uncorrected edition, since the language has changed quite a bit in
the last few centuries.

Another literary tangent. Translations are copyrighted too, which
produces even more hilarious situations. I have not heard any story
about English translation & copyright, though I am sure there will be
plenty: I have a couple of Spanish stories.

a) Federico García Lorca (I hope you've heard of him) gave the rights
to translate his works into German to a German friend who, it seems, did
a very poor job. The result is that nobody in Germany has ever read
garcia Lorca decently. They may wonder why everybody thinks the guy was
a genius. Garcia Lorca's family has tried many times to speak with the
guy and, when the guy finally died, with his family, with no result.
They even paid for a good translation of the works, which has been done
but remains unpublished.

b) Spanish forbidden record. A couple of years ago a fanzine down here
made a CD with Beatle versions by indie Spanish bands. Most of them did
the English original lyrics, a couple of them did instrumental versions,
and two or three translated the lyrics into Spanish. (BTW, one fuckin'
genius we have called Malcolm Scarpa did a brilliant Obladi-Oblada
skipping the chorus!). Well, one of the songs had already been
translated in the sixties by some other band. The band doing the new
version knew the old translation but found it unuseable (nobody spoke
English here in the sixties). So they did a new translation of the song.
You can imagine the rest. The CD was withdrawn from the regular
distribution circuit. (It was not destroyed though, that would have been
too much down here, it would have made the headlines. I bought my copy
at a concert). Eventually, they pressed a new CD without the track.

Anki Toner

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