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Journal mcgrew's Journal: Ask slashdot: Copyright and publishing 7

The Paxil Diaries are almost in paper form. All I need to do is finish the table of contents, register the copyright, and find somewhere to print it. But I have a problem -- one of the chapters starts off with "We Real Cool", a poem by Gwendolyn Brooks, Illinois' poet laureate from 1968 until her death in 2000. The linked page sports the state of Illinois as the copyright holder; how does one go about getting permission to print it? How does one find who really holds the copyright? Can government, in fact, even hold a copyright?

Once that issue is out of the way, what vanity publisher should I go with? I want the books to be high quality, but inexpensive and with little hassle to me.

I decided to put both volumes in one book, around 300 pages. I'll put it on BitTorrent as well; the first volume is already available in PDF form.

What, in your opinion, is the best non-DRM e-reader format, and free software to convert from Word or Open Office? It doesn't matter whether it runs in Linux or Windows (My only Mac is an ancient G3 and I doubt there is any software out there for it).

Also, I hope there will be a Rority time travel story tomorrow -- it's about half done now. And Sunday's journal will be a rerun of the Springfield Fragfest post from September 11, 2001. It's nothing like anything anybody else wrote that day, and is probably the first humorous thing about the tragedy from anyone (Saturday Night Live was probably the second). A more sober (yet angry) post came a few days later, and I'll post it some time next week.


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Ask slashdot: Copyright and publishing

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  • Howdy and all. You might want to check out Piers Anthony's site ( - he's been doing write-ups of the various electronic publishers for a few years now. As for the copyright, yeah the state can own it, odds are you can just send a request to be able to use it - usually they don't go apeshit over that sort of stuff.

    • Right. A state government can hold copyrights; even the federal government can hold copyrights. For the Feds, it's a question of whether a government employee authored the work. The fed gov can buy or license copyrights just fine; but it can't copyright works that it authored. State governments are not so bound.

      Clear the copyright first. You're not likely to get sued, but a publisher will likely refuse to publish anything for which the rights haven't been cleared.

  • I'd look good at Calibre. It is opensource eBook and library management software, that manages formats and devices - including conversions. []

    It's probably not your whole toolbox, but a good part of it.

    $ sudo apt-get install calibre

  • On Sept 11 2001 was talking to a friend on my local machine's talkd server. The first thing out of his mouth^Wkeyboard was:

    "Don't tell me you started without me."

    I thought it was pretty funny.

  • But I see on wikipedia that apparently anything from the US federal government (when made as part of the official duties of an employee) is considered public domain. (for example read the copyright info on this picture of an SR71 blackbird []).

    Obviously the Illinois state government is not the US federal government, but you may be able to find something similar for things made by people paid by the state of Illinois. It may be a worthwhile starting point, though, and wikipedia might be able to point you

Promising costs nothing, it's the delivering that kills you.