Dead Names, Dead Dog: A Clarification of the Correction

In my last post about the Necronomicon, I might have failed to mention one other aspect of the book’s availability. That’s its translation into many different languages, and its ready appearance on the Internet, whether in the expurgated version of the “Necronomican” from the Coroner or a full-out adaptation on a black screen with classy bowing skeletons and death metal MIDIs, the Necronomicon is certainly a hot online commodity.

Nonetheless, we have to admit that this sort of reproduction is illegal. If you’re living in the US, any document you see online should be considered under copyright. Lots of people make their living off of providing such works, and there are many options for authors who want to provide their work via a more open model, like the Creative Commons.

“Simon” himself reminds us of the need for legality in Dead Names when he mentions how the book

…has been translated into numerous languages, most of them illegally.

You can understand the translators’ positions, though. They saw the book and thought, “Hey! ‘Simon’ says this book is necessary for the survival of humanity when their dark and evil masters return! I’d better get it out there as fast as possible!” Think again, gentlemen! Intellectual property law is more important than the extinction of our species!

As we all know, nobody is more against using stolen property to make a profit than “Simon.” Take this exchange from Coast to Coast:

IAN: There’s a point that you make often in the book about the number of times that the Necronomicon is downloaded illegally, as you stress, from the Internet and the Necronomicon has been translated into other languages illegally and sold without you all getting benefit from that. And yet I’m still struggling from the very beginning that, you’re talking about illegal downloads from a book which was stolen and knowingly stolen.

SIMON Well, that is a very complicated legal point. The book itself – the physical book – no one any longer has. What we have is a translation, only a translation, so it is a question of myself, it is a question of the partner who was involved in fronting the money in the first place, it is a question of the publishers. There are a lot of people involved who would be upset to see illegal things done with the translation they already have…

IAN: …But it’s still profits from a theft.

SIMON: Possibly. I still think again that it’s a complicated legal position. I would have to disagree that we profit from a theft. This book was possibly itself stolen, in the hands of someone who stole it. We don’t know the provenance of the book. We know, or I suspect, that the two monks in question stole this book… Prazsky had a very large collection, you see.

“Simon” is right. Just because a rare book appears in the midst of a collection of stolen rare books doesn’t mean that we should just assume it was stolen. There’s a lot of ways Praszky could have ended up with a ninth-century Greek manuscript from a private collection that are perfectly legitimate. He could have found it in a bargain bin at WaldenBooks. He got it in a white elephant exchange, sort of like a millennia-old fruitcake. He won it in a raffle. He received it from a distant relative for Christmas with a pair of tube socks. Once you cast off any personal responsibility for actually finding out the facts, the possibilities are endless.

IAN: … there’s a lot of profit from this book and from the subsequent books that might have gone toward helping to preserve other treasures and prevent them from being stolen, and/or donated so as not to be blood money for a theft.

SIMON: Blood money from a theft is a very powerful statement to use. Is it blood money, do you think?

IAN: I do. I honestly do. I mean, only because you keep making a point to say that other people are getting it illegally. I think, in a way, we have to say, if you say that the people you got it from might have gotten a stolen copy from someone else, then it’s a long history of everybody ripping each other off, and I wouldn’t be in such a position to have a moral high ground to say, these other people are stealing… it takes a certain edge off the claim of its purity as having been legally wronged by people illegally downloading it…

SIMON: Well, I think that’s possibly a matter for the publishers as well…

IAN: I’m just talking about you.

Ian, Ian, Ian. Why put a priest on the spot about his questionable personal morality? “Simon” has turned over such concerns to a higher power – the publishing industry. We all know what a reputation publishers have as stalwart guardians of our nation’s values, and who are we to doubt such a praiseworthy decision?

Published in: on December 19, 2006 at 10:43 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. […] Next comes The Necronomicon from Tsirk Susej, author of such high-quality offerings as How to Summons the Dead. For a mere $33, you can purchase the same copy of the Simon book you can get at your local store for $7. This is simply wrong – as we all know, only Simon is allowed to publish books stolen from others! […]

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