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<nettime> Capitalism fells communism in Marx-Engels copyright flap
nettime's fetters on Sat, 26 Apr 2014 10:23:22 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Capitalism fells communism in Marx-Engels copyright flap

Marxists Internet Archive to remove writings ahead of May Day.


    "At a certain stage of development, the material productive forces
of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production
or—this merely expresses the same thing in legal terms—with the property
relations within the framework of which they have operated hitherto.
>From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn
into their fetters. Then begins an era of social revolution. The changes
in the economic foundation lead sooner or later to the transformation of
the whole immense superstructure."

Political theorists have been debating this passage and the assumption
of capitalism's demise ever since it appeared in Karl Marx's preface to
"A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy" in 1859.

But the question of when capitalism will burst asunder appears to be
turned on its head when considering the copyright legal flap over Marx's

A radical publishing house, called Lawrence & Wishart, who at one time
was connected to Great Britain's Communist Party, is demanding the
removal from the Marxists Internet Archive of the "Marx-Engels Collected
Works"—hardcover books that sell for up to $50 a pop.

The archive has posted a message to its readers informing them that
Lawrence & Wishart's material will be removed April 30.

That the works will be removed ahead of May Day "is just grotesque," [1]
wrote Scott McLemee, the intellectual affairs columnist for Inside
Higher Ed. In an e-mail, he said he suspected academics might boycott
the London-based publisher.

The archive said that "English translations of Marx and Engels from
other sources will continue to be available."

The publisher said in a statement that it's now the "subject of online
abuse." [2]

"Income from our copyright on this scholarly work contributes to our
continuing publication programme. Infringement of this copyright has the
effect of depriving a small radical publisher of the funds it needs to
remain in existence," the statement said.

David Walters, an archive volunteer, said the publisher agreed nearly a
decade ago to allow the use of the works, which are copyrighted because
they translate the writings from German to English. But now the
publisher wants to sell digital copies to universities -- all of which
means the publisher wants to spread the words of communism via a
capitalistic method.

"We respect the copyright. We respect the agreement," Walters said in a
telephone interview. "But what they are doing is actually restricting
the masses' ability to get these writings because they found a potential
revenue flow by digitizing the works themselves and selling some product
to universities. We think it's the opposite of a marxist approach."


[2] http://www.lwbooks.co.uk/collected_works_statement.html

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