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Post 7 Copyright & the tramp on the Embankment - Thursday, 31st August 2017

Good morning,

Thank you Mr. Reppert for posting on “copyright”, it’s something that burns me up.

Years and years ago I was Systems & Programming Manager at the Performing Right Society, and responsible for implementing one of the first major computer systems for controlling copyright in musical works.  So I know a little about it.  That never prepared me for the issues of copyright when I came to writing my two Bridge books.

I have a wonderful section on humour, in Volume I, which I have called “The tramp on the Embankment”.  In telling the story of that poor chap who resided there because he didn’t draw trumps, I wanted to depict the lovely cartoon by the famous John Hassall (1868 to 1948).  I began to read up everything I could on copyright, and as I did, it became murkier and murkier, with more and more warnings.  You will all be aware that copyright now applies to 70 years to the next year after the original creation, which means Mr. Hassall’s cartoon remains protected until 1st January 2019 (I hope I’ve got that right).

I managed to contact family members, but all to no avail.  I so wanted to bring you all that wonderful cartoon.  I literally lay awake at night worrying.  In the end, a day or so before "last post”, I took it out - oh dear.  These are the kind of emotional overheads you get when you try to do something creative.  Nobody is around to tell you you have overstepped the mark.  I could fill whole posts with my stories about trying to contact descendants through probate records, Ancestry and the like - Mr Ewart Kempson is a classic.  Likely, the most prolific Bridge columnist of all time, but still in copyright - try contacting his descendants !  And I can tell you another thing, if you are lucky enough to contact someone, usually via a family tree set up on the internet, they often have absolutely no idea that their great grandfather wrote a Bridge book or had a Bridge article published.  Who wants that kind of worry.  Copyright Law, as it is, shrouded in obsequiousness, does more to kill creativity that anything I can think off.  Many times I could have just walked away from my book and got on with life.  We don’t just need a Brexit for Bridge, we need one for copyright as well.

Maybe I will delay the last post for my Volume II until 1st January 2019, and put that Hassall cartoon on the front cover.

BW, Ken..

P.S thank you Bridge Winners for allowing me to say this, I hope I’ve not overstepped the mark ?

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