An avid Public Library user asked me if there was some way to access the book “Daddy Long Legs” by Jean Webster without having to submit to the Library’s Overdrive system. My friend believes this book was published around 1912, which places it squarely in the Public Domain.
(This is not to single out any particular library… my understanding is that “Public Libraries” all seem to have fallen into the thrall of Overdrive… I’ll blog about why people might want to avoid the odious Overdrive and DRM later.)
For myself, I prefer to go the free-as-in-freedom route. The first place to look for any Public Domain digital book is online at the awesome Project Gutenberg http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/157
PG has been digitizing books since the 1970’s, so they have a very good selection. Sure enough, PG does have “Daddy Long-Legs” which you can:
(1) read online, or
in the Kindle proprietary format or
in the free eBook standard ePub, which can be read with any ePub reader on any digital device, or
in Plain Text.
Plain Text can be read in your computer’s text reader (Notepad or Geddit etc.)
If you don’t know if you have an ePub Reader, the one everyone can use is FBReader, the Free and Gratis ePub reader I know will work on windows, mac, GNU/linux, tablets/phones etc Download it free/gratis at http://fbreader.org/. (I am pretty sure this is the reader that comes native with the Calibre eBook conversion software.]
“Daddy Long Legs” is a famous classic, so you can also download it:
[There are also what I presume to be copyright encumbered film versions, like the Fred Astaire musical version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04M9M9yaNG8
and the 1970s animated version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQIGNow-03E
Either of these would be illegal to copy if they are still in copyright… they may or may not be; but it would take research to find out for sure, so until you know either way,it is always safest to assume the worst.]
If you are looking for digital Public Domain books, the best place to get them is not from the Public Library. The problem is that even Public Domain books that library patrons acquire through Overdrive come encumbered with DRM and/or TOS requirements.
In these days of copyright insanity, we at least ought to be able to access unencumbered Public Domain work. Why should some faceless corporate entity have the right to tell us what we can or can’t do with works in the Public Domain… because the Public Domain belongs to the public– and that’s you and me.
For future reference, when you’re looking for Public Domain material, always check the free-as-in-freedom & gratis Project Gutenberg, Project Gutenberg Canada, archive.org and Librivox, because they very often have them. (And, if you’ve a little extra time on your hands, these wonderful public service organizations are always in the market for volunteers.)
Many Canadian actors, writers and directors have established a considerable presence in the American movie and television business since the very beginning.
Talented Canadians have been migrating to Hollywood to make movies for as long as there have been movies. Naturally. If you wanted to be in pictures, that’s where you had to go.
They called her “America’s Sweetheart,” for her movie acting, but she was also a hard headed business woman who was producing her own films early on, going on to co-found United to ensure she maintained her autonomy. Toronto born Mary Pickford, was actually a Canadian girl.
Over time things have changed and today films are made all over the world.
The National Film Board of Canada became a world leader in documentary film making. NFB documentaries and short films have won many Oscars over the years.
The innovative IMAX film system, now available around the world, was created and developed by the Canadian IMAX Corporation.
On the Home Front
It has traditionally been difficult for Canadian movies and television programming to compete with American fare. Partly because so much Canadian talent has flowed south of the border, but Cancon rules have made it worse by engendering a lack of confidence in Canadian productions .
Initially the fledgling Canadian movie and TV industry was behind in technical expertise. Remember how 1970’s Canadian television programming and films were conspicuous because of the tinny sound? But by the 1980’s the Canadian film and television industry was undergoing change. Thanks in part to the exchange rate which kept the Canadian dollar lower than the American dollar, budget conscious American productions began flowing north across the border.
Today the world acknowledges Canada as the new Hollywood North, boasting a qualified film & TV workforce and decent production facilities. No less a personage than The Terminator er California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has vowed to fight to keep American productions out of Canada (and coincidentally in California).
Although it was a successful prime time Canadian Television series, Night Heat was actually a Canadian/American co-production. Great care was taken to place the series in an unspecified North American city in an attempt to make the series acceptable in both countries. In fact, the only North American City that Night Heat could not have taken place in was Toronto, since in one episode the heroes travel to Toronto for a CN Tower chase scene. Of course in reality Toronto was where the series was actually made.
Economically the Canadian film industry may be holding its own, but that isn’t the biggest problem. Although American driven Canadian productions may employ Canadians they are American productions creating American culture. Even when working on Canadian soil it seems Canadians contribute to American culture.
Due South was set in Chicago, and Fraser frequently wears the distinctive RCMP red serge uniform in the series, where he works with Chicago police detective Ray Vecchio. Although Fraser and his pet wolf Diefenbaker are usually the only nominal Canadian in the show, there is never any question that Fraser is the hero of the piece.
Although American audiences liked the show, CBS decided to pull out. But because it was a big hit in Canada and abroad financing was found to keep it running for a few more years.
The original Due South story editor, David Shore, went on to create the wildly successful American series House M.D.
Canada is sadly in the position of having a single first run movie theatre distribution network for the whole of Canada. Which means there is no competition at all. It’s a monopoly. When a popular Canadian movie like Passchendaele or Bon Cop Bad Cop is released, there is little chance of becoming a blockbuster because these films don’t get the opportunity. Their Canadian theatrical runs are very short.
Interestingly enough, there are no “Cancon” regulations for movie theatres. Particularly since we’re down to a monopoly, wouldn’t this be the perfect place to insist on Canadian content?
Canadians are capable of creating good movies and television. Why has there been so little of it?
How much of the problem comes down to perception. In spite of all of this evidence to the contrary, Canadians don’t think Canadian television or movies are generally very good. After all, if Canadian film and television was good, there wouldn’t be any need for Canadian Content regulations.
This perception first makes it hard to raise the money needed to create television or movies, and again to distribute them.
The advent of the Internet has opened up new distribution venues for Canadian film and video. This can only bode well for Canadian Culture.