An HTML book is a derivative work under copyright law. If the original
text is protected by copyright, then to publish a derivative work, you would
need the permission of the original copyright holder. _The_Scarlet_Letter,_
however, is a work in the public domain. So Eldred was free to take that
work and do with it as he wanted.
This started Eldred on a hobby that soon became a cause. With the pub-
lication of Hawthorne, Eldred began Eldritch Press -- a free site devoted
to publishing HTML versions of public domain works (http://eldred.ne.
mediaone.net/). With a relatively cheap computer and an inexpensive scan-
ner, Eldred took books that had fallen into the public domain and made
them available for others on the Net. Soon his site had pulled together an
extraordinary collection of work, including a large collection of the works of
Oliver Wendell Holmes (Sr., not the Supreme Court justice).
Eldred, of course, is not the only on-line publisher of public domain
works. Michael Hart's Project Gutenberg has been publishing public do-
main texts on the Internet since 1970. But the point is not the uniqueness of
Eldred's efforts. Indeed, the point is exactly the opposite: The physical and
code layers of the Net enabled this kind of innovation -- for Eldred and for
anyone else. The physical layer was cheap; the code layer was open. His
only constraint would come at the content layer -- but more on that later.[8-5]
Internet texts are not the only innovation enabled by the Net. Much
more dramatic is the innovation in audio and video technologies. MP3
technologies are at the core of the audio changes. They too can be consid-
ered a new product that the Internet has made available.
As I have described, MP3 is the name of a compression technology. It is
a tool for compacting the size of a digital music recording. It works in part
by removing parts of the file that are inaudible to humans. Dogs would no-
tice the difference an MP3 file makes; most of the rest of us are blissfully ig-
Blissfully -- because this deafness of ours means that music can be made
available on the Internet in an efficient and simple way with relatively little
loss in fidelity. A five-minute song can be compressed to a file just
6 megabytes in size. And as connection speeds increase, that 6 MB file can
be shipped to someone else in less than a minute.
This means that the Net becomes a possible distributor for music, and
therefore it inspires a new kind of production: music written and performed
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