Author talk:Karl Marx

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Sources for works[edit]


During my search for Marx works, I've come across many speeches in the Marxists Archive. While there's no doubt that Marx's speeches are PD, their English translations may not be. In particular, some translations have been found/made during the Marx/Engels Collected Works (MECW) publishing collaboration by various publishers. Some translations by the MECW are translations from much older publications (for instance, The Bee-Hive translations are PD-1923 since it published between 1861 and 1878), but some were apparently published in English in the 20th Century. Therefore, I have concerns as to whether some speeches may not be included in WS due to copyvios or unknown licenses.

One example is On the Influence of Competition In Cotton Industry in France (uploaded by me), whose notes state "The full text of Marx’s speech was first published in English in...1966.

The question then is: who exactly may hold the copyright? The Marxists Archive includes the English translations and they publish it under GFDL, but they clearly didn't translate it; I haven't found info on what license the MECW project is under (but most likely copyrighted by the publishers); and the original translators and publish date may not be identified in the Marxists Archive or in MECW. We have to obtain more info on MECW copyright before using, and if anyone knows or can clarify this situation it would be much appreciated.

Until then, I believe that On the Influence of Competition In Cotton Industry in France should be deleted for copyvio/unknown license reasons, while other works such as On the Reduction of the Working Day be kept or at least debated since the translator is identified and the publishing date given. Additionally, works uploaded from the Marxists Archives should be reviewed for licensing issues by experienced editors/admins since apparently many are originally from the MECW project. Thoughts? - Mtmelendez 15:43, 31 March 2008 (UTC)

Perhaps an email to will help; maybe the copyright of the MECW collection was given to John Vandenberg (chat) 10:00, 1 April 2008 (UTC)
Done. I'll update here. - Mtmelendez 13:16, 1 April 2008 (UTC)

I've received an e-mail response from one of the admins at the Marxist Archives, who effectively confirmed my concerns. Although Marx's works are PD, most of the translations in the MECW are not, and International Publishers and Lawrence and Wishart hold copyright over MECW, and probably most of its translations, while others might be copyrighted by the original author.

Therefore, as I stated previously, all content derived from the Marx/Engels Collected Works, either through the Marxists Archive or any other source, and included in Wikisource should be reviewed by an experienced editor or admin to make sure that it meets the PD criteria, and if the published date and the original translator are not disclosed in the work, it should be nominated for deletion for unknown copyright status.

On a positive note, the admin directed me to this page, which provides sources and dates of translation and publishing for Marx's works. - Mtmelendez 11:57, 2 April 2008 (UTC)

Thanks for investigating. Did they explain why they are putting the Marx/Engels Collected Works online; do they have permission from the copyright holder to redistribute this work, or is their server located in a jurisdiction where the copyright holders cant interfere? John Vandenberg (chat) 12:24, 2 April 2008 (UTC)
Yes, I forgot to post it. According to the admin, the Archives managed to get permission to publish it, apparently after long discussions, on the strict condition that they don't publish any other material from MECW. He further states that they are not in the Public Domain and that the Archives are not in any position to release such rights. Serious indeed. - Mtmelendez 12:34, 2 April 2008 (UTC)
I dont follow. They have published the first 10 of 50 volumes, and seem intent on bringing the rest online. What material from the "MECW" have they been prohibited from publishing? John Vandenberg (chat) 12:48, 2 April 2008 (UTC)
It appears that the MECW is the definitive collection of Marx's works, and some of them aren't even available outside the MECW project due to lost original manuscripts. I believe the site is trying to be comprehensive, but the MECW is copyrighted and expensive (complete digital copy runs for $5,000). But I'll try and obtain a response to explain why a publisher gives permission to make available the MECW effectively for free reading. - Mtmelendez 13:03, 2 April 2008 (UTC)
MECW was owned by the Russian Communist Party before the fall of the USSR and you used to be able to get it as a book-of-the-month club type subscription. As far as anyone knows, MECW were released into the public domain by the party some time in the early 90's after the fall of the Berlin Wall. As far as I can tell, the publishers who were originally involved with the Communist Party's publication has taken over, but they should only own copyrights on the new editions (last 2 I think). It was out of print for the entirety of the 90's I believe. There is also a company that offers a databased version on CD for $1,000. It would certainly be a scandle for a so-called communist party to try to enforce property ownership over Marx's works by suing someone trying to make it available to the masses. If someone has a new edition of vol 1-49, check the copyright in the front - if it is not the Communist Part of Russia, but the publisher instead, it is definitely public domain. If it is the Communist Party, then I suppose technically you should ask their permission. If they refused, it would really make them look bad, but then again, so did Stalin.