Ghost Busters!

J. Murray was a young bride in 1929.  She and her husband arrived on Read Island in the Discovery Group to homestead through the Depression.  They left in 1939 for the US.  Forty years later she wrote a book about it.  The Flip of a Coin.  It was published by a now-defunct American firm and not executed very well.  Poor editing.  Bad pictures.  Ugly cover.  Left unregistered.  The book itself is not particularly well-written either and the story is somewhat predictable (to Sally and me) in that a previously rich young woman from the city comes to love the great outdoors of the Pacific Northwest and living the simple life.  Sal said her story was very similar to our own and, though set almost a hundred years ago, reveals experiences and lessons like ours.

Bookclub found it to be a fascinating book.  “Why?”  Because the book reflects so much of what life is still like out here, because the author and the book club women have such similar stories, and because she wrote about THEIR actual neighbourhood, the same logging roads, the same beaches.  Even the old store and school.  They have all walked in each other’s shoes and on the same pathways.  And not a great deal has changed in 100 years.

Anyway, one of the book club women found a copy or two and shared the story around the club and all the members wanted to read it.  But the books themselves were in rough shape.  Pages missing.  Poor binding.  So another member volunteered to re-type it all and Sal volunteered to format it, edit it and get it ‘print ready’.  Digitally ready.

Of course, reprinting someone else’s book is NOT kosher.  Even tho it was an American publisher and the author was a Canadian, there is no trace of either and all the book club’s efforts in finding any living link to the book were to no avail.  So, then they checked with a copyright lawyer and that turned out to be inconclusive with vague assurances qualified by mild but ominous warnings.

‘What to do?’

They finished re-writing it but they will not publish it.  Of course, they will print a few copies for the book club members to read but there will be no money involved, no costs, no exploitation.  All credit still attributed to the author and the publisher.  Complete and full disclosure.  They should be OK.  In effect, the book club has done something for posterity with their intent only a noble and an unselfish one.

We’ll see.  But no good deed goes unpunished.

“Why tell us?” 

Well……if it is all deemed eventually safe legally speaking, we may ‘loan’ a copy or two to readers.  Maybe.  But mostly because it illustrates so well that all sorts of things get done out here on a not-for-profit or even non-monetary model by ‘volunteers’ .  That is an important part of the OTG story and it is well represented by their work on this little old book.  They also do Quilts.  Food.  Garden produce.  Fish.  Home care.  Books.  Garbage dumping.  Wood-getting.  Neighbours helping neighbours.  Construction.  Ride-sharing.  The community even raised enough money to buy a piece of land – for the good of the community in the future.  The list never ends, the work never ends, the contributions never dry up and the work all gets done.  Even an old book restoration!

Imagine all that same work needed doing in the city………who ya gonna call?

PS: a reader pointed out that the book is listed on Amazon but listed as out of print and with no price.  Odd. We all looked on Amazon more than a few times but it WAS there…kinda…up on the site but NOT available.  


34 thoughts on “Ghost Busters!

  1. I do not think I would fret too much about an action for breach of copyright. First consideration – who is to know? I few copies get circulated among your readers and someone, somewhere, starts thinking lawsuit? How likely is that?

    It would appear that those with any vested interest to assert are long gone. Assuming that there is some heir out there, someone upon whom the ability to assert the right has devolved, just what, pray tell, are the practical realities? First, I would expect them to send along a thank you note for breathing new life into a moribund monograph.

    I learned early on as a young buck at the bar that one must be rich or crazy to start a lawsuit. Here, it would appear that any suit would have to be commenced in a U.S. court. Not cheap. Not cheap in any Canadian common law jurisdiction either.

    Let’s assume for a moment that someone south of us gets the legal machinery going, effects service of process ex juris on a few off-gridders and gets a court date booked in some far away venue after perhaps some interlocutory wrangling. What then? They must prove their damages. What, do you suppose, might be the quantum?

    Copyright cases are rare in BC and I have read every one to have come out since January 1982. One of note is :

    Evocation Publishing v. Hamilton et al., 2002 BCSC 1797.

    A few quotes from the judgment will illustrate.

    3. Damages for copyright infringement are estimated roughly, using common sense: Slumber-Magic Adjustable Bed Co. v. Sleep-King Adjustable Bed Co. (1984), 3 C.P.R. (3d) 81 (B.C.S.C.); C.P. Koch Ltd. v. Continental Steel Ltd. (1984), 82 C.P.R. (2d) 156 (B.C.S.C.), aff’d (1985), 4 C.P.R. (3d) 395 (B.C.C.A.)

    4. Three criteria are referred to by the courts, understanding that damages are at large and may be dealt with broadly as a “matter of common sense”:

    (1)amount of profit made as a result of the infringement [the Act, s. 35(1)]

    (2)loss of public and professional enhancement

    (3)what would have been fair remuneration for a licence to use the copyright.

    The Copyright Act (Canada), referred to in the judgment, provides:

    s. 35(1) Where a person infringes copyright, the person is liable to pay such damages to the owner of the copyright as the owner has suffered due to the infringement and, in addition to those damages, such part of the profits that the infringer has made from the infringement and that were not taken into account in calculating the damages as the court considers just.”

    Does any of the foregoing foreshadow any of the would-be copyright infringers and co-conspirators (including Sal) being saddled with a crushing judgment? And that’s after the U.S. court has pronounced judgment and the plaintiff(s) have passed the matter on to a Canadian law firm to bring an application in B.C. for reciprocal enforcement (if the U.S. state in question is a reciprocating state) or to bring an action for recognition and enforcement.

    So, at the end of the day, I see little scope here for a litigation extravaganza being launched against Sal et al., for their display of wanton and contumelious disregard of the copyright holder’s rights. Carry on. And I’d like to see a copy. I’ll risk being mulcted as an aider and abettor. Add me to the list of those engaged in a civil conspiracy.


  2. P.P.S.

    Upon more mature and fulsome consideration of this vexing matter, I would draw an even longer bow and go on to suggest republication of the work. Not, perhaps, for sale on Amazon or such, but on a limited basis. It could be sold for a modest sum, to cover costs and a bit extra, with any “extra” donated to some worthy cause on Read island. The author wrote about Read Island and it seems it would not lie in her mouth (or those of her heirs, executors, administrators or assigns) to complain that the work was somehow being exploited for illicit gain.


  3. Of course, perhaps all of the foregoing should await the imprimatur of my namesake – anonymous – who, yesterday on this blog, subjected my intemperate ramblings to a rather fine parsing.

    Just maybe, again, I have failed to articulate my thoughts clearly and Master Anonymous will, yet again, reveal my shortcomings. All of the foregoing might be be wholly ill-conceived and I should be slow to be seen as endorsing an egregious breach of copyright. Perhaps, instead, meticulous observance of the intent and spirit of that law should be sedulously fostered, not undermined my the likes of me coming along with flippant remarks like: Who’s to know? If nothing else, God is watching. And maybe Santa Claus. Those guys see everything. They’ll know if an underground press is running in the Discovery Islands. And they’ll know if I had a hand in counselling such subversive activities.


  4. OK. Ron. ‘Ulteacrpidarianism’? Really? ‘Contumelious’?
    I love you, man. You had me at ‘mulcted’…..the rest is just laying it on thick. Gawd this blog is great!
    Re: the law….I agree 100%. No real exposure. Worst case: cease and desist letter. Too many people are too afraid of the law. And, when dealing with the litigiously oriented, it is warranted but small fry and the pissants go relatively freely. Always. Why? ‘Cause they are to poor to sue! The great unwashed can’t afford soap and hot water. There is no percentage in suing the poor. Blood from a stone. And you STILL have to settle. “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” Poor people are free!
    Thankfully that applies to low income types, too.
    Glad you are on our side. But pro bono isn’t necessary….you’ll get a fish. Maybe two.


  5. The ultracrpidarianism comment was offered by my pal with whom I exchanged repartee yesterday. I am still struggling to attach some meaning to the comment “Ultracrpidarianism doesn’t pay damages.” Perhaps anonymous #2 will return to enlighten us.


  6. Perhaps I am being accused of being an ultracrepidarian (correct spelling, I believe). I regard myself as more of a dilettante.


  7. this blog gets better every day…might have to use Google Translate if thiese words keep popping up 🙂 . But you know I love this blog!!


  8. Looks like anonymous #2 shall not deign to return to explain the meaning of “Ultracrpidarianism doesn’t pay damages.” Shame that.

    Anyway, interesting story about Ma Murray and her book about life on the Discovery Islands in another time. And I admire the spirit of the Book Club elves in their venture into that aspect of librarianship known as archival science. I think restoring Ma Murray’s long-forgotten monograph is an admirable endeavour.

    I would ask, however, given the mention of “missing pages”, did they have on hand several copies, so that the pages missing in some were present in others, such that the complete work was available to them? Or did they resort to taking some poetic licence and filling in the blanks with their own prose, perhaps using what was said in the pages before and after the missing pages to speculate on what might have been said in those missing pages.

    Or maybe they decided to fill in the gaps with something a little more entertaining. As jdc has noted heretofore in this blog, sex seems to sell. Scantily-clad babes usually get attention, as does tales of their adventures while in a state of undress. Perhaps the missing pages were filled in with colour photos of bikini-clad “Miss Read Island, 1939” and what ensued when she and Jim Bob got all likkered up and went skinny dipping at Lambert Beach. You know. A touch of the prurient to keep readers’ attention.


    • Amongst the partials and the remnants there is a complete book…..Sal and friend ‘cobbled’ it all together. Complete: the story all-in is 244 pages but, with attachments, acknowledgments and the like, 254. As for Ms/Miss Discovery Group, she is described as an active participant on her wedding night and the bed eventually collapsed but, other than that, there is precious little in the erotic ways of Read Islanders. I offered to write a few lurid chapters pro bono, if you’ll pardon the expression, but Sal was clearly NOT amused. She’s British, don’t you know?
      Their idea of sex is raising Corgis!

      A2 is a librarian and, I suspect, loves the words employed. You can duke it out on another topic soon, I am sure.


      • Really, A2 is also a librarian? How many librarian followers are here? I believe kuya Sid is a member of the Loyal Order of Librarians, as am I, at least ex officio as the holder of an MLS degree, not that I ever used it much. But 3 of us in the small group is a crowd.

        Too bad Sal turned down the offer to weave some tales of the lurid into what otherwise might be a bit of a dry read. The whole copyright issue might then loom large. I could see the new, unexpurgated edition becoming a best seller. It would sorely test the mettle of Surge Narrows Press for production to keep pace with demand! They might have to run 3 shifts for awhile.


    • Anon #1, Are you suggesting J. Murray was our famous Ma Murray from Lillooet?
      She would have been 91 at the time of publishing (1979), but from what I’ve heard, quite able to provide a ;salty tale’ genre tome.
      However, I can find no reference to her having habituated the Discovery Islands.


      • Nay laddie, I just appropriated her name for literary effect, recognizing, like you, that she was known for her ability to indulge in all things ‘salty’.


  9. Well, if it be true that too many cooks spoil the broth, what are we to make of a surfeit of librarians? Should that cause the rest here to be reaching for the smelling salts?

    And how should we call such an assembly? We have gaggles of geese, murders of crows, packs of wolves, muzzles of meese (maybe, for a group of moose?). So what of librarians? Anyone? A lift of librarians?


  10. Which universities? The convention is to state youR full name and give the years the degrees were granted and the name of the granting institutions.


    • Disagreement can be fun. “Does she really mean No?” But some things can escalate. I can’t imagine anything I might write starting a division amongst good eggs….but it did. Apologies. Ghosts and busters can press buttons. Who knew? Guys……chill. CCCccchhhhiiiiiillllllllllllllllll…..nothing could be more meaningless than my blog. Well, an alliteration on librarians might be less meaningful, I suppose. I’ll go with a shush of librarians or, perhaps, a tyranny of librarians?

      On Wed, Jul 1, 2020 at 6:31 PM Our Off the Grid Home wrote:



  11. Wow anonymous, you’re hard core.

    Why should I or would I lay out my full name and credentials for you? And just what, exactly, am I “mocking” and “disavowing”?

    Anyway, jdc has rightly suggested that we chill. This is his blog and we should not clutter it up with any nonsense. To the extent that I am guilty in that regard, I apologize to our host.

    So you need not answer my question posed in the next preceding paragraph. I concede. I am a mocker, a disavower, and probably a mental midget who never finished elementary school, let alone completed a doctoral degree. You have seen through my shameless mendacity which, in the end, is nothing more than a sham, a fraud, a mask which I hold before my face to avoid recognition by the eye of equity. You have brought the lamp of scrutiny to otherwise dark places. You got me.

    Morituri te salutamus. Okay, one last fib. I like to pretend I completed Grade 13 Latin in Toronto.


  12. It is so interesting that these comments were made in response to Dave’s comments. It appears to be one of your traits to personalize and take comments out of context the very thing you accuse others of doing. Your use of irony is inept and childish. Since you have nothing to hid stop hiding. By the way David does not require your protestations. As you are well aware…you are well down the rabbit hole with your supercilious reticence to unmask yourself. More bombast to little effect.


  13. No apologies necessary. Comments, like e-mails, can be misinterpreted. I think this is one of those. Clearly the offended doesn’t see it that way but that could be part of the definition of misinterpretation. And so I do not require nor deserve an apology. I am fine with this. No one is bad. And I am fine with disagreement. AND you have already offered an apology and so that is that. For the record: no one needs to legitimize their credentials on a ‘light’ blog like mine. Write it. Fake it. Make it all up. It’s all OK. If someone gets really ugly, maybe I’ll delete something but, honestly, I am much more of a free speecher than I am a sensitive new age guy. AND I know that writing an opinion in a few sentences is prone to misinterpretation.
    Who knew a blog titled ‘Ghost Busters!’ could inflame?


  14. Most of the time, only your political subjects generate this amount of reactions, I wonder what the title of your next blog will be!


  15. It really pisses you off I see to be outdone.

    Who here is being childish? You started this nasty exchange yesterday by commenting thus to David’s topic of yesterday:

    “Sorry you Appear to hate Canada and the poor of Canada! Sorry that you see the solution to our current crisis is to take a Darwinian approach and let the weak die from hunger and disease. Survival of the fittest!”

    Do you remember posting that bit of garbage? I called you on it and all you have done since is mount a vociferous attack. You added nothing of value to that thread. Today, David raised a copyright issue. I offered some comments, backed up by case law and statute law. What did you add of utility? More impotent attacks on me.

    I asked you the meaning of your inane comment: “Ultracrpidarianism doesn’t pay damages.” No response from you.

    I asked you why I should set out full name and credentials for you. More silence from you.

    I asked you: “And just what, exactly, am I “mocking” and “disavowing”?” Again, no answer.

    Now I’ll ask you what is “the very thing [I] accuse others of doing? And to whom did i address an accusation?

    I pity you. I would not reveal myself to you because I think you have psychopathic traits and are very likely dangerous. You are the type who could easily show up at my door with a .357 Magnum in hand.


  16. Sad day. Still looking for someone to blame eh Ron! David gave you permission to wave around fake credentials so be it.


  17. Sounded very interesting so I looked it up, I found the picture for the unavailable out of print book at I may keep looking. I’ve found some interesting BC books being sold by English booksellers. I got my copy of Mysterious Powell Lake from there. – Margy


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