back to article Great War diary reveals original Captain Blackadder

Blackadder would have approved. On 9 November 1916, Captain Alexander Stewart of Scottish regiment the Cameronians wrote from the Western Front: "I am very much annoyed by memos sent round from Headquarters that come in at all hours of the day and night; they stop me getting a full night's rest and some of them are very silly …


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  1. Andy

    Just pay for it!!!!!

    I honestly can not believe the level of morally bankrupt, freeloading, entitlement obsessed idiots that seem to use the Internet.

    It doesn't matter if you don't like the price. You don't have to buy it. There is no need to own everything that is distributed over the Internet. Let's be honest if the family sold the book for 1p you'd still all be looking for the damn pirated torrent as people seem to have such a huge sense of entitlement that they see no reason anyone should be paid for anything and that the world owes them everything for free.

    Would the same idiots that are promoting how to theive the book from the website do the same from a real shop? Imagine a small bookshop with rather weak security, i.e. no CCTV, no security and the cash desk is around a corner so that the owner can't see you. Would you steal the physical book if you felt it was over priced and fortunately (for you) poorly protected? I'm sure that 99% of people wouldn't. However, the Internet allows freeloaders a wonderful anonymity and a disconnected feeling from the onwer\retailer that allows them to ignore any feelings of guilt.

    Should any of the freeloaders ever have the opportunity of making any money via the Internet then I hope their fellow freeloading brethren make sure this doesn't happen. There is, afterall, no honour amongst thieves.

    @ Robert Long. Eric Oslo was not applying sixth former debating logic, but using a very sensible anology. You, however, seem to be blinded by some technological utopian ideal that just because it is computer based it needs to be worshipped like a Messiah and set free. DRM may prevent copying to varying extents, but "copying" is a method peculair to only a few products. An owner of a vase has no easy method of copying his vase (and then sharing the damn things with the world and his wife). Just because you can copy it on a computer doesn't mean that you have to. Sure the nature of digital media makes it difficult to prevent and it can't be undone; but again doing something just because you can doesn't make it OK.

  2. Eric Olson

    @ Robert Long

    Not all societies allow for copying of a copyrighted work. The US has, through the Supreme Court and legislative action, enshrined a principle of "Fair Use." How far that goes it subject to debate. The specific act of copying broadcast shows to your VHS is covered. I don't believe that anyone ever really tested to see if that extended to the creation of tapes from other tapes, CDs, LPs, or other formats. Even though it was rarely policed, the copying of those formats and giving them to friends and neighbors was illegal, as it is then not for private use. And you can't really take a taped broadcast from your home to someone else's place for viewing, technically speaking. Hence the disclaimer after sporting events that the broadcast can only be copied for the express purpose of private use in your own home.

    So, with that in mind, how does the "rental" of DRM-laced formats differ from the purchase of a chair from a store? You can't "copy" a chair and have a second one or have a backup in case the original breaks. Now, you can make a "chair" that might look similar, but it is not a one-for-one copy, and then is your own creation. Now take a book, since that's the best analog, and actually is within copyright laws. Most books contain something similar to this (From US Print of a Terry Pratchett book): "No part of this book may be used or reproduced in ANY MANNER WHATSOEVER [my emphisis] without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews."

    I suppose if you though this was an incorrect interpretation of copyright law, you could break the spine, copy 300 pages, and then find a way to bind them together, doing all of that without destroying or damaging the original. Also, there cannot be simultaneous use of the book, since if you lend it out you can't read it.

    Should we call such limitations "Hardware Rights Management," because it's hardcoded into the specifications that one-to-one copying is being denied, and therefore decry that our "Fair Use" rights are being trampled? Does this all seem ridiculous? It had better. I am just taking the natural logical conclusion of previous posters to the extreme and applying it to everything in our world. The stuff in the real world has limits, based on materials, specifications, design, and the fact that it is a thing, as well as patent and copyright law. I fail to see how change from one material/format to another results in the old rules no longer apply, or that someone should automatically give up any and all rights controlling the dissemination of their work because they dared to make it available in a digital format.

    The music industry has given us a bad taste for DRM, and rightfully so. There might be better ways to protect a creator's content without resorting to complete lockdown. However, I think it's ridiculous to think that things published or sold on the internet are automatically given to a collective ownership, instead of being owned by real people or corporations. I hate DRM, I despise profiteering companies, and I believe that there is a better way to go about this. But when you advocate DRM-free media formats, and do not provide an alternative way for the artist/composer/producer/writer/author to be compensated, you advocate theft, you advocate pure greed on the part of the end user, you advocate the end of creativity but for the joy of making content without hope of compensation. And that's not a model that will last, because people need to eat, need to live, need to survive. They can't produce content if they have to spend 40+ hours a week working to make ends meet. At least not for a long period of time.

  3. Sceptical Bastard

    @Bjorn - don't lecture us on history

    Firstly, Bjorn, don't be so presumptious as to lecture me on "... spending10 seconds looking up facts..." For all you know, I might have read history for my degree and spent much of my adult life exploring the twentieth century's European political upheavals.

    Secondly, only a fool (or a German, of course) could possibly claim "... that Germany was dragged into WW1." Which are you?

    Yes, you are right that the Triple Entente and the alliances between the Central Powers made a pan-European war more, not less, likely. Yes, you are right that during the first decade of the century there was an 'arms race' (or, more accurately, a naval race) between Great Britain and Germany. And, though you don't mention it, the weakness of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (and, to a lesser degree, the crumbling influence of the Ottoman Empire) combined with a rising Serb nationalism meant the Balkan states were increasingly unstable: and that Serbia, in particular, had the support of Russia and, thereby, France.

    But you either fail to mention - or don't accept - that beneath those generic pre-WW1 tensions, the Junkers ethic held sway in Berlin: In fact (and it IS a fact) throughout the early years of the twentieth century Germany was bristling with Prussian militarism and was building up its navy for expansionist, rather than defensive, purposes.

    Most significantly, alone among the European Great Powers (Britain and Germany, Austro-Hungarian, France and Russia, and Italy) Germany's plans for general mobilisation involved the invasion of a sovereign state - Belgium. Germany's defensive strategy was based on the so-called 'Schliffen Plan' for a two-front war, a plan which inherently made a pan-European conflict inevitable.

    After the assassination of Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, the Austro-Hungarian politicians understandably took a belligerant stance. In this they were greatly egged on by the German chancellor and generals. Germany, in effect, pushed the Hapsburgs into conflict with Serbia. The result was inevitable, although its ultimate ramifications were unforeseen.

    In summary, although it could - tenuously - be argued that the Germans did not actually 'start' WW1, their aristocratic system, their elitist militarism, and their agressive mobilisation plans were the most important factors in bringing Europe to war.

    Bjorn, you wisely do not dispute the cause of WWII. That war was caused solely by German military aggression and was triggered by the invasion of Poland. Atrocities were committed by all sides (including Great Britain) but those perpetrated by Germany against civilians were the most cold-blooded and horrendous IMO.

    As I said in my original comment, it is important to remember what tens of millions of people suffered and who, directly or indirectly, caused that suffering. Personally, I think we have all forgiven Germany far too readily and far too soon - Bjorn would, it appears, take a different view.

  4. triky

    @ neil barnes

    ah ok. i see. indeed, i had a quick look at US copyright law and it does seem that it is automatic there as well... however, the law also states that 'mere ownership of a book, manuscript, painting, or any other copy or phonorecord does not give the possessor the copyright. The law provides that transfer of ownership of any material object that embodies a protected work does not of itself convey any rights in the copyright.'

    So i wonder, if one were to get a pirated copy online, and consequently discovered by law enforcement, whether one would actually be liable for copyright infringement. do you think that through inheritance, the copyright would vest itself in the heirs automatically?

  5. Stephen Gray

    I have a solution

    If you want to read the book buy it, if you dont want to read it then dont buy it, just remember it would be in German if Captain Stewart and others had the same kind of attitude as most of the tossers who are complaining they "cant get it free"

  6. Charles Calthrop

    To the guy who stole it

    Does that mean I can come to your house, help myself to what I fancy and then make a donation to Victim Support?

  7. Reece

    Does anybody know the email of the grandson?

    I have sent an email to the email provided on the page for the publisher but I would also like to make sure Jaime Cameron Stewart is informed of my actions.

    I have downloaded the ebook for free and asked the publisher to tell me by Christmas if they want me to delete it if they don't trust me to give them what I see is fit.

    As its a windows .exe file it is not going to be viewed on my normal ebook viewing machine anyway so I probably will just leave it unread.

    I have a Linux machine in my room that can have the screen turned towards my bed if I'm feeling lazy, plans for another machine in the lounge with a big screen to be primarily a Linux machine for TV/DVD watching but could be used for reading ebooks off of, and I'm thinking of buying a portable ebook viewer as well at some point in the near future (Windows .exe capability will not be on my checklist of questions to ask).

    I feel it is now my moral obligation to actively not read this ebook before Christmas as I have now sent this email. By that stage I will have probably placed it in one of my archive folders and forgotten about it but if anybody has any feedback to give me along the lines of "make a note in your diary and read this: its worth a lot more the 10 measly pounds and sitting in front of a Windows machine for a few hours!" it would be good to hear.

  8. SImon Hobson Silver badge

    @ Eric Olson

    You have your analogy wrong - but then some of the anti-drm arguments are also wrong.

    A better analogy is this. You buy a TV, a sofa, table, etc for your lounge. You sit down to read a nice book or watch a DVD - all well and good.

    But then your wife decides she's like a different wallpaper - so you redecorate, move the room around a bit, and so on. Now you find that the DVD doesn't work and the book can't be read because you've changed the room.

    So if you want to argue that reading a book on the train isn't reasonable, or reading a book in the bath isn't reasonable, etc then go ahead - you just might find yourself sounding silly !

    Then there is the more practical aspects. With a real book you can read it on the train to work, read it while relaxing in the bath, read it while sitting outside on a summers evening. With this 'book' you can read it anywhere you want ... - err hang on, anywhere you want to provided it's somewhere you can (and can be bothered to) drag your computer to.

    Now as to those "but it stops us copying it" type of arguments. Well I'm anti-DRM myself, but those aren't sensible arguments and merely give the pro-DRM camps more amunition - as in "well the only reason for them wanting no DRM is so they can copy it and pass it around". So shut the f**k up about that one and stick to the real arguments : DRM prevents legally defined (in some places) fair uses (like reading/listening/watching where and when you want), it prevents long term ownership (computer dies, you lose your 'purchases'), it creates an air of mistrust which positively encourages a loss of respect for the author/copyright owners rights.

    I might have bought several copies (even though it is 'a bit pricy' for a non-printed book*) of this as I know a few people who might like it as a Christmas present - but I'm not going to. None of them has a Windows PC, none of them would consider reading a book on a computer screen, and as a matter of principal I don't intend rewarding anyone for such an ill thought out policy. I'll be sending an email telling them of this !

    * And yes I know VERY well what it costs to print a book. It would be possible to do a printed book of this size for this price AND make a profit - not a huge profit as something like this is NEVER going to be a Harry Potter ! So I conclude (like others) that either they are making a rather large profit margin, or have been screwed over by a publisher.

  9. Sceptical Bastard

    @ SImon Hobson

    Thank fuck! A sensible analogy at last, reasoned opposition to DRM, and a kick in the arse for the "I want everything for free" brigade.

    Well said, that man.

  10. Sergei Andropov

    @Sceptical Bastard

    "Personally, I think we have all forgiven Germany far too readily and far too soon"

    The First World War took place almost one hundred years ago. There are only about thirty surviving veterans of it on the planet; all of those involved in actually starting it have long since decomposed. How many generations is long enough? Should we be upset with people because of things that their ancestors did? Should I perhaps be up in arms because the French forced my ancestors out of Alsaß back during the Thirty Years War? That's precisely the kind of grudge-holding mentality that contributed to things like World War One.

  11. Sceptical Bastard

    @ Sergei

    Listen, mate, as a Saxon sympathiser I'm still really pissed off with the Norman French.

    My comment about Germany was not in reference to the first world war. It was motivated mostly by horror of that nation's genocide in 1942-45, and partly by Bjorn's aplologia for Germany.


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