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Old 09-18-2019, 09:39 AM
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Things going out of print. Does this still happen, and if so what are the most recent examples?


I've been pondering the idea of things going out of print or no longer being easily available to the general public. Categories to consider for this discussion include movies, TV shows, music, books, and video games. I'm also considering only large commercial scale projects, so someone's home movie, homemade music video that was taken down from youtube 5 years ago, or book manuscript collecting dust in an old desk don't count. By no longer being available I mean that they can't be found on either virtual or physical stores that don't specialize in old things. In other words if you can order it off Amazon, iTunes, the Kindle store, the Google Play store, the Nintendo or Sony virtual game store, or a brick and mortar stores like Best Buy, Barnes & Noble, Walmart, etc. then it's in print. If the only place you could find it is at a garage sale or a family owned used book store specializing in rarities or someone's estate sale, or having to contact the publisher / manufacturer directly for something they no longer make, that would count as being out of print. I would also exclude torrents and bootleg copy websites should whatever we're considering be available only through those types of outlets.

All that being said, what can you all think of that would qualify in the categories that I mentioned? How far back do we have to go before we start running into things that are out of print?

Last edited by FlikTheBlue; 09-18-2019 at 09:40 AM.
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Old 09-18-2019, 10:32 AM
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You have an odd definition of "in print." If you expand it to mean "you can find a few old copies for sale by third-parties on Amazon" then of course almost nothing goes out of print. But if you go by the actual definition--not currently being produced or distributed by the publisher--stuff goes out of print all the time.

Last edited by Darren Garrison; 09-18-2019 at 10:32 AM.
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Old 09-18-2019, 10:35 AM
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Books go out of print all the time. Barry Hughart's Bridge of Birds from 1984 -- an excellent novel -- currently has nothing but a secondary market.
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Old 09-18-2019, 10:37 AM
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Don't have to go far back for things that are out of print. I can list a bunch of books, movies and music from the 1980s that are out of print. A bunch from the 1990s as well. Heck, I can list music albums from 2018 that are out of print already; I run into them all the time on Bandcamp. I also know of a handful of musical instruments, like my beloved Klong Yaws, that are no longer made.

The Blade by Don Novello (the funniest book ever!) has been out of print since it was printed in 1984. One print run and no more have ever been made.*

Billy Rankin's excellent 1984 album Growin' Up Too Fast has been OOP since 1984.

David Cammell's White of the Eye (1987), a fantastic thriller with David Keith and Cathy Moriarity, has been OOP since the home videos were released in, IIRC, 1989.

Slayer's box set, Soundtrack To The Apocalypse, has been OOP since it was released in 2000.

I can find more recent examples if you'd like; those are just off the top of my head.


*AFAIK, I have the largest collection of The Blade in the world; currently I own 16 of the 5000 that were printed.

Last edited by Snowboarder Bo; 09-18-2019 at 10:40 AM.
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Old 09-18-2019, 10:37 AM
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This is why God invented the Public Library.
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Old 09-18-2019, 10:40 AM
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Dark Heresy 2nd Edition, is a role-playing game. Its core rulebook was published in 2014, and it is out of print.
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Old 09-18-2019, 10:45 AM
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Books go out of print all the time. Barry Hughart's Bridge of Birds from 1984 -- an excellent novel -- currently has nothing but a secondary market.
I'm seeing it available new (in mass-market paperback) on Amazon. And the three "Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox" are available as an e-book.
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Old 09-18-2019, 10:47 AM
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You have an odd definition of "in print." If you expand it to mean "you can find a few old copies for sale by third-parties on Amazon" then of course almost nothing goes out of print. But if you go by the actual definition--not currently being produced or distributed by the publisher--stuff goes out of print all the time.
While I think OP's definition is a little to expansive, I do think the world of digital media does change things now a days. If a book publisher stops printing a book, but you can still get the ebook on Kindle, is it truly "out of print"?
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Old 09-18-2019, 10:49 AM
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I have no experience searching for lost films, but as far as books go, there are plenty of books, even less than 100 years old, that I have had to find in the dusty recesses of whatever particularly large archival library happened to have it- no Amazon, no bootlegs, no torrents, nothing.

Mass open digitization and cataloguing has the potential to turn this around, but that does not make the book published or "in print" in any way, shape, or form; it is the equivalent of the librarian faxing you the pages you need instead of shipping you their only copy of some incredibly rare volume (truly rare books are not loaned out, by the way).
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Old 09-18-2019, 11:04 AM
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I'm seeing it available new (in mass-market paperback) on Amazon.
The fact that a retailer has "new" copies of a book doesn't necessarily mean that the publisher still has it in stock (which is what I interpret "in print" to mean). If the book is "out of print," then if Amazon runs out of stock of it, they wouldn't be able to order more copies from the publisher.

I would imagine that it's possible for new copies of a book to be floating around in the retail pipeline for a long time after the publisher no longer has any copies of it in stock (and has no plans to re-print it).
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Old 09-18-2019, 11:15 AM
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What about Disney's practice of releasing its movies on VHS/DVD/Bluray for a time and then pulling them from the market for seven years? I don't have specific titles in mind but I think that means that a bunch of the Disney films were out of print for a long time recently.
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Old 09-18-2019, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by FlikTheBlue View Post
Categories to consider for this discussion include movies, TV shows, music, books, and video games.
Video games can go "out of print" when studios shut down and rights get tied up between companies. Recently Telltale Games went out of business and their games were removed from online catalogs. Since then, some of them have been picked up by other studios/publishers and other licensed rights have reverted to their original IP holder so the fate of the games is still unknown.

Other games may stop being published/sold because licensed music rights expire and the game no longer sells enough copies to be worth renewing them. Sometimes you get a "new" version of the game without the licensed music and sometimes it just gets shelved indefinitely.
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Old 09-18-2019, 11:39 AM
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I play board games and it's a complicated question. A lot of games have a print run; they'll make a few thousand copies and sell them to a distributor who then sells them to stores and individual customers.

So is the game out of print? No, in the sense that it's available in stores. But yes, in the sense that no copies of the game are being made anymore.

What happens is people buy up the copies and the game becomes increasingly hard to find. At what point do you say it's no longer available? Is a game still in print is there's a copy sitting on a shelf in a store that's two thousand miles away from me and I don't know exists?
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Old 09-18-2019, 12:26 PM
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We also live in the blessed age of print-on-demand, where you can get your hands on all sorts of forgotten literature. They ain’t beautiful volumes, but are fine as reader’s copies.

Off the top of my head, I have on my shelves Guy Thorne’s When it Was Dark, a screwy 1903 pro-Christian novel recommended by atheist Christopher Hichens as a hoot; H.G. Wells’s The Research Magnificent; and the complete poems of George Sterling.
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Old 09-18-2019, 12:46 PM
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A lot of independent record labels went out of business in the past decade or so and not everything was snatched up by a new label/distributor. So you will see some albums considered "underground classics" that are no longer being manufactured on physical while also not legally available on download or streaming services.
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Old 09-18-2019, 12:47 PM
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I have to say that the premise of this thread strikes me as a little peculiar. Asking people to list things that are out of print is a bit like saying "list people who have died" or "list businesses that have gone under." Published materials go out of print all the time, everywhere, and there's nothing unusual or remarkable about it.

Also, as Darren Garrison notes, the OP is using a non-standard definition of "out of print." Many OOP items are available through third-party sellers on Amazon; that's my first stop when looking for anything that's out of print. If you include abebooks.com in the mix, then you can find practically any book you can think of. I can't understate how much easier it is to find OOP books now. In the 1980s and 90s I went to considerable time and effort to acquire all of my favorite author's novels, most of which were long out of print; this involved writing to rare book dealers to request catalogs, asking bookstore owners to call me when something came in, visiting used book dealers when I traveled, etc. Now I could probably order all of them in an hour without getting up from my comfy chair.

As a couple of people have pointed out, libraries are an excellent option if you don't need to own a book yourself. Your local public library would be happy to get things for you via interlibrary loan (although you might need to travel if you want to see something particularly rare). I spent 30 years working in university libraries, and they have so many out of print books that they're constantly running out of space to store them.

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While I think OP's definition is a little to expansive, I do think the world of digital media does change things now a days. If a book publisher stops printing a book, but you can still get the ebook on Kindle, is it truly "out of print"?
That's an excellent point. Publishers can keep ebooks on their backlist indefinitely, without the expense of maintaining a physical inventory. I'd consider such things "in print," even if the publisher has stopped printing paper copies.

Last edited by erysichthon; 09-18-2019 at 12:51 PM.
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Old 09-18-2019, 12:59 PM
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That's an excellent point. Publishers can keep ebooks on their backlist indefinitely, without the expense of maintaining a physical inventory. I'd consider such things "in print," even if the publisher has stopped printing paper copies.
This is a major complaint of authors. For older book contracts, a book that remains in print is still licensed to the publisher. This means that the author cannot get his rights back. So if someone wants to republish your old novel in a deluxe edition, you can't agree to it as long as it's available online via POD.

Rights used to revert to the author after a set period. At that point, the author could try to publish the book in a new edition. This option doesn't exist if the book remains in print, and publishers often point to POD or ebooks as proof the book is in print.

Older books usually reverted to their author. Recent novels usually define "in print" in such a way as to prevent this. But there's a large number of novels in the 90s and 00s that remain in print indefinitely.
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Old 09-18-2019, 03:17 PM
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A lot of independent record labels went out of business in the past decade or so and not everything was snatched up by a new label/distributor. So you will see some albums considered "underground classics" that are no longer being manufactured on physical while also not legally available on download or streaming services.
A lot of artists are now self-publishing and producing CDs on their own; I see this with lots of people on Bandcamp. So they print up, say 1000 CDs and when they're gone, they're gone.
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Old 09-18-2019, 05:15 PM
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This is why God invented the Public Library.
Whatever Godís intention, librarians weed their collections constantly and get rid of stuff that doesnít circulate
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Old 09-18-2019, 06:01 PM
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That's an excellent point. Publishers can keep ebooks on their backlist indefinitely, without the expense of maintaining a physical inventory. I'd consider such things "in print," even if the publisher has stopped printing paper copies.
That's a pretty enervated standard. You're basically saying something should be considered "in print" as long as it's possible to print a copy if somebody wants one. But that standard, I could say that my collected posts on this board are in print.
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Old 09-18-2019, 06:39 PM
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They damn well should be. I’d buy a copy.

Well, I might wait till they’re remaindered.
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Old 09-18-2019, 07:52 PM
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*AFAIK, I have the largest collection of The Blade in the world; currently I own 16 of the 5000 that were printed.
Um, why do you need 16 copies?
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Old 09-18-2019, 08:08 PM
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Um, why do you need 16 copies?
Clearly, you do not have the collector mentality.
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Old 09-18-2019, 09:06 PM
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Whatever Godís intention, librarians weed their collections constantly and get rid of stuff that doesnít circulate
Fine. Go and look for a hardcover copy of Ed Sanders' "Fug You" on Amazon then. My library network had it (free of course) and in my hands 3 days after I ordered it. (Just one example out of countless thousands, if not millions.)
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Old 09-19-2019, 01:06 AM
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Um, why do you need 16 copies?
He cornered the market. He posted here to drive up interest. And now he can make a killing selling them off.
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Old 09-19-2019, 03:25 AM
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Software documentation. If you're interested in Win98, Win2k, WinXP...MS culls that information and deletes it. Some stuff you can find where somebody has saved everything they thought was relevant in 2006, some stuff you can't find: you follow the links, and there is nothing there. Gone. Like tears in rain.

There is a broad grey line between ephemera and enduring cultural artefacts
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Old 09-19-2019, 06:50 AM
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In recent times with DVD/Videos, some things just drop off the map. Even unfindable on torrents, if you use them as a last resort.

Hawks- A film with Anthony Andres and Timothy Dalton was put out on VHS in 1988 and never issued since. You'll see VHS tapes on amazon.

Dragnet 2003 - The reboot on TV with Ed O'Neil, which was actually quite good, is unavailable having never been issued on DVD. There's a dead torrent somewhere I've been attached to for a year waiting for a seeder to reappear. Not given up on getting it yet.

St Elsewhere (some seasons) is something in between. They issued the first season on DVD (I have that). Seasons 3 and onwards are on the torrents. I think you can see Season 2 on Hulu in the US because they broadcast it there (plus Channel 4 in the UK). But getting it in a persistent form, is currently impossible.
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Old 09-19-2019, 08:07 AM
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Whatever Godís intention, librarians weed their collections constantly and get rid of stuff that doesnít circulate
Our library recently cleared out a ton of stuff. Less than a third remains in my areas of interest. Browsing the shelves is pointless now. I really don't have the heart to go there anymore.

Anyway ...

When I was a prof the issue of out-of-print was a recurring problem. And it's gotten worse. And the mania towards coming out with new editions so the old ones lose their value on the used book market has gotten even more absurd.

While my area was Computer Science, in some sub-areas the books were good for at least 10 years ... if they stayed in print. And in some other areas a 3 year old book was virtually ancient history so a limited time in print was built in.
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Old 09-19-2019, 08:27 AM
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I have no idea what the OP's definition of Out of Print is attempting to accomplish, and it's fundamentally contradictory - a lot of book stores that specialize in old things do at least some business on Amazon. I'm not really sure why you'd draw the line of OOP at 'only traded in retailers who don't do any sales on Amazon'.

A trivial to find example of stuff that is fully OOP is all of the old "How to" and "Dummies" books on Windows 95 and dialup internet (really anything but basic programming theory from the 2000s back).
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Old 09-19-2019, 04:53 PM
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I know of several examples of self-censorship, where the copyright owner voluntarily removes the work from the market because of some controversy.

Rage by Stephen King, because he was afraid it might encourage potential mass shooters

Song of the South, the Disney film, because it's now considered racially offensive

One episode of the original Hawaii Five-O with Jack Lord titled "Bored, She Hung Herself" because it features auto-erotic asphyxiation or something similar.

The short-lived 1970s TV series James at 15 has never been rebroadcast or released on home video because it features underage sexuality.

The version of Lady Gaga's "Do What U Want" that featured R. Kelly, because of the accusations against Kelly.

I'm sure there must be many more.
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Old 09-19-2019, 04:55 PM
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One episode of the original Hawaii Five-O with Jack Lord titled "Bored, She Hung Herself" because it features auto-erotic asphyxiation or something similar.
According to IMDb:

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This episode has apparently never been seen since its first and only network broadcast. CBS did not repeat it and it has been excluded from the syndication and DVD packages. The reputed explanation is that a young man hanged himself fatally trying to imitate the hanging in the story. [Creator] Leonard Freeman's widow reportedly confirmed that account to the show's fans at a 1996 convention.
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0598018...f_=tt_ql_trv_1

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Old 09-19-2019, 05:10 PM
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He cornered the market. He posted here to drive up interest. And now he can make a killing selling them off.
Suddenly I need a copy of The Blade. And Iíve never heard of it.
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Old 09-19-2019, 05:26 PM
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That's a pretty enervated standard. You're basically saying something should be considered "in print" as long as it's possible to print a copy if somebody wants one.
"In print" simply means that the book is available from the publisher. That's the standard definition used in the publishing industryóit's not something I made up. It doesn't matter if if there's a physical inventory or not. As I and others have pointed out, the OP in this thread is not using the standard definitions of the terms "in print" and "out of print."

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But that standard, I could say that my collected posts on this board are in print.
The SDMB is not a book publisher, so I don't think this is a meaningful analogy.
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Old 09-19-2019, 08:26 PM
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I know of several examples of self-censorship, where the copyright owner voluntarily removes the work from the market because of some controversy.

<snip>
Another prominent example are the first two albums by a truly genre-defining band, Kraftwerk. The band soon totally disowned them and they were never re-released, neither on LP nor CD nor online. Nobody really knows why, they both are really interesting kraut rock albums, they only hadn't found their signature sound yet.
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Old 09-19-2019, 09:39 PM
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Along the attempted self-censorship line, Neal Stephenson's first novel The Big U went out of print not too long after release. Stephenson had decided by then that it wasn't very good (I've read it, BTW, and he's right) so he didn't care and never tried to get it reissued. After Snow Crash and Diamond Age, his fans were doing stuff like stealing library copies and buying used copies for several hundred dollars - so he allowed a reprint, on the basis that if his fans wanted to read it that badly they at least shouldn't have to pay that much to do so.
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Old 09-19-2019, 09:59 PM
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With regards to music... the artist Lizzo has been putting out music since about 2012. She had some EPS and singles and studio albums. You could buy them online in CD and digital format (at least on Amazon, that’s where I bought them) and stream everything on Spotify. But this year just before her new album on Atlantic came out, all of her physical and digital stuff was no longer available. No CDs, no older singles and no streaming except her new album and one or two newer singles.

I suspect it’s due to her latest label contract and we’ll see her old stuff again sometime once all the legalities are figured out. But it sucks because new fans are completely locked out from her older music. It’s effectively out of print, for the moment.
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Old 09-19-2019, 10:49 PM
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What about Disney's practice of releasing its movies on VHS/DVD/Bluray for a time and then pulling them from the market for seven years? I don't have specific titles in mind but I think that means that a bunch of the Disney films were out of print for a long time recently.
Song of the South, LOL.

The example I was thinking of was Rich Burlew's webcomic, The Order of The Stick. For a long time, he was unable to reprint bound copies of his books, due to lacking the money to do so. Then he thought of using Kickstarter to solicit funds... https://www.kickstarter.com/projects...-reprint-drive

It was outrageously successful. Absent that though, his books were really hard to find. Now, I just buy the .pdf's.
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Old 09-19-2019, 10:51 PM
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I know of several examples of self-censorship, where the copyright owner voluntarily removes the work from the market because of some controversy.

Rage by Stephen King, because he was afraid it might encourage potential mass shooters

Song of the South, the Disney film, because it's now considered racially offensive

One episode of the original Hawaii Five-O with Jack Lord titled "Bored, She Hung Herself" because it features auto-erotic asphyxiation or something similar.

The short-lived 1970s TV series James at 15 has never been rebroadcast or released on home video because it features underage sexuality.

The version of Lady Gaga's "Do What U Want" that featured R. Kelly, because of the accusations against Kelly.

I'm sure there must be many more.
The whole oeurve of the KLF, where the two principals famously set their master tapes on fire. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_KLF

Really ahead of their time. Their duet with Tammy Wynette is hilarious.

Last edited by Gray Ghost; 09-19-2019 at 10:54 PM.
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Old 09-22-2019, 12:54 AM
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Data books. I'm going some of my Dad's stuff, and there are several shelves full of data books like you just can't get anymore, Ok, most of the Intel and Motorola stuff is out of print because it's obsolete. but it's not all Intel and Motorola and it's not all obsolete: there is a lot of documentation and explanatory engineering and science and technology there as well, but the genre is dead. I don't look in those books anymore, and the publishers don't publish new editions anymore: if they've got the budget to produce anything now, it's all on the internet.

I guess this isn't particularly recent: the internet is 25 years old, and I haven't got anything from the last 16 years.
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Old 09-24-2019, 08:34 PM
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I periodically look for books by John Morrissey and never find them, party because John Morrissey is too common a name so there are a lot of false positives. I am looking for books in the Kedrigern series, last in print in 1990 or so. I assume the rights are lost in a family dispute or some publisher lawsuit.
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Old 09-24-2019, 08:39 PM
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Originally Posted by ZipperJJ View Post
With regards to music... the artist Lizzo has been putting out music since about 2012. She had some EPS and singles and studio albums. You could buy them online in CD and digital format (at least on Amazon, thatís where I bought them) and stream everything on Spotify. But this year just before her new album on Atlantic came out, all of her physical and digital stuff was no longer available. No CDs, no older singles and no streaming except her new album and one or two newer singles.

I suspect itís due to her latest label contract and weíll see her old stuff again sometime once all the legalities are figured out. But it sucks because new fans are completely locked out from her older music. Itís effectively out of print, for the moment.
I guess that also explains why she's no longer the signoff for the public radio show On Being. (Or at least the last time I caught the end of it as it's not really my thing.)
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Old 09-25-2019, 10:11 AM
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Does never being in print count? The Comedy of Errors by the Flying Karamazov Brothers was a one-time production that was aired in 1987. It was filmed live from Lincoln Center and I think it was used as a PBS fundraiser. No one collected the authorizations from the many performers, so it could never be re-aired or sold. I taped it live on VHS and the tape was starting to wear out when someone "borrowed" it. It's only been available as bootleg copies.
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Old 09-25-2019, 02:40 PM
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I know of several examples of self-censorship, where the copyright owner voluntarily removes the work from the market because of some controversy.

Rage by Stephen King, because he was afraid it might encourage potential mass shooters

Song of the South, the Disney film, because it's now considered racially offensive

One episode of the original Hawaii Five-O with Jack Lord titled "Bored, She Hung Herself" because it features auto-erotic asphyxiation or something similar.

The short-lived 1970s TV series James at 15 has never been rebroadcast or released on home video because it features underage sexuality.

The version of Lady Gaga's "Do What U Want" that featured R. Kelly, because of the accusations against Kelly.

I'm sure there must be many more.
Let's all forget one of the most infamous acts of self-censorship due to controversy-----George Lucas refusing to release The Star Wars Holiday Special. The controversy being that it absolutely sucked.
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Old 09-26-2019, 12:57 PM
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Speaking of Lucas, is the Howard the Duck movie out of print?
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Old 09-26-2019, 03:08 PM
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Speaking of Lucas, is the Howard the Duck movie out of print?
This here's the age of streaming, kid.

It's available from at least a half dozen services. You can rent it from Amazon Video for $4.
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Old 09-26-2019, 04:33 PM
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At what point do you say it's no longer available? Is a game still in print is there's a copy sitting on a shelf in a store that's two thousand miles away from me and I don't know exists?
I think a good working definition for "out of print" is that it's no longer something that you can walk into a game store and place an order for to be filled.

If something is popular enough that the distributors are out of it and the publisher isn't currently making more and the only remaining stock is on whatever store shelves it ended up on, that's out of print.

Board games might be the thing that goes out of print the most of all mass media because production costs are higher and print runs are smaller. If a DVD goes out of print and there's demand, you can send the cover art and the digital master to any of many DVD producers and they can start pumping them out by the end of the day. If a book needs to go back into print, it's a little harder. You've got to figure out paper stock supplies, etc. Board games often have a bunch of different pieces made out of several of different materials from different suppliers.
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Old 09-26-2019, 05:51 PM
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Let's all forget one of the most infamous acts of self-censorship due to controversy-----George Lucas refusing to release The Star Wars Holiday Special. The controversy being that it absolutely sucked.
I'm not aware of any controversy around the Holiday Special sucking. Everyone seems to be pretty much on the same page about it being awful.
  #48  
Old 09-30-2019, 08:22 PM
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This here's the age of streaming, kid.

It's available from at least a half dozen services. You can rent it from Amazon Video for $4.
I'd heard a rumor long ago that Lucas was trying to suppress it. Either the rumor was wrong or things have loosened up.
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Old 10-01-2019, 03:08 PM
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That's a pretty enervated standard. You're basically saying something should be considered "in print" as long as it's possible to print a copy if somebody wants one. But that standard, I could say that my collected posts on this board are in print.
I fail to see what's wrong with that. That's how it has to work with digital goods. The alternative is that nothing that is digital only is ever said to be "in print," because digital goods are always copied on demand.

Granted, it must be available legally. I'm presuming in this analogy that you are authorizing these print copies. If the only way to obtain something is via illegal copying, then I would agree it is no longer in print.
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Old 10-01-2019, 07:46 PM
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A book I coauthored published in 1985 went out of print by 1990 and the copyright was returned to my coauthor and me. A few years ago, I discovered that the book is now offered for a price by the original publisher as a POD edition. It is also available on my website for free. My late coauthor also had it on his, but I am not sure his site is still up. Is it out of print? Your call. I assume the original publisher is using a scanned version, but the corrected one on my site is a PDF created from a TeX file.
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