About that online version of the Breen Encyclopedia... perhaps the copyright issue isn't quite settled. The site is currently offline. Susan Headley discussed the situation in her coin blog Tuesday. Here are some excerpts. -Editor Although I had spoken to the Breen online site Webmaster, Tom Pilitowski, to verify that he did have the right to publish the book, which he said he did, the numerous questions I received made me do a double take. I contacted the current owner of the book's copyright, Bowers and Merena, and spoke to the president of the company, Steve Deeds. Mr. Deeds also verified that Pilitowski had permission to put the book online. I was satisfied with this, because if the president of the company can't speak for the entity he controls, who can?
This is where the story starts getting curious. Several days after I had spoken to Deeds, Pilitowski contacts me to tell me that he has been asked to take the Breen site down. Even though Deeds had clearly given permission to Pilitowski to publish the book, and even though I carefully confirmed this fact, Bowers and Merena's parent company, Escala, stepped into the picture and requested the site be removed.
When I spoke to Deeds again about this, he had subtly backed away from his position that he gave permission, claiming that he wasn't fully cognizant of the fact that the book was being published in its entirety, word for word, online. Deeds said that he assumed Pilitowski meant to use excerpts of the book in conjunction with Pilitowski's U.S. Rare Coin Investments business. He said that if he'd known Pilitowski had meant to publish the entire thing, he never would have agreed.
The curious part of all this is why Escala was suddenly drawn into the picture.
It has become obvious that some person, who seems to have some kind of grudge against either Pilitowski or coin collectors in general, has conducted an organized campaign to get the book taken offline! Several emails were sent to Deeds, and when that that didn't seem to get the job done, the same person saw that Deeds' superior at Escala, Greg Roberts, began receiving the emails. The emails were of the tattle-tale variety, as if someone was hoping to have the Breen site taken down because Pilitowski had done something wrong.
Why anybody would want to deprive coin collectors of this wonderful resource is beyond me. Like all business worlds, the coin world has its share of politics and infighting, and my best guess is that this was the motivation behind the emails.
Efforts are underway right now to restore the site, which was reluctantly taken offline on Sunday. Bowers and Merena is working on a revised edition of the Breen book...
To read the complete blog post, see: Breen Book Online Controversy (http://coins.about.com/b/2009/05/12/
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: WALTER BREENíS ENCYCLOPEDIA AVAILABLE ONLINE (http://www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v12n18a10.html)
To (try to) view the Breen Encyclopedia online (feel lucky?), see: www.breenencyclopedia.com
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