I’ve mentioned before how patent and copyright distort innovation, technology, the market, culture, and the like (e.g., The Effects of Patent and Copyright on Hollywood Movies; Leveraging IP; Amazingly, Spider-Man Pirates Himself; How Copyright Killed Superboy and Captain Marvel).
Last night I was at my brother-in-law’s house and was browsing through his omnibus edition of Douglas Adams’s Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, which includes not only the first four novels, which I read, but also two later stories, which I had not, and an introduction. The introduction is hilarious, and in typical Adams style. Adams strains to explain all the various versions of this series, from the radio series to UK and American editions of books and so on, and their various inconsistencies. One comment stood out to me:
In the fall of 1979, the first Hitchhiker book was published in England, called The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It was a substantially expanded version of the first four episodes of the radio series, in which some of the characters behaved in entirely different ways and others behaved in exactly the same ways but for entirely different reasons, which amounts to the same thing but saves rewriting the dialogue.
At roughly the same time a double record album was released, which was, by contrast, a slightly contracted version of the first four episodes of the radio series. These were not the recordings that were originally broadcast but wholly new recordings of substantially the same scripts. This was done because we had used music off gramophone records as incidental music for the series, which is fine on radio, but makes commercial release impossible.