Every Nobel laureate gives the copyright to their Nobel lecture to the Nobel Foundation, and they in turn allow any newspaper to publish it in full, as well as overseeing other publications of it; see, for example, the copyright-notice for Svetlana Alexievich's 2015 Nobel lecture. I've never heard of any laureate keeping the copyright -- J.M.Coetzee was apparently reluctant to give up his, but even he ultimately went along with it --, but in their kowtowing desperation and complete mismanagement of the awarding of the 2016 prize -- infamously and ridiculously awarded to Bob Dylan -- the Swedish Academy somehow, incredibly, didn't manage to secure the copyright to his lecture for the foundation (as Inoted at the time); see the very different copyright notice for his Nobel lecture.
Nobel lectures do get published in book form, individually and in collections. So, for example, there's J.M.Coetzee's, which Penguin published -- get your copy at Amazon.com --, and there's the Melbourne University Press 1986-2006 collection, published in a US edition by The New Press -- get your copy at Amazon.com. But in all cases, it's the Nobel Fundation that holds the copyright -- and hence control (and, presumably, most of the cash).
Dylan, on the other hand, has gone totally solo -- and now stands to cash in, big time, all by himself. As John Williams now reports in The New York Times -- disappointingly, without mentioning the copyright-issue --, in Bob Dylan's Nobel Lecture Signed, Sealed and Delivered:
Simon & Schuster today released a special edition of Mr. Dylan’s Nobel lecture, which runs to 23 pages. One hundred individually signed and numbered hardcover copies in slipcases are available for $2,500 each. (Next-day shipping is included.)Yes, that works out to more than US$100 per page. (But then it's not about the pages, is it ?)
There's even a special site where you can order this 'deluxe' version -- bobdylannobel.com.
The Nobel Prize in Literature is to be awarded to someone producing 'the most outstanding work in an ideal direction'; whatever Alfred Nobel might have meant with those words (and there's been lots of debate and confusion about that), one wonders whether anyone considers or hopes this is the 'ideal direction' he imagined ..... (Hey, who knows ? Maybe Dylan has the profits earmarked for his favorite charity, right ? Maybe he thinks he can do good better with it than the Nobel Foundation would .....)
The Swedish Academy has, in an almost admirable way, stood by their ridiculous choice, but I'm sure even they had hoped the embarrassments were over -- but, no, Dylan is the Nobel-disaster that keeps giving. They must be really proud and pleased to see: 'bobdylannobel.com' (!) and him flogging US$2,500-copies ("plus applicable taxes") of his lecture.
For those who are unwilling to spend quite so much, or who don't care about their texts being signed and numbered, Simon & Schuster also offers an edition that looks to be identical, except it doesn't include the protective slipcase or the Dylan-signature, that can be yours for US$16.99 (or less -- that's the list price -- at Amazon.com -- where it is, as I write this, the: "#1 Best Seller in Literary Speeches").
[Updated: I have to admit I'm kind of surprised they didn't add a bit more to the 'deluxe' version -- if they can provide a slipcase, surely they could also have included a CD of the audio. But it's not about the lecture, is it ? They're not selling a book or a text, they're selling an object, it's ostensible value found entirely in the fact that Dylan-touched-and-left-his-mark-on-it.]
I remind you also that you can always read (and/or listen to !) it for free (and print it out/download it for your own use) at the Nobel site itself -- here.
By and large, I'm all for artists (and translators !) keeping the copyright to their work, but in the Nobel lecture-case there's something to be said for institutional control, allowing them to publish nice series of all the lectures, etc. etc. The Dylan-exception complicates things.
On the other hand ... there's something to be said to being able to exclude him from the Nobel canon, as he conveniently sets and holds himself apart ... hmmm, maybe this will work out well after all .....
I almost admire Dylan's completely shameless cashing-in -- why be satisfied with the almost one million dollar Nobel payday when you can make another quarter million off of a limited edition of a lecture everybody else gives up for free ? The Swedish Academy wanted to honor the rebellious songwriter -- they presumably just didn't realize that his rebelliousness against institutions, like them and the Nobel Foundation, was so true-blue, all-American -- i.e. it's all just about the money.
Part of me hopes Kazuo Ishiguro goes against type and tries to top Dylan's prima donna act when he goes to pick up his Nobel next month -- but, no, he seems to be too nice and decent a guy, and I'm afraid he'll play along and do everything that's expected of him. But maybe we haven't heard the last from Dylan -- he could still ... melt down his Nobel medal ? auction off his Nobel diploma ? Stay tuned !