Copyright? What Copyright?

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But because Google are uppity little nerds who consider the world as theirs to metatag, they decided to scan them all, regardless of legal status.

Arm-in-arm with librarians, Google declared they would have 15 million books digitized in under a decade. In other words, almost half of the 32 million books that humans have published.

via newmatilda.com.

There Are 49 Comments On This Article.

  1. Yes, we should limit access to books, HOW CAN GIVING MORE PEOPLE ACCESS TO MORE BOOKS BE A GOOD THING, right?

    Seriously man, you sound so ridiculous.

    • @Ridiculous person, lay off the Google Kool Aid
      Here’s some of what the trade organization for picture archives has to say:
      http://www.pacaoffice.org/

      Marybeth Peters, the Register of Copyrights at the U.S. Copyright Office, raised her first issues about future concerns with the settlement. At the heart of her concern was whether the settlement obviated the work of legislation. Usually settlements look backwards and correct an injustice. This settlement goes into great detail to establish a new working model for licensing in the publishing industry. Ms. Peters raised the question as to whether the settlement becomes de facto legislation that did not go through Congress. Ms. Peters went so far as to intimate that the settlement could be seen as a compulsory license for the benefit of one private company, Google. Another notable concern was whether the settlement attempts to bypass years of constituents contributing to carefully crafted language in Orphan Works legislation.

      • @Julie, of course PACA would oppose the settlement, since it would essentially put their constituents out of a job. One of the fears of stock agencies is that they will simply be replaced by Google image search.

        This is very similar to the current Pirate Bay court case. Why is the Pirate Bay being shut down when Google does, in effect, the same thing?
        See: http://www.thepirategoogle.com/

        Google is search. The money they would make by selling the rights to orphaned works is practically ZERO compared to the money they would make by placing advertising. The Author’s Guild will make money selling the rights to orphan works compared to the ZERO money they make off this right now.

        For precisely this reason, Google will continue to scan the books whether the Orphan Works legislation passes or not. The Author’s Guild would love to bypass this step, for obvious reasons.

    • @Ridiculous person, of course, HOW CAN COMPENSATING PEOPLE SO THEY CAN CONTINUE TO CREATE THOSE BOOKS be a good thing, right?

      Or maybe you’d prefer to not be compensated for your work too?

  2. And how is this different from a library, were people get books for, GASP! Free! It’s same thing, except, more convenient.

    So basically you’re telling me that you are against the idea of a wider circulation of books?

    • @Ridiculous person,
      That’s the point. Once they’re scanned, they’re not “books” anymore.
      And while you’re championing a reasonable cause – the greater dissemination of information to those who need it most – go look up the term “digital divide” and see whose being left out of this “free” information bonanza.

    • @Ridiculous person,
      What is it that you do for a living? Would you like it if someone gave all your hard work away for free without your permission?

      • @K, I’m a photographer and I do just that, I apply a nonderivative, noncommercial and attributive creative common on all of my images.

        I’m a copyleft guy, as you can see.

        • @Ridiculous person,

          Difference is, because a person reading (or downloading) a book is the end user of the content and the usually BUYS the book, what google is doing is not “noncommercial” use.

          Apples and oranges…

          • @K, perhaps you are unfamilliar with the creative commons licence, Non commercial in short means: “you can use my pictures but if you make money out of it I need a cut”, however, if you wanna use it for your blog, website, wallpaper or whatever, it’s fine.

            I call this “not being a dick”.

    • @Ridiculous person,

      uh… because in the library model, the writer still gets paid. who exactly do you think are going to write all these “free” books?

      Perhaps the same people who write the free software, and compose the free music that folks like to download off the Pirate Bay?

  3. Mark Ellis

    Ignorance is such bliss.

    Maybe while ur at the library you could read the copyright laws! Then, you might understand the issue isn’t sharing the books — it’s reproduction of the works With-Out_Permission.

    Oh, and while you take the time to do that — you could also understand that libraries are publicly funded non-profit organizations. Google clearly is not.

    Course — we all have a right to do anything we like because we just want to… it’s a free country… especially when it comes to works of art.

      • @Ridiculous person, Surely you mean the English language. And isn’t that a bit saucy, asking someone you barely know to ‘come with you at the library’? Please do clean up after yourself.
        :)

        • @Julie, You are correct, I forgot to capitalize the “e”, my bad. English is my second language so yeah, mistakes happen. I hope “U” won’t judge me “2” hard on it.

          • @Ridiculous person, I’m only calling you out on it because you chose to pick on someone for their spelling but you can’t spell or write grammatically correctly yourself. Let’s apply the same attitude to your opinion on the Google book settlement and conclude you don’t know what you’re talking about there, either!

            • @Julie, Wow, you’re really being an asshole. You’re calling me out on a small mistake I made (don’t forget English is not my native language).

              I was only pointing out the irony of someone telling me to go at the library using an incorrect sentence.
              Also, saying that, because I forgot to capitalize an E in English, my position on the whole “free” books through google issue is invalid is a total logical fallacy. Learn to use logic.

              • @Ridiculous person, a little sensitive? A sense of humour goes a long way if you’re prepared to basically beg for the piss to be taken out of you – in case you’ve forgotten, here’s what you said “@Mark Ellis, Maybe “U” should come with me at the library and read some books about proper syntax and the english language.”
                I wouldn’t be here enjoying this if you hadn’t posted such a ridiculous comment in the first place.

                Bon weekend!

  4. Bonechips

    Let me see here. I am an author (or photographer in my real case) I work many years to put together a book and get it published. This is how I get paid remember. Google comes along and makes my book available to everyone at no cost and no re-numeration to me. Tell me, Ridiculous person, how am I going to make a living now? Are people like you going to send me a check? I doubt it.

    • @Bonechips, I doubt most people would consider an on screen copy of a book as useful as having the “real deal” (IE: printed on paper), the people who would buy your book will still buy it, no matter if it’s on the internet for free or not.

      I take it that you don’t have much faith in your product if you think that people will be so easily swayed into not buying it.

      • @Ridiculous person, tell that to Lexcycle, Inc… now a property of Amazon.com.

    • @Bonechips, Google is not making the books available to everyone for free. They only release small excerpts, even for orphan works. It is very much like a stock agency, where anyone can see a small preview or thumbnail of an image, but you have to purchase the rights to use it.

  5. Libraries exist and are financed by tax dollars. They are not ‘free’. Their content is not ‘free’ either. The books within those institutions have been purchased from publishers who pay a percentage to authors, again with tax dollars. You, as a library user, currently enjoy the PRIVILEGE of this service in a democratic country.

    Yes, Google is ‘opening’ the doors/flood-gates by ‘claiming’ and then redistributing ‘snippets’ for preview … They also intend to, eventually, charge you. Make no mistake, this is not a wholly ‘altruistic’ endeavour. Their long term aim is to ‘make more money’ . In other words, it’s just business as per. And yes, Google sure is ballsy in how they’ve gone about this – ie. ‘take first, ask permission later’. They have basically slapped traditional publishers in the face.

    In contrast to the above article read how Google ‘pitches’ it: http://books.google.com/googlebooks/agreement/

    Personally, and at this point, I advise all ‘traditionally’ published authors to, at the very least, register with the Google BOOK REGISTRY. The detailed applications forms are VERY specific about what ‘Rights’ you do assign Google IN PERPETUITY … Don’t leave this to your publisher (who is only a business), register as the author. Best to do this now rather than leave the mess for your estate …

  6. Bill Giles

    While I am concerned about the property rights of authors, I am also concerned about orphaned technical books which are no longer in print and can’t be found in libraries. I don’t want to see these books disappear as the paper copies get thrown away because the people who possess them have no idea what they are, but don’t have the opportunity to donate them to a library or can’t find a library that want’s them or can afford to keep them. As it is now, I scan all of the instruction books that I get, that aren’t available in .pdf form, so that a copy can be found when the original is lost or destroyed. I wish that I had scans of many of the magazines that I subscribe to. I can keep track of the files, but must destroy many of the paper copies.

  7. On one hand there is the content should be free crowd. On the other hand is the “my grandpappy only died 60 years ago so I should be getting money from the books he wrote 80 years ago” crowd.

    Perhaps here is a question to consider: Would the world be better off if every book ever published was available for free on the web and no authors could ever expect to make a dime in the future?

    It seems that it would be better for the 99.999% of the people in the world (who don’t write books for a living.)

  8. Martin – sorry if I wasn’t clear.

    My hypo assumes that no author in the future would ever expect to earn anything at all.

    In other words, given the information/photos/novels, etc. that now exist, would the world be better off if all of that information was immediately accessible even if it meant removing the monetary incentive for future production?

  9. I don’t understand the logic of those who want to make all books available online for free, and think that somehow it’s not going to hurt the income of authors and publishers. You can’t really compete against a free copy of your own product. While some here have said that a digital copy is not a substitute for a physical book, there are plenty of people who might PREFER to have a free, instant download, keyword-search-capable digital copy when the book might cost $25 plus shipping and the digital copy can fit on your Amazon Kindle or iPhone (or you could print it out at home, not to mention upcoming eInk technology solutions).

    When you remove the financial incentive for authors and other publishers of digital contents, I think we all suffer for it. Why bother spending countless hours slaving to create a new work, when people might just download it and you’ll never see a cent from it? True, some people write books as a loss leader to promote their professional services, but do we want all digtal products to turn into marketing vehicles for in-product placement advertistments?

    I run a small publishing company and I’ve authored and produced several works. I’ve made a lot of sacrifices in my life to create these titles. I’ve spent the last 6 years of my life and tens of thousands of my personal dollars to grow my small enterprise. I’m not very excited at all about Google or anyone else making my contents available online for free. It would be devastating to me , my staff, and the countless vendors and collaborators who make our products possible.

    Don’t belive the contents are safe, because Google only makes a subset of the content available. What they are doing is only making a subset avaialble to a single user at a time, but i could write a software app in a few evenings which could search a single book on Google Book Search using multiple computers scatters around the global and quickly assemble the entire book.

    I’ve sold books to tens of thousands of people in over 70 countries. Our customers are very loyal, and happy to pay a premium price for our products of the value we are providing to them. But if people start downloading digital copies of my work en mass, like we see people doing with movies and music, I’m going to need to shut down my company. But the real loss isn’t just my own job, the jobs of my staff and vendors, it’s the fact that tens of thousands of people are going to have to settle for inferior products.

    If you’re some kind professional, be it a photographer, or a financial wizard, or a sound engineer, or language expert or whatever…you might have a book in you that tens of thousands (or millions) of people could benefit from. But if the financial incentive is eroded by the potential existence of FREE digital versions of your own product, readily available on the web…why even bother writing such a book in the first place? There are probably better ways to spend your time. The risk is just too great.

    so that’s my bottom-line: I feel like we ALL suffer by being denied the fruits of others labors when we undermine their efforts by stripping away the potential for financial renumeration by pirating their works.

    It’s wrong, but people are just too selfish. Most people would rather save themselves a few bucks whenever they can. Everyone I know who pirates software, music and movies says, “I’m not hurting their sales, because I wouldn’t have paid for it anyway.” or “I just don’t have the money for it” (even though they certain spend their money on OTHER things, like brand name clothes, beer, vacations, etc).

    So this is the world we are creating: a place where information grows exponentially, but useful information grows only linearly and noise drowns out signal because crap is proliferating more and more everyday and no one is willing to pay for quality content anymore.

    • @Max Hodges, So following your logic, wikipedia should not exist because no one makes money out of it (well, the wikipedia fundation makes money… to pay for bandwidth so people can read wikipedia for free).

      The time of copyrights is coming to an end, this is the 21st century and an era of free flow of information. You’re a bunch of dinosaurs.

      • @Ridiculous person, to say that copyright is coming to an end might be a bit extreme. After all, it is what allows you to stipulate that personal use of your pictures is ok and commercial use isn’t within the CC license you use.

        I don’t read Max Hodges as saying wikipedia would be impossible, just that he doesn’t want to rely on the generosity / spare time / vanity of a relative few. As you point out, Creative Commons licenses are there for anyone who wants to, and is able to be generous and make their work available under a number of different scenarios. If authors want to put their work in a special google database, they should be able to, but don’t take that decision away from them. Having an internet connection doesn’t entitle anyone to all the information in the world.

        I’m just not sure why the idea of compensating someone for their creative work makes someone a dinosaur? I agree that there are new business models to be found that takes into account the reality of today’s electronic world, but doing away with copyright has far-reaching consequences (like no more CC licenses, or licenses at all for that matter).

        • @Eric, First off Eric, I must say your post was very interesting to read. It was properly written and used proper logic and structure.

          I do not totally agree with you (well, mostly not) but some of your arguments made me see the issue in another light.
          I do agree that no one should make money out of someone else’s work without consent from said creator (however, free distribution is fair in my book), however, books are the lifeblood of civilization and their free circulation is essential. I hardly think their free diffusion on the internet would have a huge effect on the revenues they can bring in, I really doubt anyone would take a free “online” book over a real printed thing.

          And the people that do, probably would not have bought said book in the first place anyways.

          • @Ridiculous person, The difference with Google is that they make money from the ads that show up with the searches. If they only posted the books in search results, with no paid advertising, then it might be a different situation. The problem I see in this is that Google wants free content to generate revenue. What makes Google so special that they should be allowed to make money from this, and not share any portion of that income?

  10. So if Google decides to provide free copies online of authors works (without the authority of the artist or any remunaration), does this action not make them the new Napster of music?

    It won’t be long before artists won’t bother producing anything of quality or historic anymore.

  11. thats why they have Richard Prince artwork plastered all over their google offices and hallways.

    just kidding

  12. @Ridiculous person –

    I thought food was the life’s blood of civilization.
    (Or was that water…. scratching head?)
    Why not make the Farmer’s output free as well?
    In the “age of information”, is not the creative product of an author a similar exchange of time and resources as that of a food producer?

    There are no free lunches!
    The gravity and inertia of a declining ROI will affect the model you suggest, bringing it down. Idealism is nice, but it lacks nutrition.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFle2YoQwWg

    You seem to be a big proponent of sharing information. I’m sure there are many here that would really appreciate your sharing the details of how you can making a good living with a *healthy* ROI with the model of business suggested in your photography business. Please share details – we know you aren’t a “dick”.

    • @Bob,
      As I’ve said, creative commons do not apply to “commercial” use of the images (and by commercial I mean: when there is money on the line). If I do a portrait of someone, of course I’ll get paid. But when I put that portrait on the internet on my website (for free, of course) and somebody uses it to illustrate some kind of article (it’s happened before), without making money out of it. What’s the big deal? I get referals, he (the blog author) gets an image.

      In short, it doesn’t change anything in your business, but after you have produce your work and made money, why not let people use for free (if not commercially)?
      Of course, sometimes, the nature of the photographic work will make it so you can’t share it, but most of the time people do not mind that a small res version of the image they paid for is available on the internet.

      ***

      Also, the difference with a farmer giving away his food, a book downloaded is not a book you have “lost” and cannot sell. Eletronic copies are infinite. Where as carrots and potatoes aren’t. If they were, of course they should be available for free to everyone, don’t you agree?

      Also, on the bit about free food, there has been “free” food in the past, many socialist countries provided their citizens with food and shelter for free for a price so cheap it was almost free. Why not socialize information then? Unlike physical good, information is infinite (you can reproduce it infinitely) and cannot fall prey to shortages.

      But I’m getting off topic now…

  13. @Ridiculous person.

    You wrote:
    “@Bonechips, I doubt most people would consider an on screen copy of a book as useful as having the “real deal” (IE: printed on paper), the people who would buy your book will still buy it, no matter if it’s on the internet for free or not. ”

    Is that the same way that you actually buy the cd’s you download from Piratebay or go and rent the dvds, that you already watched?

    If you can look up a recipe from a cooking book whenever you need it, why would you go and buy the book?

    Surely your photography business is a hobby not an income to sustain yourself and your family. Having lots of people using your images in blogs I am sure is flattering, but an income it is not, and noone can live on flattery alone.

    You clearly have no idea what you are talking about. In fact you sound like an idiot.