Let Google show how big it's pair truly is. Let them put out all of Disney's movies that are no longer "in print" whether Disney wants them to or not. See how far Google gets with its lawyers.
I'm not sure where I stand on Orphan books. I know where I stand on Orphan software -- if you have a copy, how and who you got it from is your business because no company exists to pay in the first place. It's somewhat different for writing though because the writer or his estate are more likely still around. So really they aren't the same thing. While Strategic Simulations (SSI) is no more, so I don't feel bad playing an old game on an Apple2e emulator, the family of Andre Norton still deserves some cash from a book download.
And that's where the Google effort crosses the lines with me. If they are wanting to make all books free then they are taking food from people's mouths as well as violating lots of laws. Again, let them try that with all those movies sitting in the Disney vault if that's their attitude and see how far they get. If they are wanting every book ever written to be sold in a Google store, well, what if I don't want my book associated with Google and it's megalomania? And what about Google putting all the other book stores out of business and creating a monopoly for itself (worse than the Kindle or iTunes by far)?
If they don't own the works and don't have the rights, they shouldn't be doing it, plain and simple. As much as a master library of every work ever created appeals to me as a consumer, that they are in the hands of a corporation which feels it can disobey laws it doesn't like gives me grave pause. And should Google decide not to keep certain titles which denigrate the company or tell the facts about certain Google-approved politicians? Freedom of speech doesn't mean Google has to keep that title in its storehouse, just like Apple plays editorial nanny with its App store.
We should be wary of anyone trying to be the only shopping spot for the world, be it Amazon, Apple, or Google. That's too much power over the media for any non-elected person (CEO) to possess.
I don't want that much power over the media in an elected person's hands either. The tyranny's bad either way.
I disagree with you in one respect:
If the copyright holder cannot be found, but the work is known to be still in copyright (death of author plus 70 years or whatever it is for that medium) then no one at all has any right to copy it. I reject the entire idea of 'orphaned' work (and I believe that the copyright laws of the signatory countries to the Berne Convention will back me up) -- in the absense of a contract, there is no right to reproduce a work until it becomes out of copyright.
The US used to have a system where the only 'protected' works were ones which had been registered. Since signing the Berne Convention that may still exist but is subsidiary to the general rule that everything is copyright to the author at the time of creation (I believe the phrase is something like "in a permanent form", that has been interpreted to mean things like publishing on a web site). There is no need to find you personally to determine that your books are in copyright, a simple search will show that you haven't died yet and so they must be. The only exception is if the copyright holder has explicitly made them Public Domain or has issued an open licence (like some of the Creative Commons ones) for anyone to copy the work -- but it's the responsibility of the person wanting to make a copy to prove that such assignment has been made.
I think that all of the authors -- not the Guild or Union or whatever) should pool resources in a class action suit and sue Google and the people who made the works available for copying. And hit them with the same sort of damages the RIAA and its ilk try to charge, that each copy 'could' have been downloaded thousands of times and each one represents a sale.
Otherwise it introduces an interesting principle -- that Mercedes in the car park is 'orphaned' if I can't see the driver so I can just take it. That food in the supermarket is 'orphaned' if I can't see a cashier. And it is not my job to find the owner, they have to contact me at which time I'll say "oops, sorry" and give it back, no penalties. Under that principle there is no theft, we can all just take whatever we want. Hmm, I wonder what the management of Google have that I might like?
Well, that would be my position...and I'd love to see website hosts enforce that on the torrent sites that put up pirated material.
And I agree--it's just like saying "Well, I found this car/bicycle/piece of land and nobody was around, so I just assumed nobody owned it..."
The presumption should be that somebody owns it and you have to get permission. But Google and libraries and so on think that's too costly. They've convinced Congress. And we don't have the deep pockets.
I think that Google (et al.) who want to scan books should have to pay an independent group a fee to research EACH book that they want to scan and *IF* the research group (paid on a by-the-hour for searching fee) can prove that the work is no longer under copywrite (e.g. find the death notice of the proven author and the death is >70 years), then it can be scanned and put up. If the research group can show WHO has the copywrite, then Google (or whomever) should get a contract (in writing) to publish. Having such a company would provide some jobs as well.
Interesting, I was wondering what was going on with this when I read about the death of the founder of Project Gutenberg (whose work I fully support since they focus on truly public domain works). http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/09/09/michael_stern_hart/
I think that's an excellent idea. Unfortunately, Congress's approach was to create another registry (other than the Copyright Office) where the copyright holder would have to register their work--for a fee each time--so that those who wanted to use the work could (for free) peruse it. I think we got that one squashed. But you see, Google is big and has deep pockets, so of course it should not be required to do anything difficult or expensive.
And here I was thinking that Google's corporate motto was "don't be evil".
I guess they're not using the word to mean what the rest of us think it means.
I agree with keristor
on the orphaned books concept. A book is either in copyright, or not. If the author or their heirs can't be found, then too bad, the work cannot be reproduced until the copyright expires.
I also think that this is grounds for a class action lawsuit by the authors of the purloined works.
There is a suit (referenced in the post with a link to an article about it) but I didn't know about it until now.
This is downright angering. I am getting sick of these corporations acting above the law, and doing whatever they feel is necessary to increase their user base and income. It's bad enough that Google underhandedly stores and markets their users' "private" messages and personal information, but to blatantly steal the efforts and livelihood of other people's businesses and services to profit themselves is abhorrent!
Who on earth monitors these massive internet companies, and why does the individual have to make a fuss, only to find that nothing is done about their illegal practices? I think it's about time the organisations who are paid to keep our laws stopped being spoon fed by these corps and their big dollars, and started protecting their people.
I will not be supporting these copied works in any way. I stopped utilising Google and certain others a while ago after witnessing their tactics; this only confirms that I made the right decision.
Is it ok if I link to this?
Sure, you can link to it.
As for why they're not monitored better...money talks and enough money talks loudly. We have a Congress devoted to large corporations as being far more important than individuals (it's not just Google they coddle.) We have a Supreme Court now dominated by pro-corporation justices.
It took my mother longer than you to get most of my Stepfathers work taken out of google docs and we still see parts of it all the time. Sadly the orphen problem is big for him since many of the newspapers he worked for are dead and gone and when he wrote for them they had the rights so we can do nothing.
She did slap down a large Ivy League Press that published a whole story of his in a textbook with out permission. Not only him but 2 other writers at the New Yorker, whos literary estates were held by older widows many who didnt have the advantage of an active agent. The head of the press said We should be honored to be in the book. Mum said "XX,XXX dollars or pull every damm book after being dragged though the streets" They paid up for her and the others who where her friends. and if they hadnt been greedy/lazy it would have been X,XXX dollars.
Good for your mother! (lifts the glass high in salute!)
The answer to Google should have been, "Not only no, but HELL, NO."
What are our courts coming to? If an individual had proposed something like this they would have been laughed out of the courtroom.
Judge Chen's ruling seems to say, "No, you can't do it this way, try again." instead of incorporating a cease and desist order. WTH?!
Chen's the best we've seen so far, though.
I could not believe the first judge to see the case didn't say to Google--"You're breaking the law. You're liable. Cease now and do not try this again. And by the way? You're paying everyone's legal and court expenses."
If these school libraries are so intent on violating the copyrights of authors and publishers, they should start with their own book imprints, and making all of their current and OP backlists free to all.
Well, gee, then they'd have to write books, not just use them.
This makes me seethe and I'm not even an author!!
Hope it's okay that I link to this...
*just.....EYES Google and ALL those involved in the BULLSHIT Google's pulling*Wow.Just.....WOW.That's absolutely disgusting of Google and it's cohorts to be doing. I know that,while I'd absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE to get my hands on a copy of the very first Wolf Walker series,I would NEVER EVER stoop to pulling the sort of low blow stunt Google's pulling.I'd either hope to have the luck of the Powers That Be in finding a copy in a used book shop,or a dusty copy in either a library or the local Coles or whatever mall book store available to get lost in the isles of.Goddess Tits on a fucking bull,Google's got some damn nerve.
To continue,because I hit the post button a bit too soon,I roleplay on a couple of different sites,sometimes with characters taken from various books like the Valdamar series,and some that are purely original that I know I'd HATE to see on some stranger's site as available for a price.I've actually got about a 400 page read that a friend recently mailed to me that was the transcript of a vampire roleplay between me and a friend because they didn't want me to loose the only existing copy.HOPEFULLY Google and their LEECHES can be stopped dead in their tracks SOONER rather than way too late.
This is one of the reasons I don't go armed. They give the maximum sentence to someone who's obviously not sorry.
Sooner or later some parasite wannabe would declaim sanctimoniously that "Information wants to be free!"
Unless I was suffering from an aberrant moment of saintliness, I would sure as Hell aim for the abdominal aorta and say, "So does blood-- as you see."
(Not a bad metaphor, come to think of it. Once it's "free", it stops being produced.)
When I first saw this I found it hard to believe that they'd even consider doing it... and then saw that the law was doing absolutely nothing to stop it and boggled even more! I just don't understand why such a clear violation is being tolerated by the lawmakers.
They've got a couple of my older textbooks listed on there too. No content, since they've been out of print for so long, just place holders. Considering their small print run and how long it's been since they were published I doubt they'll find one to scan! :-) If they do then I'll go through that process you mentioned to refuse access.
Edited at 2011-09-15 12:30 am (UTC)
Yeah...I could not believe that the first judge in the Google case didn't just read the copyright law to them and say "You're breaking the law. Stop it at once."
But we've had pro-business appointments of federal judges for a long time now.
Preach it! I get hit with this because people think just because Jack is dead, his books are fair game, but our kid and I need that income. And chasing down these violators are like playing Whack A Mole--move against them and find that a few weeks later, the OP stuff is back online, or on another site.
Hope that suit results in some painfully large fines.
I hope the suit results in both the annihilation of those illegally obtained scans and fines.
And I hope your income does not suffer too much. It's not just the dead that some people think are fair game. Just about every writer's had stuff pirated, and it's a full-time job to hunt it down and try to get it off there.
2011-09-15 04:07 am (UTC)
So I must ask - Baen has "The Deed of Paksenarrion" available as an ebook; is this legit? I've given away multiple copies of the tome over the years and like the thought of having it on my Kindle (and I need to buy another printed copy soon.
I abhor what Google has done in violating copyrights for so many; they have violated their own credo of "do no evil".
2011-09-15 04:38 am (UTC)
Re: usurped copyrights
Yes. Baen and I have publishing contracts between us, and my agent keeps an eye on them. And they're paying me royalties. So what you see at Baen is something we've agreed to. (There was a kerfluffle years ago--more than ten--but it's long gone and settled now.)
2011-09-15 05:59 pm (UTC)
Call a thief a thier!
Agree 100%. Are there any congressional people who have a lick of sense that we can write to for their support?
Edited at 2011-09-15 06:01 pm (UTC)
do you mind if i link to this post? do you have a prefered platform i should link from? or use this one?
Go right ahead and link to it.
I'm also posting comments on the Authors Guild website (I'm not a member of Authors Guild--I'm in SFWA and Ninc and on some private writers' listservs.
I've been feeling puny for a few days, so I'm not checking back as often as I might otherwise.
2011-10-15 11:10 pm (UTC)
was published recently in the Chronicle of Higher Education as a suggestion on how to improve copyright.
The summary is the author suggest a return to the more formal procedure for registering and receiving copyright that existed before 1988, to set some hurdles so that people have to make an effort to get it to free more work for the public domain and reduce the number of orphan works.
2011-10-16 11:57 am (UTC)
Re: Improving copyright
Yes, I read the article. I oppose everything in it.
Why should authors "have to make an effort to get it" more than they do now? Why should more work be "freed for the public domain?" Why should others than authors be allowed to make a profit on their work without including them? Just because they want to, like Google? I don't think so.
The orphan work argument is specious. This approach will create more putative "orphans" by calling orphan--or rather "free for the public domain"--anything that a writer doesn't protect by jumping through all the new hoops (and even then, not lifelong.) The evidence is that when authors do the searching, many orphan works aren't orphaned at all...but when those who want to profit by selling others' work do the searching, many things are declared orphan that aren't. The only reason for the furor over "orphan" works is that someone who didn't write them wants to make use of them for profit.
The argument for copyright term limitation based on profitability for the original publisher is specious. Evidence from works published in 1934 is irrelevant, since authors can now (as they could not then) profit from their own backlists while keeping work available to the public by self-pubbing online.
It's the same old story of thieves who want what someone else has so they can profit from it. Either they want the free entertainment, or they want to sell the works themselves.
Why should writers have long-term copyright without having to renew every work within a narrow window of opportunity? Because they did the work. And because they need to eat just like you do.