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Supreme Court Screws Writers, Photographers, Artists [Apr. 18th, 2016|10:42 pm]
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[Current Mood |angry]

Some years back, Google and a group of university libraries colluded to infringe writers' copyrights under the guise of making orphan works available to the public by digitizing books out of copyright.  Just as the Gutenberg Project had been doing, only--being Google--they wanted to digitize everything in a bunch of libraries and eventually monetize their big private bunch of stuff.  As they went at it--they and the libraries--they paid no attention to whether the works in question were in copyright or out of it, in print or out of it, already available to the public in bookstores, or not.   They just digitized everything, without contacting authors or publishers or bothering their heads about copyright violation.  Because, Google insisted, they were Serving Humanity and writers and artists and photographers were on the menu.  We don't count.

It was a crime.  But they just got away with it forever, because they're a big rich company with very deep pockets, and the writers, artists, and photographers whose rights they infringed are individuals who don't have deep pockets even if they belong to writers' organizations like SFWA.   Although the first suit against Google succeeded, with a judgment in favor of the facts: that Google did indeed infring copyright and was wrong to do so--they won an appeal, and the Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal of that appeal.

I am angry and disgusted.

From: sheff_dogs
2016-04-19 03:43 pm (UTC)
Outright theft, the court is crazy not to see that.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2016-04-19 11:33 pm (UTC)
I am far from the only writer whose works were illegally digitized, and every work they digitized was supposedly in copyright protection, as well as in print, already existing in digital form from my legitimate publishers, fully available to the public. My only recourse was to fill out Google's labyrinthine forms--a task that took me most of a week, a week out of my work--to make the claim that these works were, in fact, mine. My short fiction, whether published in archived magazines or in books, could not even be claimed, because Google refused to consider the copyrights of contributors to these magazines and books, even with said copyrights *listed in the magazine and book.* They acted as if writers of short works had no copyright.

They had all my works up to that point. After the hours spent going through their list again and again (because all my works were not listed together, and they would not accept a list from me, even though I could include the ISBN) I had no confirmation from Google that they had received the list, and no confirmation that they would make no use of my works without my permission or destroy the digital scans they had made. There was no apology for infringing copyright. No promise that they would not use the works for their own profit. (Which, in fact, they planned to do by using extracts from them on their own website.) For all I know they just deleted all the information that I, and other writers, sent them. Or sat around a big shiny table in a posh conference room laughing about their successful heist.

Google and the Hathi Trust perpetrated this egregious theft of authors' rights with the transparent excuse that it would "serve the public" by making "orphan works" available. But most of what Google digitized was not orphan works. It was works under copyright, works producing income for the authors. Google argued at one point that since sales fall soon (variably soon, which they didn't mention) after publication, there's no real value being lost by removing copyright protection...but somehow no one seems to have gotten across to the appeals court judge that Google was digitizing *new* material just as fast as the libraries could open their legs...er, door...to make it available. That "slow sales" does not equal no sales, or no royalties, that "out of print" does not mean "out of copyright"...and that the whole point of copyright is that the writer, and no one else, has the right to decide IF something will be published and distributed, BY WHOM (Google breached many existing contracts authors had with their publishers). That a writer has a right not to license publication after an edition has gone out of print and rights reverted.

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From: Chuck Gatlin
2016-05-09 09:52 pm (UTC)

Supreme Court

Surely someone in the community of authors has the ear of either Hilary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. Since the Supreme Court didn't rule, only refused to review, the case could in fact be requested again by a justice for reconsideration of whether they'll take the case.
So now's the time for authors and author organizations to contact their candidates and try to get this added to the discussion about new supreme court justices, several of which we'll probably have in the next four years.
Maybe find a Senator who happens to be in the same boat (surely at least one had his book improperly digitized), and get him or her to work on the committee members who will hold hearings on the new justice appointments.
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