Re: Google Accused of Copyright Infringement Fwd:


Subject: Re: Google Accused of Copyright Infringement Fwd:
From: Richard Wentk (richard@skydancer.com)
Date: Wed Sep 21 2005 - 14:37:30 EDT


At 19:10 21/09/2005, you wrote:
>At 05:36 PM 9/21/05 +0100, Richard Wentk wrote:
> >In the UK there's a scheme called PLR which guarantees that authors are
> >paid something for library loans.
>
>The US system of the 'Free Public Library' is a tradition I strongly
>support. The free public library, sometimes privately held (such as the New
>York Public, which may even still be), brought an enormous educational
>resource to the citizenry, one which in short order defined one of the
>differences between the colonies and their former masters. :)

That's fair enough, but not all of us live in the US.

And does that mean you get access to inter-library loans too? And Groves
and other reference high-ticket reference items?

> >The other point here is that academic libraries aren't open to the public
>[...]
> >I can't just walk in off the street.
>
>I can. I'm not sure of general practice as I'm not seen in academia all
>that often, but I've never had trouble.

Again, this is not America.

> >With that background two things bother me about the Google initiative. The
> >first is that Google unilaterally decided to start digitising books that
> >are still under copyright without discussing this with the copyright
> >holders. Whatever the politics, legally and ethically this is indefensible.
>
>It's defensible. US libraries have many options in the archiving of
>materials, some in law and some in traditional practice. The current law in
>part springs from that library tradition (See
>http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode17/usc_sec_17_00000108----000-.
>html or if that wraps, http://tinyurl.com/b2yfp).

This is only true if Google offers the service on a not for profit basis
and agrees to be just like a library, only digital.

Since that's not the plan, I still don't see how this is defensible.

>Furthermore, the execrable changes to the law put those out-of-copyright
>materials way back in the past, and it's the present that's crumbling. For
>those who object, I say, let their works rot.

And what about those who haven't written works yet, and will decide they
can't afford to?

>The real (and hidden) objection seems to be that Google thought of *and*
>acted on it first and some authors (whose other sources of royalties
>already ran out) got their knickers in a twist. The smell of money, too.

Er, no. I have no idea who the authors are, but if it were one of my books
I'd be objecting too.

Especially if it's going to affect the ones I haven't written yet.

>This is true, but will Google be any better? And will authors be any better
> >off? Wouldn't it better for authors - and more likely to encourage future
> >creative effort - to continue to make a work available in electronic form
> >for a small fee even after paper copies have disappeared?
>
>Sure, there are all sorts of "better" options. So where are those
>better-option people with their millions of dollars of investment at risk?

Who cares?

I'm not interested in what people with millions of dollars of investment at
risk thing, because in the end all they care about is ROI.

It seems hypocritical to criticise authors for being in it for the money,
and then to praise the investors for doing the same.

Plutocracy is not equivalent to meritocracy or democracy. Having more cash
doesn't make you more right, or better qualified to judge anything at all.

Especially not culture.

>Is Dr. Joseph Author going to contribute to the pool of venture capital to
>help the rest of the community preserve and catalog their work? Not likely.

But then neither is Google. Did you miss the part about only selected items
being available online?

The reality is it's fantastically easy to turn a paper manuscript into an
eBook. Most books are typeset in either Quark or InDesign, and exporting an
eBook is pretty much just a case of selecting a menu option.

The reason no one does this - and the reason one author I spoke recently
vetoed an eBook version of their project - is that these authors you're so
down on subsequently get nothing. This means high quality writing projects
- the sort that require a decent advanced and take a year or two to put
together - stop happening.

There is no good here. Just having old stuff online for free is not a good
thing if it prevents good new stuff from appearing.

>Short of it being evil, I care about neither motivation nor process. I care
>about results.

Apparently not. :)

> >And this is not a bad thing, because financially MP3.COM was a rip off of
> >monumental proportions. Millions of musicians contributed their creative
> >efforts mostly so that Michael Roberts could get extremely rich. A tiny
> >handful made some money off pay-for-play - I think I made $30 altogether :)
>
>And I made close to $1,000 -- at the time, significantly more than the
>*rest* of the musical community had ante'd up for my music. But I don't
>know why you focused on Robertson getting rich. He's welcome to it. He was
>the guy with the vision and the drive and the investment savvy, and nobody
>was coerced to be a part of MP3.com. Did you buy stock when it went public?
>Participating artists were offered that opportunity ahead of the general
>public -- and this was before the dot-com collapse -- when the stock rose
>enormously in value over the next few days.

The Free Market is a wonderful thing.

Did you ever stop to wonder why if it was so wonderful, and such a great
idea, and founder dude was such a great guy, it all fell apart after barely
a few years?

Or that maybe with a decent publisher you'd have made a lot more than $1000
for projects that in total doubtless took you months of work?

There's nothing big or clever about expecting creative and talented people
to work for the kind of money that a domestic cleaner or a Far Eastern
sneaker slave wouldn't touch.

>For me, the point is that the "monumental" part of MP3.com was the size
>and breadth of its archive, and how personal contacts could be made
>through it,
>and the sense of broad community that had not previously existed. Yes, as
>the dot-com collapse neared MP3.com got commercial and was trying to boost
>ad revenue to compensate for the (entirely voluntary) pay-for-play program
>it had initiated. There was no recovering from it.
>
>But at no time in the history of the human race was so much music gathered
>in one place. And the artists had risked nothing in this venture save some
>time! It ws breathtaking! So why the focus on Robertson, who built it? Why
>not on those who bought and killed it?

Because in the end he was the one who killed it.

He could have put some of his money back into it. It wasn't a money losing
operation. But instead he treated it as an investment, scammed the
contributors, 99% of whom contributed music for next to nothing, then took
the money and ran.

If you see nothing wrong with this, it's understandable you'll see Google
as a good thing too.

Can I sell you a bridge while we're here? ;)

Richard



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