In "The Kindle Swindle?," Roy Blount Jr., President of the Authors Guild, defends the Guild's opposition to the Kindle's ability to read books and other works aloud.
Archive for the 'Digital Copyright Wars' Category
New Zealand's prime minister is delaying the implementation of a controversial new copyright law that will force ISP's to terminate the accounts of repeat copyright infringers until March 27th in order to study whether implementing the law is feasible.
Here's an excerpt from the law:
92A Internet service provider must have policy for terminating accounts of repeat infringer
- An Internet service provider must adopt and reasonably implement a policy that provides for termination, in appropriate circumstances, of the account with that Internet service provider of a repeat infringer.
- In subsection (1), repeat infringer means a person who repeatedly infringes the copyright in a work by using 1 or more of the Internet services of the Internet service provider to do a restricted act without the consent of the copyright owner.
The latest issue of Cites & Insights: Crawford at Large is dedicated to an in-depth (30-page) look at the Google Book Search Copyright Class Action Settlement.
Here's an excerpt:
The agreement could be a lot worse. The outcome could also be a lot better. I'm sure Google would agree with both statements, as it finds itself in businesses where it has neither expertise nor much chance of advertising-level profits. At the same time, the copyright maximalists didn't quite win this round. We'll almost certainly get somewhat better access to several million OP books—and will have to hope (and work to see) that the price (monetary and otherwise) isn't too high.
In "ALA, ARL, ACRL Host Meeting of Experts to Discuss Google Book Search Settlement," District Dispatch reports on the numerous questions raised about the Google Book Search Settlement in a recent meeting on that topic.
Here's an excerpt :
- Access. What will the settlement mean for protecting the public’s ability to access and use digital resources from the nation’s libraries? Since the Book Rights Registry established as a condition of the settlement will represent the interests of the authors and publishers, who will represent the interests of libraries and the public? What are the financial implications of participation? Could the settlement create a monopoly that threatens the mission of libraries by raising the prices to an unreasonable level that limits public access?
- Intellectual freedom. Are there academic freedom issues to consider? What are the implications of Google’s ability to remove works at its discretion? Will there be notification of their removal? What are the issues regarding possible access and use restrictions on the Research Corpus?
- Equitable treatment. Since not all libraries are addressed in the settlement, what impact will it have on the diverse landscape of libraries? In light of tight economic times, will this negatively affect libraries with lean budgets? Will it expand the digital divide?
In "New Kindle Audio Feature Causes a Stir," Paul Aiken, Executive Director of the Authors Guild, said about the new Kindle's read-aloud feature: "They don't have the right to read a book out loud. That's an audio right, which is derivative under copyright law."
In reaction, John Herrman at Gizmodo said ("Authors Guild Claims Kindle 2 Text-to-Speech Somehow Violates Copyright"): "the idea that a robotic reading of text is materially equivalent to a proper, recorded audio version of a book—read by the author in many cases—is ridiculous."
Mike Masnick at Techdirt said ("According To Author's Guild, You Cannot Read Books Out Loud"):
By that reasoning pretty much any use of text-to-speech software is illegal, which would make for a fascinating legal case. And, actually, if you take that reasoning further, any reading out loud from a book that is not yours is also a violation of copyright law, according to Aitken. Read to your kids at night? Watch out for the Authors Guild police banging down your door.
Public Knowledge has issued an action alert: "UPDATE: Say No to Copyright Filtering in Broadband Stimulus."
Here's an excerpt:
The House and Senate stimulus packages passed without copyright filtering language attached, but now the concern is that the language could return in the closed-door conference committee that works out the differences between the bills. Right now, we need you to contact those conferees and tell them to leave out this controversial provision.
Hollywood’s lobbyists are running all over the Hill to sneak in a copyright filtering provision into the stimulus package.
You can use the alert to send a message to your Congressional representative.
An older alert provides background information about a defeated amendment to the bill that lobbyists are apparently trying to revive in the conference committee.
Here are some additional articles/postings about the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act.
Here's an excerpt from Peter Suber's posting:
The Fair Copyright Act is to fair copyright what the Patriot Act was to patriotism. It would repeal the OA policy at the NIH and prevent similar OA policies at any federal agency. The bill has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee, where Conyers is Chairman, and where he has consolidated his power since last year by abolishing the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property. The Judiciary Committee does not specialize in science, science policy, or science funding, but copyright.
The premise of the bill, urged by the publishing lobby, is that the NIH policy somehow violates copyright law. The premise is false and cynical. If the NIH policy violated copyrights, or permitted the violation of copyrights, publishers wouldn't have to back this bill to amend US copyright law. Instead, they'd be in court where they'd already have a remedy. For a detailed analysis of the bill and point by point rebuttal to the publishing lobby's rhetoric, see my article from October 2008.
I'll have more soon on ways to mobilize in opposition to the bill and support the NIH and the principle of public access to publicly-funded research. Meantime, if you're a US citizen and your representative is a member of the Judiciary Committee, it's not to early to fire off an email/fax/letter/phone call to your representative opposing the bill and defending the NIH policy. You can find ammo here:
- the open letter from 46 law professors objecting to "serious misstatements relating to copyright law" in the publisher arguments against the NIH policy, September 8, 2008
- the open letter from 33 US Nobel laureates in science defending the NIH policy against the Conyers bill, September 9, 2008
- my article on the bill from October 2008
- the OAN posts on the bill from the last time around
James Grimmelmann, Associate Professor at New York Law School, has made available "How to Improve the Google Book Search Settlement" in the Berkeley Electronic Press' Selected Works.
Here's the abstract:
The proposed settlement in the Google Book Search case should be approved with strings attached. The project will be immensely good for society, and the proposed deal is a fair one for Google, for authors, and for publishers. The public interest demands, however, that the settlement be modified first. It creates two new entities—the Books Rights Registry Leviathan and the Google Book Search Behemoth—with dangerously concentrated power over the publishing industry. Left unchecked, they could trample on consumers in any number of ways. We the public have a right to demand that those entities be subject to healthy, pro-competitive oversight, and so we should.
Robert Darnton, Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor at Harvard University, has published "Google & the Future of Books" in the The New York Review of Books.
Here's an excerpt:
As an unintended consequence [of the Google Book Settlement], Google will enjoy what can only be called a monopoly—a monopoly of a new kind, not of railroads or steel but of access to information. Google has no serious competitors. Microsoft dropped its major program to digitize books several months ago, and other enterprises like the Open Knowledge Commons (formerly the Open Content Alliance) and the Internet Archive are minute and ineffective in comparison with Google. Google alone has the wealth to digitize on a massive scale. And having settled with the authors and publishers, it can exploit its financial power from within a protective legal barrier; for the class action suit covers the entire class of authors and publishers. No new entrepreneurs will be able to digitize books within that fenced-off territory, even if they could afford it, because they would have to fight the copyright battles all over again. If the settlement is upheld by the court, only Google will be protected from copyright liability.
Microsoft's new MSN Mobile Music service, which has been introduced in the UK, includes DRM protection.
In "Q&A: Microsoft Defends Return to DRM," Microsoft's Hugh Griffiths answers questions about this development.
Read more about it at "MSN Mobile Music Service Launches with Added DRM and Device Locking."
In "Editorial: Google Deal or Rip-Off?," Francine Fialkoff, Library Journal Editor-in-Chief, takes a hard look at the Google-Association of American Publishers/Authors Guild copyright settlement.
Here's an excerpt:
Clearly, the public had little standing in the negotiations that led to the recent agreement in the class-action lawsuit against Google for scanning books from library shelves. . . . Well, the suit was never about the public interest but about corporate interests, and librarians did not have much power at the bargaining table, no matter how hard those consulted pushed. While there are many provisions in the document that specify what libraries can and can't do and portend greater access, ultimately, it is the restrictions that scream out at us from the miasma of details.
Other perspectives can be found in my recently updated Google Book Search Bibliography, Version 3.