Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Publishers File Suit Against Internet Archive (publishers.org)
397 points by tingletech 35 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 346 comments



New York times story on the same subject _Publishers Sue Internet Archive Over Free E-Books_ https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/01/books/internet-archive-em...


Indie publisher here. My company publishes mostly how-to guides relating technology, personal finance, and health. In fact this afternoon I am reviewing proofs of a new title written by a surgeon meant to inform patients (and their family members) dealing with thyroid cancer and thyroid nodules. What I and my peers do for a living is nothing like building rocket ships or designing amazing software applications, but it provides information and entertainment for millions of people every day.

Like many people on HN, I regularly use the wayback machine or other parts of the Internet Archive to track the history of websites or read out-of-copyright and public domain works. Sharing this information is important and should be continued.

I also believe in the concept of "Fair Use" for sharing and discussing excerpts of more current works.

But when it comes to outright republishing of in-copyright printed works, the rights of creators and publishers need to be recognized. The Internet Archive decided that its mission trumped these rights and the laws of the United States. Even when it was asked to repeatedly stop, it continued. So here we are today.

Someone earlier asked the question, "Why can't the publishing industry just hurry up and die?"

I'd like to put the question to those HN members who work in tech: How would you feel if someone took your output without permission, whether it's designs or code or something else unique and hard to make? How would you feel if people cheered this on, or called for your demise, suggesting that the world would be a better place without your work?

The traditional publishing industry has been in economic decline for 20 years, with the number of regular readers declining and most retailers on the ropes. Few publishers or authors make much money, yet the output of authors and publishers grows every year thanks to self-publishing and other trends.

And some of the work published every year is fantastic. I sometimes serve as a judge for indie publishing competitions, and it's amazing some of the work that authors and their publishers are putting out, even though very few titles will turn a profit.

Even if you haven't read a book in the past year or two, it's safe to say at some time you did, or your loved ones did, and it informed or delighted you.

Finally, even if you don't personally care for the book industry, try to show some respect for what we're doing, and the legal and business frameworks we need to do what we do.


> I'd like to put the question to those HN members who work in tech: How would you feel if someone took your output without permission, whether it's designs or code or something else unique and hard to make? How would you feel if people cheered this on, or called for your demise, suggesting that the world would be a better place without your work?

As someone with a humanities education (literature specifically) I feel like I've studied more than the average reader here about the particulars of famous printed works from the past. And that background says "bullshit" in response to your questions. Throughout history publishers have exploited authors mercilessly in an effort to keep ALL of the profit from their writing.

In short, the answer to your hypothetical question is quite simple. All of these people you're addressing have code, and have original ideas. You on the other hand are just a publisher, you don't have any original work at all. You're nothing but a middle man.

There are no more middle managers at toaster and television distributors in the developed world, sitting at desks filling out reports by hand and ordering fresh stocks of paperclips and staples. We got rid of those people when we modernized supply chains and in the process cut the prices of microwaves and televisions so that they're not luxury items anymore.

Similarly, there's not going to be any room for publishing middle men for very long either. If I were you I'd find a new line of work.


This.

I made five figures by selling my book via a small publisher.

I know authors who sold their books via big publishers and they made magnitudes less money than me while selling magnitudes more copies than me.

To me this sounds like a broken system.


A more valid hypothetical would be the expectation that developers working for Google and Microsoft would be expected to work for free, creating entire codebases for no money, with the only contribution from the publisher (Google and Microsoft) being an editor to glance at and reject ideas they thought unprofitable after the developers had spent countless hours / months / years creating them.

If the occasional developer working for free finds a profitable idea, the Google or Microsoft would pay them well under what that person requires to survive for one year, plus a small (less than 10%) residual royalty only after the developer has "paid back" the less-than-one-year amount which the Google or Microsoft called an advance rather than payment for the original work.

The only way the working-for-free developer could survive would be to teach other developers who also aspire to work for free, and in so doing suppress their urge to tell those students to go do quite literally anything else more productive, because succumbing to that moral urge would result in less students, which is the only way the developer can pay for rent and groceries.


Okay, but this is not about whether publishers should exist...


> Okay, but this is not about whether publishers should exist...

Publisher denotes a person, who presumably has power over another person in this context. The assumption present in the definition of the term is that a content creator, artist, whatever you want to call them cannot communicate with their audience unless a person between audience and artist assumes control/ownership of its distribution. Publishing, as a verb not a noun, is another matter entirely. No one is arguing that publishing will cease to exist. Even extended in context to include marketing people, I'm sure the vast majority of people here will concede that marketing people serve a viable role in their business.

But the vocation of publishing is the only one remaining from the medieval/ancient world in which publishers demand ownership of the material being published, under highly dubious terms. We do not give ownership of car factories to car salesmen, simply because they sell cars. Nor do we give ownership of parks and streets to politicians, simply because they write laws governing their use and levy taxes to maintain them.

What stopped print publishers from selling devices like the Kindle before Amazon did? Nothing. What stopped newspaper publishers from building nationwide advertising networks before AOL and Google did? Nothing. What stopped the RIAA from building iTunes or Napster before Apple or Napster did? Nothing. What stopped the MPAA from building Netflix before Netflix did? Nothing. Mere decades ago, all of those publishing consortiums had infinitely more resources available to them to assert dominance over these new markets than those upstarts who have since supplanted them.

If your contribution to the livelihood of your own business has been a steady stream of nothings for about 30-40 years, you tend to get in fiscal trouble in this day and age...


How is that relevant to what Internet Archive is doing? As I understand it, the Internet Archive has decided that it will freely distribute even self-published authorship.


> There are no more middle managers at toaster and television distributors in the developed world

This is a joke right?

There is absolutely a place for publishers, which is why they still exist fifteen years after anti-copyright campaigners said they'd be done in five.

If authors decide not to go to publishers and publish directly you'll have a point. Broadly, they don't.


> How would you feel if someone took your output without permission, whether it's designs or code or something else unique and hard to make? How would you feel if people cheered this on, or called for your demise, suggesting that the world would be a better place without your work?

How would you feel if some aging industry held back the creation of the society of the future simply because they don't belong in it?

The entire publishing industry has been rendered obsolete by modern technology. They exist to make and distribute copies of books. We have far better ways to do that now. The only reason they still exist is the fact they own the intellectual property. The government has granted them a monopoly that will last over a hundred years. That is literally the only reason why they're able to compete with vastly superior technology.

The truth is copyright makes no sense in the 21st century. When copyright was created, people had to be major industry players in order to make copies at scale. People needed industrial hardware like printing presses. This is no longer the case: everyone has at least one computer, making copies now costs $0 and is as easy as copy paste. Once the data is known it's trivial to make copies and distribute them. People infringe copyright every day without even realizing it.

Only the first copy must be paid for. Authors must find a way to get paid before they write their books. Crowdfunding and patronage might be the answer. Creation must be like an investment rather than a product to be sold. Insisting on maintaning the archaic copyright industry means ignoring reality.


The modern models:

Get paid before making something. Using crowd funding one might not even be obligated to deliver. A serious attempt to make something can be good enough.

There are monthly donations for those who continue to demonstrate relevant qualities. It's a bit like a job contract with a hundred or a thousand employers.

I think we will eventually figure out a system where we can collectively order a work and pay for it after delivery. Perhaps with a series of deadlines.

Strange thoughts: Books still have their value over digital media in that they are a robust storage medium and you can re-sell the copy. It should at least in theory be possible to reduce the number of copies printed to a point where value is preserved. If a book in a good state is new or not shouldn't matter to the customer.


I was being hyperbolic in that question, to be sure. It's probably better asked as:

When will the publishing industry finally accept that it exists in a world where counting copies made doesn't work as a business model anymore?

Technology isn't going away. The business models will have to change. Some businesses will fail. Some creators will have tragic outcomes. Some works will never be created. Entire classes of works might never be created again.

re: "...took my output without permission..." - I choose not to deal in "intellectual property". I've arguably left money on the table by not. I've chosen not to pursue projects that involved selling licenses for "intellectual property"-- projects that had a decent shot of profitability.

Under the current terms of US copyright I consider it a tainted and morally questionable business. It's not one I want to participate in.

I also have deep moral concerns with the idea that a creator should somehow be entitled to be paid again and again for work done once.


In the UK, revenue from ebook sales grew 3% between 2018 and 2019. Where is your evidence that the business model of "counting copies" – i.e. selling books to people who want to read them – doesn't work any more?


I'm seeing reports of a 5% decrease (a ~152 million pound decrease) in print book sales in the UK from 2018 to 2019. "Selling books to people who want to read them" seems to be a declining business.

The 3% increase in ebook licensing revenue from 2018 to 2019 was an absolutely increase of ~20 million pounds. That doesn't absorb event a quarter of the decrease in print sales. Given the relative price parity between the two, I'd say that people who aren't purchasing print books aren't licensing ebooks, by and large, either.

Unless the book publishing industry can come up with some analog to subscription streaming services, or can use their lobby to kill general purpose computing devices, I don't think the long game looks very good for their business model. Video and audio media are well suited to the streaming market because there's enough inconvenience in making infringing copies to make paying license feeds worthwhile (at least, with current media file sizes and network speeds).

I don't think ebooks have as strong a value proposition for paying the license fee vs. making an infringing copy.


2018 was also the first time in five years that overall revenues fell – 2018 was still better than 2014 and 2015. The idea that we should scuttle the entire publishing industry and switch to Spotify because of these minor fluctuations from year to year prove the "business model is dying" is absolutely cockamamie. "Legacy publishing" continues to support the production of great work – that is what counts. (It is also my livelihood as an author, so yes I'm biased.) I shudder at the alternative – say Kindle Unlimited, the closest thing that's been tried to a streaming model, which has worked well for romance novelists and romance readers and pretty much nobody else.


fwiwi, I'm continiously buying relatively expensive printed books, mostly technical. I think I will continue doing so, at least as long as I can oder printed copies.

Paper copies have a few important advantages. They do not distract me. Do not run out of battery, and I can use visual and physical clues for finding topics, see my progress, make notes, etc.

Five years of using Kindle, proved that even a dedicated e-reader in no ways can provide a similar experience. So, at least for a niche printed copies would be a thing for quite some time.


"I also have deep moral concerns with the idea that a creator should somehow be entitled to be paid again and again for work done once."

You would do away with the ability of developers to license their software?


Sounds great to me


>How would you feel if someone took your output without permission, whether it's designs or code or something else unique and hard to make?

While I'm somewhat ambiguous about this IA matter, the example you bring up is rather unconvincing on HN.

I, just like many other fellow users here, publish our code (both end product and tools) to public, and to organizational, Git repositories.

We have structured our work and our contracts with customers to get paid for the services rendered[1], not the number of zeroes & ones (nor files nor LoC nor other incidental artifacts). It's not only doable, it's also the arrangement closest to fair & morally right we have found so far.

--

[1] yes, including some upfront payments where circumstances warrant it


> I, just like many other fellow users here, publish our code (both end product and tools) to public, and to organizational, Git repositories.

Sure, but that code is generally tied to a license. Very rarely are people releasing things into the public domain. All that code people are releasing are being released with the support of copyright. In fact, people here on HN and other communities very much oppose people taking things without permission. I challenge you to demonstrate otherwise with your own repositories.


>Sure, but that code is generally tied to a license

That's a whataboutist tangent, but let's entertain it for a while.

The copyright law is usually restrictive, in the form of "everything which is not explicitly allowed is forbidden", and some of the openings - like Fair Use - are somewhat contentious. Thus a specially crafted free license is used to make the work legally accessible & reusable in an unambiguous way in such legal environment.

A free license for software is generally used to unambiguously establish the legal status - that simplifies dealing, especially for organizations and professionals. It effectively increases ability to access and re-use the software [1].

A license & copyright information is used to convey authorship and guarantee certain author's rights, like the right to attribution. Some licenses (eg. copyleft) are also used to prevent certain misuses (eg. tivoization), again with aim of increasing availability of the software for access and re-use.

Conversely, releasing into public domain (which is a limited legal concept, not available in certain countries) runs with the risk of somebody else slapping a restrictive license on the code and making it unavailable via legal mechanisms.

Free licensing is not only about improving availability and protecting the author and the reuser, it's also about preventing subsequent yanking of the code via machinations by a 3rd party.

While those concerns are valid and need taking care of, pretty sure they aren't at the stake in the IA vs book authors discussion. They aren't mentioned in the OP either.

>In fact, people here on HN and other communities very much oppose people taking things without permission. I challenge you to demonstrate otherwise with your own repositories.

Ah yes, a challenge to prove a negative. I'll rise to it right after solving the halting problem :^)


Oh wow, a real snarky and immature comment. Good job.

> That's a whataboutist tangent

Yeah, you brought it up. Not me. You can't talk about something and ignore the part of that element that is integral to the conversation. Putting code up on GitHub does not make it freely reusable without restrictions.

Regardless, nothing you said disputes what I said. The public domain issue can easily be overcome by assigning a license with no restrictions for those places that don't abide by public domain, and while companies can put that code behind a non-free license, it doesn't make the original code anything less than public domain.

> Thus a specially crafted free license is used to make the work legally accessible & reusable in an unambiguous way in such legal environment.

Most all still impose restrictions and requirements that when violated, people last out against. You can argue whatever you want. Reality wins.

And, the best part is this:

> ...it's also about preventing subsequent yanking of the code via machinations by a 3rd party... They aren't mentioned in the OP either.

> How would you feel if someone took your output without permission, whether it's designs or code or something else unique and hard to make?

I mean, you haven't even addressed this concern. You just flat out ignore it. None of the shared code you have allows for someone taking your output and doing what hey will with it without your permission. And pretty much no one here on HN allows for that with their code.

> Ah yes, a challenge to prove a negative.

Or, you could simply release all your code into the public domain and a license that doesn't impose any restrictions or requirements. Not at all proving a negative. Back up what you are saying. That's all it would take to do what I asked.

> I'll rise to it right after solving the halting problem :^)

Would be more productive than your comment.


> Sure, but that code is generally tied to a license. Very rarely are people releasing things into the public domain.

That's only to work around the fact that relevant governments are incompetent to send corporations and executives to prison for source code fraud. (That is, providing software exclusively in a form - such as a service like Office 365, physical device like a shitphone, or build artifact like a .exe file - that is not fit for use due to the practical inability to perform maintainance and further software development on it.)


> Someone earlier asked the question, "Why can't the publishing industry just hurry up and die?"

I have a problem with copyright being transferable. The purpose of copyright is to encourage the creators. If you transfer a copyright or license it out, its term should get shortened dramatically. "Congratulations--you got a payout. Now make something new."

I have a problem with copyright outliving the author by very much. There will be no further output to incentivize, so why does the copyright persist?

I have a problem with multi-decade copyrights overall. I have a lot less problem with people asking for strong copyright enforcement if it only lasts 20 years.

I also have a problem with multi-decade copyright because it allows corporations to simply sit on works rather than licensing them because everybody is afraid that it might become popular and then they'll get fired--we've irretrievably lost movies and music because nobody would license them and then the vault they were sitting in burned.

I would be far more sympathetic to the "publishing industry" if they were an active opponent to the abusiveness of copyright law. Instead they are merely rent-seekers abusing the system.


> I have a problem with copyright being transferable. The purpose of copyright is to encourage the creators. If you transfer a copyright or license it out, its term should get shortened dramatically. "Congratulations--you got a payout. Now make something new."

That would devalue the copyright and creators would get compensated less. This also applies to a lesser extent to your other problems. Copyright outliving the author increases the value of the copyright even when the author still lives.

I also have many problems with copyright law as it stands now, but the problems are in the details, not in the principle of copyright being transferable, or of copyrights outliving the creators per se.


> That would devalue the copyright and creators would get compensated less. This also applies to a lesser extent to your other problems. Copyright outliving the author increases the value of the copyright even when the author still lives.

Um, tough?

The point of copyright isn't to create a perpetual rent ... it's to incentivize new creation.

For example, George R. R. Martin might actually finish his books rather than dragging them out as a meal ticket if the copyright only lasted 10 years past transfer (the moment where the TV show got posted). Or perhaps he might start a new series that might be better.

I'm not seeing the downside to society from giving creators incentive to produce rather than rent seek.


The rent seeking is effectively the incentive for new creation. By creating something, you can then rent seek to get compensated. Any reduction in the ability to rent seek is a reduction in compensation, and thus in the incentive.


Too bad nobody ever managed to prove this actually works.


There are quite literally millions of examples. Anyone who has a copyrighted work and has made money from it is an example.

There are absolutely valid questions around how much diminishing that compensation affects innovation, and around the marginal value of each year of copyright validity.

The way I envision it, there is a baseline of innovation. I.e. innovation that would occur with or without copyright. For each year added to copyright length, I assume that some amount of compensation to the copyrighter is added (although the marginal compensation likely follows a bell curve). There is also some degree of cost, as other people are unable to innovate on top of those copyrighted works.

I think we can both agree, there are people who innovate because of the potential compensation. There are also people who will not innovate because of the lack of compensation. The lack of investment and innovation in antibiotic medicines is a good example of this.

The question is the optimal balance between compensating people who innovate and allowing other innovaters to build on prior work.


No, millions of existing copyrighted works are not automatically examples of works which would not have been created without copyright. Compensation is also not synonymous with exclusive rights.

Academics have already calculated the optimal balance, in particular the optimal copyright term. It's probably in the region of the original 14 years instead of the current ~150. https://rufuspollock.com/papers/optimal_copyright_term.pdf


> How would you feel if someone took your output without permission, whether it's designs or code or something else unique and hard to make?

I believe that being able to profit strictly from control of intellectual property is on the decline and will ultimately disappear. "Payment for access" to IP will be outcompeted by easy and ubiquitous technology for IP distribution (and thus infringement). I believe we'll move back to a world of primarily "payment for genesis".

You want to make money as an author? Then find a way to say "hey world, I'll write a great book about XYZ if I get PQR money." In the same way software developers say "hey, you want this piece of software? I'll write XYZ software if I'm paid PQR money."

It's a brutally huge change to the historical way publishing's done and the way artists earn a living. But it's already happening and I believe it'll only accelerate.

The future is "payment for genesis" not "payment for control".


I disagree. Without protections on intellectual property, innovation is harmed.

There is no incentive to invest substantial resources in development if there is no ability to profit.


> There is no incentive to invest substantial resources in development if there is no ability to profit.

Ever hear of this hip new thing called FOSS?


If you build a building, you expect to be able to use it. If you create a product, you expect to be able to sell it. If you create a new idea, you expect to be able to monetize it.


...except for all the people who don't?


> But when it comes to outright republishing of in-copyright printed works, the rights of creators and publishers need to be recognized.

Is there something morally objectionable you find going on here, or are you just bringing up 'rights' and 'laws of the United States' because these fairly arbitrary laws happen to benefit you?

> How would you feel if someone took your output without permission, whether it's designs or code or something else unique and hard to make?

Let's be clear - we are not talking about taking something away from someone. We are talking about copying something. And I would be fine with that.

> How would you feel if people cheered this on, or called for your demise, suggesting that the world would be a better place without your work?

How is copying something a suggestion that the world would be a better place without that thing? That's completely backwards.

> Finally, even if you don't personally care for the book industry, try to show some respect for what we're doing, and the legal and business frameworks we need to do what we do.

What? Why should I show respect for something I'm against and don't like? 'Even if you don't like the cigarette business, please show some respect for what they're doing.' How about no?


My questions on this are very simple:

1. Did they legally acquire the books they scanned?

2. Are they only allowing one subscriber at a time to check out/read the book?

If so, then they are doing exactly what libraries do. To argue that there's some fundamental difference between a physical book and an electronic book is exactly why people hate the music industry, and if the publishing industry tries to go in the same direction, they'll get the same results.



But this suit alleges that even when they were, it was illegal.


> But when it comes to outright republishing of in-copyright printed works, the rights of creators and publishers need to be recognized.

That would have been fine if the power balance wasn't severely tilted in favour of the publishers.

Most of them are greedy rent-seeker middle-men that do much more harm to the interests of the creators compared to if they tried to self-publish.

I am not doubting you in particular. An indie publisher is likely more ethical than most mainstream publishers. But you have to recognise that you have a vested financial interest and that this might make you skip the bigger picture, which is...

...that a lot of programmers are creators. We also have "publishers" (middle-men) in terms of bad employers or hiring mediators, so you maybe should make an analogy targetting them.

Copyright is clearly not working for humanity because a lot of people constantly try and break it. Maybe somebody should open their eyes for that fact and think of another paradigm. We can dream.


You are a middle man. They are makers. You need to change your business model, limiting the potential of some technology just because it doesn't suit your business model is absurd and it just keeps happening in multiple markets( e.g. CD drivers being slower as a copyright protection measure).

I can't wait until your market deflates enough that even the big guns don't have the money to push for this bullshit.


Please clarify: Are you against the practice of controlled digital lending of books scanned from physical copies in general, or do you merely have issues with the 3 months of unrestricted lending?


I think his issue is with the IA unilaterally deciding that they can chose that they want to simply ignore the authors rights to get compensated for their work at any moment they want.

And I totally understand his frustration. It's one thing to have pirating websites that have always distributed copyrighted material illegally. But for IA to decide that they only play by the rules when they want to is different imo. Not only is it bait and switch but it's also just weird to pretend to follow the law when you don't.

Imagine your boss deciding that you just won't get compensated for a few months because they decided to give away for free the software you worked on. If IA wanted to give away other people's work , it's still up to them to foot the bill.

It's not even that I'm totally against piracy, it's just that when I pirate I realize I'm not compensating the author and that if I like the stuff I'll try to do that later. Even the cracking scene tries to put notices on the torrents that if you like what you downloaded, consider supporting the creators.

With how IA presents it's whole program, there's no way to explicitly know that the authors have had no say in the emergency library beforehand and that they don't get compensated . IA looks benevolent but the authors don't.


Do authors have rights to be compensated? If I go to a library and take out a book, the author doesn't get compensated again. The book may be read by hundreds of people but it was only paid for once.

If I lend a book I own to a friend, the author doesn't get compensated again. It's my book, not the authors, and I can let anybody I want read it.

There has never been an expectation that authors get compensated for each person who reads a book. The system has never worked like that. A book is a physical object and authors get compensated for each physical book that gets sold.

It's only with the recent advent of ebooks in recent decades that "pay per reader" has even become technologically possible. Since the 90s.


Here in the UK, if you go to a library and take out a book, the author does get compensated, it's called the Public Lending Right. Apparently in Denmark they've had it since 1941 so I don't think it took ebooks to make it technologically possible.


It looks like Public Lending Right schemes for printed books exist in only a couple dozen countries and even fewer implement them as the UK has with payments per-loan (Canada does a one-time payment per copy).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_Lending_Right


In USA, the system publishers love so much means that the libraries may go bankrupt when there is an increase in lending. Sure, in the short term it might sound profitable. https://www.wbur.org/artery/2020/03/20/demand-e-books-rises-... http://www.ala.org/news/press-releases/2020/05/business-gove...

The Danish system works only because the state has agreed to foot the bill for whatever amount of money gets transferred to publishers.

> In Denmark, library book loans fell from 34 million in 2000 to around 28 million in 2014. 38 E-lending has increased rapidly in Denmark since the launch of its eReolen national public library e-lending platform in 2011, but e-lending still only represented just over 2% of all book loans in 2014.39 Interestingly, eReolen has seen a surprising expansion in the number electronically loaned audiobooks, which are now outperforming e-books in the eReolen’s monthly loan statistics.

https://www.statewatch.org/news/2017/dec/ep-study-e-lending.... https://www.kirjastot.fi/sites/default/files/content/Rapport...


That's the difference between a physical and digital product. Physical products have the first sale doctrine and eBooks don't. They are also physically limited. One at a time. Degradation. Shipping. Loss. Theft.

With regard to libraries and eBooks there are two common licenses. One, libraries can loan one copy of one book out at a time n number of times, then they can rebuy it. Similar to a physical book that degrades due to wear. Two, libraries can loan n number of copies of a book out for a fixed per-loan fee.


This is a flawed comparison. Libraries exist because they can lend a book to only one person at a time. They don't try to provide full access to a book to an unlimited number of people around the world.


Libraries predate copyright by a couple thousand years. The rules of copyright were written to be compatible with the existence of libraries, not the other way around.


> Libraries exist because they can lend a book to only one person at a time.

this phrasing confused me for a minute, so to clarify: do you mean that if libraries could magically create infinite copies of a book, they wouldn't be allowed to exist, and are only tolerated because their presumed impact on copies-sold is limited?


We have had the ability to just reproduce books by printing them for literally centuries, and even more so since the commodification of printer technology. At even small scales, simply printing a book costs close to nothing. Yet libraries aren't just allowed to make copies of their most borrowed books and lend them away.

Libraries are allowed to only lend the number of books they have bought because it's a good compromise between public interest and copyright protection. It has nothing to do with scarcity.


Would it really make a difference if libraries could make copies of their most borrowed books? The book is still being shared by hundreds of people.

Libraries didn't get the right to make copies of books when copyright was invented, simply because libraries didn't need an exemption - it's cheaper to buy another copy than to maintain printing capability.


At even small scales, simply printing a book costs close to nothing.

I don't think that's true. As far as I'm aware, we're talking dollars, not cents. For mass-market paperbacks, it's less than that, but that's the opposite of small scale.


What I should've said is smaller scales. But yes you are right that it's still going to cost a few dollars , but if it was actually legal to just produce your own copies surely we would see tons of printing shop specializing in very small printing runs that minimize costs. Right now its very expensive to only print a few copies because no business model makes sense at that scale unless it's plain copying which is... illegal.


> if it was actually legal to just produce your own copies surely we would see tons of printing shop specializing in very small printing runs that minimize costs

what would they print? they don't have the original "master" file for the book, scans look bad and take time and OCR-ing a scan is error-prone

honestly i don't find this convincing... i think if small-scale printing made economic sense (and was something people want), you'd see bootleg books, despite the illegality. digital piracy is mostly illegal and that hardly stops people


The purpose of copyright is to provide a temporary monopoly to creators for their works to encourage them to create more and thus transfer more to the public domain.

Currently, it takes greater than 2 average lifetimes for a work to transfer into the public domain and copyrights have been extended something like 12 times due to Disney's lobbying; there is a strong argument that that current copyright law is forever.

What interest does the public have in copyright that transfers nothing into the public domain? The "mainstream media" is in fact a publishing oligopoly of 4 companies (Ref: Media Monopoly by Ben Bagdikian). Furthermore, a 20TB HDD can store enough movies you can watch 3 a night for 2 decades; in 20 years time it'll be possible to store every newspaper clipping, TV Broadcast, movie and song on a desktop computer and in 40 on a thumb drive.

Congress and Businesses have neglected the publics interest, and due to that the public is using technology to wipe their arse with the law and rightfully so. The "Legal and Business frameworks" are outdated, orwellian cultural astroturfing exercises supported that are counterproductive to the operation of a disciplined, free society. Go read Vietnam and Korean era Psychological warfare manuals and tell me they are not blueprints for how a modern news org works.

When Mickey Mouse is free, I'll respect what you are doing. Until then, don't come sobbing to me. Nobody cares.


>>How would you feel if someone took your output without permission, whether it's designs or code or something else unique and hard to make?

The output of my work is finally money and more than half is taken away from me; most people agree with this and quite a lot think I should be left with even less. It is called taxes and please don't tell me it's not the same because it is the output of my work and it is taken away without permission, so it is the same word for word.


From that perspective (and it is a good one to take) that tax half is taken away after your employer takes a much larger percentage of the value away from the profit generated by your work. You get way more in exchange for the taxes at least. How come that much bigger chunk is mentioned so much less often?


I sell my work for money, I don't associate with my employer for a part of the profits. If I want a part of the profits, I buy shares.

As long as I sell work for money, profit is not my problem as long as I am paid in full. For taxes I don't get a better deal, it depends a lot on the country you live, in my country I get almost nothing.


>How come that much bigger chunk is mentioned so much less often?

Capitalism.


Look no further than GitHub Sponsorships for the future of online publishing. Speaking from experience, I derive far more value from signaling to onlookers that I financially support a particular "author" than I do from privately buying ... basically anything ... from that person. In addition, the author gets way more exposure this way, on a far more consistent basis -- just for being awesome. And I prefer this to a relationship doled out one financial transaction at a time and limited by artificial exclusivity.

I want authors I connect with to be paid, but the best way of doing this is paying for their living expenses independent of their publishing schedule. All the while voluntarily promoting their public persona to my peers.

Direct "sales" of information only deserves to have a future insofar as the buyer of the information gets important social signaling value from it, per GitHub sponsorships.

It isn't limited to GitHub sponsorships, either. Use your imagination. Use your grasp of modern technology.

In the publishing model of the future, authorship is financially compensated based on how much social signaling value their readers derive from monetary patronage.

Rather than paywalling my work, or hyping it up using immoral sales psychology techniques which are extractive not contributory, I would much prefer rewarding individual patrons, who opt to voluntarily pay for any of my work, with social credibility. I think that's healthier for everyone, and I fully trust online communities dedicated to information consumption will be better than I am at packaging my information for further public consumption and distributing it far more widely than I could ever achieve as a lone individual.


Recently I was able to read a book from 1850 because somebody bothered to go to a library, scan it and publish as ebook for 1USD. And the book itself was a new print for a work that was published 50 years before so it was published after the copyrights expired.


"How would you feel if someone took your output without permission[...].

that has happened to me all the damn time and quite frankly I've stopped caring so boo effin hoo.

we live in a postindustrial society.

People have value extracted from them without due compensation every single day.

Just be glad you're getting your slice of the pie as it is


There's a reason this as filed in the southern district of NY [1]. IA will lose based on the results of the Redigi case. The court found that in the case of a digital phonorecord that the "tangible medium" was the hard drive of the device it was downloaded to. Thus if you want to resell an MP3 you need to sell your hard drive. You can't just copy it to someone else's and then delete it. Any copy other than the original was found to be an illegal copy.

They never even looked at First Sale Doctrine which is a possible defense in this type of dispute.

If you translate this too books then the book itself is the tangible medium. Scans are infringing copies and only valid for personal use.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitol_Records,_LLC_v._ReDigi...


Note that it was upheld on appeal, and so is precedent for the entire second circuit.

However, I think this may be different. Defendant is a non-profit and isn't reselling anything.


They're also a library, and copyright law has broad exemptions for libraries that enable them to scan books for preservation purposes. So it's not clear that the "tangible medium" issue matters here.


It's probably more accurate to say that libraries have narrow exemptions specifically for preservation and scholarship purposes, especially for works that cannot otherwise be obtained at a reasonable price. Libraries and similar certainly don't have a blanket "Get out of jail free" card for reproducing and making widely available in unlimited quantities digital reproductions just because they're a library.

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/108


There's an ongoing lawsuit involving a non-profit offering free live TV using what appears to be a loophole in the copyright laws. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locast

That particular loophole probably doesn't apply there, but similar ones might.


Haven't heard of Locast and it looks like they aren't available in SLC unfortunately, but that looks neat. I hope they win! I'd pay a small amount monthly for something like that. Unfortunately you have to start at around ~$25/month with current providers, which is outrageous IMHO for something broadcast for free. That structure needs to die, but there are powerful, wealthy organizations profiting off of it, so it's an uphill battle for sure.


Thanks! The case is American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. v. Goodfriend: https://archive.org/details/gov.uscourts.nysd.520217

Also at EFF: https://www.eff.org/press/releases/eff-joins-locast-defense-...


Your link was broken by HN, which tends to get confused by links that end in ".". Here it is with the trailing dot encoded so HN will not mess it up:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitol_Records,_LLC_v._ReDigi...


Thanks, yes, and sorry. I've replaced the link in the parent comment with this one.


Thanks for this idea!


Even the press release doesn't do a good job supporting the infringement claim. They just baldly state IA isn't a real library and then hurry back to reiterate their infringement claims and talk about why infringement is bad, without ever actually explaining how IA's actions qualify as infringement.

Looks like palming a card, to me.


Making unauthorized copies of copyrighted material is infringement. That is why you weren't allowed to photocopy entire books before electronic distribution was viable. IA isn't on solid ground here.


You’re missing the point that IA is a library, and, as such, is awarded certain protections that an archival site might not otherwise have.


Honest questions -

Who gets to define an entity as a "library" and is IA defined as such, legally speaking?


...the government?


Which government? There are 3 or 4 different layers of government.

Your snark is pretty unhelpful. And un-called for considering (based on the other comments below) you don't really seem to know the actual legalities involved.


I just spent about 15 minutes searching all sorts of US government websites including the Library of Congress. I could not find any mention of the Internet Archive anywhere. Do you have a specific source that verifies that IA is a library?


No I just meant that the government sets the standard for what qualifies as a library. I'd have to take a trip to whichever city IA is based out of and check the public records to determine whether or not they've filed for library status.


"Filed for library status"? That is not a thing, don't make stuff up.

Libraries appear to be regulated at the state level not municipal. https://www.imls.gov/assets/1/News/PublicLibraryStructureOrg...


there is no such thing as "library status". anybody can start lending books as a community, private, or subscriber library anywhere at any time.


Nobody in this thread is discussing IA's massive violation of privacy and the way it entirely ignores GDPR as well. They won't survive any serious privacy protections in the US, it'll destroy their archive top to bottom, as they have no idea what's in it and it opens them up to unlimited liability for privacy violations. First their content knowingly violates copyright in an across the board way (they have no permission to copy and republish most of their content), second it's loaded with privacy violations. There's no scenario where IA continues to exist as-is in the future.

They intentionally make it very difficult to remove content from their archive, even if it contains content that violates your privacy. IA is one of the greatest privacy violators in the tech space. You won't see that discussed very often, the fans of IA go out of their way to dodge that conversation.


I'm not sure where you're coming from on privacy. Everything there was public at some point. But, yes, I can't in general call myself a library, scrape any web content I want, and put in on a web site.

A lot of people seem to think IA has some special exemption to do so because they're a library (by some definitions) and are, in general, a valuable resource. But really they do it by being a non-profit, voluntarily respecting robots.txt (even retroactively), and generally taking stuff down when asked.


I am involved with a business that is attempting to do a lot of the same things that Internet Archive is doing. I think they do a lot of really good things, and I'm happy that they exist, but I believe they are on the wrong side in this matter.

I don't know what they were thinking. I'd love to hear how they arrived at the decision to just brazenly flout copyright law like this. I fear that they have put a lot of their other efforts in danger.

I hope that my "archive and access" efforts will not be effected.


> I don't know what they were thinking. I'd love to hear how they arrived at the decision to just brazenly flout copyright law like this.

In a previous HN discussion [0], @Apocryphon linked to [1] speculation on a possible explanation: that the IA leadership is perhaps hoping for a landmark court ruling [2] that challenges the first-sale doctrine as it applies to ebooks.

Physical books can be lent out freely by libraries but digital goods like ebooks cannot because they are exempted from the first sale doctrine [3]. This forces libraries to enter into separate licensing agreements with rights holders, which is why the IA is purportedly trying to challenge the rent extraction from libraries, albeit in a less than ideal way.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22731472

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22734145

[2] https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1244257620548038656.html?...

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First-sale_doctrine#Applicatio...


They did it because the pandemic has closed libraries coast to coast, and it was a nice thing to do for people. Imagine that, making a decision not based on money or liability.

I know, fuck them, right? /s


> They did it because the pandemic has closed libraries coast to coast, and it was a nice thing to do for people. Imagine that, making a decision not based on money or liability.

You mean a stupid one that endangers everything else you do, yes?

Robbing a bank and giving away the money is a decision not based on money or liability, but you shouldn't be very surprised you still get put in prison for it.


> Robbing a bank and giving away the money is a decision not based on money or liability, but you shouldn't be very surprised you still get put in prison for it.

You've picked the one circumstance-- an unprecedented worldwide pandemic that is wreaking economic mayhem-- that could possibly weaken one of the indefatigable "pre-digital analogies for understanding digital ethics."

I would not be surprised if the police were unable to locate a culprit who had been handing out monthly $1200 cash bundles from bank robberies. (Especially if they delivered the bundles on a dependeable schedule.) :)

Edit: clarification


> You've picked the one circumstance-- an unprecedented worldwide pandemic that is wreaking economic mayhem-- that could possibly weaken one of the indefatigable "pre-digital analogies for understanding digital ethics."

No, not really. The police would very much track down such a culprit and they would go to prison.


To say nothing of the fact that there are about 20,000 books at Project Gutenberg and countless other (legal) short stories, books, articles, etc. around the web. (And that's before talking video and other multimedia.)

It's not like there is some critical shortage of things to read online in the absence of the IA.


What about modern textbooks and academic pieces that students need access to? And, in particular, students from lesser privileged socioeconomic backgrounds in the US public education system?


You're both so right. The only thing that matters is money.


I am an author and I making my living from book sales. You're right, I'm absolutely obsessed with money, in the sense that I need money to buy food and pay my electricity bill.


> Robbing a bank and giving away the money is a decision not based on money or liability, but you shouldn't be very surprised you still get put in prison for it.

Quoting the other comment here to make my point.

AFAIK IA they did not give away the books, the books still were shared the same way as before, with DRM and expiration dates. They just temporaly removed the limitations of amount of books you can loan and increased the loan period with an initial max end date of June 30.

So, yeah, what IA did is pretty different from robbing anything, in unprecedented times of a global pandemic they provided access to a digital library the same way a public library which holds those books would in normal times.


You are free to give away whatever you want so long as it's yours to give away. For example, the ACM has opened up their pubs during this health emergency which is a nice move on their part. Do I think it would have been preferable for the publishers and IA to reach some sort of agreement? Of course. But, much as I'm a fan of the IA, they shouldn't IMO be doing this unilaterally.


Again, libraries are closed. Libraries do this every day. People are locked in their homes with nothing to do, so they opened their archives as a gesture of goodwill and generocity to a nation of people who cannot get books from libraries. While this may not be legal, it is humane. The problem with this country is that the humane thing is often illegal. We cannot give this food to the hungry, we could be liable.

It's honestly what sucks most about this country: if someone is making money on it, everyone else who comes near it is powerless against it.

Yes, they are breaking copyright law. Who gives a flying fuck about copyright law when there are 100,000 dead people and riots in the streets?


" Who gives a flying fuck about copyright law when there are 100,000 dead people and riots in the streets?"

Plenty of people. Perhaps you haven't heard the news, but it's possible to care about two things at once.


Tell us about your business! Do you have a profitability model yet?


It leverages the first sale doctrine to allow individual owners to access digitized versions of the media they own.

I recently bought out another company that was doing the same thing and ran out of money. I'm still trying to get everything up and running before I start charging people, but my burn rate and cost structure should be manageable.


Just for some needed context, here's what IA says about "borrowing a book"[1]. The critical point,

> Click on the book you would like to borrow. You will be taken to the item page and will be given the option to Borrow This book. Click on Borrow this Book. (If the book is on loan, you will be given an option to Join Waitlist)

So, at least before "quarantime", they only propogated one copy at a time of any title.

[1] https://help.archive.org/hc/en-us/articles/360016554912-Borr...


Yes, before the Emergency Library, they maintained a reserve of physical copies of book they bought or owned. Once that limit is reached, you can't borrow it. Sounds possibly legal.

But this is new: unlimited borrowing. That's the opening for this lawsuit.


Just as a note, here's IA's article on the subject: https://help.archive.org/hc/en-us/articles/360014759692-Righ...


It seems like Internet Archive's sites are just the digital versions of a normal library. Is there something I'm missing here? Are these publishers going to go after all libraries? Or is this more about the content being digital?


The Internet Archive recently started "The Emergency Library" or something to that effect where they are now lending out unlimited books-- not limiting what and how much they lend out based on what they physically own as they did previously.


Okay that seems like pretty brazen copyright infringement then. That's crazy! Maybe they hope to disrupt the publishing industry, but really just sounds like a way to get sued.


There's an opt-out. And they're partnering with a bunch of other libraries that are closed due to the pandemic so maybe they'll get to count all of those copies as well. They also excluded all books published recently. So I doubt any author or publisher will be able to show significant damages in court.


> They also excluded all books published recently.

One of my books was published in 2014 and is on the list.

> There's an opt-out.

Because authors can opt out of having their books pirated, that makes it OK? How are authors notified about the existence of the opt-out? Oh, they're not? Hmm.


The cutoff was five years. @textfiles on Twitter has offered to help authors with the process. He recommends contacting him via DM to avoid harassment from eager IA defenders.


So the Internet Archive believes that copyright protection for creative works should extend no more than five years past the date of publication?

I'm all for copyright reform, but that's a preposterously short period. One hundred years ago, copyright lasted for 28 years, with the potential to renew for another 28 years.

Even if you went back to that copyright term WITHOUT the renewal, five years is still less than 20 percent of that.


Please don't strawman the IA's position. They suspended the waitlist of (parts of) their library collection for 3 months during a global pandemic that necessitated the closure of physical libraries. The books still cannot be redistributed freely and will have to be returned.

Was that legal? Possibly not, so authors and rights holders do have a grievance. But personally, I'm going to judge anyone who's going to the courts instead of merely opting out.


"Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize. Assume good faith."

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


The books are still DRMd so it's not as crazy as one might expect.


It was. Some of us pointed this out at the time and got downvoted for saying that reality does not conform to "thing other HN posters would like."


> Some of us pointed this out at the time and got downvoted for saying that reality does not conform to "thing other HN posters would like."

I am completely willing to believe that some people did, but the overwhelming majority I saw were getting downvoted for (whether deliberately or carelessly) confusing "copyright infringement is not legal" (which is true, but common knowledge) with "copyright infringement is not a active moral good" (which is false, at least of the type of copyright infringement archive.org is doing), and concluding that the Internet Archive was doing something morally, rather than just strategically, wrong.


Normal libraries have to pay quite a bit of money to participate in the digital world - purchasing the right to lend out an ebook, and only being able to distribute the book some 30-50 times before having to re-purchase the rights.

The IA is not paying these fees, and so there's some copyright questions around the distribution rights of scans of legitimate purchases to be answered.


There is no reason that these should be seperate rights to buying an ebook, once.


The right to distribute a thing at scale and the right to buy a single copy for yourself just can't be the same thing. Should a movie theater that sells ten thousand tickets have to pay the film studio for the cost of a single DVD and then be free to do whatever they want?


And yet that's exactly what you're "buying" when you crowdfund a freely redistributable work. Even some movies have been crowdfunded in this way, such as the animation movie Big Buck Bunny.


There is a reason: Profit.

Is it a good and moral reason? Not in my opinion. But it is a reason.


In a normal library, they have to obtain one copy for each copy checked out.


Oh I guess I kind of assumed that was what they were doing, although I guess I didn't explicitly see that anywhere. If they really do lend more copies then they've purchased then IA is pretty clearly in the wrong.


They suspended their waitlist until June 30 ("or the end of the US national emergency, whichever is later") in response to library closures.


They do that (or used to at least). Each book has a single scanned copy that only a singe person can have "checked out" at any given time. There's a waiting line you sign up for.


That's how they used to do it, but is that still the case after they introduced the emergency library? I thought they now lend unlimited copies of the book unless the authors opt-out, and imo it's a little bit legally shaky for them to simply go against the law unless you ask them not to?


The Internet Archive does great work and please support them if you can[1]. Still, they are a single point of failure[2] and if they should falter one day it will be a big loss. What we really need - in my opinion - is a second mainstay - an archive of the archive so to speak.

[1] https://archive.org/donate/

[2] Yes, I know about archive.today (formerly archive.is) but their extent is no way comparable to archive.org. Also, they don't archive pages from archive.org.


Library Genesis serves as an unofficial alternative to Internet Archive' Open Library, with no lending controls and copyright restrictions (as they operate outside of US jurisdiction and make no attempt to adhere to copyright law, similar to SciHub).

To your point, the Internet Archive most definitely needs to operate in a distributed, global fashion to prevent a single country from causing a loss of cultural data because of political winds or profits being put first. Mirror the whole thing on multiple continents.


Isn't SciHub just a rich "client" for LibGen?


SciHub is a web service that downloads papers on demand. In addition to serving the paper up, they also send a backup to LibGen, making LibGen's scientific paper section an archive of SciHub.


Implementation detail I gloss over for the audience.


Would you call Netflix a rich client for s3 though?

I think there is value in the destinction if it's only used as a storage backend, but actually gets the media through different sources.


No, I'd call Netflix a rich client for Netflix's OpenConnect appliance network.

To be clear, I have a deep appreciation for SciHub and LibGen, I just don't have the energy to dive in depth in this forum.


I thought the openconnect network was basically just a cache which tries to serve popular media directly from the providers?

They didn't have enough storage for their full library on the appliances previously. So that'd be like a caching proxy in front of the service

Maybe that changed with how tiny their library became over the years. (Edit:it didn't change. That's what it is.)


Archive.is/Archive.today is currently embroiled in a petty battle against CloudFlare DNS users, which is, imho, contrary to the spirit of an "archive" that is supposed to serve as a backup for things. I would rather support essentially any other service than one that actively tampers with DNS resolution for petty reasons.

https://community.cloudflare.com/t/1-1-1-1-does-not-resolve-...


A "petty battle against CloudFlare DNS users"? No. They require a standardized DNS extension in order for their services to operate properly, and CloudFlare is waging a petty battle against the standard.


A "extension" is by definition something they do not require, since otherwise DNS clients written before that extension would not be able to interoperate with them. That's what makes it a "extension" rather than a unconsionable violation of backwards compatiblity.

And that particular extension exists solely as means for DNS proxies to violate the privacy of their users by leaking client identity data to upstream DNS servers. There are several reasons why Cloudflare is evil and needs to die (especially ReCaptcha and associated attacks on TOR), but archive.is is firmly in the wrong on this particular point.


Is this relevant to archive.org at all? It doesn't seem to be affiliated in any way.


There are plenty of digital preservation initiatives around the world, many (most?) inspired by the Internet Archive, including various national libraries.

The Internet Archive is a precious initiative and by far the most well known in its field, but it is not a "single point of failure".



My approach is to try and archive things locally, and then rehost them via ipfs/my own file servers.

I've also listed many other projects that do related things in the ArchiveBox wiki: https://github.com/pirate/ArchiveBox/wiki/Web-Archiving-Comm...


1. One Time 2. $500 3. Nothing in terms of payment is clickable. I disabled ublock origin so it's something else.

note: it works in Firefox, not Chrome. YMMV.


Agreed all around.

The sooner we can put this data/historical records atop decentralized solutions, the better.


The history of publishing orgs is one of compulsive lawsuits.

> Despite Google taking measures to provide full text of only works in public domain, and providing only a searchable summary online for books still under copyright protection, publishers maintain that Google has no right to copy full text of books with copyrights and save them, in large amounts, into its own database.

re: Author's Guild v. Google https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Authors_Guild,_Inc._v._Google,....



IF you wanna be more mad than this, go look up how much the university you attended spends on subscriptions to these corporate publishers.

Fact is, the internet has made the business model of a middle man being required to deliver content obsolete.


> Despite the self-serving library branding of its operations, IA’s conduct bears little resemblance to the trusted role that thousands of American libraries play within their communities and as participants in the lawful copyright marketplace. IA scans books from cover to cover, posts complete digital files to its website, and solicits users to access them for free by signing up for Internet Archive Accounts.

I wonder how they feel about actual libraries, which make published works available for free to many people as well.


If libraries weren't an ancient concept that preceeded copyright law they'd be illegal today.


I am certain you are right.

And with that knowledge would be locked away to those who could afford access (be it with money or some form of social capital to ensure inequality).


> And with that knowledge would be locked away to those who could afford access (be it with money or some

github stars.


> If libraries weren't an ancient concept that preceeded copyright law they'd be illegal today.

You can easily see this if you look at more modern medium: Gaming.

nVidia created a service where we could play games we bought on their machines. The publishers immediately sued and demanded that we be prevented from playing our own games on those machines without paying extra.

Copyright law now has become cancer - just like real cancer, the original base might be something that provided important value, but has now started feeding on the creativity of society and killing progress and freedom.


Libraries would be only illegal in the US though, because all these copyright issues are US specific.

Archive.org might as well rebase itself somewhere else.


[My personal opinion, unrelated to any employment:]

FWIW I've studied copyright informally in UK, USA, and to a lesser extent other countries.

In UK our "Fair Dealing" is highly restrictive compared to USA's Fair Use.

Our (UK) archiving rights extend only to a couple of institutions and then only to people attending the library in person. We don't have rights to make backups; we don't have rights to format shift (except to help the disabled).

Yes, copyright specifics apply but wrt archiving USA is far from the most restrictive regime.


In Sweden we have the super restricted "right to quote"[1]. Fair use seems like a dream compared to this.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_to_quote


And the US through it's massive influence and bullying would undoubtedly force it upon other countries, as they have done countless times including in the context of copyright.


In the case of copyright, at least nominally, it's the more-restrictive (and European) Berne Convention (1886) terms which have been adopted elsewhere.

To what extent this reflects European rather than US interests I'm uncertain, though the latter certainly exist.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berne_Convention


It reflects the interests of special interest copyright groups who work both to get these treaties written with terms favorable to themselves, and to get laws passed to enforce them.

When those laws are passed they try to get the laws to be stronger than the treaty. Thereby leading to differences in laws and a push for a new treaty to "harmonize" different copyright regimes. Strangely, the new treaty harmonizes on the strong end of the laws passed, thereby creating a ratchet effect.

After decades of success on things like copyright terms, Disney finally reached the end of the road when the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement died. As a result Steamboat Willie, written in 1924, will become public domain in 2024, some 68 years after it was originally supposed to do so.


Undoubtedly.

Point being that the initial push in the present direction came from Europe in the 19th century, no matter how influential the 20th century US publishing sector eventually became.

And to be clear, I don't think the "US, no, Europe" blame game accomplishes or illuminates much. Far more useful is to note that monopoly power seeks to extend itself, regardless of origin.


I was in Morocco when we signed copyright restrictions, and I can assure you 95% of the pressure is from United States, and it is in the interests mainly of the US and it's allies.

As far as it reflecting European interests, the Berne convention is against European interests as it pertains to US copyrighted work as it offers them less protection than US works and forces a higher standard for US copyright than domestic copyright in many cases.


Understood and accurate so far as I'm aware. As my other response notes, the tradition of copyright maximalisation began in Europe in the 19th century before being adopted by US interests in the 20th. Nationalistic attribution of traits answers far less than monopolistic power expansion.


I agree wholeheartedly, the tradition of copyright maximization has its origins in capitalism and value extraction, as such it follows the siege of global capitalism as that is where the interests in the commodification and extraction of value from intellectual property originates from. So it naturally began in Europe, then in the US, and maybe shortly in China? We will see.


Many countries pay copyright owners for library lending (the UK for example through the public lending right).


In the US, libraries buy the books, etc., they lend, or pay for license agreements for digital media.


UK libraries buy the books and pay additionally for every lend, as it should be.


"...as it should be."

Hey, don't try to convince me. I spend most of the hundreds of dollars I pay for books every year at used book stores and things like estate sales.

I am literally Satan.


Same here. What publishers give to authors is practically zero, so if you want the author to get any money you're better off sending them a donation directly.


>Archive.org might as well rebase itself somewhere else.

That would probably be extremely expensive given the fastest way to mirror the IA is with a truck full of hard drives.


It's actually relatively inexpensive to move gear via cargo container. I'd hazard you could move all 10PB of the Internet Archive for less than $25k-50k in shipping costs (~$2k per 40FT container), with labor extra for loading and unloading. (Disclaimer: I have coordinated data center migrations in a previous life)

Although, it's probably more financially efficient for other nations to offer cultural grants for local IA non-profit entities to spin up infra in country and begin mirroring the South SF location.


How many backups do they have? I'd hate for the shipping container to fall off the side of the ship, bye bye all that precious data.

(Just last week some shipping containers washed ashore on a beach in my local area – they had fallen off a ship [1].)

[1] https://coastcommunitynews.com.au/central-coast/news/2020/05...


What they are being accused of would be highly questionable under the copyright laws of over 190 countries, including almost all that are likely to be reasonable places to host a major internet site.


The first sale doctrine protects similar activities such as video rentals. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First-sale_doctrine


Ah but you didn't buy that book. You merely accepted the EULA for a license to read the content of the pages, as written, in the order presented.


You're joking, but this is the kind of thing that becomes true when enough people think it's true. What does a reasonable person think they're getting when they buy a book? That's the implied contract.


It seems to me that the First Sale Doctrine makes library lending (among any other use of an individual instance of copyrighted material) legal.

Unless you're arguing that the First Sale Doctrine was only created because libraries are older than modern copyright, I don't think I agree.


Experiment: try applying the First Sale Doctrine to digital music, video, and software downloads.


That's pretty clearly exactly what they're arguing.


For every application of FSD that applies to a lending library, it seems like there are 99 or more that apply to everyday lending, modification, repair, or resale concerns. Even if libraries didn't exist, I think we'd have something like first sale doctrine.


A bit like mix tapes... Although many sites implemented the idea on the web. I need to mirror libgen while I still can.


Thank you, this is a brilliant comment.


You're probably right, but this doesn't solve the fundamental problem.

People who do intellectual labor, such as writing books, must be paid because everyone must be paid. Nothing is free.

There are two options:

(1) Copyright law, which allows them to erect toll booths and charge readers and users for their work.

(2) A socialist type of system where writers and other intellectual laborers are supported publicly.

The cyber-libertarian crowd is unhappy with both these options. They want everything to be free in all ways.

Since intellectual labor is not free, Jeff Goldblum's Law (from Jurassic Park) comes into play: life finds a way. The way to support oneself in the cyber-libertarian everything-is-free world is by either overt advertising or whoring oneself out as a propagandist (covert advertising).

A third variation also exists that combines aspects of both: surveillance capitalism. In surveillance capitalism all the free stuff is placed on a platform that spies on its users and the data is used to drive both overt and covert advertising.

This is why a simple news web site is 20+ megabytes of trackers, ads, and surveillance crap, and why every platform seems user-hostile. It's also why an increasing amount of intellectual product whether it be books, news, podcasts, etc. is actually political or other forms of propaganda. You can make money by shilling for political parties or political agendas. You can't make money by being balanced and honest and level headed. The work will be much higher quality but nobody will pay for it.


The third option, which works very well, is just by people donating to writers they want to.

The maths works out pretty well if you look at it as a marketing funnel for the author.

In the "traditional" model the author/publisher has to persuade a potential reader to part with money before reading the book, which has huge friction and costs lots of marketing money to persuade people that the book is good enough to buy before they read it - no "one month free trials" here. Using standard marketing funnel maths, they have to get the title in front of 10,000 people to get one sale (assuming a 1% conversion rate for the 2-step funnel). The net profit of this model is lower (for the author) because so much money is spent on marketing.

In the donation model, the author gives the book for free, and then asks for a donation afterwards. They only need to get 100 people to read the book (assuming a 1% conversion rate of people who have read it and want to donate). The cool thing is that those 100 people have read the book, and know it, will talk about it, will recognise the author when their next book comes out, etc.


I think your maths is off. A literary novel is a success if it sells 10,000 copies in hardback. I'm pretty sure that doesn't entail getting the book in front of a hundred million people.


no, the conversion funnel is "people see ad -> people click on ad/notice book -> people buy book". Getting the advert in front of 100mm people to sell 10K copies seems reasonable.


Indeed, given a rather typical conversion rate of 2 % you need a lot of people at the beginning to get thousands of sales. https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2014/03/17/what-is-a-good...


I'd just like to jump in here to point out that most intellectual laborers in the modern world are not paid, at least in terms of a livable wage. Even those intellectual laborers who are paid specifically for intellectual labor, are not paid for writing, for example; they are paid for some other activity with writing as a required side-project.


I'm quite aware that intellectual laborers are underpaid. I'm pointing out that abolishing copyright without any replacement system would make the situation far worse, effectively eliminating many careers.

If this work didn't have much value that would be one thing, but it clearly does. Otherwise people would not be clamoring for access to it. Nobody cares if crap is freely available.

People really want this stuff. They just don't want to pay for it either directly or via any public method. Meanwhile they spend the cost of a median price book or album in 1-2 visits to Starbucks without thinking about it.


The replacement system for copyright is the system that was around pre-copyright: direct funding of works by people who have some interest in their production. Now applicable on a far larger scale via crowdfunding, as showcased by e.g. Kickstarter and IndieGogo (and used successfully to produce a sizeable amount of high-quality, free and open works).


no it is not the default that " intellectual labor" must be paid for in currency (which is the assumption of your post) my comment here for example is " intellectual labor" but i am not paid for it

There are all kinds of labor that people do with out being paid in currency for it, they derive other value from that labor.

You then present a false dilemma in that it is either copyright law or socialism (public funding), there are a whole host of funding models that have been proven to work over and over again that require neither. Open Source is a ripe with examples, YouTube also provides for some, but there are many others (including complete creative Commons books that are funding voluntarily, and voluntary "Pay what you want" systems)


i personally enjoy generating knowledge based products the payment being the edification of other person[s] in particular when the result is a synthesis beyond the original publication[s].


You are really comparing a Hacker News comment that took 1-2 minutes to write with the content of libraries? It's hard for me to write a civil rebuttal to this.

It takes years to write a good book. Years. It's not something you just whip out.

The same applies to any non-trivial piece of music, art, software, engineering, design, or any other form of intellectual labor. People spend years and years on that stuff but only after they spend years and years getting good enough at their craft to actually produce it.

I guess there's another option beyond the two I cited above:

(3) Everything is low effort shit.

Open Source is almost entirely funded by large companies. Pick a popular FOSS project and look at who's committing to it. They're people being paid by large companies to do the work because the company has some vested interest in supporting it. The counter-examples are either SaaS driven (meaning they're not really open) or dual licensed (meaning they're using copyright law).

This sort of philanthropy has limits. In particular it doesn't work for consumer items, only for stuff that companies use directly.

I really don't think you want to bring up YouTube as it actually proves my point. YouTube is a cesspool of propaganda and divisive trolling. That's the kind of content you get when it's "free" and creators must find roundabout ways to get paid for it, such as by stoking society's divisions for attention to monetize ad views.


Your point is very good. However I do want to mention a very limited exception. I am an academic and I write texts that are Free. I figure that a (I hope!) good text raises the profile of my institution and that students come to study at an institution because it has a good reputation. So while, as you say,

> It takes years to write a good book. Years. It's not something you just whip out.

nonetheless these works are freely available.

However, despite perhaps a few exceptions here and there (Kahn Academy is another), overall I very much agree. People have to be be paid. And while Patreon-type stuff is a great idea as far as it goes, it is not sufficient.


How are you defining "good book"? Successful in the marketplace?

No one gets paid to "spend years and years getting good enough at their craft" of writing. Very few people get paid reasonably to "spend years and years on" writing a good book.


>I wonder how they feel about actual libraries, which make published works available for free to many people as well.

If we're talking about "digital" lending instead of physical books, the traditional libraries "play nice" with publishers by buying DRM ebooks and lending out a limited number of copies. This is what they mean by traditional public libraries being "participants in lawful copyright marketplace".

IA scanned books and unlimited lending circumvented all that.

In other words, publishers are ok with limited free lending on their own terms so that it doesn't drastically affect their book sales but they never agreed to IA's unlimited lending which is why they akin it to "piracy".

Not trying to play sides here but if you want to try to understand the nuance of the publishers' position, I'm trying to explain it in a neutral way.


IA's lending is not unlimited, even with the National Emergency Library. The books are still restricted by DRM, they do keep track of how many copies are out for each book, and they do monitor the system to prevent abuse. It's a real library lending system, nothing like what they do with actual public domain works.


>IA's lending is not unlimited, even with the National Emergency Library.

The Internet Archive's Chris Freeland is the Director of Open Libraries and wrote the IA blog post[1] announcing the NEL change and he acknowledges that it is "unlimited"[2] -- and yet you say it isn't. I don't understand why you contradict IA's own representative. Are you affiliated with IA in an official capacity?

- >Stephanie Willen Brown: So, librarian to librarian, is this unlimited simultaneous users?

- >chrisfreeland: Stephanie – Yes, for the duration of our waitlist suspension![2]

[1] https://blog.archive.org/2020/03/24/announcing-a-national-em...

[2] https://blog.archive.org/2020/03/24/announcing-a-national-em...


This is only talking about 'unlimited' simultaneous users, and the term "unlimited" should be related to its proper context. It's 'unlimited' in a sense because the former limits have been suspended. Everything else is separate, so I'm not sure why we're being told assume that IA can't do their job properly.


>This is only talking about 'unlimited' simultaneous users, and the term "unlimited" should be related to its proper context.

Because the "proper context" in this case is what the publishers are filing the lawsuit about. It doesn't matter whether you agree or disagree with the publishers. To the publishers, unlimited simultaneous users is the same as unlimited copies. With public libraries, they paid for limited simultaneous checkouts of digital ebooks which is limited copies and that was acceptable by publishers. In contrast, IA did not pay publishers a license to make copyrighted works available to unlimited users.

The publishers didn't file lawsuits against public libraries; they filed it against IA. In your own words (since you don't object to the word "unlimited" and you thought my summary was unfair), what exactly did IA do that the publishers are filing lawsuit about?


But for copyright to mean something and for the authors to get paid IA's emergency library can't become the norm right? If they don't enforce limits on the number of copies what does it matter that they monitor the number of copies.


As long as physical libraries throughout the U.S. and in much of the world are shuttered due to COVID, something like the NEL makes a lot of sense. It's not the norm, but we're not living in normal times either.


> IA's emergency library can't become the norm

I don't think the plan is to "become the norm". It's an 'emergency library', and it exists currently because the pandemic has forced regular libraries to close.


Hum, many are starting to reopen which maybe helps to explain why this lawsuit is happening now. Regardless while it changes the morality I don't think it changes anything about the legality.


> The books are still restricted by DRM

I don't think this is true for many books, which are scanned copies and available as PDFs or EPubs.


It's definitely true of copyrighted books in the NEL. You're not getting actual PDF's or ePub's, only DRM-based versions are made available.


But under the National Emergency Library, a very large number of people can read one copy of a book at the same time. That makes it completely different from a library "lending" system, regardless of whether user actions are tracked.

Whatever your thoughts on the IA's practices, it's worth being clear on this.


>IA's lending is not unlimited, even with the National Emergency Library.

I'm not debating with you about the details since I haven't used IA's system myself but the last time this came up, a commenter explained that there were a bunch of loopholes in IA's "limits" that it was effectively "unlimited". E.g. after the checkout period expires, you just check out the ebook again. Again, I don't know if this is true.

EDIT to replies equating this to "physical books" : the context of my answer was "digital" ebooks. Physical books are already limited in the sense that libraries' limited budgets only buy limited copies of paper books. So library patrons renewing their borrowed book is "unlimited" on time but not a threat to the publishers because the # of copies are still limited.


Shockingly, at physical libraries you can also re-borrow a book if there's nobody on a waiting list for it.


Often libraries put limits on the number of times you can do this, but also since IA is currently not restricting the number of copies of a book it loans out that must make a difference no?


Why would that matter? It's still only available to one party.


Well right now that isn't true. IA suspended limiting the number of loans they issue to the number of books they own.


I find it interesting that there is an inherent assertion against an equal right to access information in the stipulation that the publisher must be paid.

I look at things differently though I suppose. I see each human as a parallel processing core, and our immediate consciously recallable set of knowledge as basically being Cached, our referentially recallable knowledge (stuff we know where to find, but don't have in mind) as a pagefile swap, and the unknown, but authored as a compressed, archived file on our collective population-wide hard disk.

So what we're suggesting here, is that certain cores should have to go without access to certain trivially reproducible archives so that the archiving program (publishers) can utilize the product of said cores (analogous to money earned by other work done) to pick the winners and losers of the process of making an archive(I.e. subsidizing authorial works) in the first place?

This sounds like a pretty terrible system to me, and like publisher's have an exaggerated role as gatekeepers in the marketplace of ideas. I would not expect that in the presence of a zero-cost information replication mechanism such an entity performing such a task would be desirable except as an artifact of a programmer having something better to do than to refactor out that quirk of the old high cost implementation.

I wonder how far out I can extend this simulation of society as computing system. I suppose the analog of the necessary inputs for life would be the power electricity bill? Hmmmm.

You know, I think I just nerd sniped myself. I'm not sure if I can complete this post as intended now that I'm continuing to think on it. I'll leave it here in case anyone else wants to join in on extending the metaphor/figuring out where the breaking points are.


And how is that different from a physical library.


A physical library pays based on maximum simultaneous checkouts. If they want to allow 5 people to have copies checked out simultaneously, they buy 5 copies from the publisher.


And the IA followed that rule too but opened up wider access with an "Emergency" library once lockdowns due to COVID-19 were put in place.


> Physical books are already limited in the sense that libraries' limited budgets only buy limited copies of paper books.

And just to drive this completely home, it's not an arbitrary restriction—if a library has a larger budget or a book is more popular, they can buy more copies of the book, which also benefits publishers.


> IA's unlimited lending

IA's lending is not unlimited, as others have pointed out. From https://openlibrary.org/help/faq/borrow:

> The Internet Archive and participating libraries have selected digitized books from their collections that are available to be borrowed by one patron at a time from anywhere in the world for free. [emphasis mine]

I think we should be careful not to let publishers control the narrative here. Publishers interests in making profits are naturally going to conflict with the public good, and the point of copyright is to promote the latter.


I think this press release is missing an important details. While previously IA only allowed the same number of books that they owned to be lent out as part of their response to covid they've dropped that restriction. As much as I like IA if copyright is to continue to exist that can't be legal.

http://blog.archive.org/2020/03/24/announcing-a-national-eme...


Copyright doesn't exist as boolean. It's a social contract-- a give and take between the owners of "intellectual property" and society-- and exists along a continuum. Copyright in the US has, in the last 50-ish years, taken a hard turn toward benefit for the owners of the "intellectual property" (not requiring registration anymore, increased duration of terms, the DMCA and everything that came along with it). I'd argue and some re-negotiation is long overdue, especially in light of how ubiquitous computer networking is changing the landscape.


One clarification: copyright was never a (direct) tradeoff between desires of the public and desires of copyright holders. It's a tradeoff between two desires of the public: the public wants plenty of works created, and the public also want plenty of rights over those works (for purposes such as building more works upon them, remixing, etc). The desires of copyright holders should only enter into that indirectly, insofar as they result in the publication of more works that wouldn't have been published otherwise, and the public wants to make that trade.

With that in mind: for any given component of copyright law, we should be asking "what would not have been produced if this particular exclusive privilege didn't exist, and does the public want to make that trade?".


The desires of the owners should be indirect. I wish they were. I think it's fair to say the owners likely started exerting their influence (money for legislative influence) a long time ago. That copyright law has continued to move toward the owner's rights end of the spectrum serves as an indicator that legislators see the owner's interests as an explicit part of the contract, intended or not.

Aside from that, insofar as US copyright takes inspiration from the Statute of Anne, I'd say that the interests of copyright holders were never completely indirect ("... and too often to the Ruin of them and their Families...").

re: The "what we should be asking" - I don't think we can conceive of the possible business models that could spring up if changes were made to copyright law. Sure-- some business models might become untenable-- but I don't think entire classes of works would just disappear. I'd rather ask "What new business models or classes of works would be permitted if this particular exclusive privilege were relaxed?"


> The desires of the owners should be indirect. I wish they were.

Right. I was stating what should be, and what was originally intended. The clause in the US constitution authorizing copyrights and patents reads "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries". Any such exclusive right is granted (not inherent) and should only be provided insofar as doing so will "promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts".

> re: The "what we should be asking" - I don't think we can conceive of the possible business models that could spring up if changes were made to copyright law. Sure-- some business models might become untenable-- but I don't think entire classes of works would just disappear. I'd rather ask "What new business models or classes of works would be permitted if this particular exclusive privilege were relaxed?"

Agreed completely. Another reason why it's a careful tradeoff for the public to make.


I don't think a reinterpretation where anyone is allowed to make and lend as many copies of works as they want is workable though. Like we haven't found another way to incentive producing content.


Why does the business model have to be based on counting copies of information being made (and hamstringing technology to serve that purpose)?

What about patronage? What about public performance? What about merchandising rights? (I actually have very little beef w/ Trademark law. It seems like it's functioning well and provides value to society.)

What about the idea certain livelihoods and classes of works just go away? Maybe that's sad, but maybe it's also just what happens.


You're admitting what most anti-copyright people don't want to admit – if instead of bookshops we only had the Emergency Library, certain classes of works would indeed go away, including most good fiction, not to mention history, biography, reportage etc. You say that's "just what happens" like it's some ineluctable natural process, but none of this is preordained. The traditional model has a lot of defenders – including the majority of readers who are still happy to pay for books – and with those defenders' help it can survive.


If a market's survival is incumbent upon screwing-up new technology for everybody then I say "Let it die". It it means having draconian laws that tie up the most precious products of human toil in too-lengthy "protection" terms, to the point that works of culture are lost, then I say "Let it die".

Not being able to make a living producing something that no one will pay for sounds very much like a natural, preordained process to me. I can't make a living manufacturing buggy whips or operating elevators anymore. Technology made those jobs go away. It's sad perhaps, from a nostalgic perspective, but the world moved on.

If a business model needs "defenders" in the face of technological change then it's no longer a viable model.

I don't believe a transactional model is the only one that can work. It happens to be convenient for a certain type of creator, but that doesn't mean it's the only one.

I will clarify that I'm most certainly not anti-copyright. I think a lot of value can be derived from a copyright regime based on a more balanced social contract. US copyright law, and those who have "harmonized" with the US, has shifted much too far in the direction of favoring the owners of "intellectual property".


I don't understand where you're getting the idea that books are something "no one will pay for". Sales of books are generally stable or rising. They are not like buggy whips.

I also don't understand how it is that you're describing books as "the most precious products of human toil", but you're simultaneously saying you're happy to sacrifice them if it means you get copyright reform.

And I also don't understand how copyright law is screwing up your "technology". It screws up your ability to get certain things for free. But if someone wants to create a DRM-free ebook and give it away, they are still perfectly able to do so.


> certain classes of works would indeed go away

Unlikely and definitely unproven. Historical precedent rather shows that at least 96 % of the books would be produced even without copyright, given less than 4 % bothered to register the copyright when it was mandatory. And less than 1 % of the 4 % required a copyright term longer than 14 years. https://archive.org/details/howtofixcopyrigh00patr/page/104/...

If tomorrow Congress repealed the Berne convention and shortened the copyright term to 5 years from publication, in order to make the Internet Archive's "National Emergency Library" permanent even without fair use, probably a good 99.9 % of the works would still be produced.


But this lawsuit alleges that even the IA's previous lending scheme was illegal.

I think the publishers are using the emergency library as cover for a much more broad-reaching lawsuit.


Meanwhile, all the copies of those same books which were purchased by libraries are now sitting on library shelves, unable to be loaned out.

The copyright holders have already gotten paid.


Also, on that note, [citation needed] on the implicit claim that "signing up for Internet Archive Accounts" is necessary or even suggested to access the content on the Internet Archive. I've used the IA a lot, and not once did it even advertise the ability to create an account (beyond probably some Log-In/Sign-Up button somewhere that I didn't even notice), let alone require me to do so. Still don't have such an account.


Try clicking on any of the books listed at https://archive.org/details/nationalemergencylibrary. See the big button that says "Log In and Borrow"?


Huh, well I'll be.

I guess I never visited that part of archive.org, so never noticed.


In the UK publishers get paid when library users borrow a book through the Public Lending Right scheme.

https://www.bl.uk/plr


I am not saying I agree with their criticism of IA, but libraries are quite different.

Libraries pay for each copy of a book they have, and checkouts are limited to the number they own at a time. The IA doesn't pay at all, and there is no limit to how many people can access the content.


>> which make published works available for free to many people as well.

The key difference is the copying, the vary thing that copyright is meant to regular. A library doesn't turn one book into many. A digital archive does. That's the difference that draws in the legal system. Some libraries have developed schemes for this (one digital copy available for one person at a time) but this doesn't get around the fact that any digital copy can be copied or translated into different formats.


There will always be a massive difference between physical copies and digital ones.

Of course, authors miss out on any royalties in either case, but the speed at which their income stream can dry up is oodles faster when there's a digital copy available.

Digital can be copied, replicated and redistributed very easily, but physical books require man handling to achieve the same goal.


Do you mean people borrowing books? I'm not expert but I guess it's not equal. Libraries still have to purchase the books (or a license for digital) and only one person can hold one book (license) at a time. For example, I have to wait for an ebook to be returned before I can check it out to my kindle, it's not unlimited access.


Prior to the "National Emergency Library" situation, that is exactly what IA did.


I’m surprised this hasn’t happened earlier.

Say what you want about the current copyright system, but buying a single book and lending it out one at a time and buying a new one when it wears out, is obviously different than handing out unlimited digital copies.


What's really sad is that this is a physical limitation of books that is easily overcome with digital copies. Instead of embracing this new freedom technology brings us, we -- or rather some publishers -- seek to hold new technology back and effectively make it mimic as much as possible the limitations of the previous technology. And this only because it makes business sense to them.

Imagine this:

"Good news, everyone! We've invented Star Trek-like replication technology. I can replicate and provide any amount of food or tools for everyone! It's the post-scarcity society we've always dreamt of!"

"Quick, we must now devise a way to make this encumbered so food and tools cannot really be replicated at will with zero cost, and instead make it resemble how we used to farm/grow food and build traditional tools, or else business as we know it may crumble. Also we need a way to identify and sue people who breach our business contracts!"

It's depressing. A bit like the future that The Murderbot Diaries depict.


You're equating what we have now (people wanting to make money off their intellectual property) with a fictional scenario where money is no longer needed.

We have to stick with the old way for now, otherwise it would only take one library buying one copy of anything, and it being available to any and everyone on an unlimited basis. That can't work.


I don't know that we have to stick with the old ways, but more importantly, it's depressing when technology is limited in this way. This isn't even morally arguable technology like genetic manipulation, this is simply a post-scarcity situation made, um, artificially scarce. It's never the right time for change; if some companies had their way a post-scarcity world would never arrive ("now is not the time! Think of the economy!"). A Star Trek world would never happen because copyright holders wouldn't let it happen.

It's depressing when people argue "but libraries can only lend as many physical copies as they have" as if this was a good thing about books instead of an accidental limitation.

Actually, that's the concept I was looking for: accidental limitations. It sucks when publishers and media companies seek to turn accidental limitations into mandated limitations, as if they were a law of nature, and when the technology could rid us of said limitations.


but this is _not_ just a distribution problem like you seem to be implying. Yes, digital solves distribution, so we are post-scarcity in that sense, but someone also needs to put in the intellectual labor to write a book in the first place. That has always been scarce. And if you don't incentivize it properly, people will have no reason to put in the effort to write books.


I assure you, writers will write books even if nobody paid them. This is not to say it's ok if they have to live under a bridge because they can't support themselves. But writers write, and for a lot of them money is not the primary motivation, just a welcome (and important) one.

Likewise, painters will paint even if nobody will buy their paintings.

That's art for you.


e-books are very tricky when it comes to copyright. Even the retailers who sell the ebooks on Amazon (or elsewhere) are not really the "owners". It's always the publisher who is considered to be the owner. So technically you do not own the ebook you bought, you just license it for yourself on your device(s). [0]

Isn't there an ongoing lawsuit against Amazon on this issue where someone is suing them for misguiding people about ownership when you "buy" an ebook from them?

[0] https://goodereader.com/blog/e-book-news/this-is-the-big-rea...


If it says "buy" in the listing and that listing is in any way endorsed by the copyright owner - eg by not issuing a c&d letter - then you own your copy.

Of course much legal machination will be attempted to assert you don't.

YMMV.


It doesn't even matter whether the copyright owner likes it or knows about it or not. Selling a used book is legal.


You will likely find that the license agreement you paid for, allowing you to use a digital ebook, disagrees.


Actual libraries buy more than one copy. That is the issue.


And they don’t have to pay inflated prices for a “license” that can be revoked at any time.



Wow, yeah:

> "Libraries must pay up to 4X the retail price for digital versions of books (which only one user can have access to at a time)."


Actual libraries have limited copies of any book, even e-books. In an actual library, a book cannot be downloaded by the entire Internet at one time.


So does the IA during normal operation.


I was replying to, "I wonder how they feel about actual libraries, which make published works available for free to many people as well." I know first-hand of several books that have inappropriately been present on the IA as stolen copies of books written by independent authors. Those authors filed DMCA notices to remove them. So, no, the IA is not the same as an "actual library" regarding copies of books.


Uh, publishers understand libraries and they've made their peace with physical books. They're just suing about someone who is undermining this balance.

As it is, real libraries are bad deals for everyone. Libraries spend too much on books that aren't read and they don't spend enough on books in demand. A digital system that charges per reader makes more sense.

But I don't expect anyone to believe this because people have some weird attraction to something that they think is "free" even though it costs millions in tax dollars.


Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: