Unlike these publishers, however, I support Controlled Digital Lending. I think it's closely analogous to print lending in every way that matters. It strikes the right balance between respecting the first-sale doctrine and respecting authors' copyrights. It allows lending of creative works to proceed into the 21st century under essentially the same terms that it existed prior to the digital age.
To the extent that the publishers are arguing against the legality of CDL, I disagree with them. I hope the courts recognize it is already legal, or even better, I hope Congress explicitly declares it legal.
Yet I think it's worth emphasizing that the Internet Archive engaged in uncontrolled digital lending through their national emergency program. By being willing to lend out more copies than they owned, they were clearly engaging in copyright infringement, and I found their justification for it wholly unconvincing.
So, while I support IA insofar as it engages in Controlled Digital Lending, I oppose IA's shift toward Uncontrolled Digital Lending, and their willingness to do so, under flimsy justification, makes me concerned that they cannot be trusted to handle even CDL responsibly.
For this reason I also think use of the "uncontrolled" term is unfair, disingenuous, and even does a disservice to the public at large. It further propagates the myth that loosening already-strict controls is the same as having no controls at all.
It 100% wasn’t. IA after the fact tried to justify their uncontrolled lending by saying they were lending out copies that were owned by the shut down libraries all over the country.
First, nobody gave them ownership of those copies.
Second, most libraries already have legal digital lending systems and so their digital stocks were going out too (which also negates IAs after the fact justification).
Let's say that for book X, IA held-in-reserve 2 copies. And at the peak of the "Emergency Library", they never loaned out more than 10 total copies.
I'm sure publishers would allege: "You created 8 net copies! Pay us!"
But then 500 physical libraries who are sympathetic to the IA show up, and say: "Amongst us, we had 1000 idle copies of X trapped on our shelves. We wish we could have done the same sort of 1-for-1 lending IA did, to help the nation in its hour of need, but we weren't set up for it, and couldn't throw it together with limited resources during mandatory-closure orders."
"So, as soon as we heard about IA's program, we endorsed it & recommended it to our physical patrons. As far as we're concerned, we delegated the right to loan our copies to IA, including retroactively."
"No net copies of X were created. Rather, if there had been no pandemic emergency forced closure of physical libraries, our copies of X would've been loaned out for a total of 40,000 library-patron-days. None of that happened, but IA's emergency lending managed to reclaim, according to their exact usage numbers, 5,277 of those days-of-use for students, scholars, and citizens. Less than 15% of the pandemic-destroyed-value."
"Now, publishers are trying to profit off the pandemic, by not only having collected their payments for all those idled books, but collecting a windfall of extra purchases, and/or damages, from a non-profit library that was just trying to offset massive pandemic losses in a technologically efficient way."
Then who are the 130 partner libraries they are talking about?
Over 130 libraries endorsed lending books from our collections, and we used Controlled Digital Lending technology to do it in a controlled, respectful way. We lent books that we own—at the Internet Archive and also the other endorsing libraries. These books were purchased and we knew they were not circulating physically.
Also being endorsed by a library does not mean giving ownership of their physical copies.
That isn’t what happened - in your metaphor: IA started lending friends’ copies without asking.
IA only after the fact got endorsements from libraries and they certainly didn’t have agreements in place giving them any inventory.
That's relevant if the friends have grievances, but not so much the publishers.
You think it is okay to lend out other peoples property? You need a serious reality check if so.
What you're alleging they did is equivalent to someone going to their friend's house and taking something of theirs to lend to someone else without asking them. I agree that if that's an accurate assessment of what actually happened, it's a lot less defensible.
I have no idea what limitations, if any, are put on the lending of digital goods by law or by the specific terms of IA, or the terms the other libraries in question offer.
Sure, but at no point does the producer of a physical object that is being lent get a say-so in the agreement between my friend and me, or the contract between a lending business and me.
In the car rental metaphor, it'd be like Ford suing Hertz for lending me a Focus that Ford already sold to Hertz.
If I borrow a neighbours defibrillator, without asking, to save their child it would be insane for the manufacturer of the defibrillator to sue me for not buying my own defibrillator. While in theory the neighbour could object to me borrowing the defibrillator without permission, that does not appear to be what happened. Based on IA's statements it appears that libraries are saying after the fact that they were happy for their copies of books to be loaned by IA.
I would assume from their actions these publishers hoped to make a windfall on book sales when people were no longer able to access libraries and they saw IA's actions as attacking this potential profit. I can't think of any other reason why they would peruse their current course of action.
And then it turned out the friends were fine with it anyway.
Most libraries' digital lending is completely separate from their physical lending or from the Internet Archive's scanned book program. Those digital lending systems have no relevance to this case.
IIUC libraries buy separate digital copies for digital lending. IA's justification is that they were providing a substitute for the physical copies which are now sitting unusable. It might be legally suspect but it's not an illogical position.
The publishers are saying that, regardless of the form of media, the IA engaged in uncontrolled digital lending, meaning that they lent out more digital copies of books than they actually owned, digitally or physically (or that were lent to them by their so-called partner libraries either digitally or physically). Because they did not actually own or possess the copies underlying these loans, they were required by copyright law (in the US and the EU) to either acquire more physical copies or to license more digital copies.
* lending in specified forms, which require illegal activity to make further copies, and
* lending for a specified time, which requires illegal activity to extend.
Welcome to NewSpeak, where "uncontrolled" means fairly tightly controlled.
Uncontrolled does not have to mean zero restraints. The word never meant that. Especially in a well defined context where controlled has precise meaning (and that meaning is not “every constraint”). Neither word need mean the absolute extreme.
This is not NewSpeak.
In this way, "uncontrolled" is not a fair term; rather it seems to be used for a specific, possibly unfair purpose by a specific side in this argument. The fact is, IA had specific, qualitatively-controlling controls on their lending, and anyone who checked out one of the books could see exactly what that meant. Nuances are important here.
> Essentially, CDL must maintain an “owned to loaned” ratio. Circulation in any format is controlled so that only one user can use any given copy at a time, for a limited time. Further, CDL systems generally employ appropriate technical measures to prevent users from retaining a permanent copy or distributing additional copies.
So what they are doing definitely is not "controlled digital lending", by their own definition. At best, it's semi-controlled, but the real essence of the "control" is the number of copies, so "uncontrolled" seems fair.
If they do agree with you that the paragraph you pasted is their end-to-end definition of "controlled," that means they haven't yet incorporated these other controls into their definition, and they definitely still can and should.
There's no singular time limit or definite requirement to define such things in this case, and IA have engaged lots of controls, from HTTPS and authentication on up to content-level media and time controls.
Sure, they can change their position. But A) I can't go off of what is potentially in some stranger's head and B) they would be redefining the term.
edit: I hear where you are coming from though. I agree it's got some "control", so you don't like the term "uncontrolled". But I think we probably agree that it isn't "controlled digital lending" even if it is "controlled" to some extent.
Also, why does it matter if 130 libraries said they were okay with the CDL program, since that's not at issue here?
Library CDL programs were still online and functioning the entire time. Only the physical facilities were closed.
As far as I know, most public libraries' electronic lending programs are using something similar to Rakuten OverDrive and are limited to books published in electronic editions and then leased by the library systems. Do you know of any libraries other than the Internet Archive that make scanned copies of physical books available?
If you find yourself in the position of needing a copy of Charles Ross' biography Edward IV (https://www.google.com/books/edition/_/m8Ojo6VI8KUC?hl=en), as far as I know you're pretty much limited to the Internet Archive (https://archive.org/details/edwardiv00ross) unless you have an open research library handy. But you'd best make it quick, because the publishers want those copies deleted.
You could now try, if the DRM allows it, and the Internet Archive only temporarily during the lockdowns, through the DRM, allowed more than one person to read the book. That is, you could have had it for 14 days, but now you just couldn't renew it anymore unless nobody reads it.
I guess the correct term to use would be something along the lines of "lending that doesn't follow the legal definition of controlled lending" or something along those lines, but that is a somewhat unwieldy phrase to use as a part of most posts.
Uncontrolled does not mean zero constraints whatsoever.
Especially when used in opposition to the precisely defined phrase Controlled Digital Lending, where controlled is a well defined set of constraints.
No longer strictly doing something does not imply it's opposite.
For example, the opposite of help is harm, and no longer helping something does not imply you are harming them, does it?
These terms are the extremes of a spectrum. Noting that you are no longer on one extreme of a spectrum does not immediately imply you are now at the other extreme.
Control of a variable—in this case the number of copies lent—is strictly binary. There is no neutral state in which the variable can be neither controlled nor uncontrolled.
This is the crux of the point. Control over a variable is not what's in question. Control over many variables is, some of which were controlled and some weren't. In that respect, if you go from a controlled process where the variables in question are all controlled to one in which some of them are, it is not now "uncontrolled", it's partially controlled, it's also partially uncontrolled. There is less control, but it doesn't make sense to call it uncontrolled where there is still control over some variables retained, and we're still using the same context which applies to the same set of variables.
Arguing otherwise is a bit like saying discrete mathematics isn’t discrete because we can represent the number one by a line of arbitrary length. That’s strictly true but has nothing at all to do with the actual definition of discrete mathematics.
No, CDL very clearly outlines 6 different criteria by which it should work. One of those criteria is:
limit the total number of copies in any format in circulation at any time to the number of physical copies the library lawfully owns (maintain an “owned to loaned” ratio);
It does not state 1:1, just that some ratio is maintained, and even if that one criteria were to be ignored, there are 5 other criteria just as important to the process, such as ensuring that each digital copy goes to a single person, and that the digital copy prevents additional copying, and that it's limited by time.
Whether they qualify for the moniker of CDL when not following one of those six criteria is debatable, but notably it's not what we're debating here, which is whether it's accurate to call what they did "uncontrolled" because it was called controlled previously (even if that's a name library marketing made up for this). Given all the other controls in place (likely every other criteria listed for CDL), I would say it definitely was not "uncontrolled".
You've not made any counter claim here. You've left me guessing which criteria you mean to include some type of control, so I'll go through them all.
ensure that original works are acquired lawfully;
This isn't really about controlling anyone but themselves and is also part of what did not appear to happen in the NEL.
lend each digital version only to a single user at a time just as a physical copy would be loaned;
This isn't meaningfully different than maintaining the ratio.
limit the time period for each lend to one that is analogous to physical lending; and
In the absence of maintaining the ratio, the length of duration is meaningless, since the same person can just check out the book again.
use digital rights management to prevent wholesale copying and redistribution.
Again, without maintaining the ratio, what control does this achieve?
>> limit the total number of copies in any format in circulation at any time to the number of physical copies the library lawfully owns (maintain an “owned to loaned” ratio);
> It does not state 1:1, just that some ratio is maintained,
This is a difference without distinction. Sure, they could be loaned at a ratio less than 1, but they cannot, by definition, loan at a ratio greater than one.
> Whether they qualify for the moniker of CDL when not following one of those six criteria is debatable, but notably it's not what we're debating here, which is whether it's accurate to call what they did "uncontrolled" because it was called controlled previously
These are not separate debates. There's context behind the use of the term 'controlled'.
That only makes sense if you assume the ratio is infinite if above zero. This matters in any case where the ratio is not infinite.
> Again, without maintaining the ratio, what control does this achieve?
Combined with limiting the time period the lending is allowed, which you conveniently left out, it's controls the scope entirely. Even if you allow unlimited copied, you can change that and if the copies are all limited to one week and are cannot be copied by users, in a week you can have effectively reduced number of items lent to zero if you want. Without these constraints you can't. They are integral to the whole idea of CDL.
> This is a difference without distinction. Sure, they could be loaned at a ratio less than 1, but they cannot, by definition, loan at a ratio greater than one.
Sure they can. Their justification for why they believe it's legal does not allow a ratio of above one, but almost all the other criteria still applies when it is above one, and specifically, what the IA did was lend at a ratio above one. Your other points about how stuff doesn't matter if the ratio is one are specifically avoiding this point.
My point is simple. CDL would not work from a legal perspective if there was not some way to limit the time in which the item was lent and prevent copying just as it would not work if there's not a physical copy backing the lending. To say it's uncontrolled because only one aspect of all those parts that make the whole makes no sense.
That's akin to having a dog restrained with a leash, harness and muzzle, and after the muzzle is removed, saying the god is unrestrained. The dog is restrained still, just less so than before. The IA lent books in a controlled manner (an account is required, there was DRM, there were limits on length), it was just less controlled than before, because they did not back each digital copy with a physical one.
That there were clearly some controls in place means that it's erroneous to call it uncontrolled.
Feel free to respond and refute as you see fit, I'll read and consider what you say, but I won't respond on this particular thread anymore. I think we've spend enough time on this that it's unlikely to tread fruitful new ground that will change either of our minds, and we could probably go back and forth on minutia for quite a while.
"IA’s self-serving assertion and promotion of “Controlled Digital Lending” as both an actual legal doctrine and a justification for its infringement affronts the most basic realities of the law and the markets it propels. As a matter of markets, IA’s one-to-one conflation of print and ebooks is fundamentally flawed. Digital books are inherently different from physical books. They can fly around the world in a second; they do not degrade over time as physical books do; and they require devices to read them."
It's worth pointing out that libraries will rebind a physical book if it starts falling apart. It's weird to argue that publishers' rights should last the full term of copyright, but readers' rights only last until a book wears out.
This is similar to a 'digital' copy and a 'CD' copy.
I'm just saying, the current 'movie/film' money corps will push for 1 side of this argument.
A reader's right to a physical copy only lasts as long as the physical copy. If they want to extend the term of that right, they should take better care of their physical copy.
So, at least in some context this is false- the reader's right is to the information contained within the physical copy, not just the physical copy itself.
However, it's simply not worth it for a copyright owner to go after someone making a backup copy for personal use since the statutory damages are only $750 (per act of infringement), and don't include legal fees. (Contrast to the infamous Napster/Limewire cases: each peer connection in P2P sharing constitutes a separate act of infringement if you share to them, which is what made it potentially lucrative for some law firms to attempt to shakedown users of those programs.)
This is an intended effect of setting the statutory amount at $750: it's too low to make it economical for copyright owners to go after isolated cases without market effect, but at the same time quickly makes it very expensive for infringers to commit multiple acts of infringement.
This isn't exactly the same as personal use but it's pretty relevant: https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2015/10/appeals-court-ru...
> "While Google makes an unauthorized digital copy of the entire book, it does not reveal that digital copy to the public," the opinion states.
Also, Pamela Samuelson, a professor at University of California at Berkeley has stated: "Personal-use copying should be deemed to be fair, unless there is a demonstrable showing of harm to the market for the copyright at work"
While not "fair use" the library of congress which is empowered to make exemptions to DMCA has made such exemptions for Personal backup
Further the Copyright law only grants the Creator 5 Rights, these are around the public dissemination of the work, not the private use of the work. it is not a total control over the work like authoritarian copyright maximalists like yourself believe it to be
The Supreme Court has held in many contexts that non-distributed reproduction falls outside the control of copyright, so I can make as many PERSONAL copies of a work as I desire provided I never sell, gift, or distribute them in any way
I would love for you do show me in copyright law where it grants the right to control personal reproduction, as the copyright law is very clear about what rights it grants, it is all about distribution and performance
Now if the courts decide that applying copyright, which is as old as the printing press, to digital media, which are neither printed nor pressed, makes no sense, and they declare all forms of Digital Restrictions Management to be illegal, and it all happens because of this lawsuit, specifically because of this slip of the tongue, which only happened because the Internet Archive intentionally overstepped some legal boundaries at an opportune time, I'd say: Well played, Internet Archive.
Not going to happen, though. Courts don't rule against established companies, ever.
> copyright, which is as old as the printing press
The idea of copyright was not fabricated until about 200 years after the the printing press was invented, and then it was a tool for censorship. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright#Background
> it was a tool for censorship
When did that change? Did it ever?
Yes, it is. Censorship is obscene, no matter how well-intentioned the perpetrators.
> Copyright is censorship in the same way that making it illegal for someone else to say they are you (identity theft) is censorship.
It isn't illegal for someone else to say that they are you—per se. Actors do that sort of thing all the time. It only becomes illegal if they do so deceptively with the intent of achieving some sort of financial or personal gain, i.e. to commit fraud. The illegal part is the attempt to obtain goods or services under false pretenses.
Copyright is completely different. It penalizes the unauthorized distribution of factual information—even if these facts are just the arrangement of words in a work of fiction, or a series of numbers describing a certain sound wave. There is no deception involved in copyright infringement, no goods or services obtained under false pretenses, just the communication of information through channels which certain parties would prefer to suppress.
However, I think there has to be a reasonable way to implement copyright so that artists can get paid for their creations in a reliable way.
A third party shouldn't be able to host/index a bunch of someone else's IP, sell ads, and make bank at the expense of writers, musicians, etc.
On the other hand, Michael Jackson is dead. Why is his music still copyrighted? The material has earned zillions of dollars already. The ownership of those rights by corporate randos is ridiculous. Copyright holders have, in my lifetime, behaved in a ridiculous way--even abusively towards original artists via DMCA take downs. But the notion of copyright is still important.
All that said, platforms that pay artists pennies while making billions on the activity they attract are probably a bigger threat to art these day. That also needs to be dealt with.
Clearly you've never actually met anyone who was anti-copyright / pro-freedom of information. To begin with, they're not going to be looking for "a reasonable way to implement copyright" or saying things like "the notion of copyright is still important". Kind of goes against the whole anti-copyright mentality.
> A third party shouldn't be able to host/index a bunch of someone else's IP, sell ads, and make bank at the expense of writers, musicians, etc.
There is no "at the expense of…". The third party is performing hosting and indexing services and getting paid for that work. They benefit, the users of the site benefit, no one else loses anything. In the absence of copyright anyone else could do the same, so it's naturally going to be a low-margin business.
If we want artists to get paid in a reliable way, without wrecking the rest of society in the process, we need to look beyond copyright, to patronage, crowdfunding, sponsorship, open collaboration, and other models. The presence of copyright doesn't guarantee that artists get paid. It does ensure that we're actively crippling our technology, erecting barriers between people, undermining the art itself by making it all about money, encouraging contempt for the law (not entirely a bad thing IMHO when the law is unjust), and creating a parasitic copyright industry which leeches off of both the public in general and artists in particular, in the end serving no one but itself.
As I said, I also think terms of copyright should be deeply constrained and nontransferable upon death.
But like, megaupload? Why should such a business model be allowed to exist? 100% parasitic.
This is drastically different from what we know today.
Patronage? Who if not the people acquiring the material?
Crowd funding? Won’t that be in competition with the pirated commodity?
Sponsorship, like ads in the content?
I’d rather pay an artist for content for a reasonable price and duration, while shutting down excessive suits.
Get off your high horse. It’s a complicated issue. The whole web runs on sponsorship and ads and it sucks horribly. There are balanced approaches worth considering. Content has value.
>> Gosh, I'm pretty much as anti-copyright/pro-freedom of information as anyone you would ever meet.
You aren't even close. Stopping just short of copyright maximalism doesn't make you anti-copyright. It makes you slightly more reasonable, but you're still on the opposite side of this particular debate.
> But like, megaupload? Why should such a business model be allowed to exist? 100% parasitic.
What's so parasitic about a file hosting service? They get paid a premium right now because they're taking on a bunch of legal risk on behalf of their users. You can blame any surplus profits squarely on copyright law itself.
> Patronage? Who if not the people acquiring the material?
The patrons normally would be the ones acquiring the original copies, yes. At that point it would be up to them to decide what to do with those copies. Patrons would normally also receive credit for funding the production of the work. This model works well in situations where there is social capital (or simply a sense of self-worth) linked to being known as a "patron of the arts".
> Crowd funding? Won’t that be in competition with the pirated commodity?
You're thinking of pre-sales. Crowdfunding is more akin to patronage, just with a broader audience. Backers might get some perks, such as public credit or merchandise, but there is no guarantee of exclusivity. The resulting work may or may not be made available directly to the public, though the distributed nature of crowdfunding pretty much guarantees that at least one backer would "defect" and make their copy available shortly after the initial release.
> Sponsorship, like ads in the content?
Product placement is one form of sponsorship. It can be done well, or poorly. Quite a bit of quality content has been produced for free distribution through unobtrusive sponsorship arrangements. Sometimes content that people are interested in for its own sake also incidentally happens to benefit someone, so they're willing to pay for its production even without any direct promotion.
Megaupload employees and owners uploaded pirated content, and profited hugely. Not small margins—they made millions.
I’m against YouTubes, Spotifys, and even megauploads screwing content creators. Tech doesn’t have the right to assume ownership of the world via content platforms.
All content production is struggling under the glut of technological wealth extraction via platforms. A good copyright implementation would help avoid this. It’s nothing like what we have, but the concept of copyright is not the same as the abusive system we know.
I feel like you are railing against copyright the way conservatives rail against socialism. Doing so mischaracterizes the sensible arguments that are classified as such.
The goal should be to promote diverse content creation by allowing creators (Not their platforms or corporate ownership) to be compensated, and to simultaneously allow for cultural exchange with concepts like free use and limited copyright durations, and by protecting/promoting library lending. Such things are possible, and I think optimal.
> Information should be free to share and copy, but not at a profit if it infringes on the owner of the IP.
That sounds like what the Open Source Definition would classify as discrimination based on field of endeavour. Terms like that are way more trouble than they're worth. If anyone can share and copy the content at cost, the only way to earn a profit is to provide some value-added service. Which means you're not profiting from the content, but rather from the service you've added on top. I'm not sure why you would have an issue with that.
> Megaupload employees and owners uploaded pirated content, and profited hugely. Not small margins—they made millions.
That's only because competition for hosting and indexing services was severely limited by copyright. I don't see the relevance to the scenario you're describing where there are no restrictions on (non-profit) sharing or copying. Their margins would be basically zero under those circumstances, or at least no more than any other hosting service. Any profit they did make would be due entirely to their own efforts.
The inherent differences the publishers list -- the speed at which ebooks can be lent, the fact that they don't physically degrade, and that they must be read on a device -- are real, but they don't strike me as relevant to the actual legal principle that governs library lending. The first-sale doctrine holds that if you purchase a creative work, you can lend or resell it, and doing so does not violate an author's copyright. Even if there are real differences in how ebooks and physical books are transferred, maintained, and read, I don't see why those differences are material to the first-sale doctrine's granting owners of creative works the right to lend them.
In a nutshell: the first sale doctrine merely means that if someone comes into legitimate possession of a physical good containing IP, they are free to sell or otherwise exploit the physical good without requiring a license for the IP contained therein.
Crucially, the first sale doctrine does not extend to exploiting the IP itself, so if the IP is separated from the physical good (such as by recording or scanning a copy), the first sale doctrine no longer applies.
The first sale doctrine does not apply at all to library lending programs. Libraries providing digital lending pursuant to explicit licenses provided by publishers for digital lending.
You left out the second half of that paragraph:
"For these reasons, the Publishers have established independent and distinct distribution models for ebooks, including a market for lending ebooks through libraries, which are governed by different terms and expectations than print books."
Normal public libraries can do digital lending (and have, for decades) because they get proper licenses from publishers or authors to do so.
The IA is claiming that they don't need a license for physical books they own under the first sale doctrine, which is blatantly false: the first sale doctrine means they can sell or lend the physical copy of the book they possess, not that they can distribute the underlying IP of the book without permission of its creator. And even to the extent that the IA claimed it was limited lending on a one-to-one basis, it abandoned those limits and simply lent out as many copies as people wanted.
Also from the publisher's lawsuit:
"Separately, Section 109 of the Copyright Act is clear that, pursuant to the doctrine of first sale, the owner of a lawfully acquired print book may dispose only of her/his particular print copy."
In its response, the IA denies that section 109 [https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/109] in fact says precisely that. It lets you know that their argument isn't premised in any sort of legal grounding.
> Normal public libraries can do digital lending (and have, for decades) because they get proper licenses from publishers or authors to do so.
Normal libraries do not need any licenses to lend books they own at all, but they can get a digital-only license, which is not ownership
> The IA is claiming that they don't need a license for physical books they own under the first sale doctrine, which is blatantly false: the first sale doctrine means they can sell or lend the physical copy of the book they possess, not that they can distribute the underlying IP of the book without permission of its creator.
CDL is not distributing the underlying IP of the book at all, its lending a single copy of the book using DRM to prevent anyone from copying or reading after the lend time is over. Only a single person can read the legally owned copy of the book at any given time.
> And even to the extent that the IA claimed it was limited lending on a one-to-one basis, it abandoned those limits and simply lent out as many copies as people wanted.
Yes it did it for a limited time (which I believe was an obvious mistake), and that's not what I'm talking about. What I'm saying is that the complaint ALSO goes against CDL in general, not only against their IA's national emergency program, as its clear from the parts quoted by you and me.
The publishers are overreaching when they try to end reasonable online lending, and it is good to see what individual authors think.
For the last two paragraphs, I have to disagree with your conclusion and will try to justify my reasoning.
First, have there been any numbers released for how many excess digital copies were lent, for how many books? Does anyone still have access to those uncontrolled copies? Did any of those exceed the total physical copies in their partner libraries' inventories? If the true total loans is limited and never exceeded physical copies, then it's hard to see how this aggregation of potential inventory was any more harmful than controlled lending.
Second, publishers and rightsholding corporations have been fighting for their own interests for literal centuries. They cannot be relied upon to strike an appropriate balance of concerns on their own. First it was the authors they stole from. Publishers were the original pirates, and authors had to fight back. Now publishers are stealing from the public, and there is often nobody to fight back on behalf of the public. Corporate cooyright terms now exceed the lifetime of most people. Publishers fight to erode basic fair use. Media companies bully others to build automated extralefsl systems to harass independent producers and reviewers. The balance of power is far too much in the hands of publishers, and the IA and other libraries need support when they try to act as a counterbalance.
Finally, this was a very limited duration experent in a very unprecedented time. How can you not support an organization that reaches out to help the disadvantaged during a global pandemic and lockdown? There was no taking from authors. No sales were lost -- people like me will buy books no matter how easy they are to borrow. This was humanirarian work at its digital best.
I am an author, but I am also an advocate for copyright reform. I would like to see copyright duration changed to something more sensible, such as its pre-1976 length (28 years + optional 28 year renewal). Yet as much as I support copyright reform, I also think it has to be done through legislation, not through the IA deciding the publishers have too much power and thumbing their nose at copyright law.
Regarding your assertion, "There was no taking from authors." One thing that I see widespread confusion about, even among educated people, is what gets taken away from authors when copyright is violated. Yes, loss of potential sales is one thing that affects authors when copyright is violated. But beyond that, what actually gets taken away is the right itself. Copyright gives authors the exclusive authority, for a limited time, to publish and reproduce their creative works. If the IA violates copyright, then even if it doesn't take away sales, it still takes away the right itself. It's important to recognize that the intellectual property right has value in itself, outside of how sales are affected.
I am all for humanitarian organizations helping people during a pandemic. But IA should do so by lending out things it owns and has a right to lend, rather than lending out things it doesn't own and doesn't have a right to lend.
Ideally all positive change would happen legislatively. Unfortunately that doesn't seem to be the reality we live in. I've argued in comments on other posts that some laws require visible lawbreaking before legislation changes. In that reality, it's hard to talk about working within the system of existing rules because the rules were placed by unmatchable lobbying. Since those on the other side of the debate lack the capital to overpower those who control the media (control the media and you control the message), some other way is required to get visibility and push for laws to change.
I'm definitely in favor of shorter lengths. Not so much renewal though as it tends to favor big publishers and media companies who are far less likely to forget to renew than some individual or small company is. (That's been one of the big pushbacks against a lot of orphan works proposals. In that case I don't really agree with the content creators but I do get the argument.)
That is a right authors have been granted only in order to encourage the creation of more works so any violation of that "right" should be judged on how it impacts that goal. It also is not really a right given to authors but rather rights taken away from everyone else.
Yet even during a pandemic, when visiting a physical library can literally be life threatening, most mainstream authors, (there are exceptions, but few and far between), still hold onto their "intellectual property rights" with all they can.
Is there an industry that gives a similar/larger amount away for free in value? Serious question.
The only other thing I can think of is various volunteering doctors and the like, but I am specifically interested in terms of "intellectual property" value produced.
I'll admit, there are some factors that make this complex.
For one, many authors have book deals with traditional publishers, who would also need to be a party to the agreement, and they have different interests than individual authors do.
For another, an opt-in program is currently infeasible, particularly for books that are older and out of print. That doesn't automatically mean, though, that an opt-out program is OK. Instead, it likely means that in the absence of a way to get authors' permission beforehand, there is no legal, ethical way to pull off what IA has tried to pull off.
But my point is that you're comparing the programming community's voluntary "donation" of open-source software to an involuntary "donation" on the part of authors. When you take something that belongs to me without asking me, then even if I would have been willing to donate it had I been asked, you've still stolen something from me.
> Yet even during a pandemic, when visiting a physical library can literally be life threatening
Nearly all libraries already have digital lending programs that are legal and controlled... IA just distributed pirated copies.
I think this view is colored by SV salaries. There are many places where programmers are paid in line with other kinds of skilled labor.
> if IP was abandoned and nobody could make money on software we would all be calling for lawsuits
Doubt it. Quite a few companies already make money on integrating solutions, support and consultancy services.
A great amount of software already has very lax licenses.
But I am not calling for that. I am simply asking for a bit of compassion during an unprecedented situation.
> Just because one medium is easier to pirate
Are you saying books are easier to pirate than software? If so, I have news for you.
> Nearly all libraries already have digital lending programs that are legal and controlled
Quite a few don't or the process is super convoluted, proprietary, requires plugins, mobile apps, Windows only etc.
> IA just distributed pirated copies.
There were certain restrictions in place, like time restrictions, but I guess this shows there's no appeasing the copyright lobby so next time IA might as well place no restrictions on it whatsoever. The backslash is the same.
I’ve never worked in SV
> Are you saying books are easier to pirate than software? If so, I have news for you.
Have you worked in software in the past decade? Everything is run as a service, either entirely online or backed by online services... good luck pirating that.
> Quite a few don't or the process is super convoluted, proprietary, requires plugins, mobile apps, Windows only etc.
As of 2015 90% of libraries had a digital lending program - you have no idea what you are talking about.
> The backslash is the same
Except that again >90% of libraries do it legally without lawsuit because they follow the rules that respect artists and authors.
I am assuming you're from the U.S. Software salaries there are inflated practically everywhere compared to most of the rest of the world.
> As of 2015 90% of libraries had a digital lending program - you have no idea what you are talking about.
It's true that this was maybe 5 years back, (when I was still at uni), but while the option existed, it required some Windows/Mac only SW to decrypt the DRM and the reader itself was way worse in terms of features than literally any PDF reader.
As one form of "protection", you couldn't even highlight text. That is a major part for me to focus on the part I am currently reading and thus made the whole thing practically unusable for me.
I don't think you're quite aware just how awful most of this software is. It's one thing for it being "available" and quite another for it to be a "good experience".
As for me, I rarely use Libby because most of the books I'm looking for do not have digital editions and even if they did no library would bother to pay for the license. (I miss having a research library handy.) In fact, I usually only use it for light audiobooks for road trips, but they usually have so long a waiting list as to make it useless.
Having used the software across three different states recently I have yet to see one that doesn’t let me pull library books right onto my kindle - don’t think I could ask for a better experience.
When I used digital lending, forget Kindle. Forget any kind of "offline" for that matter. Use the proprietary reader app or be out of luck.
(This was in the UK a few years back.)
It is in my interest to not pay to read, watch or listen to anything.
Important people talked a lot about these opposing interests. In the end google books was killed, we were not allowed to read stuff written by dead people and we got to pay for this highly obnoxious global copyright gestapo who for example managed to equate the BitTorrent protocol with theft.
The readers got.... uhhh.... well.... to pay for it?
The deal we got is about as lame as to abolish copyright?
There is of course the collective interest as well. You nor me aren't all that important are we? Should we both be interested in well-red people or not? Do we benefit from others knowing stuff? Or is it perhaps harmful? Thanks to modern administration and other automations fewer people can do more work. There really are a lot of job openings but they all require a ton of reading.
I think we [some how] have to migrate to a subscription or patreon like system where you would get paid to write by the chapter. The quality would no doubt suffer but the model where civilization [maybe perhaps] owes you money doesn't work.
Maybe we can agree on how much you should be paid after you are dead? Or wait! We could agree that in the after life no one should enjoy the privilege to use ownership of your works to prevent reading of it.
I thought they partnered with library systems to only lend out 1:1 physical copies that weren't on publicly accessible shelves? If so, that definitely seems like it should be kosher.
But it's possible I am completely misinformed here.
Agreed that completely uncontrolled digital lending is literally just piracy. If advocates want that, they need to reform copyright law if for no other reason than so that publishers and authors know the rules of the game they're playing...
But under the "emergency library" they loaned out as many books as were requested.
(And, honestly, why stop at libraries? There's actually very little special about libraries from a copyright law perspective. There's absolutely nothing to keep me from putting a set of bookshelves in front of my house and do an honor system book lending or take a book/leave a book thing.)
The copies were still DRM'd and still expired after two weeks.
What is your estimate of the actual monetary damage that you suffered from the IA's action?
When an author writes a book, the laws grants them copyright, which means that for a specified period of time, they get the exclusive right to make copies (or authorize copies be made) of that work. Because they own the copyright, they are able to benefit from the sale of those books.
So when we talk about damages from copyright infringement, it's important to recognize that apart from whatever effect that infringement has on sales, the copyright itself is being stolen from the author, and that right has value. Granted, it is much harder to calculate monetary damages on the theft of a right than it is to calculate monetary damages related to lost sales, but that doesn't mean the right is worthless.
I found this section of the U.S. Code that prescribes statutory damages as a remedy in lieu of actual damages, presumably in recognition of the fact that copyright itself has value apart from lost sales: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/504
All that said, I am fairly confident that I did not lose any measurable sales because IA chose to put my 2014 book in its national emergency library. But it infringed on my copyright nonetheless.
The author is only allowed to violate everyone elses right to freely share information in order to encourage the creation of more works. Has the NEL in any way reduced the creation of new works?
Copyright only worked because for most of its history copying at scale required specialized industrial equipment, and one could expect that anyone who could make an investment in that equipment could afford to pay the teams of lawyers needed to work out copyrights. There was never an expectation that an individual would have to consider copyrights when using their personal tools in their own home. Deciding whether or not an action infringes on a copyright ultimately requires a lawsuit of some kind, which is what IA is now involved in. Individual authors were not the intended beneficiaries either, and for the most part authors receive only a small fraction of the money publishers make on their work (or in the case of scientific publishing, nothing whatsoever).
The reality is that today's technology allows individuals to copy on a global scale from the privacy of their homes, using tools that are almost universally available. Copying is a normal part of the use of a computer. The majority of people do not spend a millisecond considering the copyright implications of sending a copy of something they were reading to someone else. It is beyond unreasonable to expect that ordinary people, who do not work for some copyright industry, are going to consult with lawyers every time they use their computer for something common and normal.
IA is an organization with lawyers available to advise on copyrights, and with the ability to fight a copyright case in court. On some level IA could be expected to work within copyrights, and in fact IA has done so by, among other things, imposing artificial limits on how many copies they will make available at a time, and forcing their users to use a copy-restriction system (DRM). You can complain all you want about copyrights but IA went out of their way to try to work within the system.
So-called "lost sales" are a red herring. There is no way of knowing whether or not a person would have paid for something if they had not received it for free. It also makes no difference how much money an author might have made if the world were different: we live in a world with the Internet and with computers in everyone's homes, and that means people are going to copy and they will do so without paying attention to copyrights. The sooner society as a whole accepts that fact the sooner we can stop wasting our resources on obsolete ideas and start building a new system that works well with the technology we have.
I've really been scratching my head trying to figure out what their overall strategy with this has been.
They're doing what's right, with - it appears - insufficient concern for pragmatism.
Stealing from artists and authors is right? Just because a company you admire does something wrong doesn’t mean you need to resort to a fanboyish defense.
More than 90% of libraries already have digital lending programs that they established legally following all the rules.
IA completely disregarded these processes not to mention publishers and authors rights - they just opted to distribut pirated copies of works.
It's a legal fiction created to incentivise creation and enjoyment of new ideas. That by preventing people from copying things, you end up with more things for them to enjoy than they would have gained from the copying. It has more in common with a government choosing roundabouts over traffic lights or asphalt over pavers than a government making stealing or murder illegal. Its existence as a law is grounded in pragmatism not what's right, so you can't point to the law as evidence that it's what's right.
However when I say grounded in pragmatism I mean based on theory and guess. That the ability to monetise a monopoly on an idea outweighs the creative costs of copyright existing is not something I've ever seen a copyright fan present. The worsened ability to copy and then improve works. The armies of people involved in upholding and defending the copyright rather than working on new things of their own. The people who can't afford many things under copyright so it doesn't matter if they have access to more variety, who would have been better off with less variety and lower costs.
Instead the copyright fan goes "monopoly means monetisation which means incentive to create more things ergo more things created. Obvious, case closed".
I didn’t - I pointed out that this legal fiction is so widely adopted because of its recognized importance to society.
When youtube allowed creators to monetize content did it lead to more creation? Absolutely yes, so many channels on youtube only exist because creators were able to make a small living off of it. The same is true of copyright, it allows creators to make a living and more is created because of it. Without it only hobbyists would create (like pre-monetized youtube) and the rich.
The previous poster didn't dispute this; they disputed the implicit assumption that this fact automatically meant copyright should exist.
Precisely none of those laws say copyright infringement is theft.
Theft is something entirely different in a legal context and has nothing to do with copyright law.
Additionally the US supreme court held that illegally distributed copies of copyrighted works are not stolen property, so you can't be charged for theft as well copyright infringement (Dowling v. United States).
The only ones pushing this narrative are MPAA and co., who would you really like to make you believe that.
You did say, and this is a direct quote:
> Stealing from artists and authors is right?
To which someone replied: "Thoughts cannot be stolen", followed by some justification for that claim, to which you again responded.
This entire thread of discussion was about whether it is theft or not.
You are misstating the original post as if it were about the notion of theft, it wasn’t it was arguing that copyright can’t exist (when it clearly does).
If we lived in a post-scarcity world then I would agree there would be no reason to enforce copyright, but that is a fantasy, we don’t and people have to earn a living. There is a reason all countries strive to enforce copyright and that is because it fundamentally protects creation and innovation.
If you're not willing to have a discussion in good faith what is even the point in engaging in one.
Clearly I made a mistake replying at all. You deriding other commentors repeatedly should have been a dead giveaway to me.
> You deriding other commentors
Accusing me of not having this discussion in good faith is what exactly? I guess if you can’t support your argument you’ve got to pivot to something - but that doesn’t contribute to the discussion.
Theft in most jurisdictions requires dishonest appropriation of a thing, with the intent of permanently depriving the owner of it.
Copying an object doesn't count as theft because the owner still has the original thing.
This is why copyrights have their own laws and aren't included in theft laws.
And let's add a further wrinkle: often, copyright violation isn't even a crime. There are things that turn it into a crime (doing it as part of business is the main one), but most people downloading a film from PirateBay are not committing a criminal offence.
After all, reputation is king, and companies fear a PR disaster more than just about anything.
Whether that'd actually work for the IA on the other hand... well that's a whole different story.
Since they are probably going to lose anyway, I hope they go down swinging and start the conversation to abolish all copyright and patent laws. I for one am tired of all these obtuse groups who think their minuscule contributions to our common intellectual library, which are mostly regurgitated ideas from the past thousands of years, entitle them to some monopoly profits and control over others.
Personally I think the 13th Amendment should be their argument. But I think that's a losing strategy, at least for the next 20-50 years until popular opinion wakes up. But if you're going to lose anyway...
There will never be widespread support for copyright abolishment, for two reasons:
1. The vast majority of people are apathetic to the issue when it doesn't affect them. There's more public support for abolishing all private property than there is for abolishing or even limiting copyright. Hell, even the Soviets had copyright laws, albeit weak ones.
2. The court of public opinion has a known bias in favor of individual creator-owners. It is very easy to denounce large publishing conglomerates suing individuals for every infringement, but it's harder to denounce, say, a beloved indie creator going after cheaply-made knockoff merch on AliExpress.
>I for one am tired of all these obtuse groups who think their minuscule contributions to our common intellectual library, which are mostly regurgitated ideas from the past thousands of years, entitle them to some monopoly profits and control over others.
This sentiment is toxic. Making the author out to be the bad guy is a losing opinion (see factor 2). Any copyright reform that attempts to justify itself with "authors are regurgitating ideas" is doomed to failure. The people are not going to go for "authors shouldn't own their work", and arguing that is going to make it harder to argue for more limited reforms.
Yes it would be a huge stretch, but I look at copyright/patent law as unjust restrictions on the freedom of one person by another.
> There's more public support for abolishing all private property than there is for abolishing or even limiting copyright.
I think this is a really good point. I would say 99/100 of the general population has zero opinion on copyright/patent law, so present day it would fall far low on the list of priorities.
> The vast majority of people are apathetic to the issue when it doesn't affect them.
You are very much right that people are apathetic to it. But if people weren't affected by it I wouldn't care. I care because I think people are greatly affected by it, though that isn't widely reported. For example, millions of people are strongly affect by the opioid crisis, and if you trace that back to the root cause, what do you find: patent law (Oxycontin was being heavily prescribed over cheap generics like ibuprofen because of an incentive stream due to monopoly profits from patent laws). If you look at healthcare, or the cost of education, or tech consolidation, or the current news industry, all of these problem categories in the USA have a common thread where the industries depend upon copyright/patent laws, with resulting harmful incentives. It's like when you have a software system where you've got the underlying data model wrong. Users will constantly point out the loads of specific easily observable problems but the real root cause and solution is to fix the underlying data model.
Why isn't it widely reported on? Well, I could be completely wrong and these laws are a good thing for everyone. Or maybe because the media doesn't amplify the voices who have been researching and promoting this because as the saying goes "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."
> This sentiment is toxic.
I'm not too sure. I think you could be right, and I think my negative exasperated tone above could be counter productive. But I also think it might help to be direct with creators about the true value of contributions relative to what they are building upon. The success (and humility) in the OSS world is perhaps the way of the future. Successful OSS developers have appropriate humility that they are building mostly on the works of others and give their work away under public domain (ie. sqlite) or permissive licenses like MIT. Very few developers want to use libraries where the authors insist on control. That zeitgeist hasn't yet moved to other creative industries yet though, that I'm aware of.
I also think one might win some minds when you make the case that when a janitor cleans a room, she then doesn't get to charge a fee to everyone who enters that room for the next 120 years.
Spot on points though. I am not too confident in the odds of success.
They blew up an uneasy peace and cannot exactly be trusted to adhere to the practice without changing it as they decide.
Instead they allowed unlimited borrowing. They fundamentally broke the "controlled" part.
Whoever "took" the book at that time lost the access to it long ago already, thanks to the DRM protection remaining and working.
Edit: answering "I'm not sure I'd call what they're doing "DRM". Read the court case: explicitly Adobe DRM technology for encrypted e-book formats is mentioned, implemented in different e-book readers and used in this case.
There was always a fixed limit on how long the book remains checked out, and it must have already expired to all that checked it out at that time. The DRM protection remained active.
Edit: answering the post below:
> They had a limited number of licenses to produce works and they produced more than that.
It was at the times that all the physical libraries were closed, one can argue that the demand wasn't bigger than what the public libraries would have been able to handle, and even it had been bigger, it was only because of that exceptional emergency happening.
But I agree it would have been much clearer had they made some fixed limits corresponding to the estimated number of the books in the physical libraries.
By this logic, I can speculate that there is probably at least one copy of the Star Wars ep V DVD sitting in some library's bookshelf not being watched right now. So it's completely ok if I "lend" myself a copy and watch it without paying. Since the demand was probably not higher than what could have been satisfied with the number of phyiscal copies of the DVD present in the libraries of the world today. Or maybe it was, who knows man?
This is, to put it mildly, not how copyright works. Internet Archive will have to learn that the hard way now in court. Which sucks, because I really like IA. I wish they will refrain from pulling any more crap like this.
If I own a DVD and distribute more than copy simultaneously even if it’s time limited and even if I keep the DRM I’ve still violated copyright.
Most libraries work with publishers to buy lending rights directly but IA is arguing that if I hold one physical copy of a work and promise not to "perform" (copyright jargon is odd) it while it's in my possession then I may transmit that work digitally to another person kinda bridging first sale and seats of digital lending licenses.
I guess we'll find out if the court buys it. Because under normal circumstances this is open and shut copyright violation.
Sure enough, the Internet Archive chose to "innovate" libraries with the National Emergency Library, by simply not following copyright laws.
That's ridiculous. Copyright exists becauce in the past bad actors misused the liberty of culture to exploit poor creators by selling their work without paying them anything at all. In the grand picture copyright is good, because it enables cretors to live from their work, and let's them invest into bigger pieces of culture of higher quality.
What we need is to ensure a balance between the commercial interessts and societies interesst.
Should we have a copyright system as it is today? Now that's a completely different question. And I don't think what they did helps at all in changing it for the better, at best they're just helping in testing and defining the limits of the current system.
Lets say I hire a plumber to fix my sink. Afterwards I refuse to pay because I have decided plumbing work should be free and plumbers should instead make their income by selling branded merchandise. This would just be breach of contract.
The plumber is not a psychopath by insisting on getting paid according the originally agreed contract. Maybe the plumber don't want to make income by selling branded merchandise but just want to get paid for plumbing. That is not for me to decide. I am free to look for a different plumber who will work for free.
Yes, they can. It's weird that you think that people can't demand that any aspect of any business change (or end) because they don't like it. That's basically an argument against law and democracy.
Your example is about someone entering a contract, accepting the fruits of that contract, then refusing to hold up their end of that contract. Completely unrelated.
For entertainment, I agree. But only insomuch as entertainers need to eat too.
For science, I disagree. Science benefits society most when everyone, even the poor, have access to it.
Sure, but should scientists work for free?
I think the premise of the question is flawed.
I think science should be free and scientists should be paid a liveable wage as any other person should be.
People can write stories all day long, even stories that will be read by nobody. Scientists can do science all day long even science that benefits nobody.
But writing stories all day long practices the art without worry about a paycheck. Scientists doing science practices the art without worry about a paycheck.
Both can be done with personal computers these days. Personal computers are extremely cheap to have and to maintain. There's nothing stopping it other than politics.
I just read it for free!!!
Sure they do, that's what libraries are for.
If you mean "viable" business-wise, that's a tautology. If you mean "viable" as in "writers feel compelled to write books", that's simply false. Writers write. Many writers like writing books, and would do so even if it didn't put a single cent in their pockets.
Writing books can be turned into a business, but it's not inherently a business.
Also, a book is not its physical form. An electronic book is no less of a book than a paper book.
Unless you are independently rich, you need an income to survive.
The falsehood here is "no writer will be insane enough to write without a business model".
Millions of fanfiction writers would like to have a word with you... Not to mention all the authors of comments on this very site, some of which are, at least, good enough to be paid articles somewhere, or in cooperation with other commenters could be turned (as whole threads) into short books in their own right.
Put another way: the music industry could entirely vanish overnight, and people would still sing in the shower and when drinking with their buddies.
Some people tend to express themselves in some way, and they would do it regardless of literally anything. We've achieved high literacy rates, which gave a tool of expression that is writing to a correspondingly high number of people. It's not exactly surprising that we now have a flourishing environment of Web novels and all kinds of written content outside of the "market" and publishing industry as a whole.
But it's not something specific to our times. Plenty of writers in history did starve do death. One of "the three greatest" poets of my country did precisely that: he wasn't published, he wasn't even read much, and when he was, he was ridiculed for it. Yet he had been writing anyway; then, he died in extreme poverty, leaving just a lot of paper behind. It took some 40 years IIRC for someone to "rediscover" the stash of hand-written poems, and now his works are being taught in highschools.
In yet other words: no, not everything has to be related to money. Many things are, yes, but not all. Writing as a profession that published (and paid) authors do is all fine and good, but it's just one side of writing, not its definition.
> Norwid led a tragic and often poverty-stricken life (once he had to live in a cemetery crypt). He experienced increasing health problems, unrequited love, harsh critical reviews, and increasing social isolation.
...and yet his works are easily (IMO) the best among the three of them (the two others would be Mickiewicz and Słowacki).
Getting paid is fine and dandy. What's false is that "without a business model", nobody would be "insane enough" to write books (or programs).
The conflation between doing a thing and getting paid for doing a thing -- or even worse, claiming that without monetary compensation said thing wouldn't exist -- is annoying and misleading.
The best software is usually already the one written by volunteers.
You mean written by people who are not professional software developers? I highly doubt that. Can you provide some examples?
I meant the best software is written without expectation of remuneration.
My impression was that most successful open source projects (Linux, Mozilla etc) are driven by paid contributors.
I'm sure you can find some examples, but depending on your opinion on what the "best software" is, I doubt most of it is developed by people working for free.
Being paid for writing is great. It's just that the paid writing is not all writing - some people write simply to be read, without needing or wanting to be paid for it.
Writing code is different, because it's a means of self-expression only in small part.
And you are using this as an argument why authors don't need income? Surely they didn't write anything after they starved, so it seem lack of income did affect the output.
Getting paid by publishers for writing books is a powerful motivator, but not the only one. In a world without a way to sell books, writers would still write.
I can agree with that. We have stuff like fan fiction which people write and share for free. I guess 50 Shades of Grey is the preeminent example of writing as a passion and as a calling rather than a professional skill.
There are authors whose main body of work was only published after their deaths and who are considered literary masters nonetheless, and not fanfiction writers.
All in all, I agree with a sibling comment: we must divorce the business of writing with the art of writing. They are related, of course, but the latter doesn't require the former. Once one understands this, one is less inclined to claim things such as "if writers don't get paid, books won't get written".
That is kind of the definition of professional though.
Writing, like any other skill, takes time and practice to master. If you can't dedicate yourself full time you will not reach your highest potential. And it requires some form of income to be able to dedicate yourself full time. Just like a professional pianist will be better than an amateur.
The second sentence here doesn't really follow from the first. I mean, assuming that only time and practice are needed for mastery, then practicing less-than-full-time only makes it correspondingly longer to reach mastery - it doesn't make it impossible, like you claim.
In reality, time and practice are not the only factors, though. You have to account for talent, which not only sets the upper bound on the quality of your writing, but also influences the rate of improvement with practice. It's not exactly unheard of for a debutant's work to be "way better than the latest work of established master X", isn't it? Talent is hard to capture and define, but it's a real thing, especially in the arts, although it also plays a part in trades and crafts (that's where the "10x programmers" and similar concepts come from...)
But you need an income to be able to write.
Yes, you need to be able to have a means of living in order to write. Selling your books is one such way, but not the only one. Lots of writers would still write without a business model.
That was my only point, really. It's false that one would have to be "insane" in order to write. We can argue about ifs and buts all day long, but that bit which I was replying to was hyperbolic and false.
"Painting. Sculpture. Composing. Singing. Acting. The playing of a musical instrument. Writing. Enough books have been written on these seven subjects alone to sink a fleet of luxury liners. And the only thing we seem to be able to agree upon about them is this: that those who practise these arts honestly would continue to practise them even if they were not paid for their efforts; even if their efforts were criticized or even reviled; even on pain of imprisonment or death."
He struck gold, of course, but note the sentiment he expressed. By his own admission, had he never been paid for it, he would have kept writing anyway, because that's what he does. And when he was starting he had other jobs -- and a family to support -- and really struggled with money, but kept going anyway.
Second, as has been mentioned to you in another comment, mastery is not directly related to having been paid for your art. There are acknowledged poets whose work was published posthumously. They didn't live off it.
(The quote was by Stephen King, by the way. Regardless of what you think about his literary skill, the man sure can speak about writing).
I don't think anyone suggested that. Society may be better off despite Glass never becoming a professional composer, though.
I meant that, while Glass not becoming a professional composer would have been bad by itself, it may be a reasonable loss compared to the advantages.
> Plenty of writers have been "insane enough" to write and publish without a business model for as long as written language has existed.
Only in the case of independently wealthy authors, which historically typically means nobility. Most non-wealthy authors have been depending on patronage, which means some other wealthy person decide what you write.
Copyright was revolutionary because it meant an author could exist without catering to rich or powerful patrons.
You're mistaking publishing for writing. You need money to publish, because publishing is selling decorated paper. Or rather, you did need money to publish. Now you don't, but instead we throw up artificial barriers in order to preserve the status quo.
Not only that. Plenty of struggling people write because they like writing. Writing is a calling which some people happen to be able to turn into a business.
But do note the post I was replying to. I wasn't arguing about copyright. I was arguing about the hyperbole of "no writer would be insane enough [...]" which is simply untrue. And it's untrue by a lot, not by a little.
Imagine if, the day they closed their doors for the pandemic, all the libraries figured that access to knowledge is still essential and the best way to keep loaning books is digitally. So the libraries mailed all their books to IA on loan, or maybe they digitized them themselves and loaned copies one-for-one to IA. IA would then have more than enough copies to lend out, one at a time per physical book like normal, to everyone who's needed them.
The books exist, they're just behind closed doors now.
The problem is that they skipped that part and just assumed both that
1) libraries would transfer ownership to them. I could see them getting away with this. Inter-library lending is common.
2) the number of copies in partner libraries equalled the number of copies taken out. This is a massive assumption.
The problem is, did the books actually exist in the quantities being lent? IA has no proof that they do and had not transferred the rights for them even if they did.
Had they asked for libraries to upload their locked in inventory, sign away the rights to the inventoried books, and limited lending to that number, they could credibly call it controlled digital lending.
Instead they threw away the "controlled" aspect.
IIUC that's not how this works, legally. The publishers have to prove damage; the defense isn't just automatically assumed to have injured the plaintiff. Even if IA has been proven to infringe, the judge can massively reduce awarded damages if they weren't actually hurt.
Furthermore, even if they didn't preregister, and they somehow cannot prove actual damages, it's still infringing conduct. They could, say, get a permanent injunction barring Internet Archive from operating their library program. This might actually be what they really want, moreso than money damages.
Did they publish stats how often their most popular books were borrowed?
Don't libraries know the books they own? That seems unlikely, since they need to know that when they lend them out.
Just reaching out to all the libraries and getting them to submit the data would take a lot of time.
Every library I’ve used in the states (from rural Georgia to Seattle metro) already has a digital lending system.
The IA merely allowed people to borrow books that exist in physical form with the convenience that modern digital technology allows.
Publishers have been kinda OK with libraries because copies are physically separate and inconvenient, the copies get dirty, and it's a status symbol to own your own copy. If those restrictions went away (digital copies are convenient and fast, they never get dirty, and it's the exact same as ownership), they'd definitely lobby against it.
Pirate Bay is exactly like a local libruary which is like a book store. The only difference is physical books vs digital, if you have to give it back and when and the cost.
Book stores will let you violate the publishers copyright as long as you don't leave the store. Want to read that entire book, sit on a chair and read.
A libruary will let you read at the place or at home but you have to bring it back in a week.
Piratebay lets you read it forever but it's a digital copy.
All scenerios you can read without paying.
There’s a reason libraries will buy multiple copies of popular books.
That depends. Most of the time the store has the option of tearing off the cover and reporting it to the publisher as "destroyed unsold" for a refund. That applies no matter how many people may have read it while it was sitting on the shelf.
And why must the entire book be treated as a unit? I see no legal reason why a library could not cut off the binding and lend out chapters or individual pages from the book to patrons on demand, which would allow multiple patrons to read (different parts of) the same book simultaneously. You could easily have 20 or more people reading the same book without major conflicts if you can pass the pages around quickly enough.
It doesn't necessarily want to be written, though. That's the part people who make this argument always seem to forget.
Whether it's through our existing copyright-supported frameworks or some other mechanism, there needs to be enough in it for authors (and editors and cover illustrators and printers and online distribution services and...) to be worth producing the work in the first place.
I disagree about the "less books, more quality" argument. Today, we have more books, more quality. Sure, there are lots of bad books today, but the volume of high-quality works today so far exceeds the volume of any books (good or bad) produced during the patronage era that it's like comparing a nuclear bomb to a match.
None of whom got their money from exorting readers of their books.
What you have there is a argument for basic income, not a argument for copyright.
History is filled with many authors who died young and penniless because they could not survive on their writing during their lifetimes. And that's exactly the system you're arguing for.
> And [authors dying young and penniless]'s exactly the system you're arguing for.
Bullshit. Your system is the one that produces that (see also fanfiction authors, who I'm sure aren't true Scotsmen to you). As I said:
> > What you have there is a argument for basic income, not a argument for copyright.
My system is the system that has enabled hundreds of thousands of artists and other creators to survive on their own without needing publishers or other entities to sell their work for them and pay them a pittance.
Basic income is a separate discussion. It would mean that artists wouldn't die, but it would also mean that corporations would get to exploit artists worse than they ever have before.
You really need to think of the consequences of your suggestions before you suggest altering other people's livelihoods for your own momentary convenience.
Sure. But it was a long period of time, and the number of pretty nice books produced during that time was relatively low, and the number of people they reached was also relatively low.
I'm no fan of content farms and their clickbait ad-spam, but there is still plenty of content written for love around if you step away from sources like Facebook and Google. However, much of it isn't edited or illustrated to professional standards, or covering subjects comprehensively, or accompanied by exercises, or based on years of demanding research and fieldwork. Commercial support can provide these benefits in a way that most people writing purely for fun as a hobby can't or won't.
And that is because lack of copyright?
People still write at a loss in many cases
Copyright isn't a wall around information. Copyright doesn't prohibit anyone from taking the information in a book and presenting it in their own way. For example, you or anyone else can take a copyrighted book, extract the valuable information like mathematical equations and methods and data, write your own explanations of the information, make your own diagrams, write your own exercises for readers, and then publish it and sell it. Copyright won't stop you or anyone else from doing that, because copyright only protects expressions of ideas, not the ideas themselves.
Copyright absolutely does place a wall around certain kinds of information. The fact that a certain book consists of a particular arrangement of words is just as much information as the meaning behind the words.
The key point of their response was "physical copies of digitized books do not circulate" during the emergency the Public Libraries where close, thus legal physical copies where not circulating
IMO the publishers need to prove the Lending Library loaned more companies of each claimed work, than what was locked away in physical libraries that were closed. if they can do that (they cant) then they have a case, if not they should be tossed out of court
The Internet Archive suddenly gets the right to distribute books owned by a public library simply because the public library is closed? Who struck up that deal?
The publishers need only show that the Lending Library loaned more copies of each claimed work than what the Internet Archive owned and had the right to lend. That is sufficient to establish they engaged in uncontrolled digital lending, which is indistinguishable from piracy for all practical purposes.
Obviously IA might have closer ties to libraries than I do, but it's not clear to me what exactly happened that allowed them to loan a ton more.
I love IA, but their explanation for what exactly happened regarding loaning library books that were not circulating seemed to me come about ... only after the lawsuit phase started.
Their initial announcement seemed to be that there was an emergency and they were loaning out books because libraries (and schools) were closed... but that's not the same thing as an orchestrated digital lending deal that suddenly allowed them to loan a lot more than they had in the past.
A lot of explanations from IA seem to have been either poorly communicated, or sort of dance around this idea that they were doing digital lending properly... but without actually saying what they were doing...
No one was denied books. They were only slightly inconvenienced by not getting them for free.
Just because the library is closed doesn't mean you can run up the pirate flag. Piracy hurts artists.
If you don't believe that copying not approved by the publisher is just like kidnapping and murder, you might prefer not to use the word “piracy” to describe it. Neutral terms such as “unauthorized copying” (or “prohibited copying” for the situation where it is illegal) are available for use instead. Some of us might even prefer to use a positive term such as “sharing information with your neighbor.”
A US judge, presiding over a trial for copyright infringement, recognized that “piracy” and “theft” are smear words.
As an author, this will be yet another reason not to write books. The only people who will be able to afford to write will be the independently wealthy and the hobbyists.
It's sad to watch the IA descend into such anti-artist hatred. Copyright is like a union for writers. To see them become a copyright denialist is so sad.
That is what I really fear. Every book becomes a more subtle advertising piece.
Nothing is stopping people from releasing their passion projects to the world without strings attached.
Speaking of which... copyright is not a union for writers. A union is a union for writers. Copyright creates an artificial market for their output, but it largely does not dictate how they are paid, only that they must authorize copying and distribution of the work. There are plenty of extremely exploitative publishing agreements out there that copyright law has zero qualms about.