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Copyright Infringement of Books 468

Posted by kdawson
from the all-just-bits dept.
Maximum Prophet recommends a NY Times piece on the growing phenomenon of unauthorized digital versions of copyrighted books showing up online. The problem has been growing exponentially, fed in part by the popularity of reading devices such as the Kindle and the iPhone. The article features the odd photographic juxtaposition of Cory Doctorow and Ursula K. Le Guin, who take opposite views on electronic editions, authorized or not. Ms. Le Guin: "I thought, who do these people think they are? Why do they think they can violate my copyright and get away with it?" Mr. Doctorow: "I really feel like my problem isn't piracy. It's obscurity." "Doctorow, a novelist whose young adult novel 'Little Brother' spent seven weeks on the New York Times children's chapter books best-seller list last year, offers free electronic versions of his books on the same day they are published in hardcover. He believes free versions, even unauthorized ones, entice new readers."
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Copyright Infringement of Books

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    http://ebookshare.net/

  • by Master of Transhuman (597628) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @06:04PM (#27929039) Homepage

    Go to Usenet, get just about everything you could want. Build up a personal library of hundreds of texts that would match a (small town) library.

    The book publishing industry will go the way of the music and movie industries, just a bit slower since reading text on a monitor is still not quite as easy as a real book.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @06:08PM (#27929097)

      FTFA:

      "The question is, how much time and energy do I want to spend chasing these guys," Stephen King wrote in an e-mail message. "And to what end? My sense is that most of them live in basements floored with carpeting remnants, living on Funions and discount beer."

      Parent poster:

      Go to Usenet

      Sounds about right.

    • by Jurily (900488)

      The book publishing industry will go the way of the music and movie industries, just a bit slower since reading text on a monitor is still not quite as easy as a real book.

      First we need some laws on the subject that were not distorted from 200 years ago to fit the internet. We also need to realize culture cannot be monopolized, and any attempt to do that is doomed, even if people who demonstrate the freely copyable nature of any information are compared to other people who steal shit on the high seas.

      • by jc42 (318812)

        First we need some laws on the subject that were not distorted from 200 years ago to fit the internet.

        One of the general problems is that as soon as a computer is introduced to a subject area, all precedent is forgotten, chants of "That's different!" are heard repeatedly, and we humans must relearn every social lesson that we so laboriously worked out over the centuries.

        Free speech? We're using computers; it isn't "speech", it's email or texting or ...

        Freedom of the press? We're using computers, not press

        • by Jurily (900488) <jurily AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @07:41PM (#27930389)

          Fair use? We're using computers, which do copying for even the most trivial operations, so we have to throw the idea out and look for something else.

          Which is exactly why we need to extend the concept to computers en masse. The current laws are impossible to enforce without a police state. Which one would you want?

          One of the general problems is that as soon as a computer is introduced to a subject area, all precedent is forgotten, chants of "That's different!" are heard repeatedly, and we humans must relearn every social lesson that we so laboriously worked out over the centuries.

          Yes, but that's not a bad thing. The lessons our ancestors learned are different from today's. Our ancestors didn't have instant and truly anonymous speech from 10000 miles away in a country with no extradition treaty. Our ancestors didn't have access to so many types of entertainment competing for their attention span it's humanly impossible to even know about them all. We need to learn our own lessons about the Internet, because we're the ones who experience it.

          If you lean too much on tradition you'll end up like Hungary in WW2: a Kingdom without a king, lead by an admiral without a fleet, in a country without a coastline, fighting against enemies we have no problems with, with countries as our ally we do have problems with.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by yali (209015)

        Actually, it'd be great if the current laws were consistent with the 200-year-old stuff: [cornell.edu]

        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

        Congress has gone way beyond the Constitutional intent or meaning, and the Supreme Court has unfortunately upheld them on it. That is why copyright has so many problems. Copyright terms have been extended to make money for business interests, not to su

    • by Timmmm (636430)

      "a bit slower since reading text on a monitor is still not quite as easy as a real book."

      It amazes me how many people think ebook readers are just netbooks without keyboards. The screen looks like paper!

      • by QuantumG (50515) *

        Can you recommend one that doesn't cost more than 300 books?

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Mr2001 (90979)

          Can you recommend one that doesn't cost more than 300 books?

          Given that the GGP's comment was about how Usenet allowed him to collect hundreds of books for free...

          No.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Capt. Cooley (1438063)
        Books have been roughly the same for the last 200 years, since the printing press revolutionized how books were copied. Music, on the other hand, has changed maybe once a decade since audio equipment and the radio were invented and became widespread.

        I think that people who read books, a small market to be sure, is made up mostly of people who go to a library to find out if they like something and, if the book is good enough, then go to Amazon or Borders or B&N and buy the book. I know that's what I
    • by Aranykai (1053846) <slgonser@ g m a il.com> on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @06:31PM (#27929431)

      The book publishing industry will go the way of the music and movie industries, just a bit slower since reading text on a monitor is still not quite as easy as a real book.

      You mean like how the US Music industry is posting profit growth of 4% annually over the last three years? Or perhaps you meant the Movie industry with its 3rd year of growth?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by JohnBailey (1092697)

        You mean like how the US Music industry is posting profit growth of 4% annually over the last three years? Or perhaps you meant the Movie industry with its 3rd year of growth?

        Or perhaps the OP meant that the publishing industry will, like the music industry, go through a few years of opposing digital media (which it has done) and predicting doom and destruction from piracy (which it is about to) , followed by willing publication of all their output in digital form, but with daft DRM (which in some cases, it is now doing). Before finally understanding the reality of the new market and dropping DRM so everybody who wants a copy can buy their product and use it on the device of the

    • The book publishing industry will go the way of the music and movie industries, just a bit slower since reading text on a monitor is still not quite as easy as a real book.

      I can't agree with you there - book publishers (with the help of Amazon) are playing this spectacularly well in comparison. For one thing, they have not launched legal attacks and propaganda campaigns against their most avid consumers. For another, books (both print and e/kindle) are priced fairly. And finally, it is much easier for the l

  • by mgabrys_sf (951552) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @06:07PM (#27929075) Journal

    re:"Mr. Doctorow: "I really feel like my problem isn't piracy. It's obscurity.""

    I think his real problem is he can't write. Might explain the obscurity.

    • Re:the real issue (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jedidiah (1196) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @06:16PM (#27929187) Homepage

      Nope. There are genre giants that end up making less than the waiter at the local Dennys.

      This all boils down to the fact that they are relatively obscure and service a
      relatively small market. Furthermore, their publisher eats up most of the gross
      revenue of what actually gets sold and distribution costs need to be recovered.

      Unless you are Stephen King, a few pirates will probably benefit you in the end.

      You're probably obscure enough that pirates really can't do any harm.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        Yes, but in this case, the person above you is correct.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        >>>their publisher eats up most of the gross revenue

        If I was a new author, I'd skip all the middlemen and just publish directly to the net. $1 per book downloaded. Even if I was only read by 1% of the internet, I'd still have a successful career.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by zifferent (656342)

      Have you even read any Cory Doctorow novels? Sometimes they are a little out there, but at least the perspective is fresh. (Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town, I'm looking at you.)

      Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom had its less believable bits but was very forward looking, Eastern Standard Tribe moreso. Little Brother was probably his best one yet and eerily prescient.

      What's more they're free for download. Now it isn't Shakespeare, I'll give you that, but it is entertaining and the writing is quite a

  • by blahplusplus (757119) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @06:07PM (#27929081)

    ... there is really so much competition for peoples time these days it's little wonder companies like to blame lack of sales on piracy.

    I'd really like someone to add up all the hours it would take to experience x's book or y's product and they'd soon begin to realize it would take someone an ENTIRE LIFETIME not even to get through a fraction of what is out there.

    I usually only buy books that I think are worth something over the long term. People have way too many options today to fill their time. Also with the advent of the net discussing and sharing insights, any book that is published quickly becomes out-dated.

    One thing I hope electronic books allow is real-time updates to books so that they can stay fresh, with a wikipedia like revision system that tracks version and revision history (for those that need it).

    Personally electronic books when done right (when the software gets there) will allow copying and pasting a whole bunch of different things that you can't do with a real book. Both will have their place I think.

    • You are correct. This is why I prefer to buy Greatest Hits CDs or "The Best SciFi of the Year" anthologies. It acts like a filter, otherwise there's no way I could keep up with the deluge. We're suffering from too much data.

  • Yeah. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Fear the Clam (230933) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @06:08PM (#27929099)

    Mr. Doctorow: "I really feel like my problem isn't piracy. It's obscurity."

    There, there, Cory. People are paying attention to you now. It's okay.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @06:11PM (#27929125)

    Back in his day they had this distributed network of his plays called Uyznettee. Only Uyznettee used horses as the transport. They would stick a small cannonball up the horse's backside for a "one." An empty horse was a "zero." Occasional errors occurred if a horse voided before the transfer was complete, but a parity horse took care of that.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Tx (96709)

      They would stick a small cannonball up the horse's backside for a "one." An empty horse was a "zero."

      Up the backside, huh? I guess that should be called "rear-to-rear sharing" then.

  • Why... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @06:17PM (#27929207)
    Why do artists always keep complaining? Write good books, make good music, make interesting movies, and the money will flow in, piracy or no piracy. Write crappy books, make more crappy pop songs, and make boring as heck movies and your income will dry up. Piracy or no piracy.
    • by aafiske (243836)

      Yeah, why do people complain that you're deriving enjoyment from their labor, their primary way of life, and not compensating them in any way. What selfish jackasses, eh?

      • Re:Why... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Darkness404 (1287218) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @06:41PM (#27929591)
        Right, because the most pirated artists are the poorest. I don't know how Metallica can pay the rent if another person torrents Death Magnetic. Most of the poor artists that actually can suffer from piracy are obscure so people don't pirate them.

        Looking at The Pirate Bay's top 100 of audiobooks (because the e-books seem to be geek-only and aren't respective of the entire population, unless a crapload of people are annoyed with Vista and enjoy building the perfect PC) you find:

        Harry Potter, self help books or language learning books from popular authors, dead authors (some recently deceased like Robert Jordan, others dead for years such as George Orwell), the Twilight Saga, etc. In other words mostly well-known books, or books in which pirating is not harming the authors (unless you get royalties in the afterlife).
    • Re:Why... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Raffaello (230287) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @06:34PM (#27929469)

      Write good books, make good music, make interesting movies, and the money will flow in.

      Why? Because you think it would be nice if the world worked this way?

      The reality for many writers is that income streams are small and intermittent, and having one's work freely available on line for zero cost really does reduce income.

      • Ok, but how many people really pirate e-books? Heck, how many people have a device such as a Kindle that reading e-books isn't painful to do, I've only seen a few in the wild. There might come a day in which e-books are as widely pirated as music, but that day will also coincide with the rise of being able to publish your own book for free or little money and getting all the profit.

        Most people don't pirate lesser known works, because they are lesser known. Because not everyone pirates, and those who pir
  • by Peter Cooper (660482) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @06:18PM (#27929213) Homepage Journal

    I'm a two-bit, small time computer book author with just one book to my name so far. I love seeing my book get pirated. It's sold reasonably well for its niche (approaching 10,000 copies) but for the second edition I pleaded with my publisher to allow the e-book version to be free. Of the, say, 10,000 copies sold, only a couple hundred have been of the e-book edition, and I'm convinced that the wider exposure a free e-book would gather would result in increased print sales. When Seth Godin gave away the free PDF of his Ideavirus book, it led to me buying his various other books in print throughout the years. Doctorow is right that obscurity is a bigger hurdle than piracy, but I'm pretty convinced that even big name authors could benefit from extended reach thanks to freely distributed content.

    My argument rests on people preferring paper to e-books, and I think they do. I sure do. Sadly, big name publishers tend to disagree, despite a number of convincing social media experiments, but over time perhaps change will happen.

    • by Timmmm (636430)

      "My argument rests on people preferring paper to e-books, and I think they do."

      For now, but that's mainly due to the extreme slowness of e-ink. Imagine if colour video-speed e-ink. Many people would stop buying paper books even if the price doesn't come down at all.

    • Change is after all inevitable

      but what if the change is within "preferring paper to e-books" and not within "big name publishers tend to disagree"

    • My argument rests on people preferring paper to e-books, and I think they do. I sure do.

      Some do. Some don't. I prefer e-books, and I have for years now. Just this last week, I bought an e-book edition of a book I already owned on paper, because I vastly prefer the e-book.

      (I've never engaged in e-book piracy, and I expect that I never will. I've spent a lot of money with Baen -- they sell DRM-free ebooks in many formats. I've also spent pretty small amounts of money with publishers that encumber their ebooks with DRM. If I don't engage in piracy, why do I care about DRM? Because I've bee

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rts008 (812749)

      Here's the best writeup on the subject I've seen by an author, at the Baen Free Library [baen.com]. Worth a read.
      Along web their webscription.net Ebooks website [webscription.net], Baen seems to have a good handle on this whole digital media business.

  • Since Jim Baen isn't around any more, maybe Eric Flint could moderate.
    • I like the philosophy at Baen Books - let people sample the work for free, and sales will flow in. They have a great library of free ebooks in a number of formats. I have personally purchased a lot of books from Baen after I sampled from their free library and found authors whose works I enjoyed.
  • I'm sure Cory is right that, at the moment, electronic versions entice more readers. However, that's because currently there aren't so many electronic versions of popular recent books. So if you're reading e-books, you're quite likely to find Cory's work, and perhaps start reading more of his stuff. But what happens when the market is flooded with e-books? You read your favourite authors and Cory gets nothing if you haven't already found, liked and are prepared to pay for his writing.
  • by moniker127 (1290002) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @06:20PM (#27929239)
    Honestly, lets all give up making unauthorized copies of books. I mean, when you do that, its almost like distributing them in a fully public medium, for free- readers don't have to pay a DIME.

    Well, that, sir, is the worst form of terrorism. Certainly neither I nor our great US&A government could support an endeavor of such despicable intent.

    Besides, you cant beat the independent authors industry- they're too powerful.
  • by TheWoozle (984500) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @06:24PM (#27929301)

    From TFA: "Until recently, publishers believed books were relatively safe from piracy because it was so labor-intensive to scan each page to convert a book to a digital file. What's more, reading books on the computer was relatively unappealing compared with a printed version."

    I spent a few minutes looking for a legitimate, for-sale e-book version of The Left Hand of Darkness; there isn't one.

    So the publishing companies are simply repeating the mistake of the record labels: being slow to release legitimate downloadable versions of their product while bemoaning the demand for a product they refuse to produce.

    Cry me a river...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Garwulf (708651)

      Pal, I've heard this "being slow to release legitimate downloadable versions of their product while bemoaning the demand for a product they refuse to produce" before, and it's bullshit. There was a massive push to make e-books work between 2000 and 2002. I know - I was there. In fact, I even was the author of one of the front runners. I had the Diablo game franchise behind me, advertisement on Battle.net, and a tech-savvy audience that should have generated thousands of sales. Everything was going for

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by julesh (229690)

        Something called an Expresso Book Machine is coming down the line, and it's going to cause a revolution too. Print on Demand caused a revolution as well.

        I wouldn't really call the results of PoD a revolution, at least not in terms of fiction publishing (which, at least tacitly, is the topic at hand -- both Doctorow and LeGuin are fiction authors). PoD books are too expensive for mainstream purchasers to consider. While a typical novel will set you back around £7 ($10), a typical PoD novel would be m

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Garwulf (708651)

          Well, seeing as I am one of the publishers who uses Lightning Source as their printer, and I thus know a fair bit about this end, you have a couple of your facts wrong here.

          First of all, Lightning Source doesn't set the cover price - the publishing company does (they also set the wholesaler discount, although anything over 55% gets the book listed as a low-discount book, and that can adversely impact sales). Lightning Source takes care of production and order fulfillment. Are PoD books more expensive, tho

  • I have an app on my phone that lets me download/read free ebooks. I read Little Brother because it was freely available for me to read. I had never read anything by Doctrow in the past and had been only passingly aware of him before. So... so far as becoming less obscure goes, I think he's dead on. I had easy, legal access to his work and so I gave him a chance. OTOH, I've heard of Ms Le Guin and I haven't read anything she's written - so she's probably not too worried about obscurity.

    I think it com
  • Dear Ms. Le Guin (Score:5, Insightful)

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @06:26PM (#27929335) Journal

    "I thought, who do these people think they are? Why do they think they can violate my copyright and get away with it?"

    The People. The ultimate holders of authority. If they decide to amend the Constitution to abolish your and everyone else's copyright, they can, so I suggest you show them some respect.

    Also dear author, it's a *privilege* not to have your books copied, not a natural right. Learn the difference. You can control your property and lock your book inside a vault where none can see it, but you have no right to control other people's property or how it is used.

    And finally that privilege is a *temporary* privilege. Eventually all your works will fall into public domain, just like Mark Twain's works. The arts are meant to be free, not locked-up forever.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by christurkel (520220)
      She should also go and yell at Paperbackswap.com, used book stores and libraries. The heathens are violating your copyright because not one is paying you for your work.
  • by serutan (259622) <snoopdoug AT geekazon DOT com> on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @06:26PM (#27929341) Homepage

    There seems to be an inherent gut-level bias against the notion of somebody getting something for nothing. Even if it turns out good in the end. No matter how many people testify that releasing free copies of their work has actually increased their net income, people like Ms. LeGuin can't get away from, "Mine! Mine! Let go!"

  • In general, I find the books I want to read either 1) get popular enough that they eventually drop down to a reasonable price, 2) are just popular enough that it's available without a wait at the library, or 3) is so obscure that I can buy one of the 30 copies that are actually still available for a couple of hundred bucks on Amazon.

    Note that the one I would most be interested in an electronic copy of (legal or not), is the one that is least likely to have an electronic copy.

    There are only a few books out t

  • "The question is, how much time and energy do I want to spend chasing these guys," Stephen King wrote in an e-mail message. "And to what end? My sense is that most of them live in basements floored with carpeting remnants, living on Funions and discount beer."

    Nine years ago, Mr. Ellison sued Internet service providers for failing to stop a user from posting four of his stories to an online newsgroup. Since settling that suit, he has pursued more than 240 people who have posted his work to the Internet witho

  • Wait ... Cory Doctorow thinks he's obscure? If he's obscure, what writer is well known?

    Is there any SF reader who doesn't know his name?

  • Sometimes, just to be a jackass, I will find these illicit copies and do subtle things before I pass them on. Things like a find/replace on character names or finding the "dénouement paragraph" and putting it on the first page. I also like to get MP3s from torrents, run them thru Audacity to make them left channel only, and then seed them out to some cheapskate on the other end. They should try that....it's fun!
  • Get real - it's a phone. Yes, it can be used as a reading device, and yes it open eBooks.

    The thing is, the way smartphone processors are going, soon everything will be able to do that! Your toaster, your picture frame, your kitchen table mats!

    Okay, maybe not, but the technology(such as thin & low power touchscreen displays) will be there, and I suspect some device not currently thought up will spring into existence, and then we'll have even more complaints! It's unlikely to stop there...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's pretty clear that society at large increasingly has no problem infringing in copyright.

    Rather than industry trying to change society's view of copyright isn't it about time society got together and changed copyright to something that fits its views?

  • Come on Stephen, your books are pretty much the equivalent.

  • Baen Free Library (Score:4, Informative)

    by mrmeval (662166) <mrmeval@gm a i l . c om> on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @06:48PM (#27929685) Journal

    http://www.baen.com/library/ [baen.com]

    There are some pretty big name authors here as well as new authors who are trying to make it. You can read the dissertation by that commie Eric Flint about "Online Piracy".

    Baen Publishing is noted for including a CD with some hardback novels that has free novels in it. Surprisingly enough they've not cried foul when digital editions of those CD's have ended up online.

    http://www.webscription.net/p-162-freehold.aspx [webscription.net] You can read a good friends book here.

  • by Eil (82413) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @07:29PM (#27930215) Homepage Journal

    Nine years ago, Mr. Ellison sued Internet service providers for failing to stop a user from posting four of his stories to an online newsgroup. Since settling that suit, he has pursued more than 240 people who have posted his work to the Internet without permission. "If you put your hand in my pocket, you'll drag back six inches of bloody stump," he said.

    He seems like a reasonable guy.

  • by bcrowell (177657) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @07:36PM (#27930297) Homepage

    First off, the events they're talking about in the NY Times article actually came to a head in September 2007. It looks like a reporter dusted off some old notes simply because the Kindle is starting to get a lot of press, so it seems relevant now. The article doesn't really depict clearly what the controversy was about.

    There's a guy named Andrew Burt, who has published a little science fiction, and had gotten elected to a middle-level position in the Science Fiction Writers of America. He noticed that scribd.com had a whole bunch of copyright-violating scans of books. He did an automated search of scribd's catalog, and based on that search, and without much consultation with anyone, he sent scribd a slew of what appeared to be DMCA takedown notices. The trouble was that he wasn't very careful, and, e.g., he got them to delete some fiction by Cory Doctorow, who actually wanted it on scribd as a form of publicity. IIRC, DMCA takedown notices are also supposed to be sent by copyright owners, and signed under penalty of perjury, but Burt's notices were sent without consulting the copyright holders, and were factually inaccurate in many cases; I think he ended up claiming that they weren't DMCA notices, but scribd apparently thought they were. Doctorow got very angry, and publicized his anger on his web site boingboing. Doctorow also published a very short piece by Ursula LeGuin on boingboing, without her permission, which made her furious. Burt ran for president of SFWA after this, and lost. The whole thing exposed a generational divide between older and younger SF authors. The older ones typically were suspicious of the internet, and saw it as a threat. The younger ones typically saw it as a way to publicize themselves. An old-timer named Howard Hendrix compared authors who gave their work away online for free to scabs, resulting in an ironic response called International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day [wikipedia.org]. Here are some representative opinions on the whole thing:

    1. http://www.aburt.com/sfwa-cc.ht [aburt.com]
    2. http://www.boingboing.net/2007/08/30/science-fiction-writ-1.html [boingboing.net]
    3. http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2007/11/sfwa_attempts_to_commit_public.html [antipope.org]

    So first off, this isn't really a controversy about whether copyright should exist. The positions of all the different parties are quite similar on that issue. Scribd, Burt, Doctorow, LeGuin, and Hendrix are all pretty much in agreement that it's a bad thing to violate authors' copyrights. What they disagree on is mainly whether the internet presents more of a threat, or more of an opportunity.

    Another thing to understand about this is that scribd is just a tool, in the same way that bittorrent is just a tool. I've posted some of my own nonfiction on scribd, simply on the theory that publicizing my work is always a good thing. However, just as The Pirate Bay has an extremely heavy presence of pointers to copyright-violating torrents, scribd also has a huge amount of copyright-violating stuff. Maybe the percentage is lower, but it's still a huge presence there. It's the classic situation where the web site is willing to devote x amount of effort to policing itself, but various people would like them to devote 10x (similar to Craigslist and prostitution).

  • by jtownatpunk.net (245670) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @07:43PM (#27930409)

    I have absolutely no ethical qualms about downloading the electronic version of a book I've purchased in dead-tree form. I paid for the words presented in text form. Whether I read them on paper or a screen, it's the same performance of the same work. It's like ripping my own CDs so I can load them on my MP3 player except someone else did the ripping. In fact, I don't even have many of my physical books or CDs on hand. They're tucked away in boxes at a relative's house. (A relative who has a lot more storage space than me.) I ripped all my CDs years ago and haven't touched the physical media since. If I want to read a book I own (and I know which books I own), I download a pdf, prc, rtf, doc, html, etc. I haven't resold or disposed of any of them so, legally, I still own a copy and nobody's using the physical copy at the same time that I'm using the electronic copy. But I'm sure what I'm doing would piss off some copyright holders.

    If I owned a kindle, you can bet I'd use my ethical loophole to bypass their $10/title charge for most books. I'd rather pay $5-7 for a paperback and download a "pirated" electronic version. Heck, even if they only charged $2/title for ebooks, I'd still download a pirated version after paying my $2 so I could be sure I'd have access to the product after the DRM screws me 5-10 years down the road.

    Copyright holders and IP distributors need to clue in to the fact that reproducing information is cheap and easy. They can't legislate away that reality. Produce a quality product at a reasonable price and it'll sell. Try to charge more than people feel an easily-reproduced product is worth and they'll steal it or ignore it. Refuse to provide the product in a form that they want or make the process too cumbersome and they'll bypass you entirely.

  • Google settlement (Score:3, Informative)

    by InklingBooks (687623) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @07:47PM (#27930471)
    For those who're following the debate about the Google settlement, I'm documents related to the case along with links to useful sources of information, particularly news about the settlement from Europe.

    http://inklingbooks.com/googlesettlement/googlesettlement.html [inklingbooks.com]

  • Kind of interesting that someone who had a bestseller a year ago is more open to the idea of digital publishing than an author that hasn't written much worthwhile since the 70's. Don't get me wrong Le Guin is far more prolific writer but if part of the crowd that grew up without the technology we have today and have refused to embrace the times.

    The irony will be that as online publishing and ebooks become more and more prevalent the technology frightened authors like Le Guin will disappear into obscurity by their own efforts to protect themselves and you can bet they will whine about that too.

    If things continue as they are a huge gap of world literature from the "copyright reform" era will simply vanish.

    I do think its rather sad that in a genre like science fiction and fantasy there are people without the foresight to see a day when dead tree's will no longer be practical reading material.

  • by DarthVain (724186) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @02:53PM (#27941755)

    OK there are so many holes in the whole copyright argument, mostly because it an archaic system used to solve a problem we used to have many many years ago. It has been modified and altered to try and keep up with modern times, but it hasn't been able to keep up, partially because industry is constantly lobbying it to stay in the dark ages so that can squeeze a little more profit.

    You can pretty much say the same thing about the music and movie industries. None have tried to actually plan into the future.

    Also there are some gray areas. Used Book store, Radio, Movie Rental places, heck throw in Game Rentals to grab another industry.

    Though really what makes me mad is being asked to spend 50$ on a book. or 13$ for a softcover, and making me wait over a year for the freaking privilege of buying it at 13$. Don't even get me started on the price difference for US/Canada, it is criminal and discriminatory. Canadian currency was worth MORE than US, and we were being asked to pay 30% on top of that... Because yeah, that won't make your consumers furious.

    Anyway I am a AVID reader and read a LOT. I buy almost exclusively used. I refuse to spend and waste my money. It actually makes me feel sick when every once in awhile I don't want to wait and shell out the big bucks for the book. The only other time I buy new, is when someone gives me a gift card for Christmas or something, as then I can rationalize it as I am not spending my money, only someone gave me a lavish gift.

    Anyways I emphasize with Le Guin, and I have read many of her books, and enjoyed them (all used). However do not turn your gaze upon your readers and consumers, and think the fault is there. The fault is in an industry that has not kept in touch, and is horrible in every sense of the word. I remember hearing about an insider tell all about how truly messed up the distribution system is and the relationships between agents, distributors, retailers, and all the rest.

    Don't look at me and point the finger in blame. Fix your own bloody system so it works.

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