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Internet Archive Seeks Same Online Book Rights As Google

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the from-a-to-z-and-back-again dept.

Books 67

Miracle Jones writes "Brewster Kahle's Internet Archive has jumped on Google's 'Authors Guild' settlement and asked to be included as a party defendant, claiming that they ought to get the same rights and protections from liability that Google will receive when the settlement is approved by federal court. From the Internet Archive's letter to Judge Denny Chin: 'The Archive's text archive would greatly benefit from the same limitation of potential copyright liability that the proposed settlement provides Google. Without such a limitation, the Archive would be unable to provide some of these same services due to the uncertain legal issues surrounding orphan books.'"

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FRIST (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27633811)

FROST FRIST FROST FRIST

Re:FRIST (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27633933)

FROST PIST?

Re:FRIST (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27633961)

I'm excited that i got my first frist post!! did i do good guys?? =(

At a minimum, this should be open to all comers (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 4 years ago | (#27633861)

This needs to be an "open to all" arrangement, or the judge should reject the settlement.

Even if it is "open to all comers" it still should be scrutinized before a judge signs off on it.

Re:At a minimum, this should be open to all comers (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 4 years ago | (#27633893)

This needs to be an "open to all" arrangement, or the judge should reject the settlement.

Why?

It's a bunch of private parties (the Authors Guild) deciding, after having taken a company (Google) to court, to settle their differences without having the court impose something.

Should I get half your house just because you and your wife split it?

Re:At a minimum, this should be open to all comers (2, Interesting)

gringofrijolero (1489395) | more than 4 years ago | (#27633913)

The going theory is that the Authors Guild is a Google sockpuppet.

Re:At a minimum, this should be open to all comers (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#27634057)

The going theory is that the Authors Guild is a Google sockpuppet.

Oh, don't mind those folks. They're just upset that Area 51 [slashdot.org] came out of the closet and nobody has seen Elvis in quite some time.

Re:At a minimum, this should be open to all comers (3, Interesting)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 4 years ago | (#27634341)

That may be so, but they only speak for themselves. Not the whole world. It's not exactly a great message your people are sending. Some judge in the US gets to decide on things that actually affect me, on the other side of the world. You want your copyright enforced in my country, but you don't much care about my copyrights. I don't get it?

Re:At a minimum, this should be open to all comers (1)

gringofrijolero (1489395) | more than 4 years ago | (#27634407)

If it was up to me, all copyright would be withdrawn at least back to the Green Line. And there would be no exclusivity to orphaned works.

Re:At a minimum, this should be open to all comers (2, Interesting)

HiThere (15173) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641689)

Sounds to me like you've got it precisely. If you want to consider international IP law, ask India about patents of Neem Tree Oil.

These laws aren't about justice. They aren't about fair recompense. They're about letting powerful corporations steal more stuff and then force you to pay for it. Ask Indonesia why it won't share it's recent strains of flu? They know that if they do, they're likely to be left to die when the next epidemic strikes. So they want to bargain for something they can count on while they still have leverage. It's to my disadvantage, but I can sure understand their point of view. History is on their side. You can't count on the law when you don't have the power. The lesson is repeated over and over in scenario after scenario. And not just internationally. And it isn't racially biased either. Ask Joe Hill about the justice of law. It's about who has power.

Now to limit that argument, let me say they sometimes you can't buy justice no matter how powerful and rich you are. Being rich and powerful is no guarantee that the abusive forces of law won't be turned against you. It's just that this will only happen when someone else who is at least almost as rich and powerful as you instigates (even if covertly). A recent example was the suit against IBM by SCOx.pk apparently funded, in part, by Microsoft. SCOx had no case, and hasn't been able to demonstrate that it had a reasonable belief that it might have a case. But IBM has been cost millions of dollars that it will never be able to recover. Sometimes justice isn't available for sale because they're out of stock.

Re:At a minimum, this should be open to all comers (4, Insightful)

LuYu (519260) | more than 4 years ago | (#27634077)

Should I get half your house just because you and your wife split it?

If you are the general public -- the We the People of the Constitution -- and I and my wife acquired the house by fraud, yes.

I call creating anti-Constitutional international treaties and tricking Congress into implementing them in violation of the Bill of Rights fraud. If you do not, you should seriously consider getting a new dictionary. "Harmonization" is always anti-Constitutional, and the Berne Convention is anti-Free Speech.

With "orphaned" works, you should also consider that they are the worst of both worlds. Copyrights for these works protect no authors, but they still harm society in the same way as all other copyrights: They limit Free Speech, impose monopolies, suppress free expression, and create unnecessary legal action. All of these things harm society and the Progress that copyright was intended to support. It is, quite frankly, absurd that these works are protected at all, and the Author's Guild are a band of brigands for attempting to hold hostage the public's intellectual environment for their personal enrichment through the collection of monopoly rents (suppressing competition by limiting distribution of unprofitable "orphaned" works allows publishers to keep prices high).

Google is equally culpable in seeking to completely monopolise this information for their sole profit.

Re:At a minimum, this should be open to all comers (2, Interesting)

roberthl (1081635) | more than 4 years ago | (#27634941)

They limit Free Speech, impose monopolies, suppress free expression, and create unnecessary legal action.

How on earth does this limit "free speach" or "free expression"? In no way does it stop anyone going out and saying what they want. Furthermore, monopolies are generally awarded for innovation - something that Google has done here. No other project did anything about securing orphan works, and now that Google has their license they are all jumping on the band wagon like a pack of lions. Maybe, if archive.org or simillar went at it first, they would have the rights and this argument might not be happening at all. Finally, your suggestion that orphan works create legal action is absurd - it's the people who want the books who do that.

Re:At a minimum, this should be open to all comers (3, Informative)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 4 years ago | (#27635051)

How on earth does this limit "free speach" or "free expression"? In no way does it stop anyone going out and saying what they want.

It does, if what they want to express happens to be a derived work based on an orphaned work.

See The Wind Done Gone [wikipedia.org] as a case in point where copyright was used in an attempt to limit artistic (and political) expression.

It obviously doesn't limit expression of pure ideas, per se. Was that what you meant?

Re:At a minimum, this should be open to all comers (0, Troll)

dissy (172727) | more than 4 years ago | (#27636273)

How on earth does this limit "free speach" or "free expression"? In no way does it stop anyone going out and saying what they want.

I dunno, go ask the pirate bay owners.

They said what they wanted, which is even legal on the books (both before and after the trial, no laws got changed here) and they were still sentenced 1 year in jail and fines.

I'd say copyright totally stops you from saying what you want, when you can get a year in jail for saying "i know someone who knows someone who [...,n] who has the work i'm talking about, and my only data i have stored outside of by brain about this work is a little hash number only 64 digits ling, so you can know the work you are referencing is the same one I am referencing"

Re:At a minimum, this should be open to all comers (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 4 years ago | (#27637209)

I call creating anti-Constitutional international treaties and tricking Congress into implementing them in violation of the Bill of Rights fraud.

Anti-Constitutional treaties are not allowed by the Constitution. Treaties are effectively co-equal with federal law, subject to the Constitution, and judicial review can overturn them.

This is a common misunderstanding based on erroneous parsing of article VI. When article VI says "and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding", "the Constitution" is referring to the "the Constitution... of any State". Not only is this clear if you read the text carefully, but the US Constitution always says "this Constitution" when referring to itself.

Also, the US Supreme Court has held that treaty obligations are subject to the US Constitution (See Reid v. Covert, 1957).

So, you don't have to worry about treaty obligations violating the Bill of Rights. Or, rather, if you can prove a treaty obligation does violate the Bill of Rights, then you can file a lawsuit and get the treaty obligation voided. This may piss off the country or countries we signed the treaty with, but that's just too bad.

Re:At a minimum, this should be open to all comers (1)

LuYu (519260) | more than 4 years ago | (#27637909)

Then please explain how the Berne Convention derivative work "rights" implemented in the 1976 Copyright Act do not violate the First Amendment as these "rights" apply to speech that has yet to be uttered. If I read a book and tell my friend about it on AIM, I may not get sued for it, but technically speaking, it is a derivative work -- especially if I mention the characters and the plot.

Also, since everything on the Internet is, for the purposes of copyright law "fixed in tangible form", how can I quote someone on the Internet without creating a derivative work? The length of works is not set in any law. A single sentence will carry its own copyright.

In the online world, is there any place nowadays where I can speak without being subject to copyright? If not, how does that not violate the First Amendment?

Please do not talk to me about court challenges. There is not a court in existence, including SCOTUS, that would strike down the 1976 Copyright Act as unconstitutional -- even though it plainly is. Even Lawrence Lessig, a lawyer who advocates copyright reform, warned us of the power of the copyright holders to do what most thought was impossible, and conceived and implemented Creative Commons, answered "no" why asked if he wanted to question the constitutionality of the 1976 Copyright Act. If Lessig is not up to such a challenge, who is? You?

Re:At a minimum, this should be open to all comers (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 4 years ago | (#27701269)

There is not a court in existence, including SCOTUS, that would strike down the 1976 Copyright Act as unconstitutional -- even though it plainly is.

If you convinced the court that it was unconstitutional, it would strike down the act. The court didn't uphold CTEA just because it was driven by a treaty, the court upheld it because the court wasn't given what it considered a compelling argument for unconstitutionality.

If Lessig is not up to such a challenge, who is?

Lessig believes he could have, but that he screwed up by not giving the court the right argument. He focused on the "limited times" aspect, but the court found that the time is limited, even if repeated extensions could make it effectively perpetual. He should have focused on the "promote progress" aspect, and made an economic argument as to how the CTEA did not promote progress.

That's not my analysis, BTW. It's Lessig's.

Treaty enforcement at the barrel of a gun (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 4 years ago | (#27639319)

This may piss off the country or countries we signed the treaty with, but that's just too bad.

Many a peace treaty has been signed and enforced at the barrel of a gun, even though the treaty violated the constitution of the country that signed it.

It's not the case here, but sooner or later, we will sign a treaty with another country, our courts will overturn it, and they will say "change your constitution, or we'll replace it."

Only through international goodwill or by having one of the strongest military capacities in the world will we keep this from happening. I prefer the former but the latter is a good backup plan.

Bad analogy - AG is a monopoly, of sorts (2, Interesting)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 4 years ago | (#27634155)

Your analogy ignores the fact that the court system, in this case, is recognizing the Authors' Guild as the default representative of all authors, regardless if these authors actually have any formal relationship to it. Because of the court is granting this special right to the Authors' Guild, it might very well be the case that the court has the ability, or even an obligation, to regulate how the Authors' Guild does business.

A better analogy would be to compare the Authors' Guild to a local telecom monopoly (but the monopoly of the Authors' Guild is less strong, it only monopolizes the representation of authors who choose to not represent themselves).

Re:At a minimum, this should be open to all comers (2, Informative)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#27638255)

It's a bunch of private parties (the Authors Guild) deciding, after having taken a company (Google) to court, to settle their differences without having the court impose something.

If the settlement only covered Author's Guild authors, that would be true. It doesn't. It covers ALL copyright holders. A sues B and the settlement extinguishes C,D, and Es claims (past, present or future) as well.

Re:At a minimum, this should be open to all comers (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 4 years ago | (#27634599)

This needs to be an "open to all" arrangement, or the judge should reject the settlement.

The judge doesn't have the power to sign off on an open-to-all arrangement. He can only order a settlement between the named parties in the case, in this case the class of all book copyright and electronic distribution right holders and google (plus, if he permits the addition, internet archive).

Court might have authority to make it open (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 4 years ago | (#27636071)

I'm not a class action law expert and ongoing changes to the law may mean this is no longer true, but at one time class actions could be brought where the defendants were a class.

Right now it's Author's Guild et al vs. Google, with the Author's Guild and other named plaintiffs representing authors and publishers.

If the judge turned it into "Author's Guild et al. vs. Google et al" with Google representing all parties who may wish to publish such works in the future, then it would, in effect, force the settlement to be applicable to everyone. I'm not sure if the judge can create a class on his own motion or if one of the parties has to make such a motion.

As a matter of public policy - and make no mistake, the results of this case will create a de facto public policy - this is looking more and more like something that should be settled by elected representatives i.e. Congress, not the courts. The judge may simply decline to accept the settlement on the grounds that such a sweeping arrangement that affects so many people who aren't part of the class should be negotiated in Congress not the courts.

Irony of the day: My captcha is "litigant."

Re:Court might have authority to make it open (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 4 years ago | (#27636831)

I'm not a class action law expert and ongoing changes to the law may mean this is no longer true, but at one time class actions could be brought where the defendants were a class.

Even if he did this (which I wasn't aware he could do, but it does appear to be possible), the settlement would only apply (as I understand it) to those who are members of the class at the time the settlement is finalised. Such a settlement would not be particularly useful, AFAICS.

Re:Court might have authority to make it open (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 4 years ago | (#27639343)

I was thinking in terms of the defendant class being "anyone with a pulse." True, it wouldn't apply to future people, but it would be useful.

Re:Court might have authority to make it open (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27637655)

That's not ironic, just coincidental.

Great News (0)

LuYu (519260) | more than 4 years ago | (#27633915)

This is great news, but why is it that there appears to be no link to download the PDF of the document. On the linked site, that is annoying enough, but on the Open Content Alliance website, it seems purely hypocritical. How can the "Open" Content Alliance link to a proprietary, display only website? Where is the text? How annoying.

Because of the mentioned annoyance, I did not read the brief, but if it was not included in there, I think they should have asked for the protection to extended to all libraries globally, as well. I see no reason why such a database of orphaned works should not be available to the general public. In fact, it is really hard to imagine why they do not void the copyrights for all authorless works. It is bad enough that society has to pay for author's monopolies. Do we have to support the monopolies of phantasms as well?

Re:Great News (2, Informative)

julesh (229690) | more than 4 years ago | (#27634477)

How can the "Open" Content Alliance link to a proprietary, display only website? Where is the text? How annoying.

Err... what's "view only" about it? Click the download button above the scribd viewer and you're presented options to download in pdf or plain text.

Re:Great News (2, Insightful)

Keeper Of Keys (928206) | more than 4 years ago | (#27637703)

While you may be technically correct, scribd is a *very* annoying site that I have removed from my Google results. Hmm, let's wrap the text up in a fancy thingamajiggy that takes ages to load and can't be easily scrolled or resized.

It should be open! (2, Interesting)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 4 years ago | (#27633917)

What about the Gutenberg Project, and similar collections?

Re:It should be open! (4, Informative)

FrostDust (1009075) | more than 4 years ago | (#27634385)

The AG-Google agreement wouldn't affect Gutenberg at all. The Gutenberg Project only deals with works that are either public domain or works where the author gave permission for GP to use the works.

The reason the Author's Guild got upset with Google and eventually reached a settlement with them was because Google was dealing with "orphaned" works. These were books that, while restricted in distribution by copyright laws, were out of print for one reason or another. While Google saw this as part of their mission to increase the availiblity of information, the AG saw this as an encroachment on the rights of their members.

Re:It should be open! (3, Insightful)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 4 years ago | (#27635433)

Technically, all works are public domain eventually (even if right now this can mean 150 years or more after publication). This implies that the author's guild (and anybody else who claims copyright) is only a caretaker of the work for up to the next 150 years or so. If the work is no longer available (in existence) in 150 years, then Gutenberg will not be able to digitize it then. If that happens, then the caretaker should be held responsible, but probably the caretaker will be long gone.

Thus Gutenberg should definitely worry about getting the ability to digitize orphaned works as soon as possible. 150 years is a long time. In the last 150 years, there was civil war in the US and many in other places, and two huge world wars, including one famous for book burning.

Re:It should be open! (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 4 years ago | (#27645577)

Why should a third party have to ensure something exists for *you* in 150 years? You can always get your own private archival copy today, digitize it and just not publish it until the copyright has expired...

Re:It should be open! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27759281)

Thus Gutenberg should definitely worry about getting the ability to digitize orphaned works as soon as possible. 150 years is a long time. In the last 150 years, there was civil war in the US and many in other places, and two huge world wars, including one famous for book burning.

I wouldn't worry about it. If in 150 years all the paper copies of the book have been burned, Gutenberg could just grab the torrent from The Pirate Bay.

A more general issue... (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#27633947)

Ultimately, the issue of Orphan works will have to be attacked generically, rather than outfit by outfit.

Given the length of copyright term and the ever decreasing costs of storage, there are works, and will continue to be works that are within the term of copyright, but which have no (knows) extant owner. This is an issue.

Without an extant owner, it isn't even possible to ask for licensing permission, so the work will necessarily go unused (bootlegging excepted). Unless one considers absolutist copyright maximalism to be a virtue for its own sake, enforcing copyright on such works is insane.

The trick is, you don't want to make it too easy for a work to be declared orphaned. "Oh, Mr. Fungus, our statutory-search-for-author-notice ran for an entire month in the East Arkansas Hog Breeder Gazette and intelligencer and the North Anglian Lady's Christian Temperance Quarterly! What more reasonable a search could you possibly expect?"

Re:A more general issue... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27633991)

What more reasonable a search could you possibly expect?

At least the Hodag Shopper

"It's a giant spider invasion of savings at Menards!!"

Re:A more general issue... (3, Insightful)

johannesg (664142) | more than 4 years ago | (#27634143)

Unless one considers absolutist copyright maximalism to be a virtue for its own sake, enforcing copyright on such works is insane.

Say you are a really large copyright organisation. Not only are you competing with other, similar organisations, but you are also competing with the public domain. Getting rid of that competition means getting rid of the public domain, which is what they are doing.

So yes, I imagine they are really all in favor of enforcing that absolutist copyright maximalism.

Re:A more general issue... (4, Interesting)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | more than 4 years ago | (#27634309)

The issue seems fairly obvious to solve, to me: You, as the copyright holder, must submit a copy of the document to the Library of Congress for storage in high-resolution (or whatever the content equivalent is), and must send them a registered letter or similar once a year for your work to be declared not orphaned.

If they don't receive a letter two years in a row, it becomes orphaned, but if you keep sending in letters, your copyright will continue until it expires.

A due-diligence search would therefore simply involve searching the LOC.

Re:A more general issue... (2, Insightful)

sFurbo (1361249) | more than 4 years ago | (#27634683)

How does that work for authors who are not US citizens? If they need to send it to the Library of Congress, why can't every other national library demand the same? If you have to take it to the national library of your own country, a full search of all national libraries are needed to determin the orphan-staus of a work. Of course, they could make a collaboration to make the search easier, but if you can't get them all to have the same terms, it is going to be a mess.

Re:A more general issue... (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 4 years ago | (#27635353)

If a work is published in, say, France, then it makes perfect sense to do a search for it in the French national library. More generally, written works tend to have a copyright notice. It would be trivial to require authors to include in the notice an identifier for the relevant library where the reference copy is stored. E.g.

Copyright (c)2009 martin-boundary, Bibliotheque nationale de France.

Re:A more general issue... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27635649)

1) What about stuff that's published on the Internet?
2) What about stuff that's published under, say, a CC licence?

I'm particularly concerned about things like art - photography, web comics, drawings, and so on. It's unreasonable IMO to expect people to submit notifications that yes, they would like for their copyright to remain every year for thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of items, and this is doubly true for those who already publish under CC licences and don't even intend to sell things for a profit.

Copyright identifiers are also informative, not normative - they're not even necessary, in fact. Would you want to change that so that works lacking one are considered to be in the public domain? What if somebody takes, say, a story I wrote and removes it, and then passes it on to others - can those others in good faith rely on it being in the PD then? What if they do - how does that interact with my rights?

What about the legal problems associated with harmonizing legislation worldwide? For that matter, what about countries that, unlike the USA, recognise authors' moral rights and don't even allow you to put works into the public domain?

What about the right to publish things pseudonymously?

All this is a very bad idea once you actually start looking at it in depth.

Re:A more general issue... (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 4 years ago | (#27636003)

Note that most of those rules were introduced in a time before computers, when it was seriously impractical to make thousands of submissions.

I think it can be argued that we have no such limitations these days. Take a photograph, or a web comic, drawing, and so on as a digital image, or a text composition in a unicode text file etc. The national copyright registration office could keep a copy of it registered to your name, and you could submit all your digital files electronically. You could start the transfer and let it run overnight, and you could renew with some reference number. A copyright search could be as quick as a google search is today.

Of course you're right that the OP's idea would require changes ot the international copyright system, but these changes would solve the PD/NOT PD problem technically, and since such a requirement on authors is stricter than existing copyright requirements on authors, it could probably be implemented in countries even without an agreement.

I don't think pseudonyms would be an issue. Copyright already relies on the assumption that no two independent people will write exactly the same book, create the same drawing etc. So submit your drawing under a pseudonym. If someone else wants to use it, quote the reference number on behalf of the pseudonym. If somebody else later tries to submit the same work, you can still point to the existing registration number. If they change the work slightly and manage to register it, you can still point to the earlier registration number if it gets to arbitration.

Re:A more general issue... (1)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | more than 4 years ago | (#27637075)

I somehow think you are not entirely tracking on my argument, but I can't exactly put a finger on where.

1) I don't think it's unreasonable to deal with notifications for large numbers of documents, with the Internet and computers. Just submit a list of all your copyright numbers.

2)The CC license is a bastardization anyway. If you're not willing to continue to expend effort for things to remain under CC license (for which you presumably have a reason) then let them fall under orphaned works. Orphaned works does not REMOVE copyright protection, after all.

3)Lack of a copyright identifier does not make something public domain. Nor is it necessary. Similarly, if someone misuses your copyrighted material, you can order them to take it down. Their lack of due diligence is not your concern- they are responsible for their breach.

4) Harmonizing copyrights world-wide is always a problem. That's why we have WIPO.

5) How does this in any way affect your right to publish things under a pseudonym? Even under the prior system, you could not sue for enforcement without revealing your actual name, which meant the copyright on those documents was very weak indeed.

Re:A more general issue... (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 4 years ago | (#27636807)

How does that work for authors who are not US citizens? If they need to send it to the Library of Congress, why can't every other national library demand the same? If you have to take it to the national library of your own country, a full search of all national libraries are needed to determin the orphan-staus of a work. Of course, they could make a collaboration to make the search easier, but if you can't get them all to have the same terms, it is going to be a mess.

Well, we are presumably talking about *registered* copyrighted works, correct? And this is a US law? Easiest thing to me would be to restrict the program to works that are registered in the US. Which covers probably the majority of works in question.

In general, it would be trivially easy to figure out in what country a work was published for well over 99% of works, since it's listed in the work itself. Also, I'm sure that the interwebz would be good at solving such conundrums anyway.

Let's make sure not to toss a good solution in an attempt to get a perfect one.

Re:A more general issue... (1, Funny)

dissy (172727) | more than 4 years ago | (#27636221)

The issue seems fairly obvious to solve, to me: You, as the copyright holder, must submit a copy of the document to the Library of Congress for storage in high-resolution (or whatever the content equivalent is), and must send them a registered letter or similar once a year for your work to be declared not orphaned.

Woah woah woah! What is this?! Using the Library of Congress for its original intended purpose, instead of as a unit of measurement???

You my friend have just made many an enemy on slashdot from both sides of the fence :{

Re:A more general issue... (1)

Eil (82413) | more than 4 years ago | (#27637089)

That's an obvious solution but not really a workable one for two reasons. First, there's the sheer amount of copyrighted work out there. The LOC is widely regarded as possessing the largest quantity of copyrighted books and other media on the planet but percentage-wise, I'm sure its only a fraction of what's actually out there. Yes, the LOC receives a copy of every work registered through the US Copyright Office but you don't have to register with the USCO in order for the work in order to be protected. (Although it helps if litigation ever arises.) But even for the registered works, you're asking the LOC to expend an enormous amount of effort and money to process millions upon millions of documents every year just to solve one corner-case problem.

Then there's the burden on the copyright holder. Presently, the bar for copyrighting a work is very low. Basically, the work is copyrighted at the time of creation. This is a good thing. It means that anyone willing to create a work for the benefit of society and/or themselves can do so without any extra effort or onerous paperwork. This not only encourages contribution, it makes copyrighting as we know it today possible. If authors had to submit documents every year for everything they held copyright on, it would be an insurmountable task for many. Just about any written word put on paper (or screen) by a company is copyrighted. The average company wouldn't be able to keep up with this, let alone websites, blog authors, independent artists, research firms, record labels, and even regular Slashdot posters.

Re:A more general issue... (1)

joaobranco (55662) | more than 4 years ago | (#27637139)

Then there's the burden on the copyright holder. Presently, the bar for copyrighting a work is very low. Basically, the work is copyrighted at the time of creation. This is a good thing. It means that anyone willing to create a work for the benefit of society and/or themselves can do so without any extra effort or onerous paperwork. This not only encourages contribution, it makes copyrighting as we know it today possible. If authors had to submit documents every year for everything they held copyright on, it would be an insurmountable task for many. Just about any written word put on paper (or screen) by a company is copyrighted. The average company wouldn't be able to keep up with this, let alone websites, blog authors, independent artists, research firms, record labels, and even regular Slashdot posters.

And if that works would lose copyright protection, why precisely would that be a problem ? The number of "serendipitous successes", that is work that is a unexpected success and whose authors benefit from copyright rewards after must surely be a lot smaller than the number of "orphan" works that would benefit society to access. I myself, although a published author, would very much agree to a copyright statute that would require active management to keep the copyright monopoly on reproduction of owns work.

Re:A more general issue... (1)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | more than 4 years ago | (#27637173)

I think you are misreading my comment- I am not suggesting that documents must be registered to be covered under copyright, but that they must be registered and maintained to avoid being considered orphans.

Re:A more general issue... (1)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | more than 4 years ago | (#27637281)

But once a document is considered an orphan (that is, automatically if it's never registered under your plan), the author loses the copyright to it to Google. That's arguably worse than if it was never covered by copyright in the first place.

Re:A more general issue... (1)

PMuse (320639) | more than 4 years ago | (#27637961)

The issue seems fairly obvious to solve, to me: You, as the copyright holder, . . . must send them a registered letter or similar once a year for your work to be declared not orphaned.

Something much like your solution was used in the U.S. for 186 years. From 1790 to 1976, [wikipedia.org] holders of U.S. copyrights were required to send a letter renewing their rights at the half-way point in the term. If they failed to do so, their copyright expired. In 1976, that solution was deemed too onerous, too prone to error, too disrespectful of inalienable "moral rights", or just plain too unprofitable, and was replaced with automatic copyrights that don't require registration and last forever.* It wasn't a bad solution, but the powers that be will never return to it.

(*Forever, 20 years at a time, that is.)

Re:A more general issue... (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#27636363)

Given the length of copyright term and the ever decreasing costs of storage, there are works, and will continue to be works that are within the term of copyright, but which have no (knows) extant owner. This is an issue.

Why is it an issue? The law guarantees protection for the owner of the rights - not access to the works by the public.
 
What you and this farcical 'settlement' want to do is to subvert the law so that rather protecting the rights holder you create a situation where the author has whatever rights $COMPANY lets them retain, regardless of the law. And that's a problem. A *big* problem.

Re:A more general issue... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#27637779)

"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"

At least in the US(where I'm writing), the law guarantees protection for the owner of the rights entirely as a strategic measure. As much as the "intellectual property" pushers would like it to be otherwise, copyright is not property in the same sense as real property(and, even there, there are complications like Adverse possession)

As I noted, I have absolutely no interest in making it easy to swindle an extant author out of their copyrights. Further, (and this is what I don't like about the google/author's guild settlement) if a work were to be seen as orphaned, that orphaned status should apply uniformly, rather than making the work de-facto property of another entity.

The Public Domain Enhancement Act is good (2, Interesting)

jbn-o (555068) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641433)

I believe The Public Domain Enhancement Act [eldred.cc] does a good job of addressing orphaned works: it requires a $1 fee be paid no earlier than 50 years after the work was published and it creates a searchable database of works and copyright holders. Legislators should be pushed to champion this bill again (and again) to get it through Congress. One-time trying doesn't do the job (as we've all seen the corporate copyright holders show us). I concur with proponents of the PDEA that most copyright holders will not find it important enough to send in the $1 fee to extend their copyright past 50 years (plus the grace period described in the proposed bill).

Archive.org is prior art as are so many others (1, Interesting)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 4 years ago | (#27633967)

While I am not a lawyer, www.archive.org (and variously named predecessors) is "prior art" when it comes to storing huge amounts of electronic data, as, I am sure we will see very soon, many many many other parties.

"prior art" - isnt't that a patent law only thing? (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 4 years ago | (#27635047)

www.archive.org (and variously named predecessors) is "prior art" when it comes to storing huge amounts of electronic data.

Isn't the phrase "prior art" only used in patent law?

So, if archive.org is indeed prior art, this only means that no one should be able to patent the business method of archiving the Internet.

(Maybe except archive.org, but they have probably been practicing that business method for so long that the patenting window of opportunity has expired.)

I'm not sure why you bring this up in a discussion of copyright.

why bring this up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27635373)

Why I brought this up? Because, if Google will get this through, so should a whole bunch of others, too!

Why should Google be special.

Re:why bring this up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27637705)

You're not the brightest light-bulb in the bucket are you? Using patent-law terminology to argue a point that has nothing to do with patent-law makes no sense.

possible monopoly to google (2, Insightful)

dargon (105684) | more than 4 years ago | (#27634333)

Personally, I think the agreement and the lawsuit should be thrown out. As per boingboing (http://www.boingboing.net/2009/04/17/google-book-search-s-1.html), this settlement potentially, baring something unforeseen, gives google a near monopoly on search and distribution on the majority of all the books ever published. While that alone is a pretty good argument for the settlement to be voided, the fact that an organization which only represents roughly 8000 writers out of all the writers in the world is claiming to be able to give away a right for writers who aren't part of it's membership. Now I'm not sure just how many writers there are in the world, past and present, but with a population of roughly 6.77 billion people on the planet, I'm pretty sure it's a huge amount more than 8000 and the writers guild shouldn't have the ability to give those rights away. For it's members, sure, but not for all the other writers in the world.

Re:possible monopoly to google (1)

dargon (105684) | more than 4 years ago | (#27634357)

Whoops my bad, the settlement only covers the US / American writers, however, just the same, I'm pretty sure that the writers guild should have no say over orphaned works

Heh. (3, Funny)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#27634595)

asked to be included as a party defendant

"Hey! No fair suing Google and not us. We want to be sued to! SUE US DAMMIT!"

Why don't all of us deserve the same rights? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27636499)

Why does either Google or Brewster deserve more rights than the rest of us?

the REAL issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27636583)

The Real issue is the very wrong way in which copyrights and patents have been extended far beyon the original omtent. Both need to expire after 5 years. Period. No extensions for any rason. After 5 years everything should be in the public domain. And patents on software and business models etc...need to be outlawed worlwide. To be granted a pattent, you should have to actually to actually have a product, and market that product. No more patent trolls!

Of course such things will never be allowed to happen. The Mega-Corporations who own and control the worlds governments will never permit such things to happen.

Orphans forever! (2, Interesting)

AlbionTourgee (918996) | more than 4 years ago | (#27680937)

Hopefully the judge will do the sensible thing, which is to give Internet Archive or whoever else wants the right to publish orphans and pay royalties for it, the right to do so. The Fiction Circus blog posting is truly silly. The Author's Guild was not set up by Google, that's for sure. Google just wanted to index all the books and provide links to where you could buy them. The Author's Guild (a long standing and very backward looking organization) sued, claiming that indexing was a violation of copyright. In other words, it was an effort to prevent Google from making their books more accessible on the web. Now you have people like this Fiction Circus clown saying, Google should be able to sell orphan books in electronic form, because others aren't alos doing it. So, we're better off with no one republishing orphan works. Great logic! That is, if you're against people having access to books. I haven't heard that Google opposes anyone else doing this. But, you have to have a committed, well run organization to pull it off. Microsoft, for example, gave a try at offering a book search service, but gave up after scanning a few libraries, it was too hard and not enough short-term profit, apparently. Now we find "libertarians" saying, Google shouldn't do it either, because, well, nobody else is doing it, and, let's keep it that way!
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