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234 comments

lame (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35580676)

lame

Re:lame (3, Insightful)

sortadan (786274) | about 3 years ago | (#35581218)

It would be nice to get free things, and I hate the MPAA and RIAA as much as the next /.er, but rewarding a company for illegally copying books from the library seems lame to me. Digitizing the data is to make a reproduction of the work by definition. It doesn't even have to be distributed by google, the fact that they have kept scanned master copies of all the books they could get their hands on is illegal. I don't understand why they have been able to keep this dataset at all...

Re:lame (-1, Offtopic)

KillAllNazis (1904010) | about 3 years ago | (#35581482)

There's a difference between illegal and wrong. If something can be copied indefinitely then it makes no sense for it to cost anything. There's a big picture of a post scarcity, post monetary world that's being missed here.

Re:lame (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35581594)

Another idiot repeating the scarcity meme. If there is no scarcity, then there is an infinite number of books to choose from, all of the same quality. Furthermore, this infinite number of books magically appears out of nowhere (because there isn't an infinite number of authors), and if there is no author there is no copyright. So, just copy the books that appear out of nowhere that have no copyright, and you're home free. Except that there isn't an infinite number of books, and they don't appear out of nowhere. In fact, there is indeed a scarcity of authors who write books that people actually want to read, and you pay for the privilege of using the product of that resource.

Re:lame (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about 3 years ago | (#35582220)

and you pay for the privilege of using the product of that resource

No I don't. I go to the public library. My childrens' children will use the inter-cyber-future-web-net instead of a physical library. But the computers will have to read to them, because being my childrens' children, they'll be a little mentally challenged. Maybe I should make sure that I have only one gender of children.

Re:lame (3, Insightful)

mug funky (910186) | about 3 years ago | (#35582244)

but if the works are out of print...

perhaps if copyright holders had some kind of burden of maintenance - ie when a property reaches "end of life" and is no longer worth the shelf-space, then rights should be forfeit.

otherwise too much culture will vanish.

what i'm seeing (there's scant information in TFA and no links to previous discussion of the case) seems like "i don't want it, but i'd be damned if they're gonna get it".

if IP is no longer profitable, then how are the plaintiffs losing anything?

How does some guild get authority (5, Interesting)

assemblerex (1275164) | about 3 years ago | (#35580692)

to represent all authors of out of print fiction? Can I install myself
as the representative for all out of print romance?
What a load of cowpucks

Re:How does some guild get authority (4, Insightful)

blair1q (305137) | about 3 years ago | (#35580810)

They sue as a class.

The lead plaintiffs will be the guild and a few of its members. They'll extend the class to include all of the Guild's members and anyone else who's ever learned to scrape a pencil without breaking the point. Most of the class won't know they're in it until all the litigating is over.

The rest of the members will be mailed a notification of settlement, including instructions on how to get their $0.38 share of the award (the lawyers, of course, will get about $45M off the top).

The notification will include instructions on several ways not to get your $0.38, one of which will be to opt-out, retaining your rights to sue Google as an individual.

Good luck spending $10 million protecting the copyright on a book you can't get anyone to print even for a fee any more.

Oh, and dear Google, did you mispell one or more of the words in "Don't Be Evil"?

Re:How does some guild get authority (5, Interesting)

hawguy (1600213) | about 3 years ago | (#35580932)

The rest of the members will be mailed a notification of settlement, including instructions on how to get their $0.38 share of the award (the lawyers, of course, will get about $45M off the top).

Except that there's no payment for anyone (except the laywers, of course), because the judge rejected the settlement -- Google wanted to pay $125M for the ability to make out-of-print books available online, giving authors the ability to opt out. The judge suggests that opt-in would be better, but I'd guess that there are many more out-of-print books with authors that are dead, just-don't-care or would be happy that their books will be available, than those that want their out-of-print book to stay out of print because they have some grand plan to reissue it some day.

So the opt-in model is far less valuable to public (and to Google) because it means that far fewer out-of-print books can be made available.

Re:How does some guild get authority (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 3 years ago | (#35581092)

So the opt-in model is far less valuable to public (and to Google) because it means that far fewer out-of-print books can be made available.

I was a member of this class, and I'm glad this settlement got overturned. I don't have any out-of-print books, apparently the class included everyone who had a book copyright registered in the USA - Google is indexing and posting online all books that they can, not just ones that are out of print. The reason that I'm glad that the settlement was overturned is that it gives Google far too much power. After paying the token sum, Google may put any out of print books online, but anyone else doing so gets a statutory fine for wilful copyright infringement of $750-$150,000 per book.

Google basically gambled that they could violate copyright on all books and get away with it. Rather than lobbying to make some sane changes to copyright law, they want copyright to remain overly strict, but to just apply to everyone except them. One law for Google, one law for everyone else. Of course, it's okay because Google isn't evil...

Re:How does some guild get authority (-1, Redundant)

hawguy (1600213) | about 3 years ago | (#35581182)

Google basically gambled that they could violate copyright on all books and get away with it. Rather than lobbying to make some sane changes to copyright law, they want copyright to remain overly strict, but to just apply to everyone except them. One law for Google, one law for everyone else. Of course, it's okay because Google isn't evil...

If that's your argument against what Google is trying to do, then why not lobby for the Author's Guild to make a similar deal with anyone that has the resources to do it...then you're not tying yourself to the Evil Google Empire.

Re:How does some guild get authority (4, Interesting)

VertigoAce (257771) | about 3 years ago | (#35581504)

The issue here is that it isn't possible for anybody else to negotiate the same deal Google was going for with this settlement. Google was trying to reach a deal with an entire class, not a specific group of authors. So while a competitor could negotiate a similar deal with specific authors or groups of authors, they would be unable to create a deal with the entire class of authors (unless faced with a class action lawsuit and able to negotiate the same settlement).

It sounds like the judge agreed with this objection and indicated that the deal might work if authors needed to opt-in rather than opt-out. Under an opt-in system, authors could opt-in to a competitor's service as well as Google's. Alternatively, Google could try to get copyright law changed so that their opt-out system would be allowed by law (and competitors could set up similar systems without facing infringement lawsuits).

Re:How does some guild get authority (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35581292)

I have to agree though I do consider it a great loss(and a failing of our current copyright system) that vast numbers of works will effectively be lost forever if the last copies expire before the copyright does.
in the US that means forever the way things are going.
Can't go making copies without permission from the copyright holder after all.

If you litterally cannot find anyone to pay or ask permission from then you can't make it your own more permanent copy.

it would be a less significant problem if you had to send books to a few legal deposit libraries in order to get a copyright at all.

Re:How does some guild get authority (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35582306)

If you literally cannot find anyone to pay or ask permission from...

then you're sure not going to be hit with a lawsuit for copying it, eh?

And unless you're trying to make money off it (gross oversimplification, but decently close), copyright violation isn't a crime.

Re:How does some guild get authority (1)

LordLucless (582312) | about 3 years ago | (#35581356)

Isn't that the case for anyone who owns a copyright? They can publish books, but anyone else who tries it gets slapped down? One law for the copyright holders, one law for everyone else...

Google was essentially trying to bulk-buy limited distribution rights. The problem with this is that the vendor (the Author's Guild) doesn't actually represent all those rights holders.

Re:How does some guild get authority (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 3 years ago | (#35581438)

One law for Google, one law for everyone else. Of course, it's okay because Google isn't evil...

I get your point, but if Google was making these available for free, the evils of copyright would have been averted.

Unfortunately it costs more than $125M to buy a law lessening restrictions. Disney bought Fritz Hollings for much cheaper, but they were increasing restrictions.

Re:How does some guild get authority (1)

PCM2 (4486) | about 3 years ago | (#35581628)

I get your point, but if Google was making these available for free, the evils of copyright would have been averted.

Kinda like how open source runs on free beer.

Re:How does some guild get authority (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about 3 years ago | (#35581882)

I get your point, but if Google was making these available for free, the evils of copyright would have been averted.

Not really - the settlement would allow Google to distribute them to you, but it would not allow you to redistribute them further (as you're not a party to that settlement).

Re:How does some guild get authority (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35581570)

I'm just glad it got overturned so that we can just lose some of those orphaned works forever. Book burning is so passe.

Re:How does some guild get authority (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35581714)

Post links of all of your copyrighted work in existence now.

Re:How does some guild get authority (2, Interesting)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 3 years ago | (#35582194)

Google is indexing and posting online all books that they can, not just ones that are out of print. The reason that I'm glad that the settlement was overturned is that it gives Google far too much power. After paying the token sum, Google may put any out of print books online

Man you are REALLY going to be pissed when you find out what they are doing in libraries.

Way to think of future generations over yourself.

Re:How does some guild get authority (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35581108)

Out of Print != not(In the Library)

Re:How does some guild get authority (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 3 years ago | (#35581146)

But there's a pretty good chance that you won't find one of those out of print books in your local library. I live in a mid sized city and our library system has 2 million books.... Google claims to have scanned 15 million.

(Yes, I know there's the interlibrary loan, but that's not the same)

Re:How does some guild get authority (1)

AJWM (19027) | about 3 years ago | (#35581508)

those that want their out-of-print book to stay out of print because they have some grand plan to reissue it some day.

There's potentially a lot of money in the back list for authors -- or their estates -- who want to put their own stuff up in e-book format these days.

In aggregate, probably a hell of a lot more than $125M worth.

Re:How does some guild get authority (4, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | about 3 years ago | (#35580996)

I do get the point of class actions, but it should be an essential requirement in such settlements that the defendant cease the activity hurting the plaintiffs. Just because Toyota settles a class action over faulty brakes don't mean they now have a perpetual legal indemnity to continue shipping faulty brakes. Yet Google wants to retain the right to continue using all these works, it's a licensing scheme not a damage settlement. Just because I happen to be part of a class doesn't mean that class should be able to license my work at will. That is a grant, not a settlement.

Re:How does some guild get authority (1, Interesting)

blair1q (305137) | about 3 years ago | (#35581046)

But if you can't keep doing it, there's no reason to settle. Unless that's part of the settlement.

Google infringed on a few books. The $125M was to make it okay for them to infringe on all books. If they were just going to stop infringing and compensate the people they've already infringed, their offer would be like $1.98.

Re:How does some guild get authority (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 3 years ago | (#35581252)

Google infringed on a few books. The $125M was to make it okay for them to infringe on all books. If they were just going to stop infringing and compensate the people they've already infringed, their offer would be like $1.98.

Nope, this is the RIAA lawsuits in reverse... 750$-150,000$ statutory damages per work. That does require your work to be registered with the US copyright office, but I imagine that even fairly obscure authors do that as part of the publishing process.

Re:How does some guild get authority (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 3 years ago | (#35581840)

Good luck spending $10 million protecting the copyright on a book you can't get anyone to print even for a fee any more.

If enough of them opt out, they could form their own association and sue Google again.

That's what *he* said. (5, Interesting)

jvonk (315830) | about 3 years ago | (#35581004)

How does some guild get authority to represent all authors of out of print fiction?

Well, according to TFB (blurb), that's essentially the judge's rationale for rejecting the deal.

I am torn: on one hand, I believe that copyright law no longer "promotes the progress of Science and useful Arts", so I would like to see Google have the ability to make a sweeping digital library of abandonware books (seriously, if the authors aren't selling the book, how are they harmed?)

However, if this deal went through, it seems likely that it would have been the birth of another MAFIAA-style intellectual property racket.

So, perhaps we are considering the situation from an artificially constrained viewpoint. The pragmatic approach to getting the digital library would have been to take the deal with this newborn devil, but we would have to live with those consequences. The idealistic approach would be to "fix" copyright law so that such a library could be created... you know, the better to "promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts".

Does anyone else want some of what I am apparently smoking to cause me to have such fantastic & vague ideas (haha)? Maybe I got hit on the head or something.

Re:That's what *he* said. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35581398)

So you have no issues with people taking abandoned GPL projects and relicensing them as they see fit? If not, why do you think it's okay to strip the authors of these books of their copyright?

Re:That's what *he* said. (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | about 3 years ago | (#35581858)

So you have no issues with people taking abandoned GPL projects and relicensing them as they see fit?

Although there would be a lot of details involved, I generally would support having abandoned, copyrighted software that was licensed under the GPL entering the public domain. While I suppose this means that some third party could offer it pursuant to some proprietary license, there wouldn't be much point, as they'd have no exclusivity over the public domain materials.

Indeed, I've never heard that GNU has a problem with the fact that copyrights are supposed to expire, which would result in the GPL no longer being particularly enforceable on those works. Reforming copyright law to deal effectively with orphan works merely causes this to happen sooner than later.

Re:That's what *he* said. (1)

bws111 (1216812) | about 3 years ago | (#35581908)

You're missing the key point of the GPL, which is that anything you create using GPL stuff must also be open source and licensed under the GPL. That is what is lost when the work enters the public domain. Sure, the original work remains available, but newly created stuff can be closed source. In effect you have converted the GPL license to a BSD type license.

Re:That's what *he* said. (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | about 3 years ago | (#35582006)

I understand how the GPL works. I even like the GPL. But the public domain is more important. Given this ordering of priorities, I really don't understand how things could work out differently. I'm open to suggestions.

If it's any consolation, a work that is derivative of a formerly-GPLed-but-now-public-domain work is only copyrightable in its new portions. Portions that were copied from the previous work remain in the public domain.

Re:That's what *he* said. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35582116)

So basically copyrights are okay as long as they help to enforce the GPL and prevent abandoned GPL code from entering the public domain. Yet it's perfectly okay if someone's "abandoned" (and I use quotes because it's highly doubtful that Google tried to contact each and every author whose copyright they violated) book or software had copyright status removed and entered the public domain? It's things like this that highlight just how hypocritical GPL supporters are. COPYRIGHT IS BAD.... well unless it's copyrights on GPLed works.

Re:That's what *he* said. (1)

b4upoo (166390) | about 3 years ago | (#35582108)

I am pretty sour on the notions of copyright and patents in general. If we had a literary and music patent that expired after five year or so and could not be extended it would seem like a reasonable concept. Music is even more of an issue as music is broadcast. Broadcasting is like throwing bird seed all over town. You simply have no control of which birds get the seed or how often they make use of it. Then it gets even worse. Suppose someone writes a catchy tune for voice and I want to play that tune on trombone. It has never been offered for trombone and is entirely different in nature than when sung. So look how copyright has reached out and covered all instruments playing the piece either together or in separately. Then the written score for the music instead of the music as offered to the ear also requires some magical cloak of copyright protection. I highly recommend copying any damn thing you wish to copy as the rules are an outrage and submission to outrageous rules is bad for the human soul.

Re:How does some guild get authority (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35581660)

If someone peeled a 1/2" of skin off of the person you love would you and sent them back to you in hysterics would you feel so self righteous?

Denny Crane! (1)

billstewart (78916) | about 3 years ago | (#35580714)

I know I should be posting something serious and insightful, but I've just been reading the "Shatner's Birthday" /. thread, and misread the judge's name for a second.

Legal fees (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35580734)

If you think the patent troll attorneys are bad, wait for the lawyers to come out of the woodwork here.

Victory against Google-oply = good (1, Interesting)

krizoitz (1856864) | about 3 years ago | (#35580752)

Despite its attempts to spin itself as the white knight, Google is far from altrusitic and this ruling is a victory for the little guy. It was bad enough when Google started illegal scanning copyrighted works. It was bad enough when Google's only response was "fine we'll stop, but only when you specifically ask us to for YOUR books". But the deal that would give Google such extensive control over the scanning and sale of these works? That was unacceptable and I'm glad the judge agreed. I really wish people would wake up and realize that Google has long since abandon its "Don't be Evil" motto.

Re:Victory against Google-oply = good (1)

DaMattster (977781) | about 3 years ago | (#35580832)

Despite its attempts to spin itself as the white knight, Google is far from altrusitic and this ruling is a victory for the little guy. It was bad enough when Google started illegal scanning copyrighted works. It was bad enough when Google's only response was "fine we'll stop, but only when you specifically ask us to for YOUR books". But the deal that would give Google such extensive control over the scanning and sale of these works? That was unacceptable and I'm glad the judge agreed. I really wish people would wake up and realize that Google has long since abandon its "Don't be Evil" motto.

Google found it can make a profit with "altruism"

Re:Victory against Google-oply = good (2, Insightful)

Bamfarooni (147312) | about 3 years ago | (#35581076)

Could you be a little more obviously prejudiced? And while you're at it, could you please identify how anyone (Google or not) goes about getting access to (or rights for) a book by a dead author that's not longer in print?

It sure would be nice if all those works weren't effectively dead (and their knowledge lost) just because my local bookstore or library can't get them.

Re:Victory against Google-oply = good (2)

RobbieThe1st (1977364) | about 3 years ago | (#35581162)

That is extremely true. Now, perhaps Google shouldn't be the -only- way to acquire these books, but it's a start. I, for one, would -love- to be able to buy some obscure paperback from the 80's in ebook form, especially when I couldn't find it in print.

Now, sure, we'd all like to compensate the author etc... but if the author stops publishing something, then we -need- another way to get it, lest the content gets lost.
If we had 20 year copyrights, that would be one thing - in 20 years a few copies will still be around. But with ~100 year copyrights... all copies of an obscure work could easily be gone, which is a definite detriment to society.

Re:Victory against Google-oply = good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35581294)

And while you're at it, could you please identify how anyone (Google or not) goes about getting access to (or rights for) a book by a dead author that's not longer in print?

It sure would be nice if all those works weren't effectively dead (and their knowledge lost) just because my local bookstore or library can't get them.

By lobbying for copyright reform for everyone, as opposed to just for Google, as mentioned upthread. Copyrights were intended to be an incentive to produce, not an absolute and perpetual monopoly. 40 years is plenty of incentive, and a practical and fair method to declare works to be orphaned would be good as well.
If you think 40 years is too short: a promise of a dollar 41 years from now is worth ~ 5 cents as an incentive today. Please explain how the lack of a chance at that extra nickle would harm your productivity.

Re:Victory against Google-oply = good (1)

krizoitz (1856864) | about 3 years ago | (#35581354)

So I'm prejudiced because you don't agree with me is it? What is prejudiced about what I said? I criticized what Google was doing because it is, in my opinion bad, one in a long line of bad for the consumer things they have done that get ignored by too many people. As for what happens when the rights owner is dead? Well after a certain period the work becomes public domain and they (along with anyone else) are free to use it. I don't object to finding solutions to the problem, I object to Google flauting the law and then trying to get prefernetial treatment by working with people who are only looking out for their bottom line and not the legal rights of authors. I object to Google being given SOLE CONTROL over these works. But I guess thats being "prejudiced"

Re:Victory against Google-oply = good (3, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | about 3 years ago | (#35581368)

It sure would be nice if all those works weren't effectively dead (and their knowledge lost) just because my local bookstore or library can't get them.

They are not lost. Pretty much every work has to be deposited in the Library of Congress or similar institutions (Nasjonalarkivet here in Norway). If you truly wanted copyright to expire earlier you could easily make some kind of process where abandoned works would enter the public domain.

In fact that was the case in the US up to 1992. The problem was that a lot of active holders failed to realize and erroneously let their works expire. Plus there's as far as I know no good international system of renewal so really only the big corporations with procedures would get it done worldwide. It's a less than ideal system yet still massively better than letting Google just grab it underhandedly.

Re:Victory against Google-oply = good (4, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 3 years ago | (#35581136)

That's only part of the problem. The other part is that Google would have been granted a license to disregard copyright (for the cheap price of $125m! That's about 30 cents per American. Don't you wish that you collectively could by an exemption from copyright or that little?), but no one else would have. I wouldn't have minded if Google had been advocating a change to the law to make this kind of archive possible. Some form of compulsory licensing with fixed royalty rates would have been great. But a ruling that lets Google violate copyright but prevents their competitors from doing the same thing? That's pretty horrible.

Use By Date of the Writer's Guild... (2)

xMrFishx (1956084) | about 3 years ago | (#35580756)

Once again the legacy business model behemoth that is, well, anything from the USA it seems right now, stamps all over innovation. I bet there's hundreds of books that would be useful to me that could either not be found over here, out of print, or just plain overpriced that need some better system for handling them in this age.

Re:Use By Date of the Writer's Guild... (3, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | about 3 years ago | (#35580910)

I bet there's hundreds of books that would be useful to me that could either not be found over here, out of print, or just plain overpriced that need some better system for handling them in this age.

I bet there are too.

However, having one corporate behemoth gain EXCLUSIVE rights to the works by paying a guild that doesn't actually necessarily even have rights to all the works in question is NOT THE SOLUTION.

Re:Use By Date of the Writer's Guild... (2)

hawguy (1600213) | about 3 years ago | (#35581012)

However, having one corporate behemoth gain EXCLUSIVE rights to the works by paying

The answer to that is to require compulsory licensing from the guild to anyone with the resources to do what Google did.

a guild that doesn't actually necessarily even have rights to all the works in question is NOT THE SOLUTION.

The answer to that is to require some active action to keep a work in copyright, like renewing it every 5 years - that way everyone benefits - authors that really care can keep the rights to their work, but as for the rest, they get released to the public to enjoy. Oh and make sure that only an author or direct relative can renew the copyright, otherwise companies will just buy up copyrights and keep them alive forever just in case one of the works becomes valuable.

Re:Use By Date of the Writer's Guild... (1)

vux984 (928602) | about 3 years ago | (#35581074)

I actually agree on both points.

Except the part about only the author or direct relative renewing. If Steven King dies and leaves no heirs that shouldn't mean the books are all public domain within 5 years. I have no issue with a company renewing copyrights.

But it should still expire within 30 to 50 years of being published.

Re:Use By Date of the Writer's Guild... (1)

RobbieThe1st (1977364) | about 3 years ago | (#35581202)

Perhaps the way to renew copyright is to publish and sell at least X copeis(where X is a relatively small number - 50 maby). This would prevent copyright trolls just sitting on works, keeping them away from the public, as well as bringing new copies of a work to the public.
And if you -can't- sell 50 copies in 5-10 years, even for a few cents(taking a loss if needed)... you're obviously doing something wrong, and it's time to put it in the public domain.

Re:Use By Date of the Writer's Guild... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35581358)

Many people, such as painters, sell unique copyrighted works. It's reasonable that for the length of the copyright term, that they are protected, regardless of how many copies they subsequently sell.

If they care enough to actively renew the copyright, let them have it. The problem of abandoned works would be solved even without further restrictions.

Re:Use By Date of the Writer's Guild... (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | about 3 years ago | (#35581956)

Well, in the fine arts, copyrights don't matter much. People pay more for the copy than for the work. An original Picasso, for example, is a worth far more than a postcard of the same piece, no matter how accurately the postcard reproduces the work. I suppose there are some fine artists who find copyrights to be very important, e.g. Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light, but they tend to be the exception. You could probably get rid of copyright for the fine arts altogether and it wouldn't change things very much.

Still, I agree with you. I have no problem with the US granting authors a copyright on eligible works if the author has registered the work with the Copyright Office, deposited copies and supplemental material with and as directed by the Library of Congress, and has placed a properly-formed and obvious copyright notice on copies of the work, let him have a copyright. If he renews within the time limit for renewal, and provides requested information with the renewal (e.g. updating his contact information so that he can be found), let him have a renewal term. Eventually there should be a maximum time limit, and it may even vary depending on the particular kind of work, but I don't really care whether or not the work is published beyond copies being in the Library of Congress. Worse comes to worst, those copies can be used for future third party publication efforts.

Re:Use By Date of the Writer's Guild... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35581222)

Huh? By "the books" you mean books not written by him or what?

It seems obvious to me that when you are dead, you don't own copyright anymore (because you are dead, duh). Am I missing something obvious?

Re:Use By Date of the Writer's Guild... (1)

clang_jangle (975789) | about 3 years ago | (#35581770)

Yes. You forgot that capitalism is the primary religion of the US. That's why many people believe that the offspring of a creative genius somehow deserves a life of leisure, gratis -- presumably for having the good sense to be born in the right family. It's a strange and primitive religion...

Re:Use By Date of the Writer's Guild... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35581576)

As soon as you let companies renew copyright, they will pay our congress critters to up that 30 years to 50 years to 75 years to 100 years to forever.
Oh wait that's what they do now.
Companies do not create. People create and companies take those creations and sell them.
The Authors should be the only ones who can renew copyright.
"So what your dad wrote a book, big deal, get a job."

Re:Use By Date of the Writer's Guild... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35582004)

If Steven King dies and leaves no heirs that shouldn't mean the books are all public domain within 5 years.

Why not?

Re:Use By Date of the Writer's Guild... (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about 3 years ago | (#35582170)

It shouldn't be based on the author's lifespan at all. It should be based on the readers' expectation lifespan, and be set to expire well before more than half of the original readers do.

30 to 50 years is still too long, but a fixed term is much better than one that floats on the author's obituary. For one thing it lets older authors cash out to the full extent that their younger contemporaries might be able to, since the time for any companies buying their works to recoup the investment would be the same regardless of the age of the author.

Re:Use By Date of the Writer's Guild... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35581134)

The answer to that is to require compulsory licensing from the guild to anyone with the resources to do what Google did.

They should be required to pay a license fee per book served.

The answer to that is to require some active action to keep a work in copyright, like renewing it every 5 years - that way everyone benefits - authors that really care can keep the rights to their work, but as for the rest, they get released to the public to enjoy. Oh and make sure that only an author or direct relative can renew the copyright, otherwise companies will just buy up copyrights and keep them alive forever just in case one of the works becomes valuable.

I would also make renewing a copyright get more and more expensive.

Re:Use By Date of the Writer's Guild... (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | about 3 years ago | (#35581426)

What if someone is only interested in looking at a single page of the book? Should Google still have to pay for serving the entire book?

A single page? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35581688)

It doesn't matter if they show you 1 page, or half a page, or just 1 sentence.

What *does* matter is: They already have illegally scanned the entire book, and saved the entire book into a computer database, with multiple backup copies. And that is a *brazen violation* of existing copyright law.

Re:A single page? (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | about 3 years ago | (#35582072)

Oh? I think Google's got a fairly good fair use argument. A book search engine, while using all of a creative work for profit, does not appreciably harm the copyright holders, reduce the market for the book, etc.

After all, Google does precisely the same thing with web pages. If you think that a book search engine is a brazen violation of the law -- the whole law -- then search engines all need to be shut down for damn near everything.

I don't think that result would be in keeping with our copyright policy.

Re:Use By Date of the Writer's Guild... (2)

Xtifr (1323) | about 3 years ago | (#35581416)

The answer to that is to require compulsory licensing from the guild to anyone with the resources to do what Google did.

That might indeed be better than what's actually proposed. By the way, this is not a hypothetical scenario. The non-profit Internet Archive has been working on a similar project for many years (albeit much more slowly), and they were one of the parties that filed to oppose the Google Books deal, precisely because they would have been cut out and their labor (and hard-to-come-by money) would have been wasted.

Frankly, I'd much rather see a deal that allows the Internet Archive to continue their work, because I trust and respect them a whole lot more than I do Google.

A Point (4, Insightful)

DaMattster (977781) | about 3 years ago | (#35580772)

Judge Chin does make a good point. Even though the book is out of print, the author is still the copyright holder and should have say in whether or not the out of print book may go into a Google digital library. After all, maybe the publisher decided to drop the book because it wasn't selling and the author may want to look for a different publisher or attempt to self-publish. I can see the digitalization of out of print material where the author is deceased and therefore has no say in the matter.

Re:A Point (2)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about 3 years ago | (#35580868)

> Even though the book is out of print,

Why is the book out of print though? Not enough demand? Methinks that justifies society benefiting as a whole. The author was given his "limited time" to profit. Now it is society's turn to benefit.

Re:A Point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35581804)

That would be fine if everyone was allowed to scan/copy/print/sell these works. This deal only allowed Google to do so.

If some 'little guy' wants to have a webpage with out-of-print pre-victorian folk literature they should be able to without paying $125 million.

They should also be required to make ALL works scanned available for free to everyone not just those with a google account, android phone or some other restriction.

Re:A Point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35580924)

How can you tell with 100% certainty if the author of any given work is deceased?

Re:A Point (4, Funny)

hawguy (1600213) | about 3 years ago | (#35581022)

How can you tell with 100% certainty if the author of any given work is deceased?

You could send out a team to kill him and document it.

Re:A Point (1)

DaMattster (977781) | about 3 years ago | (#35581458)

How can you tell with 100% certainty if the author of any given work is deceased?

If I may be blunt, there is no cure for stupidity. As an example, I think it is fairly safe to assume that Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick is deceased.

But what if he is actually undead? (1)

denzacar (181829) | about 3 years ago | (#35582268)

As an example, I think it is fairly safe to assume that Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick is deceased.

Like a vampire? [scribblingninjas.com]
Or if he had some supernatural abilities like flying or bending bullets [mtv.com] which may have allowed him to have a supernatural life span?
Who knows, maybe there IS some truth in that story that "his" obituary actually said Henry Melville.
Maybe he is still alive, wandering the world, moving silently down through the centuries, living many secret lives, struggling to reach the time of the Gathering - when the few of his kind that will remain shall battle to the last.

Re:A Point (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35580966)

It's not as though Google needs to provide access to everything they digitize. Eventually the copyright will run out, and provided Disney doesn't keep getting it extended, possibly before the warm death of the universe. Either way, once a book is digitized, they can keep the bits intact, even if they do have to lock them up because they can't work out a deal with the author.

If nothing else, this should be a good indication that we need copyright reform. The current limits are entirely too long, and it would be nice to include provisions for orphaned works.

My problem with Google Books... (1)

bogaboga (793279) | about 3 years ago | (#35580828)

...is that their fonts are not clear at all, though readable. With today's technology, I expected a much better looking font regime from a powerful company like Google.

Sadly, there is virtually no competition yet in this area.

Re:My problem with Google Books... (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 3 years ago | (#35580934)

Nobody else wants the legal headache of doing something so blatantly against copyright law.

Abandonbook (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35580948)

Granted the Google-opoly might not be the best solution in the world, but it seems like the public would benefit from some mechanism for dealing with the printed word equivalent to abandonware. And if not Google, it might be Amazon, since the Gutenberg project doesn't seem to be going anywhere these days. Is that any better?

Re:Abandonbook (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about 3 years ago | (#35581036)

It needs to be not specific to a single company. Any real solution to abandonware issue should allow anyone to redistribute, for a certain reasonable criteria of "abandon", and with a clear mechanism for copyright holder to opt-out.

Re:Abandonbook (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35581234)

but it seems like the public would benefit from some mechanism for dealing with the printed word equivalent to abandonware.

There is a solution. It's called "copyright expiration." If copyrights had a reasonable length, then this wouldn't be an issue.

Pissed of in the extreme! (1)

BudAaron (1231468) | about 3 years ago | (#35581068)

This really infuriates me. I have about 20 out of print books that would have netted me some nice cash but now a stupid judge says NO. WHY???? It would mean my books would be archived and I like that idea. They're never going to make more money in any event. And now I lose about $ 1200!!!!!!

Re:Pissed of in the extreme! (2)

AJWM (19027) | about 3 years ago | (#35581600)

I have about 20 out of print books that would have netted me some nice cash

If you're convinced that's true, digitize them yourself and self-pub on Kindle, PubIt, Smashwords, etc. It's not that hard.

They're never going to make more money in any event.

And if you're convinced that that is true, why should Google pay you anything?

Heck, tell us what the books are and maybe I'd be willing to fork over $1200 to buy out your copyrights. Or you could put them up for bid on eBay.

Re:Pissed of in the extreme! (1)

SecurityGuy (217807) | about 3 years ago | (#35581710)

Well, you don't gain $1200 that you maybe shouldn't anyway, which is a different thing entirely.

I have to agree with those that say Google doesn't get a pass here. Either the law changes so anyone including me can copy and offer for free certain works, or nobody does. Google has violated copyright on what, 15 million works? They have wholesale copied them. There's really no defense. They did something blatantly illegal because they thought it was a good idea. Statutory damages should be around $200 billion. Hey, we could use that to fund the latest war we've gotten ourselves in.

Maybe I'm on the wrong website. This used to be one of the places that believed big companies weren't supposed to get to thumb their nose at the law while the little guys get crushed under it.

Let's clear something up... (5, Informative)

GrumpySteen (1250194) | about 3 years ago | (#35581198)

2.4 Non-Exclusivity of Authorizations.

The authorizations granted to Google in this Amended Settlement Agreement are non-exclusive only, and nothing in this Amended Settlement Agreement shall be construed as limiting any Rightsholderâ(TM)s right to authorize, through the Registry or otherwise, any Person, including direct competitors of Google, to use his, her or its Books or Inserts in any way, including ways identical to those provided for under this Amended Settlement Agreement.

Google was not trying to get exclusive rights to anything. Anyone and everyone else would have been free to scan in books and sell them exactly like Google wanted to do.

Everyone posting here about how evil Google is for wanting exclusive rights to sell these books is wrong. None of them have read the proposed settlement and they have no clue what they're talking about. They're spreading FUD and you idiots are falling for it.

Re:Let's clear something up... (5, Informative)

I3OI3 (1862302) | about 3 years ago | (#35581442)

No, you're absolutely right. Absolutely anybody else who wanted to could compete by:
* Openly commiting a massive infringement (note that non-massive infringement would not be sufficient)
* Being sued by the Author's Guild
* Having that suit granted a class action status
* Having a large enough legal team you can fight the class action lawyers
* Convincing the class action lawyers that they should settle into a business deal instead of cashing out
* Ensuring that this deal is sweeter for the lawyers than Google's or they'll just keep monopoly rents through Google

Yep. There's no exclusive rights here at all.

Re:Let's clear something up... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35581586)

I see Google's point of view, they want to clear the way for what they want to do. But it doing so, it legitimizes this "Guild" that appropriates ALL book copyrights, regardless whether the copyright holders were ever associated with them or not. This is not unlike the boyscout helping the old lady to the other side of the road when she didn't want to cross it.
I'm just waiting for a bunch of authors-nonmembers to sue Google once their works show up online. "Yeah," Google will say, "we made a deal with the Author's Guild!". But these people won't be represented by them, so the Judge in that case can either tell them that they are anyway, like it or not (unlikely) or that the deal is restricted to members of the Author's Guild.

In other news, the Guild has announced that per the first of next month, they will rename themselves to the Association Guild of American Authors (AGAA) and seek cooperation with their brethern in the Music and Movie business.

There should be NO out of print books. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35581276)

We live in a digital age . publishers should be putting the whole back catalog to the beginning of time out in some sort of eBooks.

This would have been a grand theft from authors (1)

ExileOnHoth (53325) | about 3 years ago | (#35581290)

Google is a publishing company. It typically believes it has the right to profit from content created by other people, even without their permission. In fact, that is their entire business model -- selling ads against content created by other people. (search is how they draw in the eyeballs, or it used to be, now they also have phones, web services, etc.)

But in this deal with the "Authors Guild" they were really overreaching. They were trying to make themselves the defacto publisher of all copyrighted works. Period. Without paying the copyright holders ("the artists and writers") a dime.

Some companies might have tried to cut deals with authors to put their books on some kind of google branded service. But not google -- they try and get the laws re-written and cut deals with large, bureaucratic organization to make their behavior legal, and then dress it all up in "Freedom."

For google, this was never about "out of print" books. They wouldn't be out of print if there was money in them. This was always about the money. Thanks to this ruling, if Google wants money from publishing books they are going to have to make deals with authors. Just like any other publishing company.

LV (-1)

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They can pry my outofprint works from my cold dead (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 3 years ago | (#35581440)

They can pry my out of print works out of my cold dead hands after my legal heirs have had a century to Profit off of it, right, Disney?

But, seriously, I was writing before there was an Internet, and on what preceded the Internet and other dead trees while Google was but a gleam in their shareholders eyes.

Step AWAY from my Junk, Google!

unobtainable books. (4, Interesting)

mirix (1649853) | about 3 years ago | (#35581494)

A while back I was doing some research on vacuum tube based logic circuits (don't ask). My random googling brought up repeated mention of several books. They may even be public domain by now, I'm unsure. They dated to around WWII.

Anyhow, regardless of copyright status, the things were absolute fucking unobtainium. It really is a shame that things like this essentially get lost to the wheel of time. Whether it be due to copyright, or just plain being out of print and public domain. It's a crime against knowledge.

Fortunately I don't think this will be the case in the future, as most currently released books are surely digitized (legally or not) and hopefully will be around by the time they are hopelessly obsolete, out of print, lacking demand, commercially unviable, and/or enter public domain.

What of the used book market? (1)

SecurityGuy (217807) | about 3 years ago | (#35581734)

I just thought of this, and hadn't seen anyone else mention it. What happens to the used book market? Instantly, a lot of people who have property of some value now will have its value erased. There's a book I want to read that's out of print but usually around $30. I'll buy it eventually. The instant it goes on the net for free, the value of a used copy goes to zero for me.

Re:What of the used book market? (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about 3 years ago | (#35581964)

Instantly, a lot of people who have property of some value now will have its value erased.

When you purchases a book, you are not entitled by law to that book having some (or any) particular resale value after a while - unless your contract with the book dealer said otherwise, in which case you may sue him.

http://www.buylouisvuittonoutlet.org (1)

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Settlement likely violated many laws (2)

frinkster (149158) | about 3 years ago | (#35582040)

I just finished reading the entire decision. It was quite interesting but at 45 pages I doubt many people here would bother.

The judge pointed out quite a few problems with the settlement proposal, but two of the most important are:
1) It's pretty likely that the settlement would violate a number of US and international laws.
2) It would contradict recent US Supreme Court decisions that say it is the job of Congress to update copyright law for changing technology.

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