This Is My Intellectual Property. There Are Many Like It, But This One Is Mine.

11 Responses

  1. Scott Jacobs says:

    I would only find this acceptable if it also covered college text books.

  2. Charles says:

    Is the opt out on a rolling basis or a one-time pre-settlement offer? A continuing option to opt out doesn't save this completely but makes it slightly less bad. I especially don't like that Google actually appears to ACQUIRE COPYRIGHT in orphaned works and possibly public domain works, which is not reasonable at all.

    At the same time, there is a lot of information out there that languishes precisely because it is damn near impossible to access in analog form and something should be done to digitize it.

  3. Patrick says:

    It isn't a rolling opt-out, it is binding, it does require action to obtain damages for past and ongoing infringement, and it does extinguish such rights if not acted upon by January 5. See Rust's summary of the settlement here:

    http://www.googlebooksettlement.com/help/bin/answer.py?answer=118704&hl=en#q14

    With a link to the full agreement elsewhere on the page.

  4. Mark says:

    I don't know anything about copyright law, but wouldn't there be legal issues if it had gone the other way, as well? One possible framing would have Google taking the role of modern library; albeit an extremely efficient one wherein you could check out an infinite number of works and avoid the Dewey Decimal System. When digital copies of books become standard (and they will, eventually), how would a public library operate except on a Google-esque (Googalian?) model?

    This causes problems with older books, perhaps, but it's the same practice with libraries today, only unhindered. Google's digital library is the perfect expression of the concept. Seems to me that if you allow one and not the other, courts and regulatory agencies will have to establish how frequently books can be distributed before it's a violation. What a nightmare.

    Sure, Google's a corporation – but what's the difference? The underlying question is the same. If I'm able to walk down to the local library and check out a book, how can I be unable to view it on the library website, unless the objection is that digital copy distribution isn't inconvenient enough. That's an horribly vague requirement for courts to flesh out. Can I give digital copies to a friend, like I'd loan a book? They'd have to delete it when they're done, though – scout's honor. Can I keep copies on my laptop AND on my desktop? What if it's a family desktop? Office computer? Is a purchased digital copy a shared marital asset, or would it be piracy to allow your wife to read it?

    And most of all: how in the WORLD would you find out if someone was passing it out 'the wrong way'?

    Look, these are all abstracts, and have nothing to do with the actual case above, but the point I'm trying to make is inevitability. Thinking of digital copies the same way we thought of paper won't work. Publishing will not be the same. I think it could be great for authors (self-publish! no cursed haggling with Random House!), and unbelievable for readers. It's a good thing. Blogs won't kill journalism, piracy hasn't killed music, and TiVo didn't kill television. Google won't kill writing.

  5. TomH says:

    I prefer "Googalian" and well, what is the profitable and free market solution to free and easy copying of works? Other than DRM that is. I'm stumped, myself.

  6. Mark says:

    Oh, man. I typed out a long response to that and accidentally clicked out of it. Retyped version, with less flair:

    Companies are going to find a way to profit from this (pay-per-click, subscription fee, etc.), and to acquire content they'll have to pay the authors. Profit-seeking businesses, unlike individuals, are not hard to enforce copyright on. Competition ensures authors get best deal possible; probably make more because without an institutional publisher costs of production are real low, so money goes to creative and…bandwidth, I guess?

    Some people will share copies that no one gets paid for, but if prices are legit it won't be enough to derail the system. Problem with iTunes is they're charging CD prices for albums that were infinitely cheaper (just another upload) to produce than physical products. And no real marketing in the traditional sense. I went vague and rambling in my first post (I tend to do that), but original thought was: Authors will do well if they don't obsess about 'copies'. That's an outmoded way of thinking of their product.

  7. Grandy says:

    1. It would be nice to shift lots of older works into the public domain. No not just nice, it would be the right thing to do. There's too many forms of media where interesting things languish now because of a combination of IP law (gone wrong, in some cases), the sorts of entanglements that arise when properties change hands many times (and become far removed from the people that created them), and because there are litigious bastards like that dude who made some ratty company called The Edge or whatever 27 years ago.

    2. God Google is evil.

  8. M says:

    When I signed a contract with my publisher it didn't include rights to publish the book online. It would seem to me that their actions cause problems between artists and publishers who signed contracts. If someone else produces something the author can be in breach or contract for allowing it. I take steps to protect reproduction my artwork online but in a case like this I can't, and that's a problem when they do something like this.

  9. Gray says:

    Wouldn't it be more fair if authors were compensated the same way Songwriters are today? There already exists the precedent in statute. Any Artist may record a Songwriter's material, provided it is published, and release it; as long as they play the songwriter the mechanical rate (currently 12.5 cents per unit sold). Songwriter's can't legally refuse to have their work recorded by an Artist. The mechanical rate has it's problems (it's way too low in real dollars) but it's already there. It seems like this might be applicable.

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