Why Does The Authors Guild Hate Education So Much? Sues Five Universities For Providing Access To Orphan Works

from the shame-on-authors dept

It appears that Scott Turow is really trying to cement in place the reputation of the Authors Guild as a luddite, anti-education, anti-learning organization. What a shame. A decade ago, the Authors Guild stunningly told its authors not to link to Amazon, because Amazon dared to also show used books alongside new ones. It also freaked out when Amazon allowed people to search full text of books. Over the intervening decade, the Authors Guild has consistently come out against progress, such as when it freaked out about the text-to-speech feature on the Kindle, bizarrely claiming that this feature was infringing (it's not).

For many years, the Authors Guild has been involved in a legal dispute with Google over the Google Books scanning project. And while the two sides came to a highly questionable settlement that was thankfully rejected by the court, it appears that the Authors Guild is doubling down on a new lawsuit -- this time suing five universities for daring to try to provide access to digital scans of orphan works -- those works for which no copyright holder can be identified.

You may have heard a few months ago that the University of Michigan's libraries, sick of waiting for Congress to get its act in order and deal with the orphan works problem, said it was just going to start making such works available. Last month, some other universities joined the University of Michigan to create a consortium of universities who decided to provide access to scanned orphan works. These libraries had to know they were daring the Authors Guild to sue, and now it's happened.

The University of Michigan, the University of California, the University of Wisconsin, Indiana University, and Cornell University, along with the overall consortium group, called the HathiTrust, has been sued. Oddly, there are a few other universities who stated they were going to take part in this effort -- including the University of Florida, Duke, Emory and Johns Hopkins. I'm not sure how they avoided being lumped in to the lawsuit.

This is related to the Google book scanning project, because these university libraries shared their collections with Google to scan, and it's just that now they've decided that they're going to make orphan works available. The universities are claiming that fair use lets them share these works. The Authors Guild, obviously, disagrees. On top of that, the universities and the HathiTrust makes it pretty clear that they're bending over backwards to make sure that these works truly are orphan works where copyright holders cannot be found:

The story starts with Google’s scanning agreements with the libraries: each time Google scans a book, it returns both the physical book and a digital copy to the library that gave it the book. The libraries then gave their scans to the HathiTrust, which functions like a digital version of a shared off-site storage warehouse. HathiTrust makes multiple copies of each file, storing versions on hard drives and tape backups at both Michigan and Indiana. It offers the public bibliographic information about the books, and provides a full-text search engine. Unlike Google Books, however, which shows “snippets” from the books as search results, HathiTrust will only tell users the page numbers where the search terms occur. If a book is in the public domain, HathiTrust turns on full view, letting users read it online. (If you’re affiliated with one the member institutions, you can also download the book as a PDF.)

This spring, HathiTrust announced the “Orphan Works Project,” which aimed to investigate the rights status of the books still in copyright. It would investigate the author and publisher information available about the book; if they could not be located and the book was unavailable, it would be flagged as a possible orphan and put on a list of candidates. If at any time a copyright owner is identified and located (e.g. because they step forward), the book is removed from the list.

In other words, the only way a book gets displayed through this system is if no copyright holder is found after a fairly extensive process. And if the copyright holder ever shows up, the work is immediately removed. All of this makes me wonder if the Authors Guild can really prove it has standing in this case. If the actual copyright holders cannot be identified, how can the Authors Guild claim standing over these works?

Either way, this is yet another in this long line of disputes in which the Authors Guild is coming out on the wrong side. It's not helping authors, it's doing the exact opposite, by acting like a massive luddite, attacking any form of innovation or any system that encourages the reading of books and the sharing of knowledge. Shame on the Authors Guild, who seems to only be living up to the reputation of guilds from the Middle Ages, which were focused on economically-suicidal protectionism, rather than innovation.


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    johnjac (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 6:46am

    Future

    Can we just let the future come already? I've check the history books and the future wins 100% of the time.

     

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    Ima Fish (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 7:54am

    "Scott Turow is really trying to cement in place the reputation of the Authors Guild as a luddite, anti-education, anti-learning organization"

    The purpose of the Authors Guild is not to promote technology, education or learning. It's to collect and expand the collection of government granted monopoly rents. That's Turow's job and he seems to be doing it quite well. In a dastardly, monocle-wearing, cat-petting. evil sort of way, of course.

     

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    Steve, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 8:00am

    We need an orphan works law

    Imagine Congress wanted to do the right thing for humanity and future generations (yes I know, this puts us in fantasy-land already).

    The obvious solution is simple: the law would say that royalties must be paid as usual - but if the copyright owner can't be found, the royalties are paid at a statutory rate into a trust fund.

    Then if the owner eventually shows up, he/she can make a claim for his/her amounts from this central fund. Otherwise, after, say, 25 years it goes to education. Meanwhile, the public gets the benefit of the books.

     

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      E. Zachary Knight (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 8:07am

      Re: We need an orphan works law

      I think the law as it stands is sufficient (minus some stupid lengths to copyright terms)

      Let the universities publish these works. If the copyright owner comes forward and issues a take down notice, they can comply and everyone can be happy.

       

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      Jay (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 9:25am

      Re: We need an orphan works law

      You do realize the problem with this central fund, right?

      It's the same as the forfeiture racket or the casino domain seizures. All money would go to that central fund and never hit the light of day again. You'd have a bureaucratic nightmare as the guild would try to set up a number of barriers for the orphaned work, and it would actually destroy any semblance of ever getting it out into the public.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 7:09pm

      Re: We need an orphan works law

      "royalties must be paid as usual - but if the copyright owner can't be found, the royalties are paid at a statutory rate into a trust fund. Then if the owner eventually shows up, he/she can make a claim for his/her amounts from this central fund."

      This is roughly what the Authors Guild thinks it is doing already. You do realize that, don't you. There is a saying, "Any large pot of money attracts criminals, like bears to honey."

       

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    Thomas (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 8:12am

    Authors guild..

    doesn't care who owns the copyrights. Someone must own them, so they will sue, even if the authors have no connection to author's guild. Having standing to sue doesn't stop lawyers from filing lawsuits anyway. They would probably sue over public domain works, saying they are suing in the name of "the public".

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 8:14am

    I don't like the opt-out part: assumes rights in itself.

    Yet I'm for scanning old works -- so long as then in public domain -- this isn't entirely, there's locked-up content: "(If you’re affiliated with one the member institutions, you can also download the book as a PDF.)"

    Back to the assuming of rights: they're deliberately skirting copyright, just seeing if they get away with infringing. That's not an ethical basis. It's largely due though to the illegal extension of copyright, so I'd overlook that.

    Another worry is that Google WILL eventually assert control over all scanned material. It's inevitable: we've no guarantee or way to prevent it. Meantime Google "monetizes" the public domain, which should be explicitly illegal.

    To answer, yeah, but look at the good this is doing: you wouldn't miss it if weren't done. You're likely not interested in much beyond the latest video games.

     

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      E. Zachary Knight (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 8:19am

      Re: I don't like the opt-out part: assumes rights in itself.

      Yet I'm for scanning old works -- so long as then in public domain

      So you think it is wrong to attempt to preserve and share the works whose copyright holders cannot be found through a good faith effort?

      they're deliberately skirting copyright, just seeing if they get away with infringing.

      No. They are filling a void that our current poorly managed copyright laws do not fill. There are no previsions in current copyright law dealing with orphaned works. If there were, the universities would be working within them.

      Meantime Google "monetizes" the public domain, which should be explicitly illegal.

      You mean in the same way Disney monetizes the public domain? Should Disney's actions be illegal too?

       

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        The eejit (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 8:24am

        Re: Re: I don't like the opt-out part: assumes rights in itself.

        Yes, and yes, apparently. Not that the latter instance is an especially bad thing, mind you. Disney's been shitting out movies with the exception of the Pixar stable.

         

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          PaulT (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 8:40am

          Re: Re: Re: I don't like the opt-out part: assumes rights in itself.

          Remember, this is how these people think:

          Disney making millions from something already in the PD = good business.

          Disney works themselves being allowed to enter the public domain for others to use = evil, tantamount to grand larceny and public rights must be crushed to stop it!

           

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        Anonymous Coward, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 9:18am

        Re: Re: I don't like the opt-out part: assumes rights in itself.

        You can preserve them all you like - scan them and file that scan away until they are out of copyright. Bingo, you preserved "culture".

        Why do you have to "share" it when it it under copyright and act like it isn't?

         

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          E. Zachary Knight (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 9:30am

          Re: Re: Re: I don't like the opt-out part: assumes rights in itself.

          They aren't "sharing" these works. Nor are they pretending they are not covered by copyright.

          They are using them for educational purposes.

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 9:59am

          Re: Re: Re: I don't like the opt-out part: assumes rights in itself.

          Who, exactly, is being harmed by sharing orphaned works though? The entire point of copyright is to promote the progress of the useful arts and sciences. How is this end better achieved by not sharing works whose authors cannot be found then it is by sharing said works for educational purposes?

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 12:56pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: I don't like the opt-out part: assumes rights in itself.

            Prove absolutely that they are orphaned. How do you define it? How do you measure it? Can you prove it? Perhaps there should be a system to allow them to go through a legal process to get a work moved to the public domain because it is orphaned, but require a significant level of proof before they can just whisk stuff away into the public domain.

            Who is choosing what is really orphaned? What is the legal definition?

             

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              Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 2:17pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I don't like the opt-out part: assumes rights in itself.

              "Prove absolutely that they are orphaned."

              Wow, that's a pretty high bar. "Absolutely." There's no room in your world view for due diligence or "beyond a reasonable doubt", is there? Even murder trials don't require absolute proof.

              "...a significant level of proof..."

              Wait a second. First you say "absolutely" and now you say "significant level". You can't have it both ways. Either it's absolute, or it isn't.

              "Who is choosing what is really orphaned? What is the legal definition?"

              That's the problem: there isn't a legal definition. Nobody who has the power to make a legal definition is interested. Nobody who is interested has the power. So those who have a need to use the works in question are trying to force the issue.

              I'm sorry this offends you personally. If it sticks in your craw that much, perhaps you should get a job as a congresscritter and pass laws criminalizing this behavior.

               

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              Anonymous Coward, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 5:57pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I don't like the opt-out part: assumes rights in itself.

              Why copyright holders don't file changes of ownership at the copyright office?

              Why are they not being taxed for the supposed "property" they hold?

               

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 8:24am

      Re: I don't like the opt-out part: assumes rights in itself.

      Meantime Google "monetizes" the public domain, which should be explicitly illegal.


      So all of the people selling a copy of Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, Romeo and Juliette, the Bible, or any other works in the public domain should go to jail? They're monetizing the public domain.

       

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      PaulT (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 8:37am

      Re: I don't like the opt-out part: assumes rights in itself.

      "they're deliberately skirting copyright"

      OK, first question: *whose* copyright is being infringed? If you can't say, then that's the issue at hand.

      Secondly, are you saying that these works should just disappear from history? After all if the copyright holder can't be located, there can never be any commercial incentive to restore or protect said works.

      "That's not an ethical basis."

      Making works available to the public where before they would never be restored or available at all is unethical?

      "It's inevitable"
      "you wouldn't miss it if weren't done."

      Why do all the idiots here try to pretend that their opinion is somehow an inescapable truth? Is this the way they deal with the cognitive dissonance and lack of internal logic in most of their arguments?

       

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        out_of_the_blue, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 8:58am

        Re: Re: I don't like the opt-out part: assumes rights in itself.

        Answering several:
        Geez, I hoped that "To answer, yeah, but look at the good this is doing:" would forestall conceding the obvious.

        @PaulT:
        >> OK, first question: *whose* copyright is being infringed? If you can't say, then that's the issue at hand.

        Agreed. Still have reservations as above.

        >> Secondly, are you saying that these works should just disappear from history? After all if the copyright holder can't be located, there can never be any commercial incentive to restore or protect said works.

        No, said I'm FOR it, but with reservations as above.

        >> Making works available to the public where before they would never be restored or available at all is unethical?

        No, said I'm FOR it, but with reservations as above.

        >> Why do all the idiots here try to pretend that their opinion is somehow an inescapable truth? Is this the way they deal with the cognitive dissonance and lack of internal logic in most of their arguments?

        I can't answer as to why you do. You seem unable to deal with controversy and to be disturbed over anyone even having an alternate view. -- And unable to disregard me, as you said you would.

         

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          PaulT (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 12:00pm

          Re: Re: Re: I don't like the opt-out part: assumes rights in itself.

          "Geez, I hoped that "To answer, yeah, but look at the good this is doing...forestall conceding the obvious."

          If it's so obvious then why raise them in the first place, then follow with (to paraphrase) an "oh yeah you idiots aren't interested anyway"?

          "Agreed. Still have reservations as above."

          Then, again, why accuse them of stealing copyright if it's so obvious and that was half the point of the article you're criticising?

          "I can't answer as to why you do. You seem unable to deal with controversy and to be disturbed over anyone even having an alternate view. -- And unable to disregard me, as you said you would."

          I've said many times that I'm willing to agree any reasoned debate, and often learn from it. Sadly, it's rarely presented here from people like you. Instead I get "I know you are but what am I?" and a direct attack on my honesty, as well as nothing to back up your bare assertions (as usual). You really are a piece of work, aren't you?

           

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    Gordon C Harrison, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 8:20am

    Recycling Old Lacks Innovation

    Lets have public access to orphan works to enjoy our cultural heritage. Commercial use of orphan works should be prohibited on the grounds that such use does not encourage the innovation or original thought that arises when artists are commissioned to create new works. Let business pay for creativity, they don't need any more breaks. Let's also have a global register of copyrightable works, not a national register as currently exists in the USA. Copyright does not stop at national borders, follow the lead set by the PLUScoalition which has built a global registry for images.
    © Gordon C Harrison 2011

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 8:30am

      Re: Recycling Old Lacks Innovation

      Commercial use of orphan works should be prohibited on the grounds that such use does not encourage the innovation or original thought

      What about commercial use that expands upon the original works, adding new and creative thoughts? How about presenting rare and generally unavailable works to a new audience? Should whoever does that be prohibited from trying to recoup their investment or make money?
      I hope what you mean is, that commercial interests should not be able to prevent anyone else from using those same orphan or public domain works. So that, if Disney creates a new movie inspired by an orphaned/public domain work they only retain rights on the creative elements they added; anyone else is free to use and distribute the original. If UCLA scans a bunch of orphaned/public domain works and charges for their distribution, they shouldn't be able to claim a new copyright and stop their redistribution (except for any creative transformations, such as annotations, new prefaces, etc that they add), as merely scanning and running and OCR program, while costly, is *not* creative or transformative.

       

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        Gordon C Harrison, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 9:04am

        Re: Re: Recycling Old Lacks Innovation

        I agree that orphan works should be used for inspiration. If they inspire someone, or a business, to produce a new work derived from the old, then that is a legitimate purpose of making orphan works publicly available. Of course individuals and businesses should be allowed to profit from works for which orphan works have served as the catalyst.

        My fear is that commercial interests are driving the agenda and they simply wish to reuse orphan works as is, in other words they view it as a cheap source of creativity and it will diminish the need to commission works from artists. This would not serve society well, it would serve businesses that consume creativity very well of course, but there has to be a balanced approach to business interests. Legislation should be neutral and not seek to favour some sections of business and disadvantage others.

        We have a lot of orphan works these days because moral rights are not strong, the creators name and their work become separated to due a variety of mechanisms, some of these mechanisms are accidental, others are quite deliberate and the result is that vast numbers of orphans are created globally each day.

        The laws at present do little to prevent an authors name not being associated with a work, yet crediting a work with an authors name is, in my view, a pretty fundamental right of the artist who created a work. Not for nothing is that called a moral right, it's not a monetary right, it is simply to give respect to the artist, to recognise them as the creator.

        Yet there are organisations who happily and routinely strip such credits from authors works (so easy to do digitally) and the legislators do little to protect artists from this type of abuse. Orphan works legislation should go hand in hand with legislation giving artists better protection for their moral rights. At present they are screwed by the global corporates who are far too powerful, and have politicians in their pockets.

         

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      Zot-Sindi, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 8:32am

      Re: Recycling Old Lacks Innovation

      Recycling Old Lacks Innovation


      mother nature disagrees with you

       

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        Gordon C Harrison, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 9:49am

        Re: Re: Recycling Old Lacks Innovation

        See my reply to Anonymous above where I've clarified what I said, especially re orphans being used for inspiring new work. Simply recycling old works unchanged lacks innovation.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 6:46pm

          Re: Re: Re: Recycling Old Lacks Innovation

          OMG! you didn't say that.

          I just took a look at the copyright office to see how to search and typed "art of war" there are apparently numerous instances all dealing with Hun Tzu original work and people claiming copyrights on translations.

          I also remember very vividly Hun Tzu being quoted, mentioned and even inspired movies, books, comics which all reused material from his original work.

          You often seem confused about how things work in real life.
          Cognitive dissonance is not a trait most people admire.

           

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      Rich Kulawiec, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 8:36am

      Re: Recycling Old Lacks Innovation

      Apparently you are blissfully unaware that "recycling old" is how ALL art, music, literature, poetry and culture is created. Everyone builds on what's come before; everyone changes, remixes, reimagines what everyone else has done (or is doing). The idea of "original creation" is just as mythical in culture as it is in science and engineering: there is no such thing and never has been.

      And your assertion that copyright does not stop at national borders is unsupported by the law, practice, history or much of anything else. Oh, I'm sure that there are selfish, ignorant, greedy assholes -- like Author's Guild -- who WISH that it was so, but thankfully it's not.

       

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        Gordon C Harrison, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 9:19am

        Re: Re: Recycling Old Lacks Innovation

        Nowadays artists trade globally, and sell their works to a global audience. Artists trade in copyright works, which is why I said that copyright does not stop at national borders.

        Of course I accept that each country has its own national copyright laws, but such national laws are really an outdated concept when the art trade is global.

         

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        Gordon C Harrison, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 9:21am

        Re: Re: Recycling Old Lacks Innovation

        Re recycling works and getting inspiration from them to create new, I agree with you. Please read my comments to Anonymous Coward above on that subject.

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 8:45am

      Re: Recycling Old Lacks Innovation

      Hey Gordo,

      Are you claiming copyright over your post, your name, or both?

       

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      PaulT (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 8:46am

      Re: Recycling Old Lacks Innovation

      "Commercial use of orphan works should be prohibited on the grounds that such use does not encourage the innovation or original thought that arises when artists are commissioned to create new works."

      Really? You want a list of things that have been directly based on public domain material and then further enriched our culture in turn? It's a long list...

      "Copyright does not stop at national borders, follow the lead set by the PLUScoalition which has built a global registry for images."

      No thanks. Regional restrictions are annoying (and unworkable) as it is already. We sure as hell don't need another defacto attempt to impose US law on the rest of the world.

      "© Gordon C Harrison 2011"

      Lol

       

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        Gordon C Harrison, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 9:29am

        Re: Re: Recycling Old Lacks Innovation

        I agreed that Orphan Works be used to inspire new works. I oppose just reproducing them unchanged commercially as a cheap resource, my arguments to Anonymous explain my reasoning in more detail.

        Who ever said it should be US law? I certainly don't want one set of national law to dominate the rest of the world.

        It could be based on the Berne Convention for example, already signed up to by I believe by most nations.

         

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          PaulT (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 12:07pm

          Re: Re: Re: Recycling Old Lacks Innovation

          "I oppose just reproducing them unchanged commercially as a cheap resource"

          Then what about, say, a movie adaptation, a song based on lyrics taken from the book or a sequel containing the original characters? Copyright is used to block more than just mere duplication, you know. Besides, if they're not duplicated by Google, who's going to do it to enable people to be exposed it in the first place? Can't be whoever the copyright holder chooses, since nobody knows who they are...

          "Who ever said it should be US law?"

          Given that the US is currently in the process of trying to change the laws of countries they don't like and that most art in the English language is controlled to some degree by US-based corporations, are you honestly going to say it will be someone else's? Even if it's a negotiated compromise, you'd better believe they'll have their mitts in the process to change it to their favour.

           

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      © Gordon C Harrison 2011, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 9:47am

      Re: Recycling Old Lacks Innovation

      Have you tried to search anything in there?

      http://cocatalog.loc.gov/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?PAGE=sbSearch&SEQ=20110913124211&PI D=F4sR6HSK3R1CP45iYMoVjeqAKTT-g

      Apparently nobody cares who owns what, that search is just for show, not for anybody really in need to find something.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 8:27am

    "In other words, the only way a book gets displayed through this system is if no copyright holder is found after a fairly extensive process. And if the copyright holder ever shows up, the work is immediately removed."

    It still comes to the same thing, side stepping copyright. If the book is copyright (and it's term has not expired) it is by definition not in the public domain. Displaying it and then just taking it down if someone shows up is a dangerous step towards everyone ignoring copyright, and reacting only to "notices" by the authors.

    Can you imagine the waste of time for an author to have to spend checking every school to see if their works are being used without permission, because nobody could "find them"?

    It is the same logic as the DMCA "rights" abusers.

     

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      E. Zachary Knight (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 8:32am

      Re:

      If they want to be found, they need to make themselves known.

      I think preservation and educational use of orphaned works falls within fair use. Since the use is non commercial, there would be no damages to the author if they ever did come out of the wood work.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 8:36am

        Re: Re:

        Prove that they are absolutely orphaned. Not "We tried", prove it. Rights are always owned, sometimes they are inherited without knowledge, or part of a company that goes broke and the assets turn to the creditors or the government. But they are always owned.

        If it is in it's copyright window, it's copyright. Why try to peck away at that?

         

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          Richard (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 8:49am

          Re: Re: Re:

          If it is in it's copyright window, it's copyright. Why try to peck away at that?

          Because otherwise the work will most likely be lost forever (given the current ridiculous term lengths). This would be an outcome that the original author would have been unlikely to approve.

           

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          E. Zachary Knight (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 8:50am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Step 1: Contact the author. If author is dead or cannot be found proceed to step 2.

          Step 2: Contact Publisher. If publisher cannot be found. Proceed to step 3. If publisher is found, ask them who controls the copyright. If they know, you can get permission, if they don't proceed to step 3.

          Step 3: Attempt to identify author's next of kin. If next of kin cannot be found, do what you will with the orphaned work. If Next of kin is found, ask permission.

          If that is not enough effort, then I don't know what is.

           

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            MondoGordo, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 12:16pm

            If that is not enough effort, then I don't know what is.

            I think most authors would be satisfied with that ...

            Trouble is ... that isn't happening ... rightsholders are learning that thier works are being used after the fact with no-one contacting them.

            And determining who holds the rights is not as straightforward as you might think ... if you create a work you own the rights wether you regisdter that fact or not ... if you assign them for a period of time ... say to a publisher ... that publisher "owns" the rights for that period of time ... if the publisher closes up shop and disappears ... the rights may or may not revert to you ... at which point it gets really ugly ...

            So because of this ugly sort of mess libraries & Google are saying they "can't find" the rights holders and declaring the works as orphaned ... and if a rights holder happens to notice he's being ripped off and calls them on it ... they cry "mea culpa" and take down the infringing material ... putting the burden of enforcing copyright on those least able to do it the small time authors most people have never heard of .. the little guy.
            Too difficult and too expensive are not the same as not possible ... the CAN find the rights holder ... they simply choose not to because it would cost too much.

             

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            Anonymous Coward, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 1:02pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Zach, nice list... but it isn't really effort, it is barely scratching the legal surface:

            Step 1: If the author is dead, can you find out if the author himself had the rights or if they were sold of transferred at any time in the copyright window? Did they revert to kin, or are they part of a company or other?

            Step 1.1: If part of a publishing company, does that company exist? Did that company close, did they sell any rights to others, were rights transferred, or reverted to owners or creditors, etc?

            Step 1.2: If trasnferred to kin, go back to step 1 and try again.

            Step 2: If the publisher cannot be found, you need to find out what happened to it. Was it wound up and assets sold, did the assets of the company legally revert to someone, etc? WHo has those contacts, etc?

            You need all sorts of things from court records, contracts, paperwork, wills, estates, bankruptcy information, closing information, and literally hundreds of other things to say you tried. Anything less, and you probably didn't look hard enough.

            Easier answer: Scan the books, keep them in storage until the copyright expires, and then use them as you see fit, having preserved culture for the next generation.

             

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              JMT (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 2:57pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "Easier answer: Scan the books, keep them in storage until the copyright expires, and then use them as you see fit, having preserved culture for the next generation."

              This attitude is why the general public is slowly but surely losing all respect for copyright. Why should any material be locked away until the next generation are finally able to use it? It should be available for this generation to benefit from. Copyright is supposed to serve the greater good, and locking something away just to protect the "rights" of somebody that cannot even be found is the exact opposite of that.

               

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              Anonymous Coward, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 5:54pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              All works to have the full protection of the law(i.e. criminal provisions and punishments) should have to registered at the copyright office, what is more every 10 years it should be renewed so people know who the rights holder at that moment is.

              So people and the government don't need to wonder where things are.

               

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              Anonymous Coward, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 6:22pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              That is just rubbish.

              The interest of this whole thing is entirely on the copyright holder to make it easy to everyone to find out about the status of his holdings not the public, government or other entities.

              If they can't maintain records they should not be able to have any protections is that simple.

              Why protect people who don't care?
              Those practices allow others to commit fraud, tax evasion and abuse the law, it is just unbelievable that there are not clauses in the current law stating the obligations of copyright holders.

               

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              Richard (profile), Sep 14th, 2011 @ 2:52am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Easier answer: Scan the books, ...

              Even that is technically against the law.

               

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          E. Zachary Knight (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 8:52am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Honestly, I don't know how you ACs can claim to support the authors/artists behind copyrighted works when you would rather orphaned works rot in obscurity rather than being preserved so they outlast their obscene copyright terms and enter the public domain.

           

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            some AC, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 11:20am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            You are right. This AC and that Gordon C. Harrison guy seems mostly upset by the fact, that if someone uses an orphan work, then the members of the club are one order short.

             

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          Anonymous Coward, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 9:37am

          Re: Re: Re:

          If a person doesn't know that they own the copyright to an orphaned work, how much is it hurting them if they don't get paid for the book?

           

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          Marcus Carab (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 10:27am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Prove that they are absolutely orphaned. Not "We tried", prove it.

          Prove that copyright law isn't controlled by a magic invisible dragon with control over our brains. Prove it!

          See, attempting to shift the burden of proof - especially when your claim is virtually unfalsifiable - is always ridiculous. Ignoring Occam's Razor is a sign of idiocy.

           

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          PaulT (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 1:08pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Prove that they are absolutely orphaned. Not "We tried", prove it."

          Did it enter your thick skull that the reason why they're orphaned is because nobody knows who the correct copyright holder is? How can you possibly prove the lack of a known copyright holder, exactly? You can prove the positive (locate the copyright holder), but you can't prove a negative.

          Perhaps you can come up with a methodology to prove a negative that would be acceptable? A lot of scientists would probably be very interested in such a methodology, let alone the copyright industry.

          "If it is in it's copyright window, it's copyright. Why try to peck away at that?"

          Because the corporations that you worship are constantly trying to get that period extended indefinitely, and it's the works they can't make millions from that tend to suffer, and even disappear in the meantime.

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Sep 30th, 2011 @ 7:17pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Prove that they are absolutely orphaned."

          Why should all the burden be put on everyone else to do the job that an IP holder ought to do. If an IP holder wants a monopoly privilege, he ought to be required to provide a reasonable way for us to know that the work isn't orphaned. Why should IP holders get all these free privileges that they are not entitled to and require everyone else to do all the work of enforcing them?

           

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      Zot-Sindi, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 8:35am

      Re:

      Can you imagine the waste of time for an author to have to spend checking every school to see if their works are being used without permission, because nobody could "find them"?


      can you imagine the waste of time it is for people wanting use/redistribute these works to have to spend checking every nook and cranny to see if they can find somebody who wants them to ask permission but hides away so nobody can actually ASK THEM?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 8:40am

      "dangerous step towards everyone ignoring copyright, and reacting only to "notices" by the authors."

      I wouldn't exactly call it dangerous to everyone.. I could buy dangerous to collection societies, but not to "everyone" It's not like people would stop writing books because they are worried about their book being orphaned... thats just crazy talk..

       

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      MondoGordo, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 8:49am

      And if the copyright holder ever shows up, the work is immediately removed."

      ... is bullshit !!! The copyright holder has to prove copyright for every disputed work !!
      A fairly exhaustive, time consuming and potentially expensive process for an individual author. Who, by the way is probably scraping by on less annual income than anyone whose already posted here.

      So it's Google stepping on the rights of the little guy AGAIN! Great way to "Not be evil!" Google!

       

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        E. Zachary Knight (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 8:56am

        Re: And if the copyright holder ever shows up, the work is immediately removed."

        Hello, My name is *author on the book* and I want you to remove my book from your digital library.

        Or how about:

        Hello, I am from the estate of *author on the book* and I want you to remove my book from your digital library.

        I don't see how it is that hard to prove you own the copyright.

        Also, if it is that difficult to police your own copyrighted works, perhaps the authors/artists should be fighting for shorter terms so that they don't have to expend as much effort later in life.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 8:58am

        Re: And if the copyright holder ever shows up, the work is immediately removed."

        "The copyright holder has to prove copyright for every disputed work !!"

        Don't like it? Don't write!

        "fairly exhaustive, time consuming and potentially expensive process for an individual author."

        I would say this is better than just locking up the work until someone steps up to claim it.

        "Who, by the way is probably scraping by on less annual income than anyone whose already posted here."

        If they are just scraping by, they need to change professions.

         

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        Richard (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 9:01am

        Re: And if the copyright holder ever shows up, the work is immediately removed."

        The copyright holder has to prove copyright for every disputed work !!

        The copyright holder has to prove copyright before he can get any return anyway. This makes no difference to that.

        A fairly exhaustive, time consuming and potentially expensive process for an individual author.

        But much less so than the task of establishing copyright when you don't know whose it is.
        Who, by the way is probably scraping by on less annual income than anyone whose already posted here.
        Don't bother posting that 300 year old sob story again - we aren't fooled by it anymore.

        It is highly unlikely that any book in this category has a living author, still less one who actually has some current income... and the odds are more that this would increase that income.

        so it's Google stepping on the rights of the little guy AGAIN! Great way to "Not be evil!" Google!

        Reality is the exact reverse.

        Google is acting on behalf of the little guy against fat cat monopolists like the authors' guild.

         

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          MondoGordo, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 11:25am

          Google is acting on behalf of the little guy against fat cat monopolists ?

          wtf ? the Authors guild is a non profit association of authors ... not fat-cat monopolists.

          And despite your narrow point of view, very few authors works actully ever earn out (ie: make money over and above the cost of production and the writing advance) ... think "music industry" and substitue "author" for musician.
          Just because you never heard of them doesn't mean they don't make a living from thier art ...

          A few simple equations ...
          Author = musician
          Steven King = Paul McCartney
          Joel Rosenberg = Skinny Puppy

          RIAA/MPAA <> Authors Guild
          Google = RIAA/MPAA (Big business making money by killing Skinny Puppies!!

           

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            Richard (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 11:50am

            Re: Google is acting on behalf of the little guy against fat cat monopolists ?

            The association may be (technically) a non profit - that does not mean that the (leading) members are not monopolists by inclination and relatively wealthy compared to the mass of the population.

            Google may be a big business but it does not rely on monopoly rents for income like the RIIA (members) do.

            In any case I'm judging the authors' guild by its behaviour in the current case. Trying to deprive the public of access to work which in all probability will be lost or enter the public domain without paying out another penny to the rightholders. Their justification seems to be the remote possibility that an author somewhere might lose a few $/£. Frankly this justification is incredible. Personally I believe their behaviour is actually intended to:

            1) Propagate the myth that everything is under copyright and you can't do anything without asking permission.

            2) Protect the market for new works from freely available old works (even if that means the old works become lost.

             

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            Chris Rhodes (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 2:38pm

            Re: Google is acting on behalf of the little guy against fat cat monopolists ?

            non profit

            Non-profit just means they don't pay shareholders. They can certainly pay themselves.

             

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            Anonymous Coward, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 6:40pm

            Re: Google is acting on behalf of the little guy against fat cat monopolists ?

            They are part of the MAFIAA and they have even more experience than the RIAA or MPAA.

             

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        Lord Binky, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 9:02am

        Re: And if the copyright holder ever shows up, the work is immediately removed."

        Wait, what?! Ok, if the "individual author" is somehow STILL the owner of the copyright, finding the copyright owner is not a problem. So that scenario is complete fantasy. It is after it the copyright has changed hands so many time it cannot be followed to the present copyright holder that we are looking at orphan works, not "we couldn't find the author's name in the phone book"...

         

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          MondoGordo, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 11:30am

          Re: Re: And if the copyright holder ever shows up, the work is immediately removed."

          "Ok, if the "individual author" is somehow STILL the owner of the copyright, finding the copyright owner is not a problem."

          Not if you actually look ... probably not ...
          but check out http:\\www.SharonLeeWriter.com an actual individual writer who owns her copyrights and had to scramble to make sure she didn't get ripped off.

          She has a few things to say on this topic ...

           

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            PaulT (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 11:52am

            Re: Re: Re: And if the copyright holder ever shows up, the work is immediately removed."

            "Not if you actually look ... probably not ..."

            Then, since they're doing that first, what's the problem?

            "She has a few things to say on this topic ..."

            Care to give me a rundown? I had a quick look, all I see is a one-sided rant from someone who blathers on about Google "taking Actual Food" from people who have not made their works available for sale (else they wouldn't be on the list to begin with).

             

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              MondoGordo, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 12:36pm

              : And if the copyright holder ever shows up, the work is immediately removed."

               

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                PaulT (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 1:15pm

                Re: : And if the copyright holder ever shows up, the work is immediately removed."

                I'm still not seeing actual facts, just more ranting from someone who seems to believe that Google's trying to steal their work and that books somehow stop selling if a free copy's out there (hint: if your book's being read at all, there's probably a pirate copy out there by people who are trying to "steal" rather than preserve, and people still buy PD books). It still seems to be a conspiracy theory, wrapped up with an inferiority complex ("literature" vs. "genre").

                I'm still waiting for a link to where she had to "scramble to make sure she didn't get ripped off".

                 

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                Anonymous Coward, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 6:38pm

                Re: : And if the copyright holder ever shows up, the work is immediately removed."

                The part I like most.
                "“I was stunned when I learned of this,” said Danièle Simpson, president of UNEQ. “How are authors from Quebec, Italy or Japan to know that their works have been determined to be ‘orphans’ by a group in Ann Arbor, Michigan? If these colleges can make up their own rules, then won’t every college and university, in every country, want to do the same?”"

                Those stupid people why they didn't put in place a database for easy search globally?

                Because they never cared, now they complain, to-focking-bad.

                 

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                Richard (profile), Sep 14th, 2011 @ 3:00am

                Re: : And if the copyright holder ever shows up, the work is immediately removed."

                commentary at http://rolanni.livejournal.com/702951.html#comments


                Worth a read for some great arguments on our side of the debate!

                 

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                  Anonymous Coward, Sep 14th, 2011 @ 5:59am

                  Re: Re: : And if the copyright holder ever shows up, the work is immediately removed."

                  Those type of writers should drink more, maybe they die sooner without procreating.

                   

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            Richard (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 12:00pm

            Re: Re: Re: And if the copyright holder ever shows up, the work is immediately removed."

            Read post on her site.

            She offers no factual information to support her rant - and does not mention any personal experience of the problem.

             

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              MondoGordo, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 12:24pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: And if the copyright holder ever shows up, the work is immediately removed."

              She has done so in the past ... I wish I could easily find her original posts ... they are very informative ... I'll spend some time tonight looking for them if you're really interested ... ?

               

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                Richard (profile), Sep 14th, 2011 @ 2:40am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: And if the copyright holder ever shows up, the work is immediately removed."

                Seems surprising that she didn't mention it - since whe was responding to this story here - makes me suspect that the villains in her case were not Universities but private publishing corporations - hence not relevant - hence she didn't mention it.

                 

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                  MondoGordo, Sep 14th, 2011 @ 8:57am

                  Re: And if the copyright holder ever shows up, the work is immediately removed."

                  It was in fact the Google "all your books belong to us" kerfuffle - which she does reference ...

                   

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                    Richard (profile), Sep 14th, 2011 @ 10:55am

                    Re: Re: And if the copyright holder ever shows up, the work is immediately removed."

                    You mean the plagiarism detector - I wonder why she is scared of that?

                     

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        PaulT (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 11:48am

        Re: And if the copyright holder ever shows up, the work is immediately removed."

        So, did you deliberately miss the part where they first make a good faith effort to find the author before releasing he book (which can be reversed at any time by the author being located), or did you you just find that inconvenient for your conspiracy theory?

        Or, do you think that a project set up by universities is being paid off so that Google can profit from works that are probably only orphaned because they weren't profitable to begin with?

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 9:07am

      Re:

      More reason for the lazy author to go protest to congress to create a central database of copyrights, so eveyone can see who owns what and when it will be available to the public domain.

       

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      John Fenderson (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 12:46pm

      Re:

      Can you imagine the waste of time for an author to have to spend checking every school to see if their works are being used without permission, because nobody could "find them"?


      This problem is a side-effect of the insane expansion of copyright -- specifically, the elimination of the requirement to register and renew copyrights.

      The problem is very simply solved: just do it like it was in the first place and require copyright registration. Then the copyright owners are on record and easily findable. If there is no registration, then there is no copyright. This eliminates most, if not all, uncertainty and solves the problem of orphaned works.

      While we're at it, let's also go back to the other way it used to be: educational use is fair use. Then nobody has to police the schools for copyright violations, because there wouldn't be any.

       

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      DH's Love Child (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 2:29pm

      Re:

      Except that the burden of enforcing copyright falls to the owner of the copyright.

      It seems to me also that if they can use Google, they have the same ability to see what the rest of the world is able to.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 18th, 2011 @ 4:27pm

      Re:

      "Can you imagine the waste of time for an author to have to spend checking every school to see if their works are being used without permission, because nobody could "find them"?"

      Yeah, you're right, it's probably not worth the author's time to be checking that. (Mostly because the book is out of print, and the author isn't making any money off of it anyway... and is probably dead, considering their focus on works that are at least 48 years old.)

       

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    out_of_the_blue, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 8:37am

    Re "Shame on the Authors Guild,"

    "Shame on the Authors Guild, who seems to only be living up to the reputation of guilds from the Middle Ages, which were focused on economically-suicidal protectionism, rather than innovation."

    You go awry on history after the comma, always strain too far on your end paragraph.

    Many guilds of the Middle Ages were not at all suicidal but right for their times, and lasted much longer than new-fangled mercantilism / aristocracy modified into dog-eat-dog capitalism that ate itself alive in 1929. We are now in the New Deal era, its benefits mistakenly attributed to capitalism. And there's NO necessary connection between capitalism and innovation, let alone freedom: capitalists would be quite comfortable skimming money from a stagnant guild socialism (Europe IS in large part).

    Luddites were a reaction against the emerging mercantile system in which merchants got the majority of profits from the products of labor. Has little to do with resistance to change, much to do with fairness, the basis of civilization. You're just repeating capitalist libel against labor.

     

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      Richard (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 8:47am

      Re: Re "Shame on the Authors Guild,"

      Luddites were a reaction against the emerging mercantile system in which merchants got the majority of profits from the products of labor. Has little to do with resistance to change, much to do with fairness, the basis of civilization.

      You are right on that point - but what the authors' guild is doing is pure "dog in a manger", "cut off my nose to spite my face" nonsense.

      If I was a member of the guild I would be complaning loudly that they are wasting my money on a pointless and vindictive feud.

       

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        out_of_the_blue, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 9:18am

        Re: Re: Re "Shame on the Authors Guild,"

        "If I was a member of the guild I would be complaning loudly that they are wasting my money on a pointless and vindictive feud."

        WELL, I'm not exactly FOR the Guild, either. Multiple wrongs don't make right, yet I think the Guild has SOME interest and authority on behalf of authors in general to establish that corporations, no matter how good-intentioned some might posit them, don't just seize the property of others and monetize it. Perhaps the Guild only wishes to maintain that there ARE private rights to the material, that's within their general purpose and I'd support that.

        [@PaulT and others: better expressed -- It's unethical to get money from what you've not produced. The public domain must BE public, not sheerly turned to use by those already advantaged with outlets where it can bring money. That crosses back into commercial. Printing books costs money and is a one-time sale. Google stands to gain forever by mining the past. Big difference, besides that will eventually lock it up. Would require only a few million to buy politicians to yet again change the rules.]

         

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          Rikuo (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 11:20am

          Re: Re: Re: Re "Shame on the Authors Guild,"

          "yet I think the Guild has SOME interest and authority on behalf of authors"

          Please explain to me how a third party guild can sue over copyrighted works when they're not the copyright holders? What if in the middle of the trial, one of the copyright holders turns up and says "Hang on here, I'm not a member of the guild, why are they suing over MY book?"

           

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          PaulT (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 12:15pm

          Re: Re: Re: Re "Shame on the Authors Guild,"

          "It's unethical to get money from what you've not produced"

          Bull, for a large number of reasons. Is Amazon unethical because they sell books they didn't publish? Is that second hand bookshop down the road unethical because they sell books without paying the original author? Is Stephen King unethical because his books contain song lyrics or he once wrote a Sherlock Holmes story he got paid for?

          "The public domain must BE public, not sheerly turned to use by those already advantaged with outlets where it can bring money."

          I can buy a Penguin Classics copy of a PD book or I can download it from Gutenberg. Neither one action makes the other illegal or unethical, it's just that the fact it's in the public domain gives me that choice. Before you start blathering any further, perhaps you can point to the part of the deal that means that Google gain exclusive rights?

          "Google stands to gain forever by mining the past."

          Again, I ask, why are these works orphaned in the first place? Could it be that they were uncommercial and/or unprofitable? If there's so much money to be made, why aren't the authors stepping up and making it now?

           

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          Richard (profile), Sep 14th, 2011 @ 2:44am

          Re: Re: Re: Re "Shame on the Authors Guild,"

          Google stands to gain forever by mining the past.

          Google is digging in a public hole where anyone can dig. They make money because they have made themselves a better spade.

           

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    Richard (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 8:38am

    Looks like Sco

    This looks a bit like the Sco case. They claim in the introduction to the suit "books some of whose copyrights are held by the plaintiffs" but of course they can't actually produce any examples - because the moment they do they will find that those books go offline and they have no case.

     

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    Gretchen Vaughn, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 8:38am

    The real threat the Author's Guild feels

    What's the real motivation here? Is the author's guild afraid that if other works are available in the public domain, that people will go read those and stop purchasing their best selling books? Why was there a problem with Amazon showing used books? Has the Author's Guild asked Powell's Books to cease-and-desist?

    The accessible electronic publishing and online music distribution by independent artists is what threatens Scott Turow's mansions and rapper's yachts. The best art and artists will survive. Let us have no more Zora Neale Hurston's die unpublished and penniless.

    If the universities were not doing due diligence with finding the copyright holders, I could understand the alarm. Badger Clark's poem "A Cowboy's Prayer" was repeatedly attributed to "Anonymous" while Clark was still alive and well. He had a sense of humor about it. You could read the poem all over the web. I prefer my leather-bound copy I bought at the Badger Hole.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 9:26am

    One has to wonder where do those people have any stand to sue.
    Are they the copyright holders?
    Do they represent the copyright holder? can they prove they represent the copyright holder%3

     

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    herbert, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 9:53am

    they need sending down the same path as Righthaven, by as many judges as possible. perhaps that will make them step back a little

     

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    Lizardbreath, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 10:09am

    To the Author's Guild

    Books. Are. For. Reading.

    If people can't easily access books that they like, they won't read. QED.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 7:22pm

    I believe authors are under the mistaken assumption that others need to do a very costly research to clear the rights of use, if their works are not listed on the government archives those people have no access to criminal remedies.

    It is in the copyright holder interest to keep those records updated not the public.

     

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    Christopher Bingham (profile), Sep 14th, 2011 @ 9:34am

    Standing

    If they are orphan works, how does the Authors Guild even have standing? Isn't the whole point that no one can find the authors? There is no one to represent!

    If the actually FIND the authors, then they are no longer orphan works.

     

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    Jessica, Sep 14th, 2011 @ 12:23pm

    The problem here though is that not only are these universities trying to digitally publish these "orphan works", but that Hathilib (or whatever the name of the universities' consortium is) has made virtually no attempt to identify the authors/copyright holders of the works. Does no one else see a problem with this?

    Their criteria is basically to publish online a list of these works, wait a month or two, and if no one contacts THEM, then they declare the work an "orphan". It seems that if they were truly being conscientious, they would make every effort to track down these issues- it would definitely be cheaper for them in the long run, helping them avoid such things as lawsuits.

    But no, that's too hard, they'll just go the lazy route, let someone else do the hard work, and end up paying for it in the end.

    This is such a ridiculous issue.

     

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      PaulT (profile), Sep 14th, 2011 @ 1:38pm

      Re:

      "Hathilib (or whatever the name of the universities' consortium is) has made virtually no attempt to identify the authors/copyright holders of the works"

      Citation needed.

      Actually, since you couldn't be bothered to do the basic research to even get the organisation's name correct (even though it's named in the damn article you're responding to), let's make a little bet. There's a complete, public list of books they claim are orphaned works right here:

      http://orphanworks.hathitrust.org/

      You name one... and just ONE work that's easily identifiable as to the copyright owner's identity and we'll talk further. Otherwise, take your stupid conspiracy theory, lazy, pro-corporate crap elsewhere. Deal?

       

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    Jessica, Sep 15th, 2011 @ 10:28am

    I'm sorry you took personal offense at my comment (and felt the need to turn that offense into a personal attack). I was participating in a discussion. If you think I'm wrong, please tell me so in a reasonable manner.

    Their process for identifying orphan works involves actions like checking Amazon to see if the book is still available. If UM decides that it meets their criteria, they post a list of orphan works online, wait 90 days, and if a copyright holder doesn't approach them, then they send the work out into the internet ether (citation- a PDF describing the process- http://www.lib.umich.edu/files/services/copyright/Orphan%20Works%20Project%20-%20Work%20Flow%20-%20P art%202.pdf)

    The Author's Guild has been doing what you (and HathiTrust- is that right?) thought was impossible- identifying copyright holders for these supposedly orphaned works. See here- http://laboratorium.net/archive/2011/09/15/hathitrust_single-handedly_sinks_orphan_works_refo

    And here- http://blog.authorsguild.org/2011/09/14/orphan-row-now-its-your-turn/

    How did they accomplish this impossible task? Via the magic of a few short moments with Google. If it's that easy to find copyright holders, then HathiTrust needs to make some serious revisions to their criteria.

    This isn't about supporting corporations, it's about protecting the copyrights of individual authors- all so the copyright laws can do what they are meant to do in the first place- encourage productive creativity. That said, I truly support efforts like those of HathiTrust *if* they are following the correct and most thorough process for making this type of information available to a wider audience.

     

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      Richard (profile), Sep 15th, 2011 @ 3:48pm

      Re:

      The Author's Guild has been doing what you (and HathiTrust- is that right?) thought was impossible

      Clearly not true. If HathiTrust thought it was impossible they would not have bothered to put the books on the list for 90 days to see if a rights holder turned up.

       

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        Jessica, Dec 22nd, 2011 @ 10:34am

        Re: Re:

        I disagree- I think that their dedication to labeling the works as orphaned shows that they think actually contacting a copyright holder is impossible. It should be their responsibility to prove that the works are actually orphaned. To my mind, that involves actually take steps to seek out and contact possible copyright holders, not simply posting a list on the internet. That is the most passive way they could choose to do this. If they don't have the resources to dedicate to actually tracking down authors then they have a problem (especially as it would be much cheaper to put in a little extra work now than to avoid that work and have to deal with a lawsuit later).

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 15th, 2011 @ 11:21am

    Welll.... How hard did they look?

    I have my issues with the AG, but you know what? It took the AG something like 3 minutes to Google some of the "orphaned" works and locate the authors and/or the estate (Harvard in oe case), and they were FAMOUS people.

    While you might want to believe that these orphaned works were subjected to some rigorous process before being deemed orphaned, this doesn't seem to be the case.

     

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      PaulT (profile), Sep 15th, 2011 @ 12:17pm

      Re: Welll.... How hard did they look?

      As ever, citation?

       

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        Jessica, Sep 15th, 2011 @ 3:03pm

        Re: Re: Welll.... How hard did they look?

        Pretty sure his claims will be supported by the same links I shared in my last comment. Because he's basically saying the same exact thing.

        (Just browse around the Author's Guild website, they've left a few posts in the last day or two about authors they've contacted.)

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2012 @ 9:28am

    arguing over oop books

    Generally these books, the ones with no clear copyright holder, are long out of print. Nobody, aside from possibly some used book sellers, has made any money off these books in a long, long time. I suppose this is the Authors Guild trying to squeeze a few more pennies out of these books.

     

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