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If Libraries Didn't Exist, Would Publishers Be Trying To Kill Book Lending?

from the making-life-that-little-bit-more-diffcult dept

Against the background of today’s war on sharing, exemplified by SOPA and PIPA, traditional libraries underline an inconvenient truth: allowing people to share things ? principally books in the case of libraries ? does not lead to the collapse of the industry trying to sell those same things. But publishers really don’t seem to have learned that lesson, judging by this article in the New York Times about the nonsensical attitude they have to libraries lending out ebooks:

In their eyes, borrowing an e-book from a library has been too easy. Worried that people will click to borrow an e-book from a library rather than click to buy it, almost all major publishers in the United States now block libraries’ access to the e-book form of either all of their titles or their most recently published ones.

This suggests that if libraries didn’t exist, and somebody tried to set one up, publishers would use the same logic to refuse to sell traditional books for that purpose. History shows that’s an absurd position, but equally absurd are the efforts of publishers to make borrowing ebooks less convenient:

To keep their overall revenue from taking a hit from lost sales to individuals, publishers need to reintroduce more inconvenience for the borrower or raise the price for the library purchaser.

The article invokes the example of paperbacks published some time after the hardback edition as an equivalent situation. But that’s about pricing: publishers don’t try to make it “inconvenient” for people to borrow paperbacks from libraries by creating special low-quality copies that fall to pieces after a few loans (essentially what Harper Collins does with its ebooks), nor do they add surcharges to the paperback price to try to squeeze more from the libraries that lend them out.

Sadly, publishers really are thinking along these lines:

Ms. Thomas of Hachette says: “We’ve talked with librarians about the various levers we could pull,” such as limiting the number of loans permitted or excluding recently published titles.

Publishers are so obsessed with stamping out this ebook sharing scourge that they are oblivious to two likely consequences of their current approach. One, obviously, is increased piracy: if potential customers want to try out an ebook before buying it, but it’s not available for them to borrow at their local library, it will certainly be available somewhere online, if they look hard enough. The risk is that having procured an unauthorized copy, they don’t then go on to replace it with an authorized one.

The other problem for those publishers boycotting public libraries is evident from a comment by a librarian quoted in the New York Times piece:

Ms. Nesbitt adds, however, that many of the library’s patrons aren’t aware that other publishers are withholding e-books from it.

If library users aren’t aware that certain titles are being withheld, that means they haven’t asked for them – probably because they haven’t heard of those ebooks, or think they won’t be interested. Keeping titles out of public libraries makes it less likely that readers will ever find out about them or change their minds. After all, as the article goes on to say, there is no lack of alternatives:

While many major publishers have effectively gone on strike, more than 1,000 smaller publishers, who don?t have best-seller sales that need protection, happily sell e-books to libraries. That means the public library has plenty of e-books available for the asking ? no waiting.

A familiar pattern emerges. Small, innovative publishers who are ready to adapt, reap the benefits by meeting the growing demand for ebooks at local libraries ? and doubtless picking up knock-on sales as a result. Meanwhile, big, sclerotic publishers resist trying out new business models, preferring to make the use of digital formats for lending as “inconvenient” as possible ? in the forlorn hope that readers will just give up and buy something. We all know how that story ends.

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Comments on “If Libraries Didn't Exist, Would Publishers Be Trying To Kill Book Lending?”

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164 Comments
E. Zachary Knight (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Hathitrust was a good exercise in dealing with orphaned works. Because the Authors Guild found a handful of writers that the universities didn’t doesn’t mean the project is evil. It just means that it needs to be reworked.

Orphaned works are a huge problem in the copyright world, primarily because of retroactive term extensions. Shorten copyright terms and orphan works will be less a problem.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Orphaned works are works in copyright it’s just the owner has abandoned the work. If I’m thinking of the same thing you’re thinking of, didn’t it do exactly what they wanted it to do? Wasn’t the entire point to sort out the the truly orphaned works from those who’s owners were just a pain the the ass to find?

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

And they found him, didn’t they? That was the point of their list, to find the authors that they couldn’t by other means.

Though, I may be thinking of a completely different situation. The one I’m thinking about is the place that wanted to publish orphaned works so they put out a list of books and authors they couldn’t find with a plea to said authors to contact them if the author (or technically, copyright owner) didn’t want their works published. Then, the authors guild absolutely freaked the f**k out that anyone would even suggest something like that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

You are right Chrono. They classified a ton of books as orphaned. They tracked down the owners of some of them. The rest they said “well it appears they really are just orphaned we are going to make them available for free (not sold as other AC wants you to think) but if the owner is found or steps forward we will stop offering it.” The AG was able to find the authors of a couple of books that they didn’t and were able to use that to damn the project. Despite that being half the goal of the project, the other half being: making orphaned books available to the public at large and helping them find an audience.

Of course we know how evil it is to offer free digital copies of out of print books. I mean think of the middlemen

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

That was the plan. However, the list of works considered to be orphaned was available to the public for anyone to correct at any time.

IIRC, instead of going through the available process, copyright shills gloated over the fact that they found a book whose author was contactable and used that to shut down the entire project. Unless you have other sources, no copy of the work either had been sold, nor was available for sale.

Yes, the work may have been available for sale at some point in the future. But if that didn’t happen, all they did was shut down the process by which genuinely orphaned works might be made available, because an author whose work is not available for purchase might have been available without his kickback. Pretty sad.

Keroberos (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Easy solution to this. Require all copyright holders to re-file their copyright every year with a fee based on a percentage of value, and keep updated contact information at the copyright office or it transfers into the public domain. If keeping your copyright is so important to them, they need to do the legwork to maintain it. Copyright shouldn’t just be a perpetual gravy train, requiring no work on the part of the copyright holder.

Robert Doyle (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

That sounds fair to me – you need to renew your license, so it makes sense that if the government is granting you a monopoly, you should have to jump through hoops to keep it.

There are already similar principles in existence today – for example, if a company does not defend its trademarks and copyright, the courts can take it away because it is deemed ‘abandoned.’ This would just entrench the principle and provide jobs – someone would need to maintain the records after all.

Keroberos (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Yup, all other forms of property are taxed, If you own a home, you pay property tax, if you own a business you pay property tax if you own the property and pay for business licenses regardless, if you own a car you pay taxes when you buy it and recurring taxes (license and registration) to drive it, if you purchase any non food item you most likely pay sales tax (and with food, part of the purchase price is the taxes incurred creating/selling it), but if you own intellectual property, you don’t pay one thin dime in taxes on it and you get to reap all the financial benefits of owning it.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

User agreement? Where do I find that? I’ve never had a EULA purchasing a book.

You seem to be mixing up arguments. Keroberos was pointing out a way that this entire problem could be avoided, but you instantly jump on the opposite side saying that a simple copyright notice is good enough. I pointed out that it’s not, it doesn’t give any real info, nor does it keep itself up to date. It’s 2012, my book still says copyright 1995, how does that help anyone?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

“Easy solution to this. Require all copyright holders to re-file their copyright every year with a fee based on a percentage of value, and keep updated contact information at the copyright office or it transfers into the public domain. If keeping your copyright is so important to them, they need to do the legwork to maintain it. Copyright shouldn’t just be a perpetual gravy train, requiring no work on the part of the copyright holder.”

Is that the solution you are referring to?
Well the Copyright Office has a list of in-copyright Works, so do many other websites if you’re interested in applying any amount of fairness to the uses of someone’s property.
When was the last time you checked with the Copyright Office for the status on a movie or book?
The information is (free) and available to those who want it.

E. Zachary Knight (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

The Copyright office does not have a full list of copyrighted works. Remember, everything under the sun that is fixed in a medium is covered by copyright. The only list the Copyright office has are those that registered their copyright in order to qualify for statutory damages in a lawsuit.

So no, the information is not always available nor is it always accurate and up to date.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:10 Re:

Everyone in my class, myself included, has contacted the Copyright Office about this very topic.
How are people to know what is and what isn’t copyright protected without an up to date database?
They referred us to copyright notices, and advised us to contact either the owner, the producer, the publisher or the artist directly.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:12 Re:

I believe you pointed out the copyright act of 1976.

As of 1978 copyrights are granted automatic, no notice is required, therefore the onus is on the individual who wants to Use the Works to address the copyright status of the material’s.
Fair-use is available. Depending on how much of the Work an individual wants to Use and whether or not its for private or educational use the system does have some flexibility.

E. Zachary Knight (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:13 Re:

I am simply refuting the idea that it is easy to determine what is covered by copyright and who controls that copyright. You seem to think it is easy as pie to determine that information when facts say otherwise.

That said, moving back to an opt-in system where works must be registered to get copyright and must be reregistered to maintain copyright would be far better and would completely eliminate (or at least reduce the number of) the problem of orphaned works.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:11 Re:

That is as stupid as saying a conversation I have is copyright protected.
Look up what can and can not be protected under the copyright act before writing such stupidity!

Do you really not understand basic copyright concepts like “fixed medium”? I think I’m done with this conversation – come back when you have more than an elementary grasp of copyright law.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:13 Re:

Haha – if you are going to lie, at least come up with a believable lie. You make elementary mistakes about copyright law in almost every single comment, and you refuse to reveal your identity – do you really think anyone is going to buy your fantasy of being a top-performing student of IP law?

To quote Homer Simpson, “a D turns into a B so easily – you got greedy.”

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:15 Re:

I mostly just think it’s funny that you are back already, after swearing that you were leaving techdirt forever only a few days ago (yes, it’s obvious who you are)

Re: mistakes in your comments – stop making them if you want anyone to take you seriously. You don’t even understand the basics of what qualifies for copyright and what doesn’t (top 3% of your class, huh?)

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:17 Re:

Seriously? Dude get a grip! I have never posted anything in here until today.

Yeah, nobody believes that TAM. You started out trying to act like someone new, but within about 15 minutes it became very apparent who you are (and we all know you’ve played this game of disappearing and coming back with a new persona before, Weird Harold)

Give it up dude.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:18 Re:

Once I post something my IP addy is made available to the Admin’s of any website; this site would not be any different.
Now if you or the “we” you mentioned actually had access to the logs to this website you would see that I am not the same person that Marcus Carab is referring to.
Who helped you with this post dude?, E. Zachary Knight’s 5 year old daughter?

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:15 Re:

and uh, you’ve “wasted your time” defending yourself to me dozens of times – not to mention spending a bunch of your time researching what i do for a living and seeking out my music online so you can mock it. Clearly you put a little more stock in my opinion than you like to admit – i’m flattered, really

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:16 Re:

“and uh, you’ve “wasted your time” defending yourself to me dozens of times – not to mention spending a bunch of your time researching what i do for a living and seeking out my music online so you can mock it. Clearly you put a little more stock in my opinion than you like to admit – i’m flattered, really”

Not me. As I just posted, this is the first day I’ve posted on this website.
I’d replace the word flattered with delusional.
Dude you have problems

E. Zachary Knight (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Copyright notices are rather meaningless considering everything whether it has one or not is still covered by copyright. I could add a copyright notice to this comment but that doesn’t mean that it is covered by copyright.

That said, Keroberos has a point. Prior to 1978, copyrights had to be applied for which meant we had information on the creator and only works that were registered wer covered. Now you only need to register if you want statutory damages in a law suit. If there is no information on who owns the copyright on a photo or short story or song you find, how are you supposed to find that information without a central registration service?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

The chances of a full feature film being under copyright, I’d say common sense should prevail, same can be said for music, art, books ….
The copyright act of 1976 (effective as of 1978) removed any opt-out of copyright.
In order for the libraries to legally do what they were thinking of doing the copyright act could not exist, nor the DMCA Act of 1998, or any of the other Acts and global treaties.
It’s one thing to make copies, but to make “public performance(s)” of copyright protected Works without express permission, not so legal.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

“Now you only need to register if you want statutory damages in a law suit.”

Actually, you have to be registered BEFORE the alleged ‘infringement’ occurs to collect damages.
Otherwise all you can do is apply and receive an enforceable “cease & desist” order.
Think of registering as insurance against damages.
If you’re not insured when the accident occurs, getting insurance after the fact won’t get you a penny for the accident, but if another accident occurs after that, you’re covered.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Unfortunately it was not only “orphaned books” that were scanned and ready for sale; the list included many in-copyright works as well; which is why the law suit started.

Liar!
Nothing was ready for sale.

Things were advertised with the question “does anyone have a claim to this work?”

A few were identified through this process – which was the purpose of the process in the first place.

AdamBv1 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Agreed that they probably could use a better method for determining orphan works to begin with but these things would get worked out in time, this didn’t really even have a chance to get refined thanks to this lawsuit.

I still say if a copyright owner can come forward and get their material taken off the list of available works then there really is no problem as they have a easy way to get any errors fixed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

That would be the lawsuit where the evil, evil libraries, having made a “good faith attempt” to find the copyright holders of a given work and failed, want to be able to make copies of those works available until such time as a rightsholder comes forward and asks them to stop?

The same way the good, noble, virtuous copyright-holders make “good faith” claims to have their material taken down under the DMCA. Only we can’t trust libraries, but we can trust the MPAA.

Yes.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

the University of Michigan which is responsible for the website hathitrust announced the suspension of the project days after the law suit was filed and had this to say;
?The close and welcome scrutiny of the list of potential orphan works has revealed a number of errors, some of them serious. This tells us that our pilot process is flawed.?
“good faith attempt?

MrWilson says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

How does the program having flaws disqualify it as a “good faith attempt?” You can make a good faith attempt to do any number of things in flawed ways. Look at religion… Good faith means that you honestly believe that you are not doing the wrong thing legally or morally. It speaks nothing about how perfect your method of execution is.

E. Zachary Knight (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

Facts:

1) The Hathitrust was organized to preserve and allow for the reading of orphaned works.

2) They attempted to make sure that all works were truly orphaned.

3) The released a list of books they were planning to release.

4) The Authors Guild found a couple of authors on the list, which the Hathitrust was hoping to happen.

5) The Authors Guild freaked out and sued the Hathitrust for this program, which is a bit over the top considering nothing was infringed upon at that time.

6) The lawsuit is still going with no decision as of yet.

Am I missing anything?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

1) The Hathitrust was organized to preserve and allow for the reading of orphaned works.

Wrong – the list included copyright protected Works as well.

2) They attempted to make sure that all works were truly orphaned.

Wrong – no they did not. They assumed the rightful owners would find out after the fact and by that time it would have been too late. And for the record there is no such thing as an orphan book.
Just because someone can not find the owner does not give any 3rd party rights to the Works.

3) The released a list of books they were planning to release.

Wrong – they released a release date for the project.
The list was complied by a 3rd party who brought the copyright infringements to their attention.

4) The Authors Guild found a couple of authors on the list, which the Hathitrust was hoping to happen.

Wrong – there were as many in-copyright Works as there were “orphaned” Works. Hathitrust (i’m going to assume here) was going through with the project under a “fair use” idea, and if that didn’t work they knew Sovereign immunity would prevent them from being sued for money.

5) The Authors Guild freaked out and sued the Hathitrust for this program, which is a bit over the top considering nothing was infringed upon at that time.

Wrong – the scanning was done. In fact court records show it cost the libraries $100.00 per book. Nice pay day for google!

6) The lawsuit is still going with no decision as of yet.

The project is down, not a good start for the people claiming they did no wrong.

MrWilson says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

“Wrong – the list included copyright protected Works as well.”

Orphaned works are by definiton copyrighted books. They’re just books for which the current copyright holder is unknown. If the copyright holder is unknown, and may be dead with no heirs, what good is it to anyone to have the works remain unavailable?

You have started with the premise that all copyrighted works should be assumed protected and never considered for use until their copyrights expire. This violates the concept of copyright because copyright is supposed to incentivize the creation of works. If the copyright holders are unknown or dead, how are new works being incentivized?

“They assumed the rightful owners would find out after the fact and by that time it would have been too late.”

[Citation needed] How do you prove that was their intention? Then entire concept of orphaned works is that their authors are unknown. If they thought the authors were able to be found, they wouldn’t be orphaned works in the first place.

“there were as many in-copyright Works as there were “orphaned” Works.”

Again, orphaned works are in-copyright works, it’s just a matter of debate as to whether its necessary to continue to refrain from releasing the works if no one is able to actually claim the copyrights.

“Hathitrust (i’m going to assume here) was going through with the project under a “fair use” idea, and if that didn’t work they knew Sovereign immunity would prevent them from being sued for money.”

You’re admitting to assuming here, so there’s no need to refute your assertions since they are by your own admission just assumptions. You’re showing your biased assumption that the Hathitrust was formed in order to do something sneaky with the works. You started with the premise that they weren’t making good faith efforts, so of course you would conclude that they were doing something wrong.

“The project is down, not a good start for the people claiming they did no wrong.”

Expensive lawsuits will do that to you. Veoh went out of business due to a lawsuit despite being found to be perfectly legal.

E. Zachary Knight (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

Wrong – the list included copyright protected Works as well.

Seriously? You are still confused on what an orphaned work is? Hasn’t that been explained to you at least twice before you made this comment?

Wrong – they released a release date for the project.
The list was complied by a 3rd party who brought the copyright infringements to their attention.

Please cite this source. So far everything I have read has shown that the Hathitrust themselves released the list of works they planned on making available in its program.

Wrong – there were as many in-copyright Works as there were “orphaned” Works. Hathitrust (i’m going to assume here) was going through with the project under a “fair use” idea, and if that didn’t work they knew Sovereign immunity would prevent them from being sued for money.

Of course the release of orphaned works (which are still copyrighted) is fair use. No one was denying that. Considering that copyright holders, if they came forward at any time, could have simply requested their works to be removed, there was no need for a lawsuit.

Wrong – the scanning was done. In fact court records show it cost the libraries $100.00 per book. Nice pay day for google!

Google provided a service. Seems reasonable to charge for said service. As for the scanning itself, the scans had not been made available so they were not being distributed. Even if they had been there is still a fair use defense to be made.

The project is down, not a good start for the people claiming they did no wrong

Most people will stop and action while they are being sued over it regardless of its eventual legality. It completely sucks really and as has been pointed out to you, Veoh was killed by a lawsuit even though it was eventually vindicated.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

1) “Wrong – the list included copyright protected Works as well.”

Indeed it did. However, that was error and does not counter the original point about the intention of the project.

2) “Wrong – no they did not.”

If you want to call them liars, just come out and do it.

“They assumed the rightful owners would find out after the fact and by that time it would have been too late.”

Not true. They made a best effort to vet the works they were including. They included a mechanism by which authors could object as a safety mechanism in the case of error — a mechanism which worked, by the way. In no way did they just make an arbitrary list and count on authors coming forward as the primary vetting method.

“And for the record there is no such thing as an orphan book.”

You’re simply factually incorrect here, unless you mean something different by “orphan work” than the project does.

3) “Wrong – they released a release date for the project.
The list was complied by a 3rd party who brought the copyright infringements to their attention.”

Another factual error. They did release a list along with the release date.

4) “Hathitrust (i’m going to assume here) was going through with the project under a “fair use” idea, and if that didn’t work they knew Sovereign immunity would prevent them from being sued for money.”

Cynical much? Again, if you’re going to call them liars, just come out and say it.

5) “Wrong – the scanning was done. In fact court records show it cost the libraries $100.00 per book. Nice pay day for google!”

I have a bunch of out of print books. You know what I can do without violating copyright? Scan them. I just can’t distribute my scans. The mere act of scanning does not indicate a copyright violation, and your refutation is incorrect.

6) “The project is down, not a good start for the people claiming they did no wrong.”

They admit they made errors. What more do you want from them? Are you saying that you believe they had malicious intent? Please enlighten us on your evidence.

The Hathitrust project comes out of this looking incompetent but well-intentioned.

The author’s guild, and a great many authors themselves, have come out of this looking a whole lot worse: petty, vindictive, greedy, and mysteriously hostile to a group who I would have expected they would be supportive of.

I used to hold the writer’s guild with some amount of respect, but no more. They have shown their true stripes with this debacle.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:10 Re:

“Not true. They made a best effort to vet the works they were including. They included a mechanism by which authors could object as a safety mechanism in the case of error — a mechanism which worked, by the way. In no way did they just make an arbitrary list and count on authors coming forward as the primary vetting method.”

The copyright Act(s) covered that many years ago by making copyrights automatic. The libraries had and have no legal right to ask that anyone contact them after-the-fact.
It’s the other way around.
The right holders needed to be contacted first.

“I have a bunch of out of print books. You know what I can do without violating copyright? Scan them. I just can’t distribute my scans. The mere act of scanning does not indicate a copyright violation, and your refutation is incorrect.”

They didn’t stop at making copies, they were ready to distribute the copies to the public.

“The Hathitrust project comes out of this looking incompetent but well-intentioned.”

Well intended? For who’s end goal?

“The author’s guild, and a great many authors themselves, have come out of this looking a whole lot worse: petty, vindictive, greedy, and mysteriously hostile to a group who I would have expected they would be supportive of.”

I thought they came out looking like business people.

“I used to hold the writer’s guild with some amount of respect, but no more. They have shown their true stripes with this debacle.”

I have no doubt life will go on for all parties involved with or without your respect.

E. Zachary Knight (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:11 Re:

The copyright Act(s) covered that many years ago by making copyrights automatic.

Once again. This action caused far more problems than it fixed. In fact this was not a fix for any problem at all. There is no logical reason why making copyright “opt-out” (except you really can’t opt-out) was actually good for anyone. It has made it far harder to keep track of who controls a copyright and has created the new problem of orphaned works.

Under the US’ original copyright law, there was no such thing as an orphaned work as 1) copyrights had to be registered if they were wanted. 2) They only lasted 14 years unless reregistered. Under that system at most you had to wait 14 years to deal with a work that had an unfindable copyright holder. Now you ahve to wait at least 95 years. Hardly reasonable.

They didn’t stop at making copies, they were ready to distribute the copies to the public.

Yes they were. But, those works were 1) out of print. 2) had copyright holders that could not be found (excepting a handful of cases where the copyright holders were found after the list was revealed).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:12 Re:

Zachary whether the copyright act of 1978, the DMCA Act 1998, the Berne Convention, the TRIPP Agreement, the Extension Act, the WTO trade agreement(s) or any of the Acts/Bills and global Treaties “caused far more problems than it fixed.” is irrelevant to the fact that all the laws exist. Because someone can not understand opt-out vs opt-in (no I do not mean you directly) does that mean it should be ignored completely?

When the DMCA Act was first introduced it was met with the same “censorship” and “freedom of Speech” concerns that the 2 new Bills are being attacked for presently.
The DMCA Act is 12 years old and freedom of speech is alive and well, censorship didn’t happen either.
Unless censorship has a new definition?

I am not a fan of limiting anyone’s rights, knowledge and information should be available.
But that doesn’t seem to be what most folks who oppose bills like SOPA want; they seem to want everything to be free.
I have been on the net for many years and I have paid a monthly fee to my ISP for the service; so clearly there is no such thing as “free internet”.
WiFi, someone’s paying for the service.

“Yes they were. But, those works were 1) out of print. 2) had copyright holders that could not be found (excepting a handful of cases where the copyright holders were found after the list was revealed).”

Out of print does not mean void of copyrights Zac.
Maybe the rightful owners didn’t want their Works published anymore? Is that not their right?
Perhaps the rightful owners were difficult to contact, so?, the planet has billions of books wouldn’t it have been a smarter idea to move-on to the next book?
Reality is, it was not a mere “handful” of books that were included against the owners wishes, even hathitrust realized this.

E. Zachary Knight (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:13 Re:

Zachary whether the copyright act of 1978, the DMCA Act 1998, the Berne Convention, the TRIPP Agreement, the Extension Act, the WTO trade agreement(s) or any of the Acts/Bills and global Treaties “caused far more problems than it fixed.” is irrelevant to the fact that all the laws exist. Because someone can not understand opt-out vs opt-in (no I do not mean you directly) does that mean it should be ignored completely?

Yes, just because a law is a law we should follow it. Got it. In your world, there are no bad laws.

When the DMCA Act was first introduced it was met with the same “censorship” and “freedom of Speech” concerns that the 2 new Bills are being attacked for presently.
The DMCA Act is 12 years old and freedom of speech is alive and well, censorship didn’t happen either.

There are still plenty of videos, blogs, and other things being censored falsely under the DMCA. How you can deny that is beyond me.

Out of print does not mean void of copyrights Zac.
Maybe the rightful owners didn’t want their Works published anymore? Is that not their right?

Then they need to make those intents clear. They should also make themselves easier to find when such an intent is not clearly available.

Reality is, it was not a mere “handful” of books that were included against the owners wishes, even hathitrust realized this.

Yet, the Authors Guild was only able to find a handful of authors willing to sue over this.

Orphaned works are a plague on copyright perpetuated and fueled by the insanity of modern copyright. The Hathitrust was trying to sooth the sore that is orphaned works and the Authors Guild would not have it. Why? Who knows, I guess they don’t actually care that culture is wasting away in obscurity.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:14 Re:

“Yes, just because a law is a law we should follow it. Got it. In your world, there are no bad laws.”

Why on earth would you type something like that? It’s not at all what I typed or meant.
In the world we all live in there a 100000000’s of bad laws.

“There are still plenty of videos, blogs, and other things being censored falsely under the DMCA. How you can deny that is beyond me.”

Copyright Infringement does not = censorship Zac.
Should any of the videos or blogs (or other things) feel that their Uses was a fair-use the right to a counter is available and absolutely should be exercised.
That’s what the counter is for.

“Then they need to make those intents clear. They should also make themselves easier to find when such an intent is not clearly available.”

And whom do you suggest ‘they’ make their intentions clear to? The world wide web? Every person connected to the web?
Everybody?

“Yet, the Authors Guild was only able to find a handful of authors willing to sue over this.”

There is an amended complaint that you can view on their site Zac. Each union has 1000’s of members as do the publishing companies, it’s far more than a mere handful.

“Orphaned works are a plague on copyright perpetuated and fueled by the insanity of modern copyright. The Hathitrust was trying to sooth the sore that is orphaned works and the Authors Guild would not have it. Why? Who knows, I guess they don’t actually care that culture is wasting away in obscurity.”

Actually this began long before the libraries thought they would fair better. Google began the process in 2005.

E. Zachary Knight (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:15 Re:

Why on earth would you type something like that? It’s not at all what I typed or meant.
In the world we all live in there a 100000000’s of bad laws.

We as citizens have a responsibility to fight bad laws. Why is bad copyright law any different?

Copyright Infringement does not = censorship Zac.
Should any of the videos or blogs (or other things) feel that their Uses was a fair-use the right to a counter is available and absolutely should be exercised.
That’s what the counter is for.

I am not talking about clear copyright infringement. I am talking about the number of videos and blogs that have had DMCA take downs applied to them when the person sending the notice had ZERO rights to the content.

And whom do you suggest ‘they’ make their intentions clear to? The world wide web? Every person connected to the web?
Everybody?

If only we had a government body whose sole purpose was to manage copyrights and who controls them. That would be real nice now wouldn’t it?

There is an amended complaint that you can view on their site Zac. Each union has 1000’s of members as do the publishing companies, it’s far more than a mere handful.

I will have to check out the docket then. As for the “1000s of members” none of them had their works made available through the Hathitrust. The Authors guild had to look outside their circle of members to find actual “harmed” authors.

Actually this began long before the libraries thought they would fair better. Google began the process in 2005.

I still have no idea why you hate the idea of preventing works from rotting in obscurity . That is the goal of Google’s book project and the Hathitrust project. These are works that are rotting and need to be preserved and shared. Yet no one is doing anything about it because few are brave enough to tackle copyright law as it stands. Those that do are sued for their good will.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:13 Re:

“Perhaps the rightful owners were difficult to contact, so?, the planet has billions of books wouldn’t it have been a smarter idea to move-on to the next book?”

Yes when the goal is to find books that no one claims copyright for anymore and release them for free you should definitely just move on if you can’t find the owner. You are fucking thick.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Yes, those pesky libraries lending their books for free. I remember the time when there were no libraries. The publishers were filthy rich and could afford big horses and summer castles. But then again, nobody knew how to read so one might infer that their Golden Gods abandoned them. Now they can’t have big castles, just humble mansions on the shore.

Archillies says:

Re: Re: Re:

Re:

“And when the millions of copyright holders stop trying to screw over the public domain I may have an iota of sympathy. Until then I will continue to participate in my culture by whichever means I want. When they respect their end of the bargain, I will respect mine.”

Mod this up!! You are exactly right.

Judie (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

That would be because video games and computer applications are leased not sold. Remember that little screen that you have to say “I agree” before it will let you go any further? By doing so, you have just agreed to lease (not purchase) that product and must abide by their terms, there by getting around right of first sale. Many publishers are trying to do the same for ebooks. Always check before you agree to anything. You never know what might be a binding contract.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The libraries in question didn’t legally acquire all of the Works they were preparing to make available to the public without express permission.
I understand First Sale and how it applies to the purchaser, however, digital copies for distribution without consent or permission is not legal even for the purchaser.
Idiot? ummm

E. Zachary Knight (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Never mind, you are still on your Hathitrust binge. That said, the Hathitrust couldn’t get permission for a number of the works in its program because the authors and/or copyright holders could not be found. The fact that some were found after the list was released is a good thing for both the author and the Hathitrust.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“The libraries in question didn’t legally acquire all of the Works they were preparing to make available to the public without express permission.”

Which public libraries have committed crimes to fill their shelves?

Do you know something the rest of the planet doesn’t, son?

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The copyrights to Works are not part of the purchase Einstein, nor are any of the neighboring rights associated with Intellectual Property.
When (and if) you buy a cd. dvd, you buy the plastic not the rights.

But First-sale doctrine still applies (although AutoDesk has been furiously trying to change that with software). It’s why Netflix’s DVD rent-by-mail service is completely legal without them having to purchase anything other then the physical disk.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“When (and if) you buy a cd. dvd, you buy the plastic not the rights.”

Are you implying we steal CDs/DVDs/BluRays, boy?

And since we bought the plastic, we can sell/trade/give it away as we damn well please under First Sale, and expect it to perform for the next owner as it did for us.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“Are you implying we steal CDs/DVDs/BluRays, boy?”
I wasn’t implying anything boy. I personally don’t give a fuck if you or anyone else here buys steals copies … it’s not my property in question and I am not the spokesmen for the Copyright system.

“And since we bought the plastic, we can sell/trade/give it away as we damn well please under First Sale, and expect it to perform for the next owner as it did for us.”

You do whatever you like, why the fuck would I care?
Sell trade copy use transfer …

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

You sure you do research on copyright and came in the top 3% of the class with that language, mate?

TAM or not, honestly, it really doesn’t make a difference. Regardless of whatever anyone posts as an article it’s always assumed to be “Pirate Mike apologism”, or whatever the week’s buzzword is, even if it’s not actually about downloads. You lads don’t even give us handles to refer you by. Sorry, but you’re all TAM from where we’re sittin’.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Millions? My understanding was that the initial, flawed list of works thought to be orphaned was quite short. Of course, that meant that the percentage of errors was quite high, even after 3 (yes, a whole 3!) works in error were found, out of the 166 (yes, a whole 166! somewhat less than millions, last time I checked).

Doesn’t the sun ever rise where you are so you can be turned to stone?

PaulT (profile) says:

Would Publishers Be Trying To Kill Book Lending?

Of course they would. They wouldn’t look at the invaluable service a library offers, the positive and educational benefits, the free advertising both for individual titles and the industry, the ease of introducing people to ongoing series and so on. They wouldn’t see all the advantages – tangible and intangible – of servicing the needs of people who either couldn’t or wouldn’t buy books at full price.

They’d just assume that every free loan was a “lost sale”, multiply that by the full RRP of the book and lobby for the “protection”. Then wonder why their industry was still failing…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Would Publishers Be Trying To Kill Book Lending?

What’s worse is that the publishers would be committing suicide, but they’d never, ever realize what went wrong.

I suspect I’m typical of most readers. I started visiting libraries regularly when I was about ten. For the next decade or so I borrowed book after book from the library. This was the time when I was learning to enjoy reading for enjoyment. When I got a bit older, and had some spare money, I began buying books. Since then, I have purchased thousands of books over the years. Had I not had free access to a huge supply of books, reading would probably be something I do when I have to, and I would never have purchased all those books for entertainment.
What the publishers don’t seem to realize is that they depend on those ‘freeloading’ library readers to become the next generation of customers that will keep their companies in business.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Civilization may lose another great library system

Don’t worry. We won’t allow that to happen. Those of us who’ve built the ‘net are hard at work on even better mechanisms for storing and sharing everything — using spread-spectrum, anonymized, encrypted, distributed, self-organizing networks. (Surely you didn’t think we’d just sit still while greedy corporations and their government lackeys got in the way?) What we’re developing now will make things like Bittorrent seem primitive and obsolete by comparison…and will probably make the heads of the MAFIAA explode, which is of course a design goal.

So get your content ready: scan/digitize all the music, the books, the manuals, the journals, the movies, all of it. Because we’re going to show the world a future without Big Content, a world where anyone can share with everyone, a world where those who try to private profit from what belongs to the public will be overruled by the Internet. Some content creators will evolve, they’ll adapt to this and some of them will do quite well. Others can’t or won’t — but soon enough they’ll die off, and good riddance to them.

The avalanche has already started; it is too late for the pebbles to vote.

gorehound (profile) says:

Re: Civilization may lose another great library system

Yes and imagine if the Great Library of Alexandria had survived ?
Public Libraries are an important place to learn and to research subjects.
I run a Holocaust Website and was able to read 100’s of Survivor & Historical Books on Jewish People from Carpathia (Sub-Carpathian Ruthenia) because of the Inter-Library Loan system.http://www.bigmeathammer.com/aushwitz.htm is my Kratz Family Memorial Website of Carpathian Jewry.
I do not buy books from these bigger Corporate book Companies as I hate what they are doing with Public Libraries.
NOTE: I own around 1300 paper books including 300 pulps,old rare paperbooks, and 1st edition hardcovers.No books in my collection are from current big time corporate book companies.I am very sick of the big copyright monopolies of corporate film,music,and print.
I try to support the INDIE type stuff and actively boycott all the others.

cofiem (profile) says:

I would suggest that we don’t know how that story ends, only how it progresses, and the collateral damage that it does. We don’t know how to show or tell or even hint that there might be other ways – we can try, but history has shown that it is only experience that _might_ work.

It would be great to know how the story ends, how to jump to the last page – but we still don’t know how long the book is. We haven’t even approached the resolution (I believe). Hopefully we’ll get to the end before the book falls to pieces.

Steerpike (profile) says:

I believe that libraries should be allowed to have lending programs for ebooks. I do not think the author’s analogy to traditional publishing is entirely correct, however.

There are a couple if differences between the traditional library-lending practice and ebooks that come to mind right away:

1) Borrowing a book from a library has always been at least a little less convenient than buying it. Some of the inconveniences remain, such as signing up for membership with the library, others, such as returns and renewals, are largely removed in the case of ebooks;

2) Libraries, for practical reasons, have to limit the availability of physical books. Shelf space is valuable. A limited selection of works is available, and limited numbers of the selected works are available. These factors further inconvenience the traditional borrower who may go to a library only to find that it does not have the book he seeks, or that all copies are currently checked out. There is no reason for these factors to exist in digital lending.

I like the idea of ebook lending in libraries, but it isn’t entirely unreasonable to see the worry that if any person can go online, create a quick library account, and read the latest books for free, it could have a great impact on the market than traditional lending. The right response from content owners, of course, is not to disallow lending entirely.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

If I may add to what you said Steerpike. You have it down pat, but there are a few notable additions I’d like to make. I have several e-readers in my household and have purchased a few as gifts, I am also a major techie and have kept up with what’s been transpiring as far as ebooks and libraries and the publishers are up to.

1. As far as ebooks and the libraries are concerned, it’ll be treated the same as a traditional book. You still have to have a traditional library membership to “check out” an ebook. You will still have to “return” them by a given date. The part about “renewals” I assume you mean as in purchasing a replacement book that is in bad shape. The libraries are up for negotiations on this point, as in ebook A can be “checked out” X amount of times before they purchase a new license for said book.

Now here’s what I’d like to add to Point 1. The libraries intend to treat an ebook the same as a traditional copy. They are willing to negotiate on quite a few points. The publishers however have started off on the wrong foot and are making demands for the most part. In some cases, extreme ones with no room or willingness to negotiate. They want libraries to purchase ebooks as they would traditional books, but with the added part of a book can ONLY be checked out 5 times before they must rebuy it. (Now, this isn’t across the board for all publishers. But from what I’ve read elsewhere, 5 is about the average.) Then, on top of that they want to limit how long a book can be checked out for. I’ve seen dates ranging from 3 days to 2 weeks. With the bigger publishers wanting for shorter lengths.

2. This is in addition to what you said, as far as a library not having a book a person seeks or it being checked out, the same will apply to ebooks. But in regards to purchases of the licenses for them. Say I want to read “The Hunt for Red October”. The library has 5 “copies” of the ebook. All 5 are checked out, in that case I’m out of luck until a copy is “returned”. As you said, “there is no reason for these factors to exist in digital lending.” In regards to checking out as many copies as they want and what have you, however, the libraries are willing and want to put such traditional factors in place. In order to be fair about the whole thing, but the publishers want more and more restrictions in place. To the point, that some libraries are considering cutting back on ebooks.

Now this is fine. In that case, there’ll be no problem. But what the publishers should see is that this is another avenue for them to pursue. They can sell their books to the libraries who’ll check them out to people with ereaders. Who may then become customers.

I own a Nook Color, Barnes and Noble has a “Lend Me” feature. Unfortunately, due to publisher restrictions NOT all books can be lent out. However, a decent enough amount can. I was “lent” a few ebooks by a friend. I enjoyed them so much, I purchased my own copies of those same books and then went on to purchase everything else by the author of those books. Had my friend NOT lent me those books, I’d never had heard of them and never have bought any of those works. This shows that sales were gained by the lending feature. Which is what these publishers should strive for. Better to gain a sale, than not have a sale at all. (And I don’t mean a loss, because you can’t lose what you never had. In my case, I wouldn’t have bought a book in the first place that I didn’t even know existed.)

My 2 cents: The publishers have an opportunity here being presented to them in it’s infancy. They can embrace it, unlike the studios/labels, and adapt to it and adapt it to their needs or they can miss out and fight it tooth and claw. In the end, the ones who have the most to lose are themselves. People will still check out the traditional books. Here’s an opportunity to open up a new market, and most people with cash to buy e-readers have no problem spending a few bucks on an ebook if they’re given the opportunity. What better way to entice them, than by putting material out there for them to check out at their local library? Most e-readers have benefits of one type or another. Per my case, I can read for an hour a day any book free in-store (at Barnes and Noble). I’ve done so and discovered numerous authors and then made purchases from the B&N online store. Plenty of others I’ve seen do the same. So the market’s there, are they willing to go for it though? I think it’s a great chance to embrace technology, the internet (because books can be purchased on a computer and read there and then sent to your device/synced with it) and all that jazz.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I’d like to add, the publishers are already making mistakes in regards to the libraries, but in addition to that, their pricing for ebooks. When a digital copy for a book cost as much as (and at times MORE than) a traditional books, you’ve got problems.

And the market has shown that they will NOT purchase an ebook if they can get the traditional version in paperback (and surprisingly enough at times, even the hardcovers) for less than the ebook.

Which dries up the ebook market. People buy the ereaders, then learn they can’t get books for said devices at a reasonable price, so they resort to piracy or do without. Which drives down ebook sales, which scares publishers so they start overpricing even more or flat out not offering books for purchase as ebooks. (Which sucks. I’ve had a few books I really wanted in ebook form, because I had the paperback versions, only to find they aren’t available at all. In which case, sometimes I’ll just create my own copies using my scanner. They don’t want my money, that’s fine. Their problem, not mine.)

I don’t know what the reasoning for that kind of pricing is, but from a consumer standpoint, I’ve skipped on purchasing quite a few books because the ebook prices were ridiculous. Sure, I could’ve gotten the traditional version, but I have an ereader. I want content for it. They won’t price it appropriately, I’ll do without. Or take my money elsewhere (because there are a few publishers and even authors who do price accordingly and thus get my money).

Steerpike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Thank you for this information. Very helpful. It looks like a lot of these practicalities are already being addressed. Hopefully, more content will be available, digitally, through libraries, and the content producers will be able to take advantage of the opportunity in front of them. It seems to me the companies that control the content are so conservative and resistant to change (probably due to a failure to adequately understand the digital world) that they miss out on opportunities to adapt their business model. Then, when the unadapted business model starts to fail they point the finger at digital media in general, instead of being reflective and figuring out how they can become part of that market.

Keroberos (profile) says:

Is it just me, or does it seem to be a job requirement that the heads of major media distribution companies be idiots? All of these methods of preserving old business models have been tried by both the recording and movie industries and have failed miserably.

Over 90% of new writers I discover has been by checking out books from the library. Ever since I got my e-ink reader, I’ve found I don’t like reading paper based books anymore (too uncomfortable to hold, can’t adjust font size/style) so most of my reading has been of e-books. If they aren’t available to be loaned from the library, I probably won’t read them (or even be aware of their existence). I have no desire to purchase new paper based books any more unless they are something special (i.e. nicely illustrated), or from one of my favorite authors. Based on what I’ve read e-books sales seem to be taking over from paper based book sales.

Not giving the people who consume your product what they want seems to me to be a good way to drive them to your competitors who will, be that independent publishers who are embracing e-books or piracy.

Robert Doyle (profile) says:

I don't think they are idiots

I don’t think they are idiots – I think they are out of touch.
It isn’t to say they are not a lot smarter or talented than I am, but if we limit our information, we limit our ability to make decisions with contemplation.

If you never listen to a contrary point, you ignore wisdom. A decision or opinion that is made without information is not an informed decision or opinion.

This is why I like to engage in conversation with people who don’t think the way I do. I’m also open to changing my mind.

It’s kind of funny, but it’s because there are so many ‘trolls’ here that I like this site – the amount of effort that goes into some of the comments arguing against the trolls provides some very good background, but I have found cases where the trolls also had some good points. If the trolls weren’t here, I think I would get bored of everyone having the same opinion and leave.

Rose M. Welch (profile) says:

Re: Semantics

I just recently discovered this library after finding that most publishers refuse to sell e-books to me via my local library, or to me personally at any reasonable price. It has now supplanted my use of either my personal library or my local library.

And to think that I used to be reluctant to the idea of piracy… Good job, copyright holders!

TimothyAWiseman (profile) says:

Anecdotes

Clearly, this is anecdotal, but I go to libraries all the time and have found many of my favorite authors that way. I have almost never purchased a book after checking it out (the exceptions all involve either classics or reference books), but I have frequently discovered I liked an author and proceeded to buy many of their other books after checking one out.

It was because of libaries that I discovered Piers Anthony, Isaac Asimov, and others. I then went on to buy many books by each of them. If you only write one book in your life, then having it available in my local libary will probably stop me from ever buying it. But if you are going to be prolific, then libraries are the best way to get someone like me to become a fan.

Anonymous Coward says:

Library eBook Collection

How about a concrete example?

My local library is huge; I can get almost anything I want to read there (if I’m willing to wait for it; the really popular works arrive quickly, but there’s generally a wait list when they come out). So naturally, when I found out my library had an eBook collection, I went to check out what it had, expecting a more limited but decent selection. The collection was pitiful.

It does seem to be improving lately; it’s an odd mix of popular authors’ new titles and individual author backlists (often not the same authors, though some of them are), but it’s slowly growing, which I take as a hopeful sign.

Now if only I could know if any particular title isn’t there because it’s not available at all (out of print?), the library hasn’t budgeted for it / doesn’t think there’s the demand for it, it’s simply not available, or if the library doesn’t buy from that publisher due to its policies …

Andrew Glynn (user link) says:

Canadian Supreme Court

Interestingly, the Canadian Supreme Court found that internet file sharing was no different in principle than libraries lending books and having photocopiers on premises, hence any SOPA-like law has already failed the highest legal test in that country specifically due to the similarity between public file sharing and public libraries.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Canadian Supreme Court

Even more interesting is your misunderstanding as to what actually happened in the year 2004!
(it’s 2012 and C-32 will pass in Canada)

I’m very familiar with the case you kinda referred to.
It was however more about PRIVACY rights rather than copyrights.

cnetDOTcom ran an article on the case in March of 2004. It’s still active on cnets website if you need a little re-read???

Abe says:

I’m an old man now and own thousands of books. The very thing that got me hooked on reading *were* the libraries. I borrow a book from a unknown author, and if I don’t like it, no money lost. But if I do like it, I buy more of that author. Hell, I’ve even purchased books that I had once upon a time borrowed from the library. I love the look of my wall filled with row upon row with books. But then, I might be a dying breed.

Karl Drinkwater (user link) says:

DRM

Spot on! Publishers just don’t understand what people want. It’s like the whole issue with DRM, and the inconveniences it can cause, which can drive people to piracy. This cartoon backs up that point in a humorous way:
http://bradcolbow.com/archive/view/the_brads_why_drm_doesnt_work/?p=205 It’s
certainly true that DRM doesn’t work, since all DRM can be stripped out, whatever the media, yet the more complex the DRM is (in order to try and prevent that) the more complications it causes for customers, and the more money has to be spent on it, like an arms war that cannot be won. One of the things I love about indie outfits (whether game makers, musicians, or writers) is that they often avoid including DRM, meaning the experience of buying from them goes much more smoothly, and I am left with the desire to continue to support them. I think this is a large factor for many would-be purchasers. DRM is a highly-relevant issue for writers, and I have discussed it (and the implications of it) in more detail here http://karldrinkwater.blogspot.com/2011/03/drm-will-kill-us-all.html and
here http://karldrinkwater.blogspot.com/2011/03/drm-part-two.html. I want people to read my work, so make it DRM-free where possible, and don’t worry about it. Publishers should focus on the customer and getting their books into as many hands as possible, not panic about technology.

John (user link) says:

Ease of lending e-books from libraries.

Someone commented earlier on the “ease” of lending e-books from libraries. Generally, there is a serious learning curve to e-book lending required that goes far beyond the “hassle” of looking up book or signing up for a card. There are at least 30 steps that need to be taking in order to download an e-book from the library. http://rapidcitylibraryebooks.weebly.com/index.html

Just this week I taught 2 workshops (with four more scheduled) just on how to download a book.

Alsatia (user link) says:

“publishers don’t try to make it “inconvenient” for people to borrow paperbacks from libraries by creating special low-quality copies that fall to pieces after a few loans”

Oh really? Take a look at the Publisher’s Hall of Shame, a record of books purchased by libraries that have almost immediately fallen apart: http://personalpages.tds.net/~berek/shame.html. Publishers have no incentive to make a book a lasting object. They can make libraries repurchase books faster when the books are made sopoorly that they fall apart when used. 🙁

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