Authors Guild's Scott Turow: The Supreme Court, Google, Ebooks, Libraries & Amazon Are All Destroying Authors

from the old-man-yells-at-cloud dept

We've written more than a few times about Scott Turow, a brilliant author, but an absolute disaster as the Luddite-driven head of the Authors' Guild. During his tenure, he's done a disservice to authors around the globe by basically attacking everything new and modern -- despite any opportunities it might provide -- and talked up the importance of going back to physical books and bookstores. He's an often uninformed champion of a past that never really existed and which has no place in modern society. He once claimed that Shakespeare wouldn't have been successful under today's copyright law because of piracy, ignoring the fact that copyright law didn't even exist in the age of Shakespeare. His anti-ebook rants are just kind of wacky.

However, in his latest NY Times op-ed, he's basically thrown all of his cluelessness together in a rambling mishmash of "and another thing", combined with his desire to get those nutty technology kids off his lawn. For the few thousand members of the Authors Guild, it's time you found someone who was actually a visionary to lead, rather than a technology-hating reactionary pining for a mythical time in the past.

First up, a confused reaction to the Supreme Court's protection of first sale rights in Kirtsaeng.
LAST month, the Supreme Court decided to allow the importation and resale of foreign editions of American works, which are often cheaper than domestic editions. Until now, courts have forbidden such activity as a violation of copyright. Not only does this ruling open the gates to a surge in cheap imports, but since they will be sold in a secondary market, authors won’t get royalties.
First of all, no, this was not a "change" in US law. Courts had not forbidden this particular situation in the past, because the specifics of this hadn't really been tested in the past other than a few recent cases with somewhat different fact patterns. The point of the Supreme Court's ruling was to reinforce what most people already believed the law to be: if you buy a book, you have the right to resell it.

As for the "surge" in cheap imports, let's wait and see. It might impact markets like textbooks, which are artificially inflated, but for regular books? It seems like a huge stretch to think that it would be cost effective to ship in foreign books just for resale. And, of course, secondary markets have existed for ages, and studies have shown that they actually help authors because it makes it less risky to buy a new book, since people know they can resell it. Turow admits that secondary markets have always existed, but then jumps to what this is all "really" about in his mind:
This may sound like a minor problem; authors already contend with an enormous domestic market for secondhand books. But it is the latest example of how the global electronic marketplace is rapidly depleting authors’ income streams. It seems almost every player — publishers, search engines, libraries, pirates and even some scholars — is vying for position at authors’ expense.
Yes, that's right. The Kirtsaeng decision isn't just about first sale, it's really about the evil "global electronic marketplace" sucking authors dry. Of course, Turow fails to mention that Kirtsaeng had next to nothing to do with the internet. Yes, Kirtsaeng ended up selling his books via eBay, but tons of books sell on eBay. That had no impact on the ruling at all. The issue in the ruling was about books legally purchased abroad, and Kirtsaeng did that without the internet -- he just had friends and family back in Thailand buying books for him. To blame that on "the global electronic marketplace" is just completely random and wrong. It seems like the kind of thing someone says when they just want to blame technology for everything. Turow has his anti-technology hammer, but he's got to stop seeing nails in absolutely everything.
Authors practice one of the few professions directly protected in the Constitution, which instructs Congress “to promote the progress of Science and the useful Arts by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” The idea is that a diverse literary culture, created by authors whose livelihoods, and thus independence, can’t be threatened, is essential to democracy.
Turow is a lawyer. As such, I would expect him not to misrepresent what the Constitution says, but he's done so here. Authors are not "directly protected in the Constitution." The Constitution does not "instruct" Congress to create copyright to promote the progress. Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution grants Congress specific powers concerning what it can do. It does not "instruct" Congress that it must do these things. The same section of the Constitution also gives Congress the ability to "grant letters of marque" to privateers ("pirates" on the high seas) to attack enemies. No one would ever argue that the Constitution "instructs" Congress to authorize pirates on the high seas to "attack and capture enemy vessels." In fact, Congress has not officially used this power since 1815. Similarly, there is no requirement that Congress "protect" authors in this manner, no matter how much Turow may pretend this is the case.

Frankly, it's bizarre that Turow would so misrepresent the Constitution, when he must know what he's saying is untrue. It really calls into question why the NY Times allows such blatantly false statements to go out under its name.
That culture is now at risk. The value of copyrights is being quickly depreciated, a crisis that hits hardest not best-selling authors like me, who have benefited from most of the recent changes in bookselling, but new and so-called midlist writers.

Take e-books. They are much less expensive for publishers to produce: there are no printing, warehousing or transportation costs, and unlike physical books, there is no risk that the retailer will return the book for full credit.
Note the implicit assumption: only publishers produce books. Turow, apparently, ignores the fact that these modern technological wonders (which he hates so much) have enabled an entire new world of massively successful self-published authors, who take advantage of this situation to realize that they don't need publishers, and the lower costs and ease of distribution makes things much easier. As Clay Shirky has said in the past, publishing is a button, not an industry. And, no, that doesn't mean that authors should all do it by themselves, but the challenges are in marketing, not in "publishing" or distribution any more (with respect to ebooks).

Also the idea of a literary culture at risk is laughable. More books are being published today than ever before. More people are reading books today than ever before. More people are writing books than ever before. Books that would never have been published in the past are regularly published today. There is an astounding wealth of cultural diversity in the literary world. Sure, some of it means a lot more competition for the small group of authors (only about 8,000 or so) that Turow represents... oh wait, I think we've perhaps touched on the reason that Turow is all upset by this. But, of course, more competition for that small group of authors does not mean the culture of books and literature is at risk at all. Quite the opposite.
But instead of using the savings to be more generous to authors, the six major publishing houses — five of which were sued last year by the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division for fixing e-book prices — all rigidly insist on clauses limiting e-book royalties to 25 percent of net receipts. That is roughly half of a traditional hardcover royalty.

Best-selling authors have the market power to negotiate a higher implicit e-book royalty in our advances, even if our publishers won’t admit it. But writers whose works sell less robustly find their earnings declining because of the new rate, a process that will accelerate as the market pivots more toward digital.
Again, this totally ignores the new reality. Authors who don't like this admittedly crappy deal from the big publishers can go to alternatives. They can self-publish. Or they can sign up with one of a new crop of digitally savvy publishers who are much more like partners than gatekeepers. No surprise that Turow doesn't even seem to know these things exist. Hell, just last week we were talking about a successful self-published author who leveraged his massive success into an extremely favorable deal with Simon and Schuster to handle physical book distribution. And a week later Scott Turow argues that only historical top sellers like himself can negotiate better rates with the Big 6 Publishers in NY? Wake up, Scott, there's a whole new world out there that you seem to be ignoring.

Barry Eisler famously turned down a half million dollar contract with a publisher, because he realized that the economics of going direct were much better. Plenty of authors are recognizing that they have leverage today where they used to have none. It seems odd that Turow doesn't even acknowledge this reality at all, instead assuming that authors are still locked into the system where the only way they can become published is by taking a bad deal with a publisher.
And there are many e-books on which authors and publishers, big and small, earn nothing at all. Numerous pirate sites, supported by advertising or subscription fees, have grown up offshore, offering new and old e-books free.
If you're an author earning nothing at all, then you've got bigger problems than technology. It probably means you're mired in obscurity and no one knows who the hell you are. On top of that, it means you've done nothing at all to connect with your fans. Because we've seen authors who actively encourage the piracy of their books, but who also work to connect with their fans, and have seen their sales go way up, because those fans want to support the authors. Also, as most people know (why doesn't Turow seem aware of this?) ebook "piracy" is a fairly small part of the market, in part because the initial market was dominated by the Amazon Kindle, and publishers smartly jumped on board. Yes, there is ebook piracy, but it's not like the music and movie business where the official sources basically ceded the entire market to piracy for years.
The pirates would be a limited menace were it not for search engines that point users to these rogue sites with no fear of legal consequence, thanks to a provision inserted into the 1998 copyright laws. A search for “Scott Turow free e-books” brought up 10 pirate sites out of the first 10 results on Yahoo, 8 of 8 on Bing and 6 of 10 on Google, with paid ads decorating the margins of all three pages.
Okay, this is just dumb. First of all, no one is searching for "Scott Turow free e-books" so this shouldn't be much of a concern. I did a Google Trends search on "Scott Turow free e-books" vs. "Scott Turow books" and it shows no one searches for "Scott Turow free e-books", so he doesn't have much to worry about. Frankly, he should probably be a hell of a lot more concerned that not too many people seem to be searching for "Scott Turow books" either.
But the larger point here is that, even if people were searching for "Scott Turow free e-books," how would that matter that much? By the very fact that they're doing that particular search, they've more or less self-identified as people not interested in paying money for Scott Turow books, so they're not the market anyway.
If I stood on a corner telling people who asked where they could buy stolen goods and collected a small fee for it, I’d be on my way to jail. And yet even while search engines sail under mottos like “Don’t be evil,” they do the same thing.
This is silly on multiple levels. First of all, by his own numbers, Google (who uses "Don't be evil") had the least number of "bad" sites in the results according to Turow. I did the same search and actually found only a couple sites that possibly were infringing. Instead, I did see links to the Authors Guild, to Amazon, to Turow's Wikipedia page... and to an old Techdirt article about Turow's cluelessness. That said, you could argue that if Google is "being evil" here it's actually by not giving its users what they're looking for -- which is clearly "free e-books." If people were actually doing this search (and we've already shown they're not) then perhaps it really just meant that Turow should be offering his own damn free ebooks, since that's what people are looking for. Why not offer an early work as a free download to get people interested in his books? Hell if he's really worried about it, offer up the first five chapters of a book. I've read a few of his books, and they can really grab you. Let people read the first few chapters for free and I'd bet lots of people would pay a reasonable price for the full book.

Instead of understanding any of this, Turow falsely attacks search engines on multiple levels. First, he suggests they're at fault because people are looking for free ebooks (even if they're not actually doing so for his own books). He assumes that because he did that search, others must. Second, when those search engines actually try to deliver what these theoretical people want (despite the fact that Turow himself has failed to do so) he complains about it. Finally, he falsely suggests that the search engines are making money doing so. They're not. Search engines make money if people click on ads. If someone sees a free ebook and clicks on an organic link, the search engine isn't making any money. I recognize that Turow hates technology, but that's no excuse for being blatantly ignorant about it when spewing misrepresentations in the NY Times.

From there, he attacks Google's book scanning project.
Google says this is a “fair use” of the works, an exception to copyright, because it shows only snippets of the books in response to each search. Of course, over the course of thousands of searches, Google is using the whole book and selling ads each time, while sharing none of the revenue with the author or publisher.
The second sentence has nothing to do with the first sentence. It is fair use because they're only showing snippets at a time, and most of those searches lead people to places where they can buy the books. I just did a search on Google Books for "Scott Turow" and the top links is to an Amazon page listing out all of Turow's books for sale. You'd think he'd appreciate such things. But, then, he'd have to not be a technologically illiterate Luddite.

All of this also ignores that Google's book scanning is really just about creating a rather useful card catalog for books, making them easier to find. Over and over again, people who have actually looked at the issue (i.e., not Scott Turow) have found that Google books increases sales of books. Considering he was just complaining about authors not getting any money, you'd think this would be a good thing.

He drones on about Google scanning books for a while, and then... attacks libraries for wanting to lend out ebooks, insisting that if they can do that, no one will ever buy a book again.
Now many public libraries want to lend e-books, not simply to patrons who come in to download, but to anybody with a reading device, a library card and an Internet connection. In this new reality, the only incentive to buy, rather than borrow, an e-book is the fact that the lent copy vanishes after a couple of weeks. As a result, many publishers currently refuse to sell e-books to public libraries.
One might also say "in this new reality," libraries are helping people access the wealth of information contained in books, just as they've always done. Who knew Scott Turow was so anti-library? It's kind of silly that maximalists and luddites keep jumping back to this trope. The idea that if you can get something for free, no one will ever pay for it. That's never been true and will never be true. All of the works that people pay for and download to their Kindles are already available for free on unauthorized sites. But tons of people pay. All of the music that people pay for and download to their iPods is already available for free on unauthorized sites. But tons of people pay. People will pay all the time for things they can get for free. Just check out the bottled water industry.

Turow then jumps back to attacking his other technological nemesis, Amazon, based on random speculation about a patent the company received:
An even more nightmarish version of the same problem emerged last month with the news that Amazon had a patent to resell e-books. Such a scheme will likely be ruled illegal. But if it is not, sales of new e-books will nose-dive, because an e-book, unlike a paper book, suffers no wear with each reading. Why would anyone ever buy a new book again?
Well, there's that trope again. Also, this ignores the ReDigi ruling, which has already said this is illegal, though that will be appealed. But, again, lots of people will still buy new ebooks, because they like to support authors. Also, it's likely that smart authors will embrace new and interesting business models in which this kind of thing isn't a problem. They can use Kickstarter to "pre-sell" the books and get support from fans. They can offer special benefits for fans who buy new books (such as membership in a fan club with other fans of that author). They can provide early previews or discounts on future or past works to those who buy first run copies of their new works. The list goes on and on -- and those are just the ones I came up with in the 30 seconds I spent thinking about it. Give me a full day to work on it, and the list would be in the dozens. But Turow, bizarrely, assumes that no one could possibly come up with any other reason.

And, from there, we go off onto a totally wacky tangent about Russia.
Last October, I visited Moscow and met with a group of authors who described the sad fate of writing as a livelihood in Russia. There is only a handful of publishers left, while e-publishing is savaged by instantaneous piracy that goes almost completely unpoliced. As a result, in the country of Tolstoy and Chekhov, few Russians, let alone Westerners, can name a contemporary Russian author whose work regularly affects the national conversation.
Note that he names Tolstoy and Chekhov -- two authors who both died more than a century ago. Could Turow easily name for us a Russian author from the 1940s who regularly affected the national conversation? How about the 1960s? 1980s? 1990s? No? Perhaps the problem isn't ebooks and piracy.

Meanwhile, as it so happens, not too long ago, we wrote a report on the content markets in various countries, including Russia. Turow might find it helpful, since he seems to be at a loss for actual data and facts in so many of his public statements on these issues. He can get a copy of The Sky is Rising 2 if he'd like. We offer it for free (the horror!). In it, he'd discover that the Russian book business is on the upswing. In the past fifteen years, the number of books published has increased by an impressive 266%, from just 33,623 in 1995 to 122,915 in 2011. That rate of growth exceeded all of the other countries we studied in Europe. It is true that the Russian market saw a decline in book revenue between 2008 and 2011 as the worldwide recession had an impact, but it has also recently seen the absolutely massive growth in the sale of ebook readers. As we've seen elsewhere, growth in ebook readers almost always acts as a leading indicator for later growth in ebook sales, because most readers connect easily to various authorized ebook stores, and the convenience factor leads to sales. One of the issues in Russia has been that many of the established players have been exceptionally slow in offering up authorized copies in the Russian market. If there are no authorized copies to buy, it shouldn't be a huge surprise to find out that people seek out alternatives.

It should be noted that when famed author Paulo Coelho decided to pirate his own book in Russia, it was because his publisher refused to offer a Russian translation. And what Coelho discovered was that sales of his book jumped from around 1,000 books to over 100,000 books because of his own decision to seed an unauthorized Russian translation. At the very least, this suggests that "piracy" isn't the problem and that, if handled well, authors can absolutely get people to buy, even when free works are available.

Scott Turow is clearly a smart individual. He's a fantastic author, whose books I've enjoyed for years. But it boggles my mind that he's so anti-technology based on ridiculous and ignorant claims, and that despite being called out on his ignorant statements for years, he chooses not to learn, but instead doubles down on those same ignorant statements by saying even more. It's doubly confusing that the NY Times sullies its own good name by allowing such obviously false statements to be published under its masthead.

Finally, the 8,000 or so authors (a mere fraction of the number of actual authors out there) who make up the Authors Guild are not served well by having someone as technologically reactionary as Turow leading them. It seems they'd be much better served by having a visionary leader who looks at ways to embrace new opportunities and who has realized that they can help to better promote, to connect with fans and to monetize their works. Having someone just yell about general progress, and try to ignorantly shoo the "kids" off his lawn over and over again, does them no favors.


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  1.  
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    Ninja (profile), Apr 8th, 2013 @ 7:53am

    Frankly, he should probably be a hell of a lot more concerned that not too many people seem to be searching for "Scott Turow books" either.

    That. If I ever write any book I'll want it EVERYWHERE. Libraries would be free to GIVE the digital version (with a link to my page for donations and my publishers for future sales). Because lack of monetary reward for my work would be completely overshadowed by fear of obscurity.

    People don't buy what they don't know.

    In fact that was a discussion I had with my gf recently. Copyright is locking much of the lesser known creative works and letting them fall in obscurity. Pirate sites can only go to certain extents to keep culture alive, specially for older titles but we should all be glad they exist. To keep culture alive and available. To keep Scott alive and available despite of his rants.

     

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    Akari Mizunashi (profile), Apr 8th, 2013 @ 8:09am

    "But it is the latest example of how the global electronic marketplace is rapidly depleting authors’ income streams."

    Turow should be talking to authors who are currently restricted by the current system, the one he longs to see come back.

    Under this system, authors have only one method of income: their publisher. Any attempt to make money from the book outside of the contract is illegal, yet not from copyright law itself.

    Turow also fails to consider how destructive the old system was to get people to write in the first place. I know several friends who tried to get their book published, and every single one of them gave up because publishers said "No" too many times to count.

    In fact, JK Rowling should be counting all the money she has to the fact if it wasn't for an editor who gave her book to her intended audience, she would have received another "No" from this so-called "Great days of publishing".

    Turow has no clue about what it means to be an author, because he's now successful to the point he forgot how he got to where he is today.

    Atypical, frankly. I find most who reach the top always forget how they got there.

     

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  3.  
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    Christopher Smith (profile), Apr 8th, 2013 @ 8:57am

    Rights and powers

    Mike, for the detailed analysis you do in these cases, you tend to trip into the practice of throwing the word "right" around inaccurately. It's important to hold the government (and cloud-yellers) to what the law actually says, and the Constitution does not claim that the government has any rights whatsoever; rights are held by the people, which delegate specific (ha!) powers to the government.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 8:57am

    "but since they will be sold in a secondary market, authors won’t get royalties."

    Let me fix that for you.

    "but since they will be sold in a secondary market, authors have already been paid their royalties."

     

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  5.  
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    ralph, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 8:58am

    Authors will always write. The probability that they will get filthy rich in the 21st century is just lower.

    Welcome to the nonfiction world, Scott. If you don't like, learn to do something else.

     

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  6.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Apr 8th, 2013 @ 9:03am

    The only thing lost with e books and the Internet is the artificial monopoly that the publishers have enjoyed for decades.

    The digital revolution has opened up doors to authors that previously were closed to a great many would be authors (I could say the same about musicians and film makers).

    If authors are failing, it is not down to the Internet/e books/Amazon/Google or anyone else, it is down to the author not taking full advantage of the tools available to them.

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Apr 8th, 2013 @ 9:15am

    Re: Rights and powers

    Good point. I'll fix.

     

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  8.  
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    uRspqF7L (profile), Apr 8th, 2013 @ 9:19am

    this is as perfect as everything else you write.

    like all other misguided non-libertarians, Turow and the Author's Guild steadily refuse to see the giant streams of income they could have if only they followed your belief system.

    They are too stupid and ... what's the word.. oh, yes, "Luddite" (should we just substitute "Communist") to actually try out any of your ideas, to experiment, to have their own data.

    No, these authors are just stupidly sitting back, refusing to make money, all just to make a point.

    At some point, if reality ever collides with the TechDirt site (I don't hold out much hope), you will realize that your own belief system contradicts this. You have to believe that all authors and content producers are arguing against their own self-interest for some nebulous belief system that is mostly organized around stopping kids from taking their stuff for free.

    A more credible story is: these are smart people who see what is happening and have real reason to believe that the attacks on copyright are exactly what you (in other modes) will say they are, and that depriving huge classes of important work functions from being able to earn income will actually be a huge negative for society.

    Which is it: do you believe people pursue self-interest in a market economy, or that they follow deluded ideologies? Because if you believe the second, the idea that "giving it away leads to profits" sounds like a much more likely deluded ideology than that "giving it away leads to income."

     

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    Suri, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 9:22am

    But Shakespeare's stuff actually DID got pirated at the time.

    Scribes would go to plays with scrolls and write down the dialogue as it was spoken, so they could be performed elsewhere.

    Shakespeare also engaged in his own form of copy-protection by making certain sections spoken very fast and hard to transcribe quickly.

     

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    uRspqF7L (profile), Apr 8th, 2013 @ 9:23am

    by the way, you notice how here you are arguing on the side of Google & Amazon? Those are the small-time "individuals" whose cause you are constantly pushing. Who just happen to benefit tremendously from the lowest IP restrictions possible.

    You frame this as a fight for individual rights, but in many ways it's a war between corporate factions, and you've just chosen a particularly powerful side to portray as the underdog, and individuals will lose, except for those who believe, you know, that HBO has a legal obligation to produce Game of Thrones and a legal and ethical obligation to give it away for free.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 9:24am

    And here I thought that a writer's goal should be to get as many people to read and like his/her books as possible - after all, more dedicated fans means more money, among other things. And that Internet, ebooks, search engines etc. are a way for you to get known to the potential fans.

    Maybe I was born in the wrong era. Of course, I write for small children, who likely don't care about the whole copyright/publishing stuff, but still...

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 9:24am

    Welcome to the 21st Century

    And after they get rid of Turow, they should probably drop "Guild" from their name.

     

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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Apr 8th, 2013 @ 9:25am

    How dare the courts point out that we've been artificially inflating prices!
    We can produce the exact same things we sell here and sell them cheaper, consumers don't deserve to know this.

    How dare the world evolve, we demand everything stay like it was once before! This is not about connecting readers with authors, this is about protecting our business model. If authors can't keep making the same or more how can they keep paying the fee's to be part of the guild!?

    If someone else can figure out a way to make any money it must belong to us! How dare you give us free advertising of our material, paying for development, bandwidth, hosting with some ads that a majority of consumers won't see. THEY MIGHT BE MAKING A DIME FROM OUR HARD WORK AND OWE US A DOLLAR!

    He is just a simple cave man and is scared of this new technologies, we must hold back the whole world until he learns how it really works.
    I would insert the SNL sketch here... except for... oh just see for yourself.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vg5gPnUdbc8&list=PLC60DECC73BFB8033

     

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    uRspqF7L (profile), Apr 8th, 2013 @ 9:27am

    Re:

    Shakespeare... how much money did he make for writing the most-praised, and at times most popular, works of literature in the English language, when we had the kind of free-for-all no-copyright system Mike and other maniacs promote?

    As far as the records reveal, $0. In his whole life. He died, from what we know, a poor man. Sure, some printers made some money, but there is not a single record of Shakespeare earning a pound from his works.

    Welcome (back) to the wonderful world of consumer's rights trump creator's rights advocated by this hilarious parody site.

     

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  15.  
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    Lesath (profile), Apr 8th, 2013 @ 9:28am

    Guess those 97 books I've read on my Kindle app were free. Wish I could get my money back from Amazon.

     

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    uRspqF7L (profile), Apr 8th, 2013 @ 9:29am

    Re:

    definitely, giving away everything you write for free leads to a wonderful living. People will probably give you charity to help you maintain yourself--after all, charitable feelings toward what others have accomplished pretty much oozes out of every pore of this site and the stories it writes.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 9:29am

    I don't really care what he has to say, until copyright dies, I am wearing a pirate hat, with an eye patch and a bird in my shoulders.

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 9:31am

    From the privileged-frat-boy-thinks-everything-is-free dept.

    That's all I have for your wall of text rant.



    Take a loopy tour of Techdirt.com! You always end up same place!
    http://techdirt.com/
    The only forum where "give away and pray" is taken seriously.
    05:31:30[g-962-3]

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 9:36am

    Re: From the privileged-frat-boy-thinks-everything-is-free dept.

    There is little reason to say more since Mike won't engage detractors or discuss his personal beliefs on the merits. It's too bad. Frank and honest discussion from him would be so much more productive that these attacks and rants.

     

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  20.  
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    Goober, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 9:36am

    Scott probably understands pretty well what he's saying

    Given that Turow is a Sonnenschein partner and an author, he's probably pretty knowledgeable about what he's writing--even if you don't agree with his positions (I don't).

    Sure, Scott may not be as smart as a TD blogger, but then again, who is?

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 9:36am

    Re: From the privileged-frat-boy-thinks-everything-is-free dept.

    Didn't read it either, huh?

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 9:40am

    I wonder if there were people back in the day who complained that the printing press was going to destroy literary culture?

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 9:41am

    Re: Re:

    No, I'll have to get a job to earn money, and my inability to sell my works will make my life more difficult. But hey, I'm ready for this. It's my fate.

    And I didn't say one has to give away EVERYTHING. But locking EVERYTHING up is an even worse idea. There's always middle ground, though. Always. Somewhere.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Digitari, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 9:48am

    Re:

    The printing press did destroy culture, I mean think about it, with the press, ANYONE could learn to read, instead of just the "ruling" class.

    How dare the peasants learn to think, next thing you know they might learn laws and such, and defend themselves when they "think" they are wronged; Using the very laws that they should know nothing about


    "It's good to be King"

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 9:49am

    Re: Re:

    Shakespeare actually got very wealthy off of his works and his acting career. He owned a share of the Globe Theater and the second largest house in Stratford-Upon-Avon, so you're wrong on basically every point you are attempting to argue here.

    I mean are you even TRYING at this point?

     

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  26.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), Apr 8th, 2013 @ 9:50am

    Re: Re:

    And yet it didn't stop him from writing, so what's the point? If an author's only writing to make money, I'm not interested.

    Plus drawing analogies between Shakespeare and today is comparing apples to oranges. They aren't the same thing.

    Oh, and Shakespeare was a pirate himself.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 9:54am

    Re: Re:

    Shakespeare... how much money did he make for writing the most-praised, and at times most popular, works of literature in the English language, when we had the kind of free-for-all no-copyright system Mike and other maniacs promote?

    As far as the records reveal, $0. In his whole life. He died, from what we know, a poor man. Sure, some printers made some money, but there is not a single record of Shakespeare earning a pound from his works.

    Considering he had a fucking fabulous career in theatre, I can't begin to describe the pain I just inflicted upon myself from facepalming at you.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Donglebert the Needlessly Obtuse, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 9:55am

    Google is useless

    I've just searched for a pirate copy of a book that I don't know the title of, by an author I don't know the name of.

    Could I find it? Could I f###.

     

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  29.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 8th, 2013 @ 9:55am

    Re:

    The probability that they will get filthy rich in the 21st century is just lower.


    ...but the probability that they can make a reasonable living is higher.

     

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  30.  
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    Chris-Mouse (profile), Apr 8th, 2013 @ 9:57am

    Re:

    The complaints go back much further than the invention of the printing press.

    http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/wordscape/museum/plato.html

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    AC Unknown, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 9:57am

    Re: Re: From the privileged-frat-boy-thinks-everything-is-free dept.

    You had your debate with Mike ages ago, A.J. When you don't get what you want for an answer, you shift the goal posts and go "Why won't mike debate with me?" That's called being a bother. Please stop before Mike drops the banhammer on you.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 9:58am

    To be fair, a pirate had no letter-of-marque from any country, if they were caught by anyone they were finished. A privateer ostensibly was at least partially serving a state and wouldn't be taken by ships flying the flag of the nation writing his letter of marque. Rather than lawless pillagers, privateers sacked booty and took out naval targets for States.

    Its kind of like the difference between people who read (pirates) and industry monopolists/guilds (privateers). Only the pirates in this case aren't actually pillaging or taking anything from anyone....

     

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  33.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), Apr 8th, 2013 @ 10:00am

    I'll give Turow the benefit of the doubt and say he's not a total idiot.

    It's just that his perspective of publishing and how he makes a living is from way at the top. It's true that his way of making a living as a writer is in serious trouble, because in his world only a handful of writers make all of the money - including only a handful of his "guild" - and the majority of writer's never sees the light of day. He wants to preserve a system that only works and can only work for a very few.

    I'd rather live in a world where a lot of writers make a little money than a handful make a lot. Many will write for no money if there are people that are eager to read their work, but there will be many who make a decent living even if they are no longer getting rich.

     

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  34.  
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    Ninja (profile), Apr 8th, 2013 @ 10:03am

    Re: Rights and powers

    *Slow clap*

    Simple but beautifully said.

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 10:05am

    Re:

    Ohhhh, I get the connection now. Geiko is making fun of the copyright maximalists! I'll have to watch those commercials again in this new light...

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 10:08am

    Re: Re:

    What exactly have YOU 'accomplished' that you feel deserves charitable feelings?

     

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  37.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 8th, 2013 @ 10:08am

    Re:

    He wasn't saying that all (or even most) authors are luddites. He was saying that Scott Turow is. (Personally, I think the description is inapt, but I get his point).

     

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  38.  
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    JarHead, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 10:31am

    Re: Re: Re:

    If an author's only writing to make money, I'm not interested.

    This, x1000

    More generally: "If someone who dares to call him/herself as an artist only create to make money, avoid his/her works like a plague"

    I'll go as far as avoiding the person him/herself like a plague, like I did to several of my so called "artist" friends.

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 10:33am

    Authors are destroying authors

    With the rise of the internet you would expect to see an absolute explosion in the production of new books.

     

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  40.  
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    Forest_GS (profile), Apr 8th, 2013 @ 10:33am

    I learned about letters of marque from Bodacious space pirates anime. Great show.

    (it's safe, no NSFW stuff, I think there was one female with tight suit at one point of the anime though)

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 10:36am

    Re:

    I agree with you but there will still be those authors that there work is above the rest and make even more money but by using current technology.

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 10:36am

    Re:

    I would...but it's blocked "on copyright grounds"...um.

     

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  43.  
    identicon
    JEDIDIAH, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 10:40am

    Virtue is often difficult.

    Yes. Advocating liberty will quite often lead you to defend people you do not like. Why stop at Amazon and Google? This applies equally well to Nazis or the British Soldiers that gunned people down during the Boston Massacre.

    Trying to "demonize the victim" merely distracts from the essential facts of the situation.

    Property is a right. Intellectual property is not. Everyone should be equal under the law.

     

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  44.  
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    JarHead, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 10:40am

    Re:

    Hmm, the youtube link you gave leads me to this:

    "This video contains content from NBC Universal, who has blocked it on copyright grounds."

     

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  45.  
    icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), Apr 8th, 2013 @ 10:43am

    Re: Re:

    Yes, he's only complaining because HIS way of making money is going away.

     

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  46.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 10:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Plus it's incredibly stupid to think, "You know what I need? Money! And how am I going to get that money? How hard could it be?"

    It's freakishly hard to make decent money writing books in this day and age. If all you were interested in was making money there are literally a million other ways of doing it that are a lot easier.

     

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  47.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Apr 8th, 2013 @ 10:46am

    Re: Re:

    was my point...

     

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  48.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 10:51am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Ah, I get it. I was a little slow. In my defense, I found it funny.

     

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  49.  
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    RD, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 10:55am

    if thats true

    destroying authors, but enabling *writers*

     

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  50.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 10:56am

    Re: Re:

     

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  51.  
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    Andrew D. Todd, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 11:01am

    The Actual Scarcity Was a Patron. (to uRspqF7L, #14)

    You've got your facts twisty. Shakespeare made a lot of money, as an _actor_ who was also a _shareholder_ in his own playhouse. He retired to Stratford, and bought the biggest house in town, and a lot of small parcels of agricultural land, the safe investments of the day. Much the same went for the other actors in the Globe company, the Lord Chamberlain's Company. Their chief rival was the Lord Admiral's Company, owned by a man named Edward Alleyn. In the Lord Admiral's Company, actors were not partners, were poorly paid, and often unemployed. Alleyn became a millionaire, and spend most of his fortune in founding Dulwich College. It was owning a licensed theater which made the money. And, of course, the printers were organized as a quasi-government monopoly in the Stationer's Company.

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20070521/015928.shtml#c1236

    Probably, the key scarcity was patrons. Puritans of the time were very much like "jihadis" now, and England was only about forty years away from a civil war over religion. The countdown to 1639 was in progress. A patron had to be someone important enough that he could prevent a Puritan judge from having a theater torn down, and the actors flung into a dungeon. Practically, that meant one of the Great Officers of State, not all of whom approved of plays. If you were only a poet, and you didn't do anything involving large public gatherings, which had the potential to become riots, you could get by with a lower grade of patron, say, a hereditary earl, like the Earl of Southampton, who didn't happen to have the Queen's personal trust, or even someone like the Earl of Northumberland (Percy), who was effectively in lifetime house-arrest (*) in Southern England, a long way from his estates up in the North. Authoritarian governments are always very nervous about large assemblies of young men, and this was even more the case at a time when the standard military weapon, a sword, was a normal article of attire.

    (*) nominally free, but closely watched, and if he had strayed outside of his bounds, he would have been picked up, and sent to the Tower of London to have his head chopped off. This was not for anything he had actually done, but for being born to be the uncrowned king of the North.

     

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  52.  
    identicon
    Ruben, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 11:04am

    Re:

    Because if you believe the second, the idea that "giving it away leads to profits" sounds like a much more likely deluded ideology than that "giving it away leads to income."

    Counterintuitive? Yes. Deluded? I'd beg to differ.

    Explain to me how all of the artists who allow their music to be posted at http://bt.etree.org are able to make a living? Oh right, they're a 'fringe case' and don't count.

     

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  53.  
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    dennis deems (profile), Apr 8th, 2013 @ 11:06am

    Re: Re: Re:

    If Shax made money from the theatre, it was as a shareholder, period. There's not a single contemporary record of payment to him either as an actor or a writer. He and his family seem to have made their fortune in the grain business, particularly during time of famine when they were accused of hoarding.

     

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  54.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 11:09am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Still, the statement that he 'died a poor man' is demonstrably and provably false.

     

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  55.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 11:18am

    Re:

    "by the way, you notice how here you are arguing on the side of Google & Amazon? Those are the small-time "individuals" whose cause you are constantly pushing. Who just happen to benefit tremendously from the lowest IP restrictions possible."

    Actually, no, boy.

    If books are given away for free, Amazon makes nothing.

    Google makes money whether the links are to free or pay sites, so for the big "G", the question is moot.

    Or do you even think before you keyboard?

     

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  56.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 11:19am

    Re: From the privileged-frat-boy-thinks-everything-is-free dept.

    Apparently OotB didn't go to college.
    Not surprising...

     

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  57.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 11:30am

    Re:

    Scorr Sigler, and others, have their books as podiobooks form free at podiobooks.com. This does not seem to hurt their sales of paper books.

     

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  58.  
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    dennis deems (profile), Apr 8th, 2013 @ 11:31am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Agreed.

     

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  59.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 11:33am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Becoming a publisher and ripping of the authors being one.
    /sarc (maybe)

     

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  60.  
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    J. R. Tomlin, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 11:36am

    Re:

    Rich? I don't know (although oddly enough I do know a number who have gotten rich in the last year or two) but I DO know that the chances that an author can actually make a living and pay the bills have NEVER been higher -- especially if you don't follow any of Scott Turow's advice. I include myself in that group. Turow is indeed nothing but a Luddite.

     

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  61.  
    identicon
    John Doe, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 11:52am

    Insert product category here

    authors already contend with an enormous domestic market for secondhand books

    Or..

    Ford already contends with an enormous domestic market for secondhand cars.

    Or..

    Sony already contends with an enormous domestic market for secondhand cameras.

    Or...

    already contends with an enormous domestic market for

     

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  62.  
    identicon
    John Doe, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 11:53am

    Re: Insert product category here

    Well that didn't come out well. The last line should say:

    "insert company name here" already contends with an enormous domestic market for "insert product category here"

     

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  63.  
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    JarHead, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 11:58am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Meet a translator friend of mine who keep on insisting to feed himself, a wife, and 2 kids by doing translation works (mostly novels).

    What did he do to make things easier to earn a living? Recently, jacking up his prices 125% higher than the market rates (only 50% higher for friends, mind you) and quotes govt regulation for doing so.

    Let's see how he fares.

     

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  64.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 12:21pm

    Let's try

    "Fox News" already contends with an enormous domestic market for secondhand "innane editorials masquerading as news". Check

    "The U.S. Government" already contends with an enormous domestic market for secondhand "chilling effects". Check

    "EA" already contends with an enormous domestic market for secondhand "hilarious fails". Check


    Checks out on my platform.

     

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  65.  
    icon
    silverscarcat (profile), Apr 8th, 2013 @ 12:27pm

    Re: Re:

    Shakespeare also pirated other people's works and turned that into his own plays.

     

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  66.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 12:29pm

    Re:

    More like it turned religious culture on its head, it powered the reformation. People were able to read Bibles in their native language, rather than have to rely on translations by Catholic priests.

     

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  67.  
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    Louisbille, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 12:41pm

    The NYT is a liberal echo chamber; this gasbag Turow is just like the rest of their contributors. You can't spell liberal without the letters L-I-A-R.

    No vetting, no research, etc. they will run anything that criticizes capitalistic endeavors such as indie publishing; oblivious to the fact that ultra liberal publishing companies have enslaved 99% of authors for decades with draconian contract terms and accounting slight of hand.

     

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  68.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 12:54pm

    i have always found it quite amazing how the biggest load of bullshit always gets printed, as in this guy's pieces, for the masses to see and floated round to Congress and then the reports that are proven to be the truth, such as studies done over file sharing, always get left out, are never taken seriously and never gets Congresses attention. weird that

     

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  69. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    bob, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 12:56pm

    Re:

    And why should I pay you any money if it's already everywhere and you're giving it away?

    While you're at it, why don't you give your work away? Are you a programmer? If so, why don't you insist that your employer let you give your work away for free as open source. After all, you want it everywhere. Then we'll see how long your employer keeps paying you.

     

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  70.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Apr 8th, 2013 @ 12:59pm

    Re: From the privileged-frat-boy-thinks-everything-is-free dept.

    The only forum where "give away and pray" is taken seriously.


    Jeez, Blue. Why don't you actually take the "tour" you keep pushing with your stupid taglines?

    "Give it away and pray" is a very stupid business model and Mike has stated this repeatedly:

    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20080522/1545021204.shtml



    Off-topic straw poll:

    Does anyone else hear dueling banjos and have their sphincter involuntarily tighten when they read Blues comments? Or is it just me?

     

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  71.  
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    techflaws (profile), Apr 8th, 2013 @ 1:11pm

    Rest assured I'll be looking for Scott Turow free e-books from now on too. Free of any of his drivel that is.

     

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  72.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Apr 8th, 2013 @ 1:13pm

    Re: Authors are destroying authors

    With the rise of the internet you would expect to see an absolute explosion in the production of new books.


    Yes. And that is exactly what we have seen:

    https://cdn.techdirt.com/i/ig/theskyisrising.png

     

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  73.  
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    Chris Newman, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 1:15pm

    You make some good points, but I think you're overreaching yourself in some places:

    "But the larger point here is that, even if people were searching for "Scott Turow free e-books," how would that matter that much? By the very fact that they're doing that particular search, they've more or less self-identified as people not interested in paying money for Scott Turow books, so they're not the market anyway."

    Non sequitur. If I want something enough to put out any effort to obtain it, I am in the market for it. I might prefer to get it for free if it's easily available, but be prepared to buy it otherwise.

    "Instead of understanding any of this, Turow falsely attacks search engines on multiple levels. First, he suggests they're at fault because people are looking for free ebooks (even if they're not actually doing so for his own books). He assumes that because he did that search, others must. Second, when those search engines actually try to deliver what these theoretical people want (despite the fact that Turow himself has failed to do so) he complains about it. Finally, he falsely suggests that the search engines are making money doing so. They're not. Search engines make money if people click on ads. If someone sees a free ebook and clicks on an organic link, the search engine isn't making any money. I recognize that Turow hates technology, but that's no excuse for being blatantly ignorant about it when spewing misrepresentations in the NY Times."

    Gee, why don't search engines just maximize their revenue by serving up nothing but ads and leaving out all those non-lucrative search results, then?

     

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  74.  
    identicon
    Dave Xanatos, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 1:41pm

    Re: Scott probably understands pretty well what he's saying

    Given that Turow is a Sonnenschein partner and an author, he's probably pretty knowledgeable about what he's writing

    He's doing a great job of hiding it, then.

     

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  75.  
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    Ivan Denisovich, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 1:42pm

    Russian Authors

    "Could Turow easily name for us a Russian author from the 1940s who regularly affected the national conversation? How about the 1960s?"

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aleksandr_Solzhenitsyn

     

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  76.  
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    MahaliaShere (profile), Apr 8th, 2013 @ 2:09pm

    Speaking of authors...

     

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  77.  
    identicon
    Beech, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 2:15pm

    Re:

    well maybe its because ANY GIVEN AUTHOR can sell their own book on amazon, and google makes it easier for them to get noticed, and huge publishers wouldn't give 99.9% of any given author the time of day.

    Amazon and Google enable small time guys to do awesome stuff. Publishers don't.

     

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  78.  
    identicon
    Beech, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 2:19pm

    Re: Scott probably understands pretty well what he's saying

    "Given that Turow is a Sonnenschein partner and an author, he's probably pretty knowledgeable about what he's writing--even if you don't agree with his positions (I don't)."

    "Given that Turow is a Sonnenschein partner and an author, he's probably got a pretty good financial reason to write what he's writing"

    FTFY

     

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  79.  
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    Beech, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 2:21pm

    Re:

    I'm pretty sure all anime is NSFW. Your boss walks in on you watching cartoons instead of working and you may be in a spot of bother.

     

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  80.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 3:04pm

    Re:

    You frame this as a fight for individual rights,

    In may respects it is a fight between the publishers, including Hollywood and the labels, and everybody else’s right to partake in culture, and use the Internet to try and put their views across. The Internet is the first mass publication channel that allow publication without going via a gate keeper. If the Publishers get their way, they will gain control over what can be published on the Internet, Nobody will be able to publish their views without permission from a publisher.

     

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  81.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 8th, 2013 @ 3:04pm

    I suggest Wayne LaPierre!

    "It seems they'd be much better served by having a visionary leader who looks at ways to embrace new opportunities and who has realized that they can help to better promote, to connect with fans and to monetize their works."

    I vote for Wayne LaPierre!

     

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  82.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 3:10pm

    Re: Re: From the privileged-frat-boy-thinks-everything-is-free dept.

    I tend to hear violent assault of a fist by a nose. As an answer is always ignored, it is the only practical way of answering a person like blue.

     

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  83.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 3:17pm

    No one hurts authors more than the authors guild. The only reason the guild is not happy is because these other avenues offer authors alternative distribution options and the guild doesn't like that.

     

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  84.  
    identicon
    Dan Meadows, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 3:35pm

    Re: Re:

    Free has always been a business strategy. I worked for free-distribution magazines before Amazon was a twinkle in Jeff Bezos' eye and we made money hand over fist giving our product away to readers for free. Every major media company has used free as a strategy at some point, in many different ways. This isn't some new idea from internet anarchists. It's always been a viable model to explore, and has led many different creative industries to great profits and will continue to because it works.

     

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  85.  
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    dkline (profile), Apr 8th, 2013 @ 3:39pm

    Copyright's Real History

    I'm no fan of that ridiculous trope "information wants to be free."

    But as a lawyer, Turow ought to know that for the first 100 years of U.S. copyright law, the courts protected rampant piracy of European texts, and considered the public domain the heavy priority over the rights of authors (in stark contrast to the way patent law protected inventors, btw)

    This from the first copyright law in 1790: “Nothing in this act shall be construed to extend to prohibit the importation or vending, reprinting or publishing within the United States, of any map, chart, book or books by any person not a citizen of the United States.”

    Even a century later, in Koppel v. Downing, the court said this: “The primary object of [copyright] is to promote the progress of science and the useful arts, thereby benefitting the public, and as a means to that end and as a secondary object, to secure exclusive rights to authors.”

    Things have changed, of course, with the rights of authors much more strongly protected nowadays (too strongly, many feel, in the length of the term of copyright).

    But Turow ought to know his own patriotic history before he tries slinging it at others.

     

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  86.  
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    anonymouse, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 5:07pm

    Huh?

    Another rich asshole whines. Wow.

     

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  87.  
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    special-interesting (profile), Apr 8th, 2013 @ 6:05pm

    Where is the similar outcry for the destruction of culture that eternal copyright causes? Monopolies lay waste to fertile new unexplored areas ripe for cultural and commercial growth discovered/expanded by innovative new technology.

    Have to admit if a few authors/publishers/media-firms are intimidated or even crushed by new technology they could not master. Its OK. Natural economic evolution. No problem. They either study up and pass the test of consumer support or die.

    It seems that Scott Turow wants (like the typical sissy-wuss media firm these days) to bend space, time and constitutional rights to their personal monopolistic will. A grade schooler might want to avoid a math test they did not study for in the same childish way. Many students fail and thats normal.

    Scott says; “,a surge in cheap imports,”. This is just normal, level playing field, economic process in operation. If a firm charges to much, consumers purchase elsewhere. Importing is a valid business model also so if you can make a profit please do so. Entrepreneurial spirit is still alive! Whining about 'First Sale Rights' stepping on your turf is out of (legal) bounds and as such likely marginalizes the speakers legitimacy or good standing.

    The pricing of textbooks has been a legendary closed market (local monopoly) rip off for many a year now. Anyone forced to pay $230usd for a calculus book, problem/example workbook and study guide (with dubious version updates that obsolete earlier versions because the problems sets are changed.) knows that. Its so bad that its classic that near any large campus competitor book stores are always found much to the frustration of the campus bookstore. (many a local zoning battles have been waged/won/lost)

    Mr. Turow's constitutional awareness is typical of todays obviously uneducated (or worse corrupt/immoral) batch of lawyers/congressmen/politicians/media-firms. It realistically further undermines his credibility and by association the NYT also IMHO. The fact he mentions copyright and suggests more of it is a benefit to culture really tears up any/all logic or reasoning.

    Copyright is a monopoly and if the terms granted are longer than the lives of the audience it disallows (good) exponential cultural growth. If the terms are to long the cultural growth becomes negative. Thats right it shrinks (the body of) Public Domain Rights. (yeah the word Rights was added but so what you doublespeak bird brains!) -kicks the copyright bucket-

    The comments on book pricing and royalties by Scott was more childish reasoning seemingly based on maximizing profits at the expense of economic truth. Kind of a walled garden viewpoint that even if attractive is still not real. Any author/publisher will not have incentive to come up with more cultural works unless the copyright term expires. Hint; THIS IS (one of, don't forget cultural expansion) THE REASON(s) FOR SHORT REASONABLE COPYRIGHT TERMS! -use of megaphone-

    The only thing learned about the Russian talk was that they are becoming more literate and reading more. In what way was Scott paying attention there? Isn't he supposed to be FOR increased sales and profits? Will this work in every case? Probably not but this IS (undeniably) a matter of substance worth studying.

    The example of Paulo Coelho's unorthodox appropriation (for Russian translation) of his own book by bittorent and caused actual sales to grown tenfold should be added to the fact that cultural sharing can create/grow a powerful demand for such items/media/books. (the word 'pirate' is too strong and still intonates a wrong as the abuse by prosecutors shows.) Another reason to remove copyright from existence. Replace it with something better.

    Embracing new technology has victims strewn throughout history and thats life. Will anyone give up their refrigerator to support the local ice haulers kids? No way! Its not that people don't care there's just nothing to be done for it.

    Like the printing press sometimes cultural expansion by making literary works more available to everyone is a great thing. We have the same opportunity that the Gutenberg press does. If we act the same anal way that the Catholic church did (A death sentence for printing a bible and especially heretic was publishing it in a different language other than Latin.) there may be war (real, commercial, whatever or not), suffering (already a fact), a splintering of society and even possibly nations. Will we see a civil war rationalized over monopolies in the same way slavery was championed? (By either sides oppositely.) Yikes! I certainly hope not but do we even read/learn from history even at the bare minimum level that war is bad?

    It should be obvious that copyright enforcement has become at least as bad and ubiquitous as the abuse levied by British tax and legal scandals before the revolution. Today, copyright has transmorphed into copyMonopoly or copynopoly for short. -kicks the copytight bucket again-

    Reactionary;

    the discussion of Shakespeare's Patrons and puritanical/dark-age law enforcement of the day was fascinating and enlightening.

    The writings supporting the original copyright act bears repeating with much to learn about growing culture and scientific knowledge. A lot of which we have obviously forgotten these days. Time to break up another (copyright) monopoly?

     

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  88.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2013 @ 6:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: From the privileged-frat-boy-thinks-everything-is-free dept.

    Not surprising that AJ actually supports the drivel that out_of_the_lube posts - lube boy summarises his sentiments more than his giant walls of text ever could. They're not here to analyse or debate. They're here to kick up a big fuss and whine, whine, whine like little chickens.

     

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  89.  
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    PaulT (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 1:57am

    Re: Re: Re:

    The amusing thing is that I've only read one of Turow's books, which was a second hand copy. I thought it was OK, a little mediocre, but a reasonable enough timewaster to make a change from my usual horror/sci-fi/biography reading routines. I've never bothered to go back and look at his other work, and the only penny he might (but probably won't) have seen from me is when I rented the movie of Presumed Innocent on VHS when it came out. Other than that, I've never bothered reading another book of his - new or second hand.

    Perhaps that's why he's complaining. He knows that his books are so mediocre that people won't bother paying for them when they have the choice, and he's probably a long way down from contemporaries like John Grisham to begin with. I don't think he's an idiot, but he's definitely someone who's benefited greatly from the old restricted way of doing things and is afraid for the future that manages a level playing field for both authors and readers alike.

     

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  90.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 2:28am

    Re: Copyright's Real History

    Unless the Author is very careful in negotiating a contract, s/he lose almost all rights in their book to the publisher. This give the publisher control over how much they can earn by the publisher control over the number of copies made, and whether the title is kept in print.

     

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  91.  
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    JMT (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 6:20am

    Re: Re: From the privileged-frat-boy-thinks-everything-is-free dept.

    Out of curiosity, is Mike the only person on the internet who won't "engage" with you, or do you pester other bloggers with the same obsessive behavior?

     

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  92.  
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    Niall (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 6:42am

    Re: Re:

    He also died destined to be considered one of the best writers in the whole world, out of the whole of history. Somehow, he did that through his own native creativity, hard work, and tireless self-promotion, rather than through some legally granted protection. There are plenty of other well-known authors from similar pre-Anne eras who also owe nothing to copyright. It's about writing well and getting an audience, NOT being able to control who copies your work. Copyright benefits printing companies, not authors. However, the current publishing industry is going to go the way of the mediaeval scribe at this rate.

    Besides, yank-copyfascists are the biggest hypocrites on this one, ignoring British (and other) copyrights for years...

     

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  93.  
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    Niall (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 6:44am

    Re: The Actual Scarcity Was a Patron. (to uRspqF7L, #14)

    As someone who attended Dulwich College, I can confirm that Edward Alleyn was *loaded*. :)

    Just shows you what damage dogma does, either relgious or idealogical (copyfascism).

     

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  94.  
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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 6:49am

    Re: Re:

    If you had said Van Gogh, I'd have agreed with you. But then again, living off just painting is almost impossible even in this day and age. (In his time at least, you didn't have photographs, so if you wanted a portrait, you went to a painter, so it was possible to make a living off painting, if you didn't mind scraping the bottom of the barrel)

    But using Shakespeare as your example just made you the laughing stock of the week.

     

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  95.  
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    Niall (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 6:56am

    Re: Re:

    A thousand times this.

    Good thing Plato had copyright to help him encourage people to memorise his stuff, eh?

     

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  96.  
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    Niall (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 6:58am

    Re: Re: Insert product category here

    It worked ok, and would have even with X...Y

     

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  97.  
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    Niall (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 7:02am

    Re:

    And you can't spell Conservative without the letters C-O-N. So what? This isn't about idiotarianism, conservatism or democratism. It's about realising the world is changing and it never owed you a living.

    And I thought the right wing was always complaining that 'being owed a living' was a 'soh-shul-ist' concept? (Despite monopolies being entrenched in capitalist systems.) So how can the 'liberal' NYT be going against 'socialist' principles?

    Maybe because most things in the world are NOT 'liberal' or 'socialist' the way Faux and Limburger would have you believe. There's such a thing as 'reality' - one unfortunate element of it being that it is full of selfish and/or power-mad idiots, or we wouldn't need 'socialism' to keep 'capitalism' under control, or vice versa.

     

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  98.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 7:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It's likely he got paid up front for Presumed Innonent and doesn't collect any royalties on the film.

    He's no idiot, but he is arrogant and elitist.

     

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  99.  
    identicon
    Kate, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 8:01am

    Middle ground

    I think you make some great points, but by dismissing Turow completely, you are missing some of his valid concerns.

    Google does not always display "snippets." I have found all of one book but one single chapter, and I've found cookbooks with most of their recipes displayed and easily printed off. That, to me, is not fair use, and they did not pay for these books, ask permission to scan them from authors and publishers, etc. That's called stealing. If anybody can afford to pay up, it's Google. I would have much preferred a national digital library that did not mine my reading for marketing purposes. I liked the privacy libraries provided.

    Piracy of books may not be a huge problem today; that can change quickly as book scanning becomes easier and cheaper. I would argue that young people, who get in the habit of not paying for content (such as music), remain non-paying consumers as they get older. Sales of singles have not replaced album sales. It may be easier than ever for a new group to catch on, but harder than ever for them to make a living. I am not sure how things stand today.

    If libraries were able to offer e-books and audio books in a more convenient way (oh how I hate Overdrive's interface), then I will be the first to admit my e-book purchases will go way down. I tend to buy print books for keepers and e-books for entertaining reads I do not wish to read again. If they were free, then I would reduce my overall book purchases.

    I agree Turow might not be the best leader right now, but dismissing his points wholesale is not helpful, nor are the repeated insults in your article. Please do not look at the exceptions and make new rules; there have been great self-publishing successes, but there are many more disappointments. Is it easier than ever to publish and try to market? In a way, yes. But those advantages tend to benefit new authors or authors in certain genres (sci-fi, romance, erotica, etc.). What if you write for children? I think you might see this phenomenon: the popular genre authors who once sustained literary publishing will break off and self-publish because their readers are ravenous, devoted, and online. Books of cultural value--the kind with staying power over many decades--will struggle even more. I am not sure what will happen to children's literature. I certainly cannot market to them directly (that's stalking), but a book a parent may approve of may not be the book that will capture a kid's interest and turn him or her into an enthusiastic reader.

    Once authors are established and more well known, the incentive to buy their may diminish. They seem so successful. They do not need support any more. They may not be as in touch with their readers as they once were. You have to look at what's happening as a complex ecosystem. Turow may be on one end of the spectrum and, from his vantage point, things are not looking good for writers in terms to making a living.

     

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  100.  
    identicon
    Lesley King, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 8:17am

    Bravo

    A few years ago I naively joined the Author's Guild only to find it to be a dinosaur of an organization. All correspondence had the same tone as Turow's writing presented here. Thank you for broadening my understanding of why I was so disappointed and ended my membership.

     

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  101.  
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    dennis deems (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 9:40am

    Re:

    Strange how that "liberal echo chamber" hasn't expressed a liberal sentiment in over a decade....

     

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  102.  
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    Avi, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 1:10pm

    "They can use Kickstarter to "pre-sell" the books and get support from fans." -- Yep my favorite business/marketing writer did this -- Seth Godin -- to wild success, $287k of pre-orders!

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/297519465/the-icarus-deception-why-make-art-new-f rom-seth-go

     

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  103.  
    identicon
    GrrlGeek1972, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 3:07pm

    Free ebooks and authors' bank accounts

    I am new to this site, and am thrilled to find it. If my comment is old news to all of you, I apologize.

    I have been a big fan of Baen Books for a long time, and they have pretty much established beyond a reasonable doubt that if you make an author's back-list available for free as an eBook, not only do hard-copy sales go up, but eBook sales go up.

    My personal experience is as follows: for authors I love and can't wait for the next book, I will spend $15 to get an Advanced Readers Copy as an eBook. (eARC)

    Then, when the hard-copy book comes out, I buy one of those.

    In some cases, I have a hardcover, a paperback, the eARC, and an Audible.com version. I grant you, this is a bit extreme, but...I can afford to indulge. But the beauty of the BAEN model is, if I were a person of limited means, I could download lots of books for free, and try out new authors without risking hard cash. I have discovered several new authors this way, and went out and BOUGHT more recent books from them, once I knew I loved their stuff.

    Now that I have a Kindle, because Baen doesn't believe in DRM nonsense, I simply hooked my Kindle up to my computer and moved all my previously purchased eBooks over to my new Kindle.

    When an eBook is available on both Amazon and Baen, I buy direct from Baen, because I want them to grow and thrive.

    Eric Flint has a long discussion about why Baen thinks this is a good idea.

    http://baen.com/library/intro.asp

    If any of you haven't gone to Baen Books yet, have at it.

     

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  104.  
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    Karl (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 5:55pm

    Re:

    If I want something enough to put out any effort to obtain it, I am in the market for it. I might prefer to get it for free if it's easily available, but be prepared to buy it otherwise.

    In which case, you most likely would not be searching for "Scott Turow free e-books." You're far more likely to prefer to get it for free if it's easily available, but do without it otherwise.

    But there are people like you describe. It's just that Turow (and others like him) must find a way to convince the people who search for "free e-books" to pay money, instead of either pirating or doing without (economically there's no difference). Lashing out at public libraries isn't going to do that.

    Gee, why don't search engines just maximize their revenue by serving up nothing but ads and leaving out all those non-lucrative search results, then?

    If they did, nobody would click on those ads; and if that happened, they'd make exactly the same amount of money as they do when people click on search results: zero.

    People may be searching for content to pirate, but the people who actually make money from those searches are not pirate sites. The search engine doesn't get paid when people click on a link to the Pirate Bay. They get paid when people click on an advertisement to buy something on Amazon or iTunes.

     

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  105.  
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    voxmanz (profile), Apr 10th, 2013 @ 12:38am

    Techdirt: Mouthpiece for the Big Tech Industry

    I've had a personal conversation with people from Techdirt and was willing to have my mind changed on the copyright issue. It made me instead be a bigger supporter of copyrights than before. The people I talked to were arrogant know-it-alls who don't give a shit about artists and were completely uninterested in any point of view but their own. They want all info to be free so that people will buy all the expensive tech gadgets with which to use the free content. Don't be fooled by their "information should be free" propaganda and don't be intimidated by their self-righteous, know-it-all attitude that calls anyone who disagrees with them backward and stupid. If uptopia is run by arrogant, uncompassionate people like this, count me out.

     

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  106.  
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    PaulT (profile), Apr 10th, 2013 @ 1:49am

    Re: Techdirt: Mouthpiece for the Big Tech Industry

    Did you hurt yourself erecting that strawman?

     

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  107.  
    identicon
    Julie, Apr 10th, 2013 @ 1:14pm

    Thank you

    The A G has been irritating me for years as a destructive force working against authors and readers alike. This latest piece made me froth at the mouth and its good to know there are folks like you taking the time to debunk with -- gasp -- actual facts and sanity.

     

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  108.  
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    Elisabeth, Apr 10th, 2013 @ 5:28pm

    Turrow

    Glad Scott Turrow is still into fiction

     

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  109.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2013 @ 9:47am

    A good place for Turow to find data...

    hm.. maybe.. The Library? Research-thingy? Did Turow buy a personal coly of the U.S. Code while in law school?

    The thing is with content: Some you buy, some you don't. Some actually is intended for purchase *only* by libraries -- intended to be a shared resource. The library is a great place to test-drive an unfamiliar author of series fiction.

    And: After an author is dead, awareness of his or her existence will likely dwindle, and may even vanish entirely. Librarians are the ones who will persist in giving a sh!t about an author's work long after public interest has waned, and are therefore the author's best key to immortality.

     

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  110.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2013 @ 9:47am

    A good place for Turow to find data...

    hm.. maybe.. The Library? Research-thingy? Did Turow buy a personal coly of the U.S. Code while in law school?

    The thing is with content: Some you buy, some you don't. Some actually is intended for purchase *only* by libraries -- intended to be a shared resource. The library is a great place to test-drive an unfamiliar author of series fiction.

    And: After an author is dead, awareness of his or her existence will likely dwindle, and may even vanish entirely. Librarians are the ones who will persist in giving a sh!t about an author's work long after public interest has waned, and are therefore the author's best key to immortality.

     

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  111.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2013 @ 9:47am

    A good place for Turow to find data...

    hm.. maybe.. The Library? Research-thingy? Did Turow buy a personal coly of the U.S. Code while in law school?

    The thing is with content: Some you buy, some you don't. Some actually is intended for purchase *only* by libraries -- intended to be a shared resource. The library is a great place to test-drive an unfamiliar author of series fiction.

    And: After an author is dead, awareness of his or her existence will likely dwindle, and may even vanish entirely. Librarians are the ones who will persist in giving a sh!t about an author's work long after public interest has waned, and are therefore the author's best key to immortality.

     

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  112.  
    identicon
    Michael, Jul 11th, 2013 @ 5:46pm

    Scott Turow

    Ok, we are all entitled to our opinions. I wish I did not have a life so that I can spent time on this and other places advocating "everything free"

    Go ahead, give the aggregators, who are the legal pirates, all the free rides; who gives a damn about the one striving for excellence. Scott is the bad guy, I see...

     

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  113.  
    identicon
    James Hutchings, Dec 16th, 2013 @ 9:54pm

    I am shocked to learn that libraries want to lend books.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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