Book Authors Getting a Taste of Piracy . . .

Diner's picture

Just ran across this article and found it enlightening to see how an issue we've been dealing with for years is now important to folks who've never considered it before. Sorta reminds me of the font industry circa 1990 . . .

http://www.cnn.com/2010/TECH/01/01/ebook.piracy/index.html

Stuart

blank's picture

I’m saddened that there are 100,000 people out there would bother to steal Dan Brown’s horrid prose. That’s akin to shoplifting at 7-11.

quadibloc's picture

It is unfortunate that font designs are being copied widely, and have a lack of legal protection, at least in some countries.

Of course, I cannot condemn makers of cheap font CDs too harshly when I remember that the major typesetting machine companies and typefounders had been taking advantage of the lax legal regime to do the exact same thing.

The solution, of course, is what ITC had been trying to do. Instead of a type designer working for Linotype, or Monotype, or Compugraphic, or Bitstream, type designers design their fonts independently, and through a co-operative organization similar to ASCAP, license their fonts on equal terms for use on any phototypesetting system.

Of course, today, all that is obsolete. People don't use phototypesetters, they use high-resolution laser printers, and TrueType, Type 1, and OpenType work on them all just fine. So you can buy a typeface from Linotype and use it on any laser printer, even if it were made by ATF or VariTyper.

david h's picture

> is now important to folks who’ve never considered it before

???

Richard Fink's picture

@diner

Didn't read the article. I might, but...
I don't know about the folks who want to read Dan Brown but I can tell you that a lot of the people who are into makeshift book scanning and unlicensed distribution are people who love literature, love books, and find the notion of an "out of print" book in the digital age a travesty. (It is.)
There is something akin to a "Fahrenheit 451" phenomenon going on.
Nearly all of 20th Century culture in print is being held hostage by a very, very small percentage of rights holders whose works still have some commercial value.
It was *my* Congress who got bought off and voted for this sh-t. Reform is way overdue.

The music industry periodically sues kids who download music to make an example out of them. But they're an easy target public-relations-wise. They're just trying to get a freebie. Is the publishing industry going to sue middle-aged librarians and college profesors who are doing this on principle? I really want to see how that flies.

rich

quadibloc's picture

I don’t know about the folks who want to read Dan Brown but I can tell you that a lot of the people who are into makeshift book scanning and unlicensed distribution are people who love literature, love books, and find the notion of an “out of print” book in the digital age a travesty. (It is.)
There is something akin to a “Fahrenheit 451” phenomenon going on.
Nearly all of 20th Century culture in print is being held hostage by a very, very small percentage of rights holders whose works still have some commercial value.

I can agree with that sentiment, and yet not feel that it is a good enough reason to ignore or abolish copyright law. I do feel that copyright law is intended to benefit society by encouraging the production of new works - it is not a compulsory respect for the human rights of authors - and so legislators should not extend copyright in every way that vested interests ask them to.

Of course, as an English speaker living in Canada, I can very easily go to thrift shops and pick up a vast number of books on all sorts of subjects at bargain prices, while fully respecting copyright law.

Other people are not so fortunate. Thus, the people who live in Eastern Europe, for example, if they are seeking books that have honest contents, that have not been cruelly deformed into making a mockery of truth, must, at least for works on many subjects, confine themselves to books published recently, or imported books in foreign languages. Except for books on the most politically innocuous of subjects, therefore, books are likely to be more expensive: perhaps used copies at half price of last year's popular books, but not at thrift shop or library book sale prices.

So I suspect that for them, much more than for us, the copyright issue you outline is a genuinely serious matter.

apankrat's picture

Thus, the people who live in Eastern Europe, for example, if they are seeking books that have honest contents, that have not been cruelly deformed into making a mockery of truth, must, at least for works on many subjects, confine themselves to books published recently, or imported books in foreign languages.

John, can you elaborate on this rather bold statement ? I am from Eastern Europe and quite frankly I have no idea what you are talking about.

bowerbird's picture

> an issue we’ve been dealing with for years
> is now important to folks
> who’ve never considered it before.

gosh, that statement takes the cake for solipsism!

without bothering to dip into more copyright b.s.
-- it's a total waste of time, because minds have
already been decided -- i will note that there are
two vastly different kinds of "piracy" in the world.

the first is a large-scale _commercial_ operation which
works under intentional decisions to deceive customers
into paying good money for a product that is counterfeit.
there are all kinds of laws on the books to fight this crime.

the second kind of "piracy" is people "sharing" with friends.
this activity is generally accepted, and under the doctrine of
"first sale" is typically considered as fully legal under the law.
you can loan a paper-book just like you loan a lawn-mower.

the world of book-publishing is acquainted, long and well,
with both of these types of "piracy", thank you very much...

this article from c.n.n. shows just how clueless c.n.n. really is,
how desperate they are to fill their pages with "content"...

-bowerbird

quadibloc's picture

One other case I can think of where copyright on books causes problems for some people is that one can't make a large library available electronically for hospital patients to read on a display from their beds.

John, can you elaborate on this rather bold statement?

Well, if you are from Eastern Europe yourself, I suppose that means that I must be mistaken.

What I was referring to, though, was the censorship which existed there during the long period of Communist rule. I presumed that this rendered uninteresting a large proportion of the books published during that period - depending, of course, on subject area.

Diner's picture

@ bowerbird - Call it what you want but you make the point I was hoping would come up and that is that casual friendly sharing of 'personal' use still takes income from the authors pocket because books are primarily purchased for personal use by an individual.

You could split hairs that there is a big enough difference between lost pirated font sales and book sales but I feel they are akin to one another . . .

Stuart

bowerbird's picture

stuart said:
> You could split hairs that there is
> a big enough difference between
> lost pirated font sales and book sales
> but I feel they are akin to one another . . .

i agree. they're very much the same thing.

that's why i laughed when you said publishers
are just starting to experience the phenomenon.

now let's pursue the matter just a bit farther...

that "casual friendly sharing" is something that
people expect to be able to do with paper-books.
and indeed, there's nothing illegal about it at all...

no, to the contrary, under the "first sale doctrine",
this is a legal right that people have with p-books.
in addition to loaning them to other people, you
can also rent books, or sell them used outright...

all of this "takes income from the author's pocket",
if you choose to think about it that particular way,
but it's all perfectly legal, and it jives with our sense
of the way things "should" be, as per our experience.

it's also the case that _libraries_ "take income from"
authors, if you choose to think about it that way, but
-- once again -- that's the way the world was set up.
a copy of the book is bought, once, so the author
and the publisher are paid, and then that copy gets
loaned out, perhaps dozens of times over its lifetime,
even though the author was only paid that one time...

the thing is, what publishers are trying to do now, is
to change the _sale_ of a book into a _rental_ instead,
and a strictly constrained rental at that, via a "license".

they even want to try to "enforce" the license via d.r.m.

this gets to be ridiculous.

and similarity between books and fonts breaks down.

-bowerbird

apankrat's picture

> and similarity between books and fonts breaks down.

Not if you consider a TypeKit kind of font "rental".

Diner's picture

This is fascinating reading Bowerbird - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First-sale_doctrine

Although it doesn't really make a clear case for the difference between digital and physical goods but it is very interesting none the less because I was not familiar with this doctrine previous to your posting . . .

Otherwise one wrinkle in your post regarding libraries states they as well as non-profit educational institutions are exempt from this doctrine.

Further, EULAs aside, so long as the terms of the sale are presented and accepted by the user prior to their ability to take possession of the good, there is a strong case against the first sale doctrine, especially if they demonstrated acceptance of the terms prior to purchase and/or use . . .

That said, does it remedy the author? dunno. . . It would seem it's easier to protect a Blog than it is an actual written novel under these conditions . . .

Stuart

quadibloc's picture

Libraries and non-profit educational institutions benefited from the first-sale doctrine, and are perhaps exempted from legislated exceptions to it.

Thus, legislation excludes audio CDs from the first-sale doctrine, so it is illegal to rent them the way videotapes are rented. However, libraries can still lend them.

Perhaps this is what you were referring to?

aluminum's picture

Libraries have been 'pirating' books for a century now. EVIL!

bowerbird's picture

so, enjoy the copyright-discussion-merry-go-round
if you like going around in circles and getting dizzy...

i just wanted to point out that book publishers have
experienced "piracy" for a _very_ long time already...

i should've also mentioned that a good many authors
think that you're doing them a favor when you pass on
their books to your friends and family, and many are
pleased as punch when their books get checked out
_repeatedly_ from a library. i guess it takes all types.

-bowerbird

Ehague's picture

Did you know that most libraries not only let you borrow books, but also CDs and DVDs?

I've always wondered why this wasn't a more complained-about source of piracy for music and movies. One can simply check out a CD or DVD, copy it, and return it. All without paying any money. I can understand why it would be difficult to quantify the extent of the problem--it's virtually undetectable--but shouldn't that fact alone makes it a really obvious, attractive alternative to the more risky, yet-equally $0 process of using the usual, internet-based way of illegally downloading those things?

Is it just that it's inconvenient and that impatience constitutes some portion of the motivation behind piracy?

bowerbird's picture

ehague said:
> shouldn’t that fact alone makes it
> a really obvious, attractive alternative to
> the more risky, yet-equally $0 process of
> using the usual, internet-based way of
> illegally downloading those things?

certainly. i have heard people chuckle
at the mention of napster, saying that
it's a waste of their time to chase after
the songs that they want (and perhaps
end up with badly-done reproductions)
when they can simply go to the library
and check out the c.d. and burn it fine.

of course, you can scan a library book too.
yes, it's more work than burning a c.d., but
it can be done, and it's not all _that_ difficult.
indeed, scanning is still the method that is
most widely used by people "pirating" books.

-bowerbird

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