Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Google book search settlement

Start here for information about the proposed settlement in the lawsuit brought against Google for wholesale copyright violation in the scanning of in-copyright books.

A couple of notes:
  • The proposed settlement has no bearing on the copyright held by artists in book illustrations or covers. It applies only to publishers, authors, and their heirs and assigns. If your copyright illustrations are scanned in the course of scanning a book, take the issue up with the book’s copyright holder, because Google doesn’t want to hear from you.
  • The propose settlement appears to weaken the protection of copyright law for the creators of works, because copyright holders must positively reassert the rights they already have—by opting in to the settlement or by registering their works with the yet-to-be-formed Book Rights Registry—in order to retain those rights. Otherwise, the way I read the settlement, they in effect forfeit those rights to Google.
This is another situation where the courts have confused copyright owners (mostly publicly held corporations) with the content creators (individual writers and artists) the copyright laws were initially designed to protect.

In other words, what else is new?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It's good to know the Secretary of the Treasury can count

“Regulation is not a four-letter word.”
—Henry Paulson
testifying in a House Financial Services
Committee hearing yesterday

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I'm from the government and I'm here to help

Let’s hear it for protecting the rights of content creators. Gimme an I. Gimme a P. Gimme a C. Gimme a Z. Gimme an A. Gimme an R. What does it spell? IP czar.

Except for one thing. The corporations whose intellectual property this newly created post will protect are not content creators. They are the media conglomerates who strong-arm content creators and extort, er, make that extract from them the legal ownership of anything and everything those individuals create.

But the historical rationale for copyright, until the passage of the Sonny Bono Act, was, in the words of the US Constitution, “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”

In other words, writers and artists will not be helped by this new law. In fact, because the law strengthens the bullies in the film and music industries, it will further diminish support for a free, open marketplace in arts and letters. A few celebrities will do well. Most creators will keep their day jobs and retreat to their garrets at night to commune with their muses. Others will give up. Others will starve.

The new law is bad for everyone, including the stockholders of the companies it is intended to benefit. Only they are too blinded by greed to understand that.