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posted by Fnord666 on Thursday April 02 2020, @08:28AM   Printer-friendly
from the writers-gotta-eat dept.

Authors fume as online library "lends" unlimited free books:

For almost a decade, the Internet Archive, an online library best known for its Internet Wayback Machine, has let users "borrow" scanned digital copies of books held in its warehouse. Until recently, users could only check out as many copies as the organization had physical copies. But last week, The Internet Archive announced it was eliminating that restriction, allowing an unlimited number of users to check out a book simultaneously. The Internet Archive calls this the National Emergency Library.

Initial media coverage of the service was strongly positive. The New Yorker declared it a "gift to readers everywhere." But as word of the new service spread, it triggered a backlash from authors and publishers.

"As a reminder, there is no author bailout, booksellers bailout, or publisher bailout," author Alexander Chee tweeted on Friday. "The Internet Archive's 'emergency' copyrights grab endangers many already in terrible danger."

"It is a tarted-up piracy site," wrote author James Gleick.

Previously:

Internet Archive Suspends E-Book Lending "Waiting Lists" During U.S. National Emergency


Original Submission

 
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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 02 2020, @09:24AM (6 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 02 2020, @09:24AM (#978264)

    The vast majority of books on there are pretty old and usually out of print anyway. I'm sure that in some alternate dimension there is still a strong demand for circa-1987 books on programming fifth-rate, type-the-code-in-yourself video games for an Apple II, but this is not that dimension, alas.

    All this whining is effective at is adding more fuel to the fire of why the current length of copyright makes a mockery of its original intent, and that the extreme length is far more damaging than the "losses" sustained by pirating works that will never be produced for profit again. If anything, these authors should be thanking archive.org for preserving their work rather than allowing it - and them - to slide into the waste basket of history.

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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by stretch611 on Thursday April 02 2020, @01:23PM (4 children)

    by stretch611 (6199) Subscriber Badge on Thursday April 02 2020, @01:23PM (#978289)

    I totally agree.

    And the original purpose of copyright in the US was to encourage authors to write more books (or whatever creative work,) not to make one and sit on its profits for your lifetimes and the lifetime of your grandchildren as well.

    This current time would be a windfall had the original intent lived with us today... The virus and stay at home orders would have people reading their older books for free, and if they liked your works, you can be assured that they would then buy your more recent titles.

    --
    Now with 5 covid vaccine shots/boosters altering my DNA :P
    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Grishnakh on Thursday April 02 2020, @03:38PM (3 children)

      by Grishnakh (2831) on Thursday April 02 2020, @03:38PM (#978334)

      And the original purpose of copyright in the US was to encourage authors to write more books (or whatever creative work,) not to make one and sit on its profits for your lifetimes and the lifetime of your grandchildren as well.

      Exactly, which is why the original term was only 20 years IIRC. I have no respect for copyright, because the copyright cartels got that extended to an absurdly-long time (author's lifetime plus 70 years): this isn't useful for society, it's only useful for authors, or for corporations that buy up the authors' rights.

      Return copyright terms to 20 years or less if you want me to respect them.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 02 2020, @07:11PM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 02 2020, @07:11PM (#978414)

        According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_copyright#Early_United_States_copyright_law [wikipedia.org] , copyright in the US varied across the colonies/states and was eventually formalized as:

        The first federal copyright act was the Copyright Act of 1790. It granted copyright for a term of 14 years "from the time of recording the title thereof" with a right of renewal for another 14 years if the author survived to the end of the first term. The act covered not only books, but also maps and charts. With exception of the provision on maps and charts the Copyright Act of 1790 is copied almost verbatim from the Statute of Anne.(Great Britain 1710)

        Unless the author died or possibly failed to renew, it was 28 years.

        About a hundred years later some international standardization began, discussed in the next section after the link above:

        The Berne Convention was first established in 1886, and was subsequently re-negotiated in 1896 (Paris), 1908 (Berlin), 1928 (Rome), 1948 (Brussels), 1967 (Stockholm) and 1971 (Paris). The convention relates to literary and artistic works, which includes films, and the convention requires its member states to provide protection for every production in the literary, scientific and artistic domain. The Berne Convention has a number of core features, including the principle of national treatment, which holds that each member state to the Convention would give citizens of other member states the same rights of copyright that it gave to its own citizens (Article 3-5).[33]

        Another core feature is the establishment of minimum standards of national copyright legislation in that each member state agrees to certain basic rules which their national laws must contain. Though member states can if they wish increase the amount of protection given to copyright owners. One important minimum rule was that the term of copyright was to be a minimum of the author's lifetime plus 50 years. ...

        In other words, long (C) terms have been around for nearly 150 years now.

        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by ze on Thursday April 02 2020, @08:52PM

          by ze (8197) on Thursday April 02 2020, @08:52PM (#978448)

          Which has nothing to do with the original purpose or practice of copyright in the US, who your link notes didn't joint the Berne Convention and adopt its guidelines until 1989. I think it's fair to argue that a sound policy got usurped by a bad one there, and it doesn't matter if the bad one happened to be older, it amounts to part of the problem, all the same.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 04 2020, @10:37PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 04 2020, @10:37PM (#979159)

          In other words, long (C) terms have been around for nearly 150 years now.

          So in other words, the situation of copyright overreach is even worse than most people think.

  • (Score: 2) by Common Joe on Thursday April 02 2020, @06:43PM

    by Common Joe (33) Subscriber Badge <{common.joe.0101} {at} {gmail.com}> on Thursday April 02 2020, @06:43PM (#978410) Journal

    Basically, you are correct. From here [archive.org] they've given a response as to why they've done what they've done. An interesting tidbit from the link I've provided:

    Doesn’t my local library already provide access to all of these books?

    No. The Internet Archive has focused our collecting on books published between the 1920s and early 2000s, the vast majority of which don’t have a commercially available ebook. Our collection priorities have focused on the broad range of library books to support education and scholarship and have not focused on the latest best sellers that would be featured in a bookstore.

    Further, there are approximately 650 million books in public libraries that are locked away and inaccessible during closures related to COVID-19. Many of these are print books that don’t have an ebook equivalent except for the version we’ve scanned. For those books, the only way for a patron to access them while their library is closed is through our scanned copy.