Slash Boxes

SoylentNews is people

SoylentNews is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop. Only 13 submissions in the queue.
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.


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

Original Submission

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
Display Options Threshold/Breakthrough Mark All as Read Mark All as Unread
The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 02 2020, @10:43AM (4 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 02 2020, @10:43AM (#978270)

    Digital media creates a near zero cost to make a copy. My history is hazy; but, the entire reason 'copy'right was invented was due to the printing press. An author could create a work, send it to the publisher, have it published, and everyone gets paid; yay! However, a competing press could make copies of the work and sell it, perhaps a bit cheaper, and they'd collect all the profit; while the original author and publisher got left out. Generally, in the beginning it seems plausible the authors got their fair share upon submitting their work to the press; but, the press had an interest in retaining the rights to copy, so they could stay profitable. Thus, it seems plausible that an author-publisher type relationship came out of 'copy'right. Authors and publishers had to make a sort of commitment to eachother.

    Enter the digital age. Where once you had an entire building staffed with workers dedicated to creating printed copies of written work, you now have CTRL+C on a keyboard, connected to a computer, that is wired to any other computer with an internet connection, world wide. There is still a need for writers and editors; but, both the author and the publisher have essentially been put out of business as their is no longer any of the REQUIRED scarcity for economic activity. You can only create artificial scarcity with laws; which, essentially make a crime of, 'sharing.' It is often natural for children to struggle with the concept of sharing. This carries on into adulthood as well, it seems.

    They are called, 'starving', artists for a reason. If I'm, again, not mistaken, the true artist is compelled to create works of art. Whether that leads to monumental failure or undreamed of success, is mostly a matter of fortune. Talent is crucial. Experience, hard work, and dedication are also required in at least a decent measure; but, luck plays a large part. Getting noticed by the right person(s) at the right time. Some times some one is 'ahead of their time;' they don't get noticed till much later on in their life or perhaps even after their death.

    I was going to say my point was that the true artist makes art to make art; not to get paid. Though, I think if many artists were to look deep down, they wound find, they desperately want to get paid to make their art. So, you have this dynamic struggle between what will bring home the daily bread, and what nourishes the soul; and, often they are in conflict. Therefore, it makes sense the happiest marriage of circumstances for an artist, is to be successful enough at it, that they can make a living off of it.

    Now, I also happen to think generating, supporting, benefiting from, and fighting for artificial scarcity and the means with which to produce it, makes of one, a Luddite. I suppose, in the interest of self preservation and the basic human instinct to survive, one could sort of bless that sort of activity as a form of competition; but, through another lens, is not that type of behavior, 'anti-competitive?' Is the capitalist game strange, in that, when you win, you lose, because you've become a monopoly?

    Anywho, maybe we should all go to Alexander Chee's Patreon page and tip him a fiver for the trouble of his artificial scarcity being temporarily defeated without compensatory recourse.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Immerman on Thursday April 02 2020, @02:36PM (3 children)

    by Immerman (3985) on Thursday April 02 2020, @02:36PM (#978311)

    I does seem that most good artists are compelled to make art - however, they are even more strongly compelled to eat. And if making art doesn't fund their eating habit, then they have to do something else to fund it, rather than making art. Yeah, they'll still make a little art, but making art after a long soul-draining day at the office is difficult, assuming you even have the time. Art requires inspiration, and emotional exhaustion tends to rob you of that.

    I'm not a fan of artificial scarcity, but so far it's at the top of a very short list of ways to fund artists so that they have the time and energy to make art. Patronage used to work okay, so long as you were content with output of the handful of artists that found wealthy patrons, and things like Patreon and kickstarter have begun democratizing that... but it's not (yet?) an effective way for most artists to fund themselves.

    • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Thursday April 02 2020, @03:42PM (1 child)

      by Grishnakh (2831) on Thursday April 02 2020, @03:42PM (#978336)

      Back in the "old days", creators used to live on the patron model: patrons gave them money so they'd create works for them. This is how Mozart earned a living, for instance.

      Copyright sounds like a good idea: give authors a limited time to have exclusive control over their work, and then release it to society in the public domain, after ~20 years. But now it's been totally perverted by the copyright cartels so that stuff almost never falls into the public domain until all the copies of it have been destroyed by sheer age, unless someone bothered to illegally copy it, which is what we see with software. There's an enormous amount of software out there which would no longer exist if some people hadn't been "pirating" it.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 17 2020, @06:36PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 17 2020, @06:36PM (#984241)

        Most people don't realize how much further information could be gleaned about the 'real' hardware of the era versus its documented capabilities, as well as code hacks that cause subtle bugs that may exhibit in emulation once no one knows why those bugs exist, and whether they were intended or unintended operation of the code in question.

        The amount of history being lost because we aren't appropriating and archiving copies of raw source code, revision control, etc for future generations is obscene and more than a little sad.

        *said while looking at a pile of computer systems from 1983 to 2010.

    • (Score: 2) by Joe Desertrat on Thursday April 02 2020, @09:46PM

      by Joe Desertrat (2454) on Thursday April 02 2020, @09:46PM (#978456)

      I does seem that most good artists are compelled to make art - however, they are even more strongly compelled to eat. And if making art doesn't fund their eating habit, then they have to do something else to fund it, rather than making art.

      The problem is in the distribution system. An author usually can't sell a book to a major book publisher until they have an agent, it is very rare for an agent to have any interest in an author until a publisher is interested in their work. Before an author makes a dime, they have already fallen prey to a parasitical system. Their only hope is to land as big an advance as possible, in most cases that may be all they ever get off any particular work unless it sells at stratospheric levels, like Rowling somehow managed with her Harry Potter books. Otherwise, publishers will quickly shunt the book off to whatever format makes them the most profit and pays the fewest royalties to the author (Authors, read the fine print!) after a minimal stretch in the better royalty paying formats.