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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.


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

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  • (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.

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  • (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 [] , 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.