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By: Adam134 Mon, 10 Jul 2006 07:39:33 +0000 James Tynan, you are an unfounded speculator and your ideas are a joke.

Lessig, I really like your cartoons in the newspaper. They touch me.

By: Mansoor Thu, 01 Dec 2005 18:36:27 +0000 Barnes and Noble makes sense, doesn’t it?
Barnes and Noble must be crazy. I can go to any B&N and browse hundreds of thousands of books, including the best selling ones. Heck, I can come back everyday and read more of a book until I finish it. Why does B&N do it–because I’ll buy the coffee? Partly. But, they actually do it because they know that, by letting me read snippets, I’m more likely to buy the book even if I can read the whole book there. Google is not even providing large enough snippets to make such full reading feasible. It’s just providing a similar browsing mechanism, free of charge, to every publisher in America. Anyway, I think almost everyone agrees that Google has a good idea.

Even authors and publishers say they’re okay with it, if Google asks permission and pays.

Pay the publishers, for the most part
There are a couple of problems with permission, though: first, it will inevitably leave the index incomplete, thereby hurting this great advance in information sharing. And, the advancement of society is a larger goal than the profits of writers. Before anyone screams, let me just say, to ask for this kind of sacrifice in a capitalist society is a little naive. Like PO’ed Author pointed out, if the advancement of society is the largest goal, maybe Google should become open source.

It’s too simple a perspective, anyway. Because if authors watch others make money from their work and are not fairly compensated, they won’t be encouraged to write, and again, the advancement of society is hurt. So, we have to pay the authors.

Now, there seem to be only two methods for Google Print to co-exist with authors/publishers: opt-in or opt-out. With opt-in, Google would have to individually negotiate with every publisher over every book. PO’ed Author says if Google can scan ten million books, it can ask permission for them. But, doing one thing ten million times is not the same as doing ten million relatively different things.

It could also mean that Google would have to pay for every book indexed. This sounds great to starving authors, but it doesn’t make good, capitalist sense. I would venture to say that more than 75% of the books out there are not earning any money, and Google Print would give them new life. Why should Google pay those publishers when Google’s work benefits the publishers? Because Google’s making money, too. That seems like the only reason. But, Google’s not going to be making very much money off of the indexes of obscure or irrelevant books. The benefit is mostly divided between the publishers of those books, and the random people who search for them. So, why should Google pay for those books?

One way to make everyone happy
As for the minority of books that are making money, how hard is it for their publishers to opt-out? We don’t know the opt-out process yet, but let’s speak reasonably. One intern, being paid minimum wage, could probably opt-out all of a publisher’s financially viable books in what. . .a week?

But, then what? Publishers simply opt-out all their financially viable books and everyone’s happy? No, because then customers can’t find the book, publishers can’t promote the book, and Google’s index is incomplete. This is where the strength of the opt-out comes in. For this small minority of books, the publishers and Google would then enter into negotiations. At this point, Google will want to pay for this book because, since its a financially viable book, a fairly large number of Google searchers will read the index and see Google Ads, making Google a fair amount of money.

The bottom line, literally
The market can resolve this problem, but only if we let it go forward under the opt-out scenario.

By: James Tynan Thu, 24 Nov 2005 06:05:42 +0000 The thing that struck me most about how the publishers would like the world to work was the idea of “potential markets”. IP owners would have the right of veto over any and all potential markets that make any use of their IP.

I would have liked to hear more analysis of the flow on effects of such a system. Some thoughts:
1. Most IP is owned by incumbents.
2. Radically disruptive ideas will generally not come from incumbents who like things the way they are.
3. Giving a veto power to the people who like things the way they are does not allow room for the next big idea.

I think this argument was put forward by Lessig, but not adequately addressed by the publishers. One speaker glibly noted that people were developing creative works before Google and will continue to do so regardless, and so there is no need to worry about this issue.

However this answer does not engage with the fact that the very role of IP regulation is to strike a balance that maximises the creative output of a society. I’m not sure how giving a veto over new ideas to groups who enjoy the status quo helps that aim.

By: Peter Rock Wed, 23 Nov 2005 07:49:13 +0000 Anonymous says:

“Commoners” aren’t any different than corporate publishers in their grab for authors’ rights.

Anonymous (if that is in fact your REAL name), a “commoner” is not separate. Your statement implies that the commoners are separate when you say “their grab” as if they are hoarding.

The commons is not about hoarding. The commons is simply about making the ocean of useful knowledge universally accessible. To equate that goal with corporate publishers exercising ALL RIGHTS RESERVED is erroneous and unfortunate. Their goal is to restrict the trade of knowledge (much like the philosophy of the mercantilists) in order to maximize profit for the few.

By: Peter Rock Wed, 23 Nov 2005 07:37:28 +0000 Gene:

Out of one side of his mouth he can argue before that US Supreme Court about his intentions being in line with our constitution and our country’s Founders and out of the otherside this statement—totally 180 degrees in opposite to each other.

I don’t understand your “180 degrees” take on things. If Lawrence did the opposite of trying to promote the goal of US constitutional copyright, he would say the publishers and authors should win this case flat out and Google’s project should be shut down. Or in the very least, every copyrightholder should be sought out by Google and asked permission to use the works.

After all, the constitution cleary states that the goal of copyright is to “promote progress in the arts and sciences”. What will help promote progress in arts and science more? –

1) a global searchable index of all scientific and artistic works


2) a global searchable index of all scientific and artistic works that have been approved by copyrightholders first after Google has asked for permission

Gene, please explain to me how option 1 is creating “two sides” to Lawrence’s mouth? I’m not seeing your reasoning here.

By: Gene MCallon Wed, 23 Nov 2005 03:51:51 +0000 While I don’t general harp on others, Lessig’s following statement is nothing short of arrogance: “Google is, from the perspective of the authors and publishers, doing something extra nice — giving them the permission to opt out of the index.” Out of one side of his mouth he can argue before that US Supreme Court about his intentions being in line with our constitution and our country’s Founders and out of the otherside this statement–totally 180 degrees in opposite to each other. That is the plain reality of it, taking out all of the academic rhetoric. I realize the Lessig’s ultimate goal is that all copyrights are owned by everyone, but that is the Marxist approach to copyrights and not what this country is all about. This just follows. I am all for the Google project, but not without their seeking out and getting the proper permissions where there is a valid copyright.

By: anonymous Tue, 22 Nov 2005 14:37:23 +0000 “Commoners” aren’t any different than corporate publishers in their grab for authors’ rights.

Corporate bullies contractually demand all rights from independent authors’ rights as a condition of assignment because of the imbalance of negotiating power that authors suffer under antitrust constraints. Or, they seize these rights retroactively and prospectively by simply breaching existing contracts as lucrative new methods of distribution rights present themselves. Corporations know the benefits of infringement far outweigh the risks because few independent authors have the means to enforce their rights in Federal Court.

“Commoners” trumpet their mob force to gut our markets by “sharing” with millions of unknown parties, justifying stealing as an entitlement, while impugning authors as “greedy”.

Lessig eggs on both by romanticizing technological advancements as an opportunity – indeed an inevitable outcome – to render authors’ rights moot in the name of “progress”, that the copyist should steal from the creator because its too “difficult” to deal with disparate ownership (and far too difficult to actually create), and croons his silly nostalgia over our legacy as a “pirate” nation.

We are, in fact, a culture in decline.

By: Tim Sackton Mon, 21 Nov 2005 20:11:40 +0000 I am certainly not a copyright expert by any means, but I do know that U. S. Copyright law makes absolutely no legal distinction between works with easily identifiable copyright holders and work without easily identifiable copyright holders. If Google can legally scan and index the works in one class, they can do so for works in the other class. And if Google legally must ask for permission of easily identifiable copyright holders, well, then they must legally ask for permission from the unknown copyright holders of orphan works. I’m not trying to make it sound like this whole thing is about orphan works, but it seems clear to me that based on the way copyright law is written in the U. S., there is a significant problem here. It is at least plausible that overcoming this problem is part of the motivation for Google’s stance.

By: Pissed Off Author Mon, 21 Nov 2005 19:17:02 +0000 Google are not avoiding opt-in because of the orphaned works problem. If that were the case they could simply scan the orphans but obtain permission from all the easily identifiable copyright holders. Easy.

As I said before, if you can scan and index 10 million books, you can put a bit of effort into contacting the copyright holders.
Pretending otherwise is just treating us copyright holders like idiots.

I look forward to joining the inevitable class-action suit against these arrogant billionaires. But I’ll settle for a copy of google’s source code and the right to use their patents. An eye for an eye.

By: Tim Sackton Mon, 21 Nov 2005 17:51:24 +0000 Pissed Off Author, in response to your comment up thread about “Google’s arrogance and duplicitousness being exposed by their response to requests for an opt-in program”:

Google does have an opt-in program. It’s the Google Publisher Program. A large number of publishers have in fact already opted-in to Google Book Search, saving Google the cost of scanning those books, and allowing them to display more content from those books (based on the terms of service, they can display up to 20% of books provided through the publisher program). Presumably, the more publishers that opt-in, the better things are for Google.

The problem for Google is that, from their point of view, value is determined by completeness — like any search engine, the Google Book Search gets better as the fraction of books it indexes increases. Creating a truly complete book search requires an opt-out approach, as a significant fraction of works published after 1923 are orphan works, with no identifiable copyright holder. I haven’t seen any of the proponents of an opt-in approach attempt to deal with this problem seriously (perhaps I’ve just missed it; if so, please point it out to me).

By: Pissed Off Author Mon, 21 Nov 2005 13:26:36 +0000 Joseph Pietro Riolo:

“It is not necessarily true that Google retains
the entire electronic copies of books. That
is for court to find out but having a degree
in computer science, I can imagine how Google
can avoid intact electronic copies through the
use of database of words and phrases and (again)
index to them.”

And how then would they display snippets? That is, portions of the original text that match your query? Either they can show you the portions of the book that match any query, in which case they must have (virtually) the entire book in its original form (or in a form that may rapidly be converted to the original form, which legally is the same thing), or they are missing substantial portions of the book, in which case the index will be next to useless. You don’t need a PhD in computer science (which I have) to see that.

Of course, if google are respecting copyright and not storing and reproducing most of the work, that leaves the door open for the copyright holders to get together and set up their own search engine capable of showing snippets in response to arbitrary queries. Such a search engine will be vastly more popular than google’s broken offering and hence will allow the copyright holders to keep the revenue due to them, instead of being forced to cede that revenue to google.

Michael Bernstein:

“If they [books] *weren’t* obsolete, Google would index them as part of it’s normal web-crawl, and I’d be able to locate the information I need, and be able to purchase a licensed copy.”

So you’re imagining that once books are obsolete electronic publishers will just stick them out on the web for google to crawl gratis? Dream on. There are electronic books out there on the web already, but if they’re sold through the normal publishing process, there’s no way you or google or anyone can (legally) download them without paying.

That is the fundamental difference between books and most web content – web content wants to be found and indexed, book content does not (note – books want to be found, but not the content, or at least no more than a sniff – if copyright holders wanted the content indexed they’d have put them out there already).

By: Michael Bernstein Mon, 21 Nov 2005 12:16:11 +0000 “Hardbound books aren�t (yet, anyway) an obsolete format.”

They are as far as I’m concerned. I still buy them because most publishers haven’t cottoned on to this yet, so I am forced to continue purchasing chunks of dead tree.

If they *weren’t* obsolete, Google would index them as part of it’s normal web-crawl, and I’d be able to locate the information I need, and be able to purchase a licensed copy. Unfortunately, Google has to go to great expense to transform the works into a form that it can index.

However, I think that Google’s opt-out is going too far. Publishers cannot ‘opt-out’ of a library, nor can they ‘opt-out’ of bowkers books-in-print, or reviews of their work. Why should they be able to opt-out of Google? I think Google put that on the table far too soon.

By: Peter Rock Mon, 21 Nov 2005 11:19:39 +0000 Mice:

the only question is why should google not have to negotiate on commercial terms for use of valuable content?

No. The question is – “Why should google have to negotiate on commercial terms?”

And there is no reasonable response. Framing the question the other way around is tricky – but unfair – as it assumes that any use is automatically taxable. The onus is on the authors to prove that they deserve compensation – clearly, they don’t. The “compensation” should be for the public, not the authors.

Where do the patents and copyright on the technology used to create the indexing service stand? That’s what I want to know. Google clearly should be harshly regulated in this endeavor. The competition to build searchable databases should flourish. But instead of looking at ways to regulate Google, all people seem to care about is getting their take of the $$$. Trying to get $$$ out of Google is missing the point entirely. But letting them go ahead whilst ignoring the fact that Google is bound by law to act in Google’s best interest – not the interest of the public – is alarming.

We have the pro-google camp on one side and the pro-author on the other. What about the regulation (not extortion) that should occur if the pro-google camp wins (as they should in my opinion)?

How about a F/OSS copyright/no patent requirement put upon the related technology?

Where do rights over the created database stand in all of this?

I’m not sure what the answer is, but it seems so superficial to be focusing on an attempt to make Google pay someone money. There is much more at stake here, no?? Force Google to compensate the public!

By: three blind mice Mon, 21 Nov 2005 10:47:57 +0000 The authors do not have right to any economic
benefits beyond the first sale.

so it’s solved then. google buys one copy of a book, album, or film and loads it onto their servers and everything is available for everyone for free.

c’mon joseph pietro riolo. you know very well that the situation is more complicated than this. an author’s rights to control over HIS work extend well beyond first sale.

nothing about what google is doing is fair use: it is corporate theft simple and plain. no amount of bill clinton “it depends on what is is” legal rhetoric´changes this.

it is frankly surprising that this is even the subject of debate. does no one give a damn about authors? despite the hyperbole, we all know that the world will not come to an end if google has to negotiate on commercial terms.

the only question is why should google not have to negotiate on commercial terms for use of valuable content?

By: Joseph Pietro Riolo Mon, 21 Nov 2005 08:27:08 +0000 To Pissed Off Author:

It is not necessarily true that Google retains
the entire electronic copies of books. That
is for court to find out but having a degree
in computer science, I can imagine how Google
can avoid intact electronic copies through the
use of database of words and phrases and (again)
index to them.

To Three Blind Mice:

Your abuse of analogy has not subsided. Your
analogy between Google and General Motors is

The authors do not have right to any economic
benefits beyond the first sale. You apparently
want to expand the authors’ monopoly to cover
every commercial activity. But, that is not
surprising, given that you love monopoly more
than freedom of engaging in commercial activities.
Moreover, your proposal to require commercial
negotiations means more overhead is added to
the business and rarely, overhead makes the
business more efficient and effective.

Joseph Pietro Riolo

Public domain notice: I put all of my expressions in this
comment in the public domain.