December 9, 2005  ·  Lessig

I’ve started a new podcast series with Leo Laporte and John Dvorak called “Triangulation.” The idea is totally John’s: pick a topic on which we all three roughly agree, and then spend 30 minutes drilling down on the layers of the subject. It is intended to be the opposite of Crossfire like malarky. Here’s the first on Google Book Search.

  • Alan De Smet

    Did you take a moment to explain to him the benefits of Creative Commons? He was pretty confused about it.

    I’m still pissed at the man for having the audacity to describe the Creative Commons so harshly, “This is one of the dumbest initiatives ever put forth by the tech community. I mean seriously dumb. Eye-rolling dumb on the same scale as believing the Emperor is wearing fabulous new clothes.” The man has repeatedly shown himself to be a blowhard more interested in stirring up controversy and venting his poorly informed opinion than actually seeking the truth.

    That said, I have a great deal of respect for yourself and Leo Laporte, so I’m looking forward to a chance to spend a half-hour listening.

  • Alan De Smet

    Lessig from the podcast: “And the thing to recognize is that every single property system except copyright has this built into it. So in New York recordings are protected perpetually but if in New York you deposited money into a bank and then you forget to give them your change of address form, five years later you’ll lose your bank account, right, because they have to forfit it to the state because they can no longer find you, the account owner.”

    That’s a really good soundbite (although it could probably be refined). It really captures the problem with copyright’s automatic, not-renewed state. When you’re selling ideas you, sadly, need soundbites.

    I am curious, you’re essentially requiring renewals. While I agree, I don’t believe it’s compatible with our obligations as a Berne Convention signatury. Am I mistaken? Are you suggesting we exit the Berne Convention agreement, or fight to have it changed?

  • Karl-Friedrich Lenz

    Dvorak comes again over as clueless. Just like in his rant about Creative Commons he makes basic mistakes, like confusing Google’s Partner Program with the Library Project. At the end of the podcast he asks where he might find a link to info about the Library Project. Again he insults people on the other side as “boneheads”.

    Just like in his Creative Commons article he feels entitled to decide for copyright holders what they should want. None of his business. If Google Book Search is such a great thing for authors, lots of authors will form long lines to sign up. Others might not want their book searchable online, and still others might not want to deal with Google, but with other search engines for some reason. Should be the choice of the right holder, not of Mr. Dvorak.

    I don’t understand your worrying about Google settling.

    If they do settle, why does that set that any kind of standard for other people who would want to do the same copyright violations? Don’t you need court decisions to set any standards? Or do you assume that Google is going to loose in the lower court, and then settle, when voicing that particular concern?

    Being of the opinion that there is no fair use right for Google here, actually I agree. I hope Google litigates this right up to the Supreme Court. Then, _that_ would indeed set a standard one or the other way.

    You still seem to deny that commercial or not commercial is of concern when talking about fair use. Didn’t Creative Commons have that distinction as well? And isn’t the law quite clear about having that as one of the factors?

  • Robert

    John Dvorak is an entertainment writer who many people mistakenly think is a journalist. Once you understand this its easy just to recognize his writings for the shallow entertainment that they are.

    Nevertheless, good luck with the endeavor LL. I am looking forward to hearing what you have to discuss.

  • Alan De Smet

    Karl, I believe the key issue is: why is Google Web legal, but Google Book Search isn’t? All of that arguments against Google Book Search apply to web. Why should I, the web site owner, have to take action to have Google not index my site? That I chose to make my web site available for free to just about anyone who wants is irrelevant; Google still make a copy of my entire page and serves excerpts upon demand. Worse, unless I take specific action to opt out, Google will serve a full copy of my copyright protected web page to anyone who asks. Given that, Google Web violates copyright in a much more serious way that Google Book Search. Google Web also includes ads in the search results, (Google Book Search won’t), so Google’s even making money on excerpts from my web site! Why don’t I deserve a share (as the authors and publishers are asking).

    Of course the reality is that web search engines showed up early enough that attitudes on the net were different. By the time people with overinflated views of copyright showed up it was generally accepted. Indeed, it was also clear that allowing search engines benefitted copyright holders more than not allowing search engines.

    Now Google is logically expanding into the world of print and a whole new group of people are irrationally panicking. Indeed, Google Book Search will, on the whole, make publishers and authors as a whole more money, just like Google Web benefits web publishing as a whole. But some groups of publishers and authors are interested in taking their short term fears and irrational beliefs and making them permenant. If they win Google Book Search will never get the same opportunity that Google Web did.

    I will note that some authors and publishers actually have reason to fear Google Book Search. GBS will index small run books and out of print books just as happily as the current best sellers. This increases competition. Good for the industry as a whole, good for consumers, but potentially (but not necessarily) bad for best sellers.

    Google’s trying to move us forward. Full book searches benefit humanity as a whole. The authors and publishers objecting to GBS are essentially asking that technology and progress be held back. If they win now, humanity as a whole suffers. The best comparision I can think of at the moment is MP3 players. MP3 players are now cheap, pervasive, and high quality. It’s easier to listen to your music when and where you want. But the music industry was deathly afraid of them at first and filed lawsuits against the first MP3 players. That set back adoptation several years.

  • Seth Finkelstein

    Regarding: “That I chose to make my web site available for free to just about anyone who wants is irrelevant; “

    No, it isn’t. In fact, it’s why the whole comparison collapses. Your business model is not selling access to copies of the website – therefore, the practical legal functioning of copyright is not affected. Publishers, on the other hand, generally have a business model of enforcing the making of copies of the work. Therefore, “it’s different”.

    And I’d go so far as to say that any judge is going to recognize this immediately.

    Karl: The problem with Google settling is that they have the deep pockets to fund the sort of extended litigation that would be both an intellectual feast, and a financial gravvy-train.

  • Karl-Friedrich Lenz

    Alan de Smet:

    I agree that the situation with web search is exactly the same from a legal point of view.

    Therefore, search engines need to move to opt-out in web search as well.

    The publishing industry is in no way denying that full text search is useful. Listen to the NYPL debate linked a couple of posts earlier. Of course it is useful. However, as Google’s own “Partner Program”, Amazon’s program, and the Open Content Alliance show, it is just not true that it can’t be done under opt-in.

    Seth Finkelstein:

    Yes, it will be intellectually rewarding for all and finiancially rewarding for some people interested in this debate to keep the case alive. But I don’t think that was Lessig’s point.

    He was saying settling would set some kind of restrictive standard for other people who would might want to do this. That doesn’t seem to make sense, since there can’t be a standard coming from this case if it doesn’t go to court.

    It would make sense with a slight change. If one assumes (as Lessig does) that Google has a case here and that they will win at the Supreme Court in 2009, then that would set a positive standard for other developers which might not be achieved with a defendant unable to pay large fees to overpriced lawyers. Maybe Google is a good defendant for this question.

    Then again, maybe not.

    If the plaintiffs want to make a point about Google’s “commercial” use under fair use analysis, they can have much fun with facts like the founders recently cashing out to the tune of $1.3 billion.

    Some obscure start-up might be viewed with much more sympathy.

  • cbd

    Hopefully working with you and Mr Laporte will rub off on Dvorak. I would love to see Creative Commons be the subject for one of these.