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Publishers vs. Libraries 397

John Thacker was the first to submit this news about American publishing companies preparing to wage war on the idea of reading books for free. You see, libraries loan books, and publishers don't get paid -- that's stealing. And libraries even do inter-library loans -- that's stealing too. "We," says Schroeder, "have a very serious issue with librarians."
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Publishers vs. Libraries

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  • by Deanasc ( 201050 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @04:13AM (#449727) Homepage Journal
    Wow. It's a good thing I'm already smart and know everything because if I didn't there's going to be no place for me to look up anything. Except for the Net and we all know it's only good for finding bomb recipes and pron. It's a good thing I'm rich enough to buy every book I need.

    Let's just concentrate knowledge and power around wealth and keep the heathens from ever learning anything.

  • I find it interesting that librarians have been used in metaphors for information sharing on the internet, and now they too, are being attacked. I would hope a battle against the white haired woman who likes to keep books in order would finally gain the attention of the mainstream media and point out the insanity of the legal departments of certain large corporations. I have pantented the idea of having an idea to patent a common idea.
  • When a library buys a book or a paper journal they it can only be read by one person at a time. So if it is a popular title they will buy several. And each library will buy a copy of major journals. And while you can get it via inter library loan it is still a limited resource. And for each copy the publisher and author get paid.

    Now go to a digital world where you can duplicate content with a few presses of a button and suddenly a library no longer needs 30 copies of the most recent Harry Potter book, they just get 1 and copy it. There needs to be a ballence here. The libraries need to be able to distribute information, but there also needs to be a way to compensate those who created it.
  • From the Floor of the Secret Corporate Conspiracy Building (Downtown Redbank New Jersey)

    Ah yes, libraries helped to bring the joy of reading to the poor who and uneducated. Now, because the poor are becoming as "smart" as everyone else it's about time we start charging them for their education again. Who has the right to education? No one who can't afford it. What a step in th right direction, how about we start to charge for all of the other stuff that those pleebs take for granted. First, health care, oh, we've already done that? Good Job people. Safe Streets, done that too, uh... Private security firms that have better trained staff than actual city police forces, GREAT STUFF! The internet, BWAAAHAAAAA. Broadcast Radio, we owned it before it was born. Air? Hmm, how about we choke the enviornment with polutants then create a "clean air dome" where people come to breate "clean air" And then we open "Oxygen Bars" where people come for air, oh, doen that too...shucks, lets just start charging for tickets at birth...

    And uh, oh yeah (From me) The idea that Libraries are stealing is BAD
  • by hoegg ( 132716 ) <ryan.hoegg @ g m> on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @04:18AM (#449735) Journal

    I'm surprised this hasn't come up before, what with the Napster mess. I have been able to check out music for over five years at my local library. The same goes for videos, e-books, magazines... libraries have always distributed all sorts of media.

    The question is, do the authors care? Both kinds too. For one, I'm sure Stephen King isn't at the forefront of the movement considering he's making more money than God. However, smaller authors might really stand to gain a lot. Curiously, it's the DIYs that seem to be against the whole copy protection thing in the first place.

    The bottom line is, if libraries go, book piracy will emerge. Just like Scour, Napster, Gnutella, and every other P2P out there.

  • by garethwi ( 118563 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @04:20AM (#449737) Homepage
    Didn't Salon [] originally run this idea as a cartoon []?
  • by sharkticon ( 312992 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @04:20AM (#449738)

    But currently libraries already pay royalty fees for items that they lend out to people. See this article [] for details. So this isn't quite a hot topic as it seems, it's more about the exact details of how it will work...

    The real problem is that by changing to digital content the publishers have seen a way to inflate the amount that they get from libraries. Libraries don't traditionally have huge budgets with which to purchase new materials, and if they end up having to pay on a per-use basis then many of them will have to stop stocking as many items. And because libraries have traditionally been free to use, they can't pass their costs onto the public.

    However in this case the libraries have something in their favour that Napster users don't - an unbeatable public image. You can't tarnish libraries as thieves and pirates, not without ruining your cause. It may well be that this issue is the single most important thing in deciding exactly how fair use and payment models will apply to digital content.

  • Print media and libraries are not an issue today. Why? Once something is checked out, it cannot be used by anyone else until it is checked back in. If multiple people want the same item, they either have to wait or the library will need to buy multiple copies.

    With digital media, I can check something out but I am getting a copy. So someone else may also check it out even though I am still using the resource. The library doesn't need to buy multiple copies anymore. Sales drop(?) for the media comapany but readership is drastcially up. But the media company is not making less money on more readers. A new business model needs to be made to keep the media company in business, otherwise the media company will stop printing the widely read item and everyone will be pissed.

    What will compound this problem more is libraries will (want to) place content on line for free including their digital media they subscribe to making it accessable to everyone (or at least the patrons for that library). This scenario would be very scary for media outlets because content is being given away for free from a gov't entity. That is a hard competitor to fight in market driven by capitalism.

  • by Hairy_Potter ( 219096 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @04:23AM (#449743) Homepage
    As far as I can recall, free lending libraries were invented in Philadelphia, by Ben Franklin.

    Prior to Ben starting one, libraries were typically privately owned, or member supported. Back in the 18th century and earlier, the idea of a citizenry who could educate themselves with open libraries scared the shit out of the governments, books and literacy were fine for the nobles, but they would give funny ideas to the hoi polloi.

    Sadly, this idea that common people can't think for themselves is still too common, we've all heard too much about governments that won't allow their citizens to browse certain auction sites because they may contain disturbing historical artifacts.
  • by SquadBoy ( 167263 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @04:23AM (#449744) Homepage Journal
    Have you ever tried to read something on a monitor? Well before 30 pages your eyeballs will start to bleed. Printing out while sometimes a good option just does not cut it. The simple fact is to duplicate a book you need a bunch of real world stuff. Those who create it do get compensted they get to make that first sell everything that happens to it after that as long as one person in one place has it is fair use. The simple fact of the matter is Pat and her gang just would like to get every penny they can out of everyone. When they try to come after my local used book shop I *will* be there. This is evil.
  • As far as I can tell, the free reading of books has been a part of western civilization since writing was invented, and books were scrolls. Yes, there have been private libraries where you paid a fee, or had have to be a student at a university, or some other type of member, etc.

    But this type of thing is really just a power grab.

    It also opens the door to freedom of speech issues. in that is speech free if you can stop or impede people from listening, reading, etc because you need your cut of the pie.

    It is a the death of freedom by a thousand cuts.

  • She makes $370,000 a year. "A lot less than Jack Valenti," she's quick to say.

    well cry me a fucking river, I never thought I would hear of a person that wanted to be Jack Valenti matterial.

    Sometimes I wish this was rome as I am sure they are christian....

    Fight censors!
  • by petard ( 117521 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @04:28AM (#449748) Homepage
    Reading the post article called some of Richard Stallman's writing to mind, specifically The Right to Read []. This must be stopped. Now.
  • You can smoke till you choke in their coffee shops. They respect human rights. Most of Europe does.
  • by El Cabri ( 13930 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @04:32AM (#449757) Journal
    Public Libraries are free in France. Publishers claimed that it was hurting them. They wanted a symbolic fee (around 0.5EUR) on each book that was loaned.

    The proposal of the culture ministry is the following (if I remember correctly) : a fee will be actually paid, but will not be charged to the user, instead it will be paid on a local government budget, and also partly by the bookshops who provide public libraries.

    Everyone seems content with that, so it will probably pass as a law.

  • by phaze3000 ( 204500 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @04:33AM (#449758) Homepage
    "Technology people never gave their stuff away," Schroeder says.

    Bzzt, go and read some of those books rather than litigating over them and you'll find pretty much anything thats good software wise has been given away.

    Does anyone get the impression that most cases like this have more to do with lawyers talking up cases to get cash rather than actual legitimate concerns?

  • a perverse sort of way.

    Maybe if this gets enough publicity, and people fight it violently enough, it might wake everyone up to the whole shitstorm that's happenning due to the DMCA. This totally sickens me, in some way more than the attack of Napster, more than the whole DeCSS case... because Libraries have been around and available freely in this country for over 100 years. No one has challenged our right to free learning via books until now. This truly angers me!

    "Evil beware: I'm armed to the teeth and packing a hampster!"

  • by wulfhere ( 94308 ) <> on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @04:43AM (#449775)
    Of course, you can always ruin the image of the people who frequent the library (i.e. "I've heard that TEENAGERS sometimes use the library for their own nefarious purposes. And you don't need a poll to know that teens like their books free")

    It would be easy for this conglomerate to accuse people of borrowing books from the library only to pirate them...

    I grew up very poor, and would not have made very much of myself if not for libraries where I could read for free.

    And one more rant. Am I the only one who thinks it should be illegal for someone who currently holds office to be a PAID LOBBYIST?!? I am terribly disappointed to learn that it is possible to buy back one of our basic liberties for only $370,000 a year.

    Oh freddled gruntbuggly thy micturations are to me
    As plurdled gabbleblotchits on a lurgid bee
    Groop I implore thee, my foonting turlingdromes
    And hooptiously drangle me with crinkly bindlewurdles
    Or I will rend thee in the gobberwarts with my blurglecruncheon, see if I don't!

  • by Obasan ( 28761 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @04:44AM (#449776)
    Hmm. Electronic books. No printing fees. So, the stages are down to content creation, editing, layout, electronic distribution.

    Ask any author besides Michael Crighton how much they get paid for their work. Diddly, for the most part. Editing and layout can be a reasonable amount of work/expense, but the fact of the matter is the actual printing press side of books is still a significant expense.

    If these guys are planning on publishing books electronically, I don't suppose they were considering passing along some of the savings to the consumer/libraries? I mean, after all I'm not getting as much when I receive a bunch of bytes as when I receive a bound paper/hard back. With journals you have indexing/search capabilities, but that isn't much of a value-add for a novel. What's that, publishers are charging _more_ for electronic versions of books? For some reason sympathy for publishers is not exactly welling up inside me.

    Publishers do render a real service both to authors and readers, I don't object to their being paid for it, but I don't see how the 'electronic revolution' is a big threat to them. When people check things out of the library, they still want to get something on paper. Unless libraries suddenly build their own printing presses their still going to have to buy these paper copies from publishers. The only exception to this is electronic journals, and these have been licensed per seat ever since they were invented.

    You have no idea how much fun it is trying to complete a biology research project along with 2000 other undergrads and finding out the library has only enough licenses for thirty computers to access the electronic bio journals at once. :(


    If a tree falls in the forest, and kills a mime, does anyone care?

  • It's not a particulary great amount of money, but AFAIK the library does pay the publishers based on the number of books they lend - that's on top of the cost of buying the book in the first place.
  • The bottom line is, if libraries go, book piracy will emerge.

    You hit the nail on the head. Someone mod him up.

    The situation is not quite the same as prohibition, but the result will be the same. Take away something that people really want and they *will* find a way to get it. And no government or business can stop them.

    I know there's a Fahrenheit 451 parallel here, but I'd have to reread it to make it coherent. Anyone?

  • by arkham6 ( 24514 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @04:48AM (#449786)
    Lets not get out panties in a bunch. Check this [] link out.
    108. Limitations on exclusive rights: Reproduction by libraries and archives
    (a) Except as otherwise provided in this title and notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, it is not an infringement of copyright for a library or archives, or any of its employees acting within the scope of their employment, to reproduce no more than one copy or phonorecord of a work, except as provided in subsections (b) and (c), or to distribute such copy or phonorecord, under the conditions specified by this section, if-
    (1) the reproduction or distribution is made without any purpose of direct or indirect commercial advantage;
    (2) the collections of the library or archives are (i) open to the public, or (ii) available not only to researchers affiliated with the library or archives or with the institution of which it is a part, but also to other persons doing research in a specialized field; and
    (3) the reproduction or distribution of the work includes a notice of copyright that appears on the copy or phonorecord that is reproduced under the provisions of this section, or includes a legend stating that the work may be protected by copy-right if no such notice can be found on the copy or phonorecord that is reproduced under the provisions of this section.

    Of course, it then goes on to say that libraries can only have digital copies for backup reasons, not to lend. But I think its fairly blatant that the publishers do not have a legal leg to stand on if they decide to go after the librarians. Beware of the wrath of Conan the Librarian.
  • will be something like this.
    After libraries are forced to pay royalties each time a book is 'loaned' out, manufacturers of childrens toys, clothing, and everyh other good will start referring to their product as a 'physical manifestation of the creative work of the designer' and start referring to it as information, rather than a tangible good. Then they'll say that they are being 'ripped off' by the Salvation Army and all those second-hand stores.
  • by stevens ( 84346 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @04:50AM (#449790) Homepage
    As far as I can tell, the free reading of books has been a part of western civilization since writing was invented, and books were scrolls. Yes, there have been private libraries where you paid a fee, or had have to be a student at a university, or some other type of member, etc.

    What's your source? Literacy was always the badge of the elite: of citizens in Greece (wealthy men only), clergy in the middle ages, etc. It's only been relatively recently that universal literacy has been a goal, and only in parts of the world.

    Likewise, in an increasingly literate and wealthy society, public libraries are less important. At one time they were the only way for most people to get books, now they are mostly just a (taxpayer-subsidized) cheaper alternative.

    In an increasingly wealthy society, they should try to fit a modern niche. There are subscription libraries for certain types of specialized information. This is a great idea for those who want to share the cost of many $14,000 subscriptions, for a $20 per month fee.

  • "Am I the only one who thinks it should be illegal for someone who currently holds office to be a PAID LOBBYIST?!?"

    No, but since Mrs. Schroeder does not hold office there's no conflict here. Well, save for the inherent conflict of former Representatives drawing huge paychecks to get their still-serving friends to help 'em out a little. Or Senators, Presidents, appointees, etc.
  • It's amazing how nowadays the recurring theme is 'if the law made after-market sale of XXX or lending of XXX illegal, then we'd make more money, therefore, by not having that law, the American Public is ripping us off.'.

    It's like.. sure. How about a law that says everyone in the US has to pay my Canadian ass every time they buy something? I mean, by not having that law, I'm being deprived of money I could have otherwised earned if such a law existed.. I should sue!
  • Actualy I much favor reading from paper. Now there is no legal way under US law that they can go after used book stores. Thay may not like them, but they can't do much about them.
  • I'm going to get moderated to (-50, asshole) for saying this, but it's about time.

    Publishers have a right to profit from the works they manufacture and distribute, and libraries have had a free ride for too long. Libraries can charge small fees for issuing library cards to recoup costs. The only objection one can have to this is if they want a free (as in lunch) ride. The information would still be available and free (as in speech).

  • by ch-chuck ( 9622 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @04:56AM (#449803) Homepage
    She's adamant that the country needs to focus more on reading to children under the age of 5

    provided, of course, that you have purchased and can produce a receipt on demand for a "5 listener license pak" for groups of 5 children or less, or, ir you act now, librarians, school teachers and qualified parents can get a 20 pak for the low low price of 10 if you send in the rebate coupon (allow 4-6 weeks for rebate processing). Some restrictions may apply.
  • Huh, no, I never heard that 0.5EUR figure. It was more like 1EUR (5FF). And that is NOT symbolic. A softcover costs around 80FF. Deduct printing, paper, distribution and what gets back to the publisher is probably around 5 to 10FF. See the problem? They will make MUCH MORE money with this tax than by selling books. It's out of whack. And the response was'nt THAT sympathetic, with many authors opposing it.


  • by clifyt ( 11768 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @04:59AM (#449806)
    When dealing with physical media, there is a cost associated with the paper, the binding, the manual labor involved in producing it. But with digital media, about the only thing required is the computer to distribute the copies and someone to spell check (which I don't think even gets done that often.)

    Jeez another /.'r that just doesn't get it. The cost of publishing has LITTLE to do with the paper its printed on. Do you really thing the Journal of Tetrahedrional Chemisty (or whatever that reference was to in the article) really costs $14000 to print up??? Do you really think it was printed on Gold Leaf by monks slaving over each and every word?

    Its like Music...everyone thinks that the musician looses NOTHING by having a MP3 distributed...its just a few bits...yeah there are advantages to using these things as advertising, but it still costs to produce that.

    Do you think the people publishing the the journals are doing it for free? Its a prestigious role to be publisher, and it can make or break someones academic career. If you allow someone to publish something with less than credible methods or results, then yer career can be down the tube as well. As such, these people need to get paid and you are paying for their opinions, much in the way that we pay for the opinions of /. -- we don't and thats why I normally don't complain about the lack of journalistic integrity here...this is the geek equivelent of People Magazine or something...Dammit I just want to know why it cain't work out between Tom and Nicole!!! I would expect a lot more integrity and correctness in reporting from someone I was paying quite a bit of money to...especially if my job depended on it.

  • in order to finally come to some decisions about copyright in the digital age. Libraries are *not* going to go out of business, and we are not going to change the system that they have been using for so many years (lending, etc). Therefore, there must be a decision made about this that will legally allow multi-copy useage of material, and perhaps (*perhaps*) this will be extended to other copyright domains.
  • What would happen if it became impossible to make money publishing books? We'd lose a lot of good and bad books by people who only write for money. But we'd gain a lot of books written by dedicated authors, books that were previously buried under the Grisham/Oprah piles.

    I self-published a book. It wasn't a thousandth as hard as it would have been fifteen years ago. I don't expect to make a ton of money from it, but with companies like Amazon, I can probably recoup my investment. If there were no competition from big publishers (actually, in my case there isn't), I wouldn't need to sell a zillion copies to make writing the book worthwhile for me.

    To be sure, there are lots of authors I enjoy who would find it difficult or impossible to put their books on my shelves without big publishers. But there are also lots of authors whose work I haven't had the opportunity to enjoy because of those big piles of Grisham. Publishers have been shirking their editing responsibilities anyway. So I'm not ready to get too upset about all the book publishers going out of business.
  • From the article:

    "Technology people never gave their stuff away," Schroeder says.

    Perhaps not the greatest example. If I remember correctly, both linux and BSD are given away.

    Perhaps a different example would be Blockbuster and the MPAA. The MPAA don't seem to have a problem with video rental, since it actually increases their video sales (how many of us would actually buy every latest release they want to see?). Maybe they should stop being so short-sighted. I am certainly not going to be able to buy every book I want to read. If I borrow it from a library, and say, 30 other people do, they have effectively sold 1/30th of a copy to each of us, against a like 0 if we each had to buy it.

    Moving into electronic distribution, things are going to have to change, but for now, I don't think pressing against dead-tree libraries is a reasonable move.


  • by Ian Wolf ( 171633 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @05:07AM (#449816) Homepage
    So when did Salon get into predictions?

    Seriously, I bet Mr. Dewey is rolling in his grave.

  • Michael, I really wish you'd read the article before delving into making comments on it. The article is not talking about paper books. It's talking about electronic materials (journals, e-books, etc.). And it's not talking about one library loaning it to another library. They're talking about one library purchasing it and then giving it to other libraries (ie. making lots of copies).

    Now, granted this is a step down a slippery slope, as in Richard Stallman's Right to Read piece, however that's not the topic of the article, and you shouldn't attribute these things that you've made up to Patricia Schroeder, because she didnt' say them.

    You know, as much as we beat up on copyrights around here, people do deserve to get paid for their work if that's what they want. It's just like software licenses (even open source). If you like the program, but you don't like the license, then find another program. If the program is one of a kind, or there are features that you really need, then you have to decide whether this outweighs the cost of a license you don't like. Same with published materials. If you like a particular author/artist's work, but they want to get paid for it and you don't want to pay, then find another author/artist or decide whether you wanting their work outweighs the cost of paying for it.

    Open source and free software are a great idea, but it's not the One True Path (tm). If all sofware were free, a lot of us would be out of jobs, or at least not living in the manner to which we have become accustomed. Society's not going to instantly jump to some idyllic state where everything's free, a la Star Trek. The right of people to get paid for their work is a neccessary part of the way things are. Now I'm not saying that the systems by which we protect these rights are perfect, or the systems by which people get paid are without grift. But you can't do away with these systems.

    Yes, fair use is disappearing. Yes, the DMCA steps way over the line. Yes, companies like the MPAA and RIAA are trying to erode our freedoms more and more by making us pay and repay for things and then still not letting us access in a way that would be legal. But the key is not to fight the system and have it eliminated. The key is to reform the system. If you try and get rid of it completely, you won't win.

  • ... of course, there was that Tom the Dancing Bug [] strip from last August.
  • by Borogove ( 95793 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @05:12AM (#449821) Homepage
    There seems to be a strong belief that 'capitalism' implies that it is illegal to do anything that might threaten someone's income. So if someone is making a living out of selling books, the law should come down swiftly against anything that might make books redundant.

    But is it such a bad thing. Take an extreme example: imagine if copyright laws didn't exist at all... would the world be too horrible a place for people to live in? Is copyright law the only thing that stops civilisation from descending into chaos? Would all artists stop producing works?

    Sure, things would be different: some people might not be able to earn 'slightly less than Jack Valenti' salary by keeping their current jobs. Lots of things might change. But I don't the world would end. I definitely think people would continue to write songs, books, software and make films. There will always be ways to make money from them...

    A few years ago, it was looking like the Internet might threaten newspapers. Nowadays, you can get copies of most newspapers online for free. They are voluntarily giving their stuff away, and yet people still go out and pay for the printed versions. Sure, it's not $10,000 for a year's subscription; but the point is, rather than crying about it and demanding news laws, why not try to go with the flow and see where it takes you.

    Computers have always brought the threat of redundancies and unemployment, but they've also tended to create new jobs and new opportunities. I strongly believe that the threats to society created by the Internet will prove just as non-existent, if we give it a chance. The more worrying threat in the current climate is that those crying for new laws will get their way, and the people will suffer.
    -- Andrem

  • i work at a library, and occasionally have the dubious pleasure of filling out order forms for books. here in Canada libraries don't pay a borrowing fee for each time the book is used, they just pay a higher price to buy the book initially.

    libraries pay through the nose already! even though they are ubying from te publisher directly, canadian libraries pay exobirant prices for books. i've seen soft cover, 80 page books with a price tag of $50 or $60, just because they were written by some big-name post-modernist.

    admittedly, movie rental stores pay a fee every time a movie is rented, but putting movies on the same level as books is ridiculous. if pulbishing companies want to start charging for books, make the charge apply to crap like danielle steele and all authors in the 'bored-mentally-challenged-housewife' market. that way universoty libraries, that have *real* books, and real financial problems, don't get shafted.

  • I've already written a letter to the editor of the Post about this. What we need is for more people in the Posts readership area to write letters to the editor. The line quoted here is, at best, disinformation, and I called it that.

    Everyone in Official Washington reads the Post. Your Congressman, Senator, their staffs, and the people in the White House and Agencies read it. The lobbyists read it. We need to get our view published. Maybe we can get Katz to do an opinion piece for the Post? You reading this Jon?

  • When a library buys a book or a paper journal they it can only be read by one person at a time. So if it is a popular title they will buy several. And each library will buy a copy of major journals. And while you can get it via inter library loan it is still a limited resource. And for each copy the publisher and author get paid.

    The problem, as is stated in the article by Kranich, is the amount of money involved. Schroeder says that the Libraries have spent all their money on technology and have nothing left for content. Having worked for an Automation Department in a university library, I can attest that BOTH these statements are true. However, the crux of the problem is that libraries have been forced to spend the money on technology in order to keep up with the formats/delivery methods of the content! On top of that, in this digital age, prices should be dropping, or at least staying the same. Since many of the middlemen are being cut-out, the distributors and printers at least, there should be more left over for what is left... mainly the writers/publications. Instead, the price digital access to journals is skyrocketing! By adding minor value to the resulting materials, publishers see this as a reason to jack prices WAY up and pull in more than their fair share.

    On top of these issues, the interfaces to these elctronic services suck. I have repeatedly been on committees that were deciding which services to buy and which to dump. Time and again, the librarians chose the cheaper services (which weren't necessarily that cheap) over those that had invested some money in development. Luckily, our state (Indiana), saw this problem too often and pulled together a consortium to provide proxied centralized access to the better materials for a fraction of the cost (called the Inspire Database). Schroeder and the AAP would seriously jeopardize this relationship...which has only come about because libraries have been forced to by the skyrocketing cost of subscriptions and the lack of funds due to technological upgrades of necessity.

    It's a vicious circle.

  • Curiously, it's the DIYs that seem to be against the whole copy protection thing in the first place.

    I don't find this too curious. DIY's have a lot to gain by getting their brilliant works into the hands of a lot of people. Once they are "discovered" they'll be able to make a nice living off their writing. This reminds me of one of Metallica's earliest albums which came out around the time blank tapes were really coming under fire from the record industry. Metallica urged music fans to freely copy their tape, because it would get into a lot of kis' hands that way. Unfortunately, we all know how the Metallica story turns out... lets hope that irony doesn't play itself out again.
  • by opkool ( 231966 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @05:18AM (#449832) Homepage

    I happen to be married to a librarian (yes, no kidding).

    We were discussing this a few weeks ago. She is planning on a proposal for a spacialized library, non-profit style, and all that.

    She has discovered that libraries, for anything that they have available (from the local newspaper to a flashy CD-ROM), are already paying more than you and me will pay at Barns and Noble for the same item. Much more. They pay more because this information will be available to lots of people.

    Now, if publishers want libraries to pay for every people reading the book, for any interlibrary loan... they should get first huge discounts for buying all the stuff that the publisher is carrying.

    Silly lawyers, because this is a publisher's lawyers idea for sure, a publisher that is having disminished revenues and tries to make that missing money in the courts.

    The technical librarian description of this is "it completely sucks".


  • What's your source? Literacy was always the badge of the elite: of citizens in Greece (wealthy men only), clergy in the middle ages, etc. It's only been relatively recently that universal literacy has been a goal, and only in parts of the world

    I was thinking of the Library of Alexandria. I am also sure that there were other national libraries such as in Babylonia and Rome.

    while literacy was limited, those who could read certainly had access.

    The argument is not about who hand access to literacy, but rather, who has had access to libraries, which generally was/is anyone who was literate. A slightly different thing, and a point that should not get muddled.

    A is similar to B, but A is not identical to B.

  • I don't know about most people here, but once I could afford to own the books I /wanted/ to read, I stopped going to libraries.

    The only time I'll go to a library now is if I'm forced to read something. If it wasn't available this way, I doubt I'd even be forced to read it.

    I think libraries do the publishers more good than they know. Without libraries, fewer and fewer people would read as a hobby, at all. If kids had to pay for the books they read, they wouldn't be reading them. And, more importantly, they'd never pick it up as a hobby and won't *buy* books when they can, later.

    I do think that every copy of a book available through a library should be paid for. Libraries should not be allowed to distribute copies, even temporarily, or within the library's walls, unless they've paid for each copy.

    One thing libraries can, and should do, is excerise control over the copying of publications done by their customers. Taking a current journal to the copier, and paying the library 10c/page for someone else's copywritten work should not be allowed. If you need it that badly, go buy it. On the other hand, if it's Out Of Print (i.e., the copyright holder won't sell it,) then you should be allowed to copy it. Generally speaking, libraries know which things are in/out of print.

    These publishers should realize/remember, that loaning books, particularly to people who cannot afford them now, is the best way to promote what is essentially a leisure activity. Like drug dealers, they should be happy to have the first one be free if it stands a chance of hooking the addict. I've watched paperbacks go from $1.50 to $7.50 in my 32 years and have bought a lot more near the $7.50 end of the spectrum after borrowing a lot of the $1.50 ones from libraries as a kid.

  • The entire idea of "right to a profit" is scary and seems to be getting more and more of a stranglehold upon our legislatures.

    Amen. "Right to profit" is about the best way I've heard it put. It's a ridiculous notion, and the fact that it's even CONSIDERED by our government is a bright red glowing indicator of thorough corruption. There are reasons why our forefathers didn't want our government to take part in profitable industries, but these reasons have been tossed aside, and now we have the people who compose our government benefitting from profitable industries.
  • Yeah I agree. I mean, if publishing were so cheap and depended mostly on the price of paper, we'd see some sort of huge coggate industry of free ezines, news websites, and individuals publishing just because they like it.

    Oh wait...


  • A lot of good scientific papers end up online for free anyway. A search in google can be as productive as a search through a library. The only difference is that the official journals have established referee systems. Well, referees don't get paid, and media distribution costs for online works are very low, so how long do you think it will be before there are refereed scientific journals that are only online?
    It's only a matter of someone organizing it.
  • by reimero ( 194707 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @05:32AM (#449854)
    The idea that libraries are "free" is a popular misconception. The public library I work at is supported by township property taxes, and to be eligible to borrow from the library, you need to be able to prove you are a resident of an eligible township OR purchase a card (which costs about as much as the library would have received from your taxes.) Not too long ago we had a case in which a local township opted against library service because they didn't want higher taxes. Even today, after a highly publicized battle, residents don't understand that libraries are not a free god-given right. Residents pay for libraries, just not overtly.
    I'm still not entirely sure what all the uproar is about, though. The technology is very much in place to enable e-books to be loaned for a specific period of time. It's a simple matter of patron authentication and timed decryption or access, not altogether unlike the much reviled Divx format. Really, I think it's much ado about nothing.
  • by zCyl ( 14362 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @05:33AM (#449855)
    Someone (RMS maybe?) once said "Information wants to be free." That may be true, but who's going to create the information in the first place if they aren't going to see anything for their efforts?

    We have this wonderful thing called "capitalism" that has a habit of being self-regulating. When the people who are making information don't get enough money for it, those who were doing it for the money will stop doing it, leaving only those who do it for self-gratification, the betterment of humanity, or other such motives. If that doesn't end up creating enough information, then suddenly there is a high demand and a low supply. Whenever such a state exists, then there will be a lot of money thrown into producing the information that people crave.

    The problem with the current situation is not that they can't make enough money by selling information, it's that they're currently making MORE money than the market wants to give them, and they're trying to find artificial non-capitalistic ways to sustain their inflated income.
  • by McChump ( 218559 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @05:33AM (#449856)
    "Likewise, in an increasingly literate and wealthy society, public libraries are less important. At one time they were the only way for most people to get books, now they are mostly just a (taxpayer-subsidized) cheaper alternative."

    Uh, a cheaper-alternative for *rich* people, maybe. For those of us who don't have the leisure income that you apparently do, libraries are the *only* source of books. I'm glad you're so freaking bourgeois that you think public libraries have outlived their usefulness -- do you feel the same way about public schools, public transit, and public utilities?


  • by Badgerman ( 19207 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @05:34AM (#449858)
    I find this article not surprising in the least, nor should anyone.

    In regards to media (in general), our country (and to an extent the world) is suffering a kind of slow-motion nervous breakdown. There are changing issues, changing technologies, new opportunities, and missed potentials.

    Instead of rationally looking at the big picture, people are busyily scrabbling in a mixture of Cover-Their-Backsides and Exploit The New thing. The end result is a kind of bizare insanity where our Public Libraries become evil pirates, insane copyright laws are enforced, no one's happy, everyone's afraid, and layer upon layer of technical and social limits are conjured up with no thought of the future.

    I say this article, this situation, needs to be shoved in the face of the public as much as possible. PEOPLE ARE ATTACKING LIBRARIES, treasured public institutions. Copyright issues have gone completely insane.

    I take some comfort in knowing these moronic legal acrobatics will eventually produce such an unenforceable mess and lead to so many ridiculous lawsuits, they'll be scrapped. I'd rather it didn't come to that however.
  • Well at least for books there is no violation of copyright. The libraries do not coppy the books, they just store them and make them avalable.
  • Finally, another sane author speaks. I find it extremely disturbing that authors are blamed (in that these people are always screaming about the 'artists rights' whether it's authors or musicians) for what the publishers are going for. I'm a small time author too (in my real-world persona, and no I'm not giving out my name). I too give away large amounts of books. I usually buy between 100 and 200 copies of a book with my first publishers check just for the purpose of giving them away to people that I feel would be interested. Why on earth would anyone do that? Simple, it's just like doing an open-air concert if you are musician (where you don't ask for pay). You get your work 'out there' generate some interest, and if it is any good, other people will come and buy of their own free will. People aren't evil by nature (something that more and more corporations are forgetting now, and the government is falling for it hook line and sinker). If they like something, and they have the ability, they will support it. But demanding money is just wrong. As a musician and an author, I don't see the point of all this "protect the artist" bullshit that the industry is spewing forth. Most of the 'artists' that I know couldn't give a rip about what the industry terms piracy. If you do this for a living, as long as you make enough to keep doing it, you don't really care about the kids that buy one copy because they can't afford to buy one per person and pass it to ten friends. We've all been involved in that sort of thing, especially as youngsters. Why go after these 'evil, evil pirates', when all they are really guilty of is not being rich? It's a frightening trend.

    The digital divide is not the one that we should be worried about right now. The divide between the rich and the poor that seems to be growing more and more powerful is the one that should concern us. As the rich push to make that divide stronger, and the poor struggle against it, we see again and again that the poor are labelled evil, vile, disgusting names for their crime of being poor. It's very frightening, and I hope that we wake up before we become totally entwined in our own stupidity.

  • This reminds me of a good commentary that was on NPR yesterday: at a recent conference of dot.coms, they were trying to figure out where to point the finger of blame for all the failures. To the execs, it came down to "pizza kids" as the commentator put it, but basically the true hackers and developers of most free software. The execs felt that these pizza kids decieved them into investing heavily into such value-added software, expecting big returns, and then were laughed at by these pizza kids when it all backfired. But the guy understood the premise of free software: he states that the pizza kids were never in it for the money, but writing the software for the fun and enjoyment of it, and went on to point out that most of today's software like email and web browsing was build on this so-called "R&D department of the internet". He did go on to say that there are some of these pizza kids that did try to do the reverse; develop software and try to get investors into it, but this wasn't a majority of them.
  • As the article mostly discusses scientific literature, I don't see how the AAP can have a case. When I go download an online article from a publisher today, it is not conceptually different from when I go and physically "download" same article from a shelf, only much more efficient. It is speedier for me, and at least in theory it is more efficient for both libraries and publishers as they have to deal with less papercopies. I can do this both in academia and in a corporate environment and they typically have their paper subscriptions "upgraded" to online access.

    Where do the publishers loose money here? People rarely hand around PDF files, so I don't think there is much pirating. It is probably less PDF-copying around than papercopying, simply because the PDF files are much more accessible than the paper versions.

    In fact, if the publishers keep track of downloading, they have more control on the journal distribution and usage than in the "old paper world" where they would have no idea how many paper copies a library have made from an article.

  • International conflicts are best resolved by declaring war. You should get a bunch of canadians together, claim America's ripping you off by not having this law, and then declare war. Then bomb the Baldwin residence...
  • " As far as I can recall, free lending libraries were invented in Philadelphia, by Ben Franklin."

    Benjamin Franklin actually started a subscription library. People paid to use it.

    "Sadly, this idea that common people can't think for themselves is still too common, we've all heard too much about governments that won't allow their citizens to browse certain auction sites because they may contain disturbing historical artifacts."

    Hell, you have the entire Internet at your disposal and didn't bother even to do a simple search on "Benjamin Franklin library." I wonder, do you consider yourself one of the "common people?"

  • by tenzig_112 ( 213387 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @05:46AM (#449881) Homepage
    Get over it already. Napster is not a library.

    We protect libraries because they give information access to anyone, regardless of income level.

    We deplore shoplifting because it raises prices for everyone else and puts small stores out of business.

    We as /. users are a conflicted bunch. We want everything for free but want to be over-paid at the same time. We often seem to confuse free beer with free speech.

    The honor system won't work- we singed up just to prove it []

  • Well do I think that the people publishing in journals do it for free?

    Well yes we do, or we even pay the journal a page charge in the case of many academic science journals.

    When I send out an academic paper I typeset it MYSELF. I also give FREE opinions to journals as to the quality of other submitted papers. I have colleagues who do the editoral work for FREE as well. In chemistry the publishers make large amounts of money off the academic community. It is different in physics where many (not all) journals are published at near cost.

    There are thus variations of several orders of magnitude in cost/page in scientific publishing. Where does my salary come from? From my university. Certainly not from published works.
  • by firewort ( 180062 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @05:49AM (#449885)
    Where's that crystal ball RMS has been hiding?

    I never did think we'd find ourselves moving towards a Stallman-Ray Bradbury world.

    Of course, I'd never have read Farenheit 451 if it hadn't been in my elementary school's library.

    If that isn't irony, I don't know what is.

    A host is a host from coast to coast, but no one uses a host that's close
  • The problem with rental of videos is that you have to pay per use for them. The other issue is that the videos are paid special at a higher price because they have a license that allows them to be rented. If you have ever lost a video from Blockbuster and saw how much the videos have costed, then you would see the prices the stores pay on each video.

    Although I think lately, since they are selling used copies of videos, they now pay for a license to rent videos out to the public and pay regular price for the actual tapes. Essentially this has already happened with videos. It also reminds me of some of the emerging technologies of dvd recordables. Some of the media is keyed for data backup and some for video media. The video media is much more expensive to pay for licensing fees.

  • by malkavian ( 9512 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @05:53AM (#449890)
    From what I note in the article, the people who are really getting hot under the collar about this are the publishers.
    Perhaps, this is because, like the music industry, they're beginning to see that anybody can go direct with their content in a digital format, and bypass them completely.
    As soon as this is really understood, then nobody, or at the very least far far fewer people will be relying on them, and thus paying their huge cut of each book paid for.
    It looks like another outmoded dinosaur is desperately thrashing around with tooth and claw (read litigation) in an attempt to protect their revenue streams in an age when they're no longer required.
    About the only way they can stay required is if they make it near enough illegal for anyone to publish their own content and not go through them.
    And this looks like the first step in that direction.

    Just a pondering,

  • "Yeah I agree. I mean, if publishing were so cheap and depended mostly on the price of paper, we'd see some sort of huge coggate industry of free ezines, news websites, and individuals publishing just because they like it."

    Heh! I publish my own internet magazine, and have done the zine thing in the past (the internet is much cheaper). I know what ya kinda mean.

    Still its a completely different thing. Zines don't have to worry about accountability, journals do.

    BTW being a cottage industry would kinda mean that these guys are actually making money wouldn't it? Few zinester I knew (back in the day when it was new to put up the text version of yer zine on gopher or FTP) ever turned a profit. Most of those who did are now doing the traditional media thang. Not quite as interesting as their old stuff was, but a whole lot more relyable -- and they don't have to start every article out with "Don't Try This At Home" or "Not Liable For Death Or Injury" :-)

  • Actually, I have it from good authority (Raymond E Feist) that used book stores are illegal under current copyright law. However, the law is not enforced since they are so much accepted by people. Raymond E Feist is a best-selling author if you were wondering.

    I'd love to see some proof of that assertion, please. If you have to explain to us why he could be considered an authority (and I'm sorry, but being a "best-selling author" doesn't make you an expert on copyright law) than I'd like to see some attributable essay or column that can be defended or rebutted.

    Jay (=

  • And what's even worse is that most editors, authors, and whatnot associated with some of these journals are *already* employeed as professors or scientists or doctors, and are already getting a sufficiently respectible salary. Sure, particularly for a journal like Tetrahedron Letters which is published on a weekly basis, you do need to pay the typesetters and publishers, but when you consider than any respectible college is going to carry a subscription to this journal because of it's importance, there's still the question of where the extra money goes to.

  • Several times in the past when DCMA, copyright, IP, etc... issues have been grumbled about here the point has been raised that Joe Q. Public could care less and does not understand that his rights are being chipped away at.
    Well Joe Q. Public understands libraries, if you are looking for a way to explain to someone just how evil some of this stuff is, use this as an example.

  • What would you think if your local Barnes & Noble or Borders start to sell ebook on their shelves with shrink-wrapped color boxes?

    You'd say "stupid!". Isn't the whole point of ebook idea is that the book can be downloaded directly to your computer or reader, without you going to bookstore or LIBRARY? Why should your local library stock one copy of ebook at all?

    We have to approach a problem first in term of whether the problem has a solution at all. Paper book has a physical contraint that once the book is checked out, the next person has to wait until the book is returned. If we want ebook to follow the same model, then new software has to be written to emulate that physical model, namely control access to viewing of ebook from library. This involves same techinical problem as SDMA and music industry are trying to solve. (Read MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE).

    I do not have the answer. Maybe a book can be published in two editions, paper and ebook.
    Maybe library should not be allowed to loan ebook at all, instead they could stock paper version of the book. If an ebook has interactive content, then maybe it should be instead be categorized as software instead of "book".

    Now let's worry about something more urgent like global warming and over-population.

  • Publishers have to figure out a way to charge for electronic material, Schroeder says. "Markets are limited. One library buys one of their journals," she explains, pointing to the Brie eaters. "They give it to other libraries. They'll give it to others." If everyone gets a free copy, she says, the publisher and the writer and others involved in making the book go unpaid. "These people aren't rich," she says of those in the room. "They have mortgages."
    Not begin able to afford hobnobbing it with the brie-eating elite, I fail to feel much sympathy for these people. With every new advance in technology, old ways become obsolete and are replaced by new thinking. It's bad enough, even with so much knowledge being free for the taking, many young people practically have to be pushed into a library. Imagine if you had to start paying. I feel the free library is not what has to change here. On the contrary... the burden is on the publishers. It was their idea to begin distributing content electronically, it is their responsibility to find ways of making money doing so.

    Electronic media is not a loophole for the fat, wealthy media companies to continue fleecing the public!

  • Do you think the people publishing the the journals are doing it for free? Its a prestigious role to be publisher, and it can make or break someones academic career. If you allow someone to publish something with less than credible methods or results, then yer career can be down the tube as well. As such, these people need to get paid...

    And the people who write the articles and verify the credibility of methods and results are paid. However, they are not paid by the publisher, they are paid by the university that employs them.

    Universities, for the main part, do not hire professors just to teach. They also hire them to participate in the world of academic research. This includes more than just doing the research. It includes getting it published ("Publish or Perish"). Academic peer-reviewed journals do not pay for articles submitted. In some cases, they are paid to have the article published by the author. It also includes peer-reviewing the articles of one's colleagues (which accomplishes that "ensuring credibility").

    The astronomical prices of journal subscriptions cover: coordination, printing and distribution costs and publisher's profits.

    Due to the extremely small print runs (most of these are only bought by a small number of academic libraries) an academic journal naturally has a much higher "per-issue" cost than, say, an issue of TIME magazine.

    Note that, as most of these journals are only bought by university libraries, the university community is in essence, paying twice for the research. Once when it pays the academics to conduct, write and review the research and again when it pays the publishers for the journals.

    Note also that most of the costs that the publishers have to pay (coordination, printing and distribution) are the ones that are most effected by the new Internet technologies making scholarly journals the best choice for early converts to the new "e-publishing".

  • She has discovered that libraries, for anything that they have available (from the local newspaper to a flashy CD-ROM), are already paying more than you and me will pay at Barns and Noble for the same item. Much more. They pay more because this information will be available to lots of people.

    Uh, excuse me, what about donations? Or are people not allowed to donate books to a library? What keeps Joe Schmoe from walking into a B&N, buying the latest Clancy, going to the library and making a donation?

  • by ksuhr ( 68961 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @06:15AM (#449909) Homepage

    As a librarian, I have no problems with publishers making money at what they do. However, I think the reality of how libraries deal with e-books is mis-represented. The e-book products that I am aware of involve buying a set number of 'copies' of each e-book. If you buy 3 'copies' only 3 people can use it simultaneously and for a limited time only.

    As far as journals and magazines are concerned, the library I work at pays in the neighborhood of $100,000 a year for access to databases that can be accessed inside the library by the general public and through the internet by authenticated students, faculty and staff. Some of these databases involve a cost of 64 cents per database query for finding citations of articles, not the articles themselves.

    Now given that I work for a fairly typical small to mid-size library, with hundreds of peer institutions across the country with similar setups, I think publishers are probably getting a fair shake, and probably more than their fair share from libraries.
  • Keep in mind that if the government is picking up the tab, in the end the end user (the citizen) is paying, since he or she pays taxes. In the proposal you cite, the government merely becomes a middleman.

    Your gut reaction may be to say "so what, you are merely arguing semantics," but keep in mind that it is far easier to sneak cost increases into government budgets than it is to raise the price of a product at the local supermarket.

    How long until these "symbolic fees" become less symbolic and more concrete, and taxes are raised accordingly. With precedent on the publishers side ("after all, the government has been paying these fees for years") any court challenge by the government, or the people, would presumably face an uphill battle.

    Everyone seems content with that, so it will probably pass as a law.

    That is the most insidious danger of such a ruse. Everyone is content, because it doesn't appear to affect them immediately. The publisher's can take away a right the people have had for decades if not longer (the ability to lend and borrow books free of charge), begin gouging them via the taxes they already pay. Publishers become a subsidized industry, enjoying both a government enforced monopoly on their products and a government underwritten revinue stream paid for by the taxpayer, whether or not they use the product and irrespective of whether or not they agree to it.

  • Acutally...

    Recently, through no fault of my own I've been forced to wear a suit and tie around. Unfortunatly a Baen pocket book makes an unsightly bulge in the suit. *sighs*. So I've recently been pulling stuff down from the Baen free library and buying them from webscriptions, and downloading them to my palm pilot. It's great, the LCD screen is as easy to read as my pocket book. I can read it for 3 hrs at a time with no ill effects, and as a bonus, it's backlit, so I can read in the dark. (Consider the benifits for a cohabitating geek who sleeps less then his/her co-geek(ette), no more having to turn the lamp on and risking waking the SO. It's great.) Now I just need to upgrade to a Vx so I can store more books at a time. 2M is getting cramped!

    Remove the rocks to send email
  • by dsplat ( 73054 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @06:16AM (#449912)
    There is an important point to be made here. If something is technically possible and profitable, someone is going to want to do it. It is profitable to use the legislation to restrict other people's freedom in ways that allow you to sell more.

    I don't begrudge authors and publishers a living. I actively support it by buying an enormous number of books, including printed books of material that I can get online.

    The publishers are feeling threatened by technology. Sharing of books online is easy and cheap. It takes less time than buying a physical copy and costs less. Electronic copies of texts allow you to cut and paste what you want to quote with ease. If they are on the Web, they permit hyperlinking to the full version.

    The problem here is that we don't have an acceptable model for how content is to be sold online. Subscriptions and broadcasting offer excellent models for information that is time-critical such as news,weather, stock quotes, even video feeds of live sports. Neither model is good for books.

    We have grown used to buying a copy. When I purchase a book, I don't own the rights to the words, but that single physical copy is mine. I can read it, sell it, give it away, loan it to a friend, mark up the pages with notes, or destroy it. I have the right to read it today, next week, next year, or on my death bed 500 years from now when nanotechnology can no longer rebuild my failing body. My right to read it does not require paying an ongoing license fee, and is not subject to the continued availability of special hardware or software to make the pages readable.

    Who would want to give up that flexibility and receive nothing in return?
  • Someone (RMS maybe?) once said "Information wants to be free." That may be true, but who's going to create the information in the first place if they aren't going to see anything for their efforts?

    Your post is information. Did you get paid for creating it?

    Obviously people can create more information when they are paid to do so. But that doesn't mean that no payment = no information, or that a pay-per-copy or pay-per-view scheme is practical or moral.

    The solution might be patronage, where those who do have money (gov't, Bill Gates, etc) fund the development of books, art and other stuff that can be given away for free. However, they will generally reserve the right to pull the strings of what's being developed and what it says. What kind of solution is that?

    Same problem applies in a market system, though...the masses "pull the strings" by voting with their dollars for check-your-mind-upon-opening thillers and romance novels rather than "Quality Literature". (Insert your own definition of "Quality Literature" here.)

    I believe that the best model for rights and payments would be similar to the current one for musical performance; I can sing any song I want, but I can't claim that I wrote songs I didn't, and if I am (or someone, like the bar owner, is) making money from it, the songwriter is owed a royalty. I would replace "copyright" with rights of recognition of authorship and royalties on for-profit copying or distribution.

    Tom Swiss | the infamous tms |

  • The publishers are not trying to stop libraries from lending real books

    Yeah. Right. Of course not. They're just trying to phase out "real books" in favor of e-books, which they will be able to charge per use. Same thing as VCR --> DVD.

  • by Flower ( 31351 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @06:28AM (#449919) Homepage
    Could you contact Mr. Feist and have him comment on this [] link? I think the issue of him being a best-selling author isn't very pertinent on this issue except maybe in the case of bias.
  • The reason used book stores can operate is because of the First Sale Doctrine. It means that once a particular book is purchased (and the copyright owner compensated) no more compensation is ever due for that particular copy, no matter how many times it is read, loaned, sold, or resold. Publishers have never liked the First Sale Doctrine (surprise, surprise!) and with each new change to copyright law they attempt to slide something in that will negate it.
  • but I didn't realize the signifigance until now.

    He's the head librarian for a large county library system in Texas. Last time I was visiting my parents, I dropped in on him for a chat. He mentioned that based on his observations the average income level of library patrons has dropped a good 50% in the last five years - especially among people who use the library for research. The lower income research patrons mainly use the free net connections. The library used to be full of high school students researching any number things, but that number has declined sharply since so much of their research gets done on the net.

    Now, how interesting is it that libraries come under fire when they no longer serve a large section of the populace that buys stuff.

    But I agree with the posters above, this will raise quite a stink if the publishing house(s) push to hard.

    Don Negro

  • by ragnar ( 3268 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @07:00AM (#449942) Homepage
    Instead of jointly agreeing that this sucks, or bantering back and forth about the issues we already know (information should be free & people need to make a buck), why not take a moment and write an email message to Patricia Schroeder about the matter? Her eamil address is

    Now folks, please be respectful and treat her as the distinguised person she is. A considerate and well thought message will make more of an impact than a flame. Don't write anything you wouldn't say in person, and if you say foul things in person, please do the cause of liberty a favor and let other cool-minded person's do the writing. Okay, I'm stepping off the soap box.

  • Most people (Slashdot readers being a small minority of most people) do not use Napster, much less DeCSS, so they don't feel particularly threatened by the RIAA/MPAA attacks on intellectual property pioneers.

    But who in their lives in the USA has *not* used a library?

    It's like seeing a fight in the parking lot- most people just watch and root for a favorite- until someone shoves my little brother. Then it gets PERSONAL.

    I welcome the APA's attacks on libraries. Pat Schroeder will do for the media industries what Jerry Falwell's attacks on Tinky-Winky did for the Religious Right.


  • by rknop ( 240417 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @07:13AM (#449954) Homepage

    "These people have mortgages," Schroeder is quoted as saying in the article.

    Answer: so what? The people who made buggy whips back when horse-drawn carraiges were all the rage had expenses too. Then their industry went obselete. Should the government have passed litigation that insured that their industry would survive, to "save jobs"? No, people adapted. They found something useful to do for society.

    The MPAA, the RIAA, and now the publishers try to focus everybody on the creative people. They try to use the scare tactics that the musicians, writers, and so forth will not be paid unless we have all these draconian controls on digital distribution. But that's not what this really is about. There are lots of people in the distribution industry who have jobs that will become obselete as the digital world takes hold. Some of the people at the top of this chain of jobs have a lot of money and a lot of power. They don't want to lose it.

    The creative people will not become obselete. All this technology can't replace the creativity of writers. What it can replace is the full industry that's in place to "publish" and distribute the writer's work. If these people really did care about the creators, they'd be trying to figure out how best to find a niche and adapt to the digital world. Instead, they're trying to insure that those who have the power base in the analog paper world maintain that power base once it has become unnatural for them to do so.

    I have full confidence that the writers, musicians, etc., will find a way to live in the digital world, given the chance. We value them, and they will still be valued in the digital world. (I don't know it will work; I could spew some ideas, but I don't claim to have the answers. But I do know that the right answer isn't to clamp down and hand the keys to our minds to the executives of the RIAA and publishing industry.)

    However, we don't value the recording and publishing industry. We've only valued them because they were necessary for the creative people to communicate their works to us. Those industries are becoming dinosaurs. We should let them die. The people with mortgages in that industry should find something new to do. That may sound harsh, but it's the way things go. Buggy whip makers had to find something new to do too. It's ridiculous to strangle individual freedoms across the world in the name of protecting jobs that are becoming useless.

    Hey, maybe some of those trying to preserve their positions in the recording and publishing industries could instead try to find a way making a living by helping writers and musicians be recognized and known in the digital world, where information can flow freely without being blessed by a huge corporation, and where it will be that much harder for a really good writer or musician to become widely known! Maybe they could be on the forefront of inventing the new distribution model in a world where it's easy to freely copy content! Naaah, much easier to legislate the continued existence of their obselete industry.


    Sueage is the American pastime.

  • by mpe ( 36238 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @07:14AM (#449955)
    Is there any reason that the First Sale Doctrine couldn't be extended to software CDs by a good lawyer?

    The problem with software is that it's in a kind of Twilight Zone of being "licenced" rather than sold.
    Book, film, etc publishers appear to want to extend the same kind of status to their wares...
  • Don't be so naive. Few laws are written in the interest of society. Look at who funds the lawmakers and you will see why. Hell, the Americanian public didn't even get the president they voted for.

    And we do pay "royalties" to breathe. Your taxes fund the EPA. Yes, another well-run and powerful Americanian institution.

  • Greatly reduced production and distribution costs, that's what. It seems that the publishers want the advantages of the digital distribution without the disadvantages.

    But they do not want to pass this advantage on to the customers. e.g. DVD's are cheaper to produce and ship than video cassettes, but cost more.
    Also it's most likely the "publisher" who gets the additional markup rather than the original content producer.
  • Publishers want to get paid? Keep their profits up? Then charge the SAME thing they do now.

    or even charge more for the newer format. Because it's new and supposedly better. We saw this happen with records and CDs, it's happening now with videos and DVDs. Are books and "e-books" the next target...
  • That's why the home rental market is actually making a huge loss for the MPAA, and why, due to the fact that I have been able to rent music from my local library for many years, all the record companies are making huge losses. The business model is changing, adapting is the key, not taking away rights in the name of 'stopping piracy'.
  • I've seen books with the disclaimer "this book is licensed, not sold." I've also seen people at the Library of Congress copy every page of such a book.
  • I DIDN'T begrudge publishers the right to make a living. Once they propose this, I start to question their right to exist. I they start to push it, I will decide that in general they have no right to exist.

    Commercial entities are granted the right to exist because they are judged to provide a positive social utility. If the utility function becomes negative, then they begin to occupy the same position as other similar characters. Like thieves. It may be difficult to get rid of them, but it sure would be nice.

    Publishers have been given special priviledges, because historically they have been trustworthy. I.e., they have been given shining images as opponents of censorship, etc. The champions of name your favorite cause, etc. These were because they earned the benefit. The current position is sort of the opposite.

    The reason that they are acting this way is really because of the DMCA. The publishers saw the extra goodies stolen by the electronic publications, and wanted in on the loot. But that shoots them in the foot as far as claiming to be good guys. I was already a bit peeved at the way that the copyright act kept getting extended. Now I'm starting to think that we'd be better of without one. Then after the power groups dissipated, we could try to construct a new one that would protect what needed protection. For a LIMITED period of time.

    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.

  • In the end, probably, reason will prevail. (Of course, the road to the end will be littered with ruined lives and missed opportunities, but our species is stupid that way.) However, there's another approach that can be taken at least in some areas: open content.

    Nowhere is this more applicable than where textbooks and reference books are concerned. Why teachers at all levels have not collaborated to produce universal, free textbooks is utterly beyond me. Given the technology available -- content could be included conditionally to suit the requirements, pedagogical and ideological, of each school district or university, for example -- and given the hideous cost of textbooks, it seems like the only reasonable solution. Likewise with things like encyclopedias. God knows there's at least a few people with expertise in every subject area who would be willing to write a quality article for free. The overpriced training materials that go with lucrative technical certifications are another obvious target. Are you certified by Oracle, Cisco, Microsoft, etc? Help out those who aren't yet.

    I know this isn't an all-inclusive solution, but at least in this one area, it would eliminate the political influence of textbook and reference publishers by putting them out of business.

    Knowledge is the collective property of the entire human race. Yes, that's an ideological stance, but it's one that has seen the sacrifice of millions of lives on battlefields around the world. If Hitler and Stalin couldn't stop it, it would be a shame to see fnarking copyright lawyers succeed.


  • We want everything for free but want to be over-paid at the same time.

    *laff* That is a perfect description of capitalism. If things weren't that way, we wouldn't have cheaper and better products!

  • Ancient Athens had public libraries. Of course there was Alexandria, governement owned, and publicly accessable for the specific purpose of forward the arts and sciences.

    Julius Ceasar founded a public library in Rome, not actually built until after his death, but built, and public, none the less.

    The Islamic world of about 1000 A.D. had an extensive system of public libraries, particularly in Spain. Europe largely recovered teh idea of the public library from the Spanish network, which even included the idea of interlibrary loans.

    I've traveled a fair amount around the world and have NEVER had any trouble finding a public library, not even behind the iron curtain during the height of the cold war.

    Hell, I just recieved e-mail from my mother, 2500 miles away from me in a "third world" country, and she dosn't even own, or know how to USE, a PC. She gained access to a computer, an e-mail account, and got free training on how to use them. . . at a public library.
  • I guess not anymore "Library System Terroizes Publishing Industry" see it here [].

    For those afraid of goat sex: ndex.html

    - subsolar

  • by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @08:07AM (#449983) Homepage Journal

    The idea of Intellectual Property was invented on the premise that it is feasible to create an artificial scarcity of information. If it is feasible to do this, then IP is a great idea, because it allows creators to sell IP as though it were tangible property, and thereby make a living just like any other person in a manufacturing trade. The consensus is (or was) that this is a Good Thing, and that it why the people chose to create copyright law.

    But this artificial scarcity isn't really feasible anymore. They're trying to keep it that, with ever-increasingly-draconian laws. But these aren't really working, and more importantly, the side effects and other costs of these efforts are beginning to get very high. Libraries aren't just a geek thing; a much larger portion of the population uses them. If they are threatened, then society is going to lose its consensus that information scarcity is a Good Thing. When that consensus is lost, then IP will no longer exist, because there won't be laws that protect it.

    Thus, intellectual creators are damned if they do try to keep information artificially scarce, and damned if they don't (due to technology). Either way, IP is on the way out. No wonder they're scared.

    But this doesn't mean that society doesn't value what intellectual creators make, or that they are about to lose their means of making a living. They're just going to have to change what they sell. Instead of an artifically scarce resource (information), they're going to have to sell a naturally scarce resource: their creativity and labor. They're going to have to switch from manufacturing to service.

    In a way, I'm already facing this in my software job. Most of the revenue that I generate for my company isn't in the form of products; it's in the form of billed time for custom programming. The customer is really paying for a service rather than a product.

    And you know what? It's tougher. I have to keep on my toes and actually work every day, instead of making a product and hoping that it "goes big" so I can sit back and take it easy while the money comes in. Poor me, having to work for a living! Poor publishers!

    Frankly, if a lazy slob like me can do it, then these so-called "businessmen" can handle it too. The harder they fight, the more I become convinced that they're either 1) Stupid, because they don't see the big picture or 2) Unethical, because they want something for nothing.

  • I don't know of her religion exactly, but I'm pretty sure you have placed her in about the most opposite category you could.

    For instance, an ardent pro-choice and womens rights supporter. While I agree with those views, she has lots of other ideas (like supporting the publishers against the libraries) that are breathtakingly misguided.

    I also have to say other than the (also misguided) crack at Christians, I totally am with you about her seeming to want to be Jack Valenti - she even comments about how whistful they are that they do not have the clout of the MPAA!
  • How is research going to be impacted if every researcher has to pay for the articles he/she reads before doing research? If we start having to pay for epublished materials, it will have the net impact of decreasing research. Imaging, everytime you run into a computer problem, having to pay for an article or book to find an answer, because the content is licensed, not owned - like a book. The quiet world of libraries has changed. Now, instead of a peaceful place where you could read materials for free, we have Internet terminals with government imposed filtering software, ebooks with royalties for each use, radio talkpersons declaring us distributers of pornography, patrons screaming for more services without raising their taxes, and politicians not seeing the need for libraries - "everything's on the Internet!". If this trend continues, I don't think we'll have to worry about it for long, public libraries are being squeezed out of existance. A librarian's perspective.
  • having worked in a library for a year and a half I can say that no, donations do not go on the shelf. All of the donations that we recieved (quite a lot. A small u-haul trailer per day) were sold during our book sale. The occasional book might make it to the shelves but that would only be 1 out of 1000. The main reason for this is that the books were not licenced in such a way that we could put them on the shelves. And if you check out the prices listed for a library book replacement we are talking 20-40 dollars for a $5 childrens book. However please keep donating your used books as they do add a lot to the libraries income in book sales and the librarians will "steal" an occaisional book or 2 and really enjoy it. (BTW we would put like 2$ in the pot for something people would normally pay a dollar for so is not really stealing. ;)

  • >>I'm still not entirely sure what all the uproar is about, though. The technology is very much in place to enable e-books to be loaned for a specific period of time. It's a simple matter of patron authentication and timed decryption or access, not altogether unlike the much reviled Divx format. Really, I think it's much ado about nothing. <<

    You are an idiot. As the DeCSS case has shown, this technology does not work and can never work.
    For details from one of the world's most famous security experts, see: VDEncryptionBroken

    Also, in my state (PA), any citizen can get a card at any library, at no charge. Usually, they must first get one from their local library.
  • by Anonymous Cowdog ( 154277 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @10:14AM (#450019) Journal
    Don't worry, the Association of American Publishers and others are working closing up those annoying loopholes in the Net, too... check out the Digital Object Initiative [] and the Handle System [] for two nice examples of the misuse of the word "open," unless your idea of "open" includes a $30,000 per year fee for membership.

The road to ruin is always in good repair, and the travellers pay the expense of it. -- Josh Billings