* Posts by Arcadian

26 publicly visible posts • joined 5 Aug 2009

Glasshole-in-chief QUITS Google to become CTO of America


Alexander Macgillivray

In addition to the hiring of Smith, the White House named Alexander Macgillivray as deputy US CTO. He has worked as Twitter's head of public policy. Among the planned areas of focus for Macgillivray are the hot-button issues of internet and intellectual property policy as well as privacy...

Before he worked for Twitter, Macgillivray was also at Google, where he was responsible for the notorious Google Book Settlement agreement, which was eventually thrown out by the court. For those who don't remember it, it was an ingenious effort to use class action law to screw authors out of important rights and pre-empt the then nascent market in e-books.

Kaspersky backpedals on 'done nothing wrong, nothing to fear' blather


France's 17th-century statesman Cardinal Richelieu famously stated "If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged".

This quotation, which exists in various versions, was originally attributed to Richelieu's agent, Jean Martin, Baron de Laubardemont (1590--1653); it was not attributed to the Cardinal himself until the mid-nineteenth century at earliest. Laubardemont is chiefly remembered now as one of the judges who presided over the trial of Urbain Grandier for witchcraft at Loudun in 1634.

Amazon smacks back at Hachette in e-book pricing battle: We're doing it for the readers


Re: Decent publishers are well worth their money.

You've missed the crucial point by several miles, I am afraid. Amazon-owned Createspace charges the authors for the services it offers. Under the traditional publishing model, the publishing company provides copy-editing and other services at its own expense, and usually makes an advance payment to the author as well.

Under the self-publishing model, which Createspace is designed to facilitate, the authors take on themselves virtually all the expenses involved in writing and publishing the work, as well as the hassle involved in commissioning editiorial and design services, etc.


Re: Bah!

'making a living by writing books is a very recent phenomenon'

It has only been possible for about three hundred years. Some might call that 'very recent'. Most would not. One of the first literary authors to make a comfortable living out of writing books was the poet Alexander Pope (1688 - 1744). It is no coincidence that the first copyright law, the Statute of Anne (1710), was passed very early in his career as a writer.


Re: What is Hachette contributing?

Publishers invest in authors and the books they write. They pay out quite a lot of money and company resources in advance of publication.

1. They normally pay an advance before publication. This buys authors the time to write in, and/or access to research materials, etc. Speaking from experience, I can say that this is very valuable.

2. They pay for editorial work, including copy-editing (which includes checking the text minutely for errors); this is quite a large task.

The above expenses apply every bit as much to e-books as to printed books.


3. Publishers are responsible for the design of the printed book. They also commission cover artwork, or pay licensing fees for already existing images.

E-books also need cover art, and they need to be designed. And the design has to be appropriate to the medium: as a rule you can't just convert the design for the printed book.

4. Publishers pay to have the book typeset.

The equivalent for e-books is converting the text-file to the required e-formats. Sounds easy, doesn't it? But I have dabbled in making epubs, and to get them working properly and looking pretty is fiddlier than you would expect.

Moreover, there is no one e-format. There are Kindle files and epubs. Worse, there is more than one flavour of epub. For the professional look, a file needs to be differently tweaked for each brand of e-reading device. This is all extra hassle and expense to the publisher. Type-setting for print, meanwhile, only has to be done once.

The above comments mainly relate to trade or commercial publishing. Hachette is a trade publisher. Academic publishing is a different ballgame.

Blame Silicon Valley for the NSA's data slurp... and what to do about it


Not true that subjects of photos have no rights

If I take a photo of you, then, in the UK, as I understand it, you have no property rights. I can do with that photo what I will; in particular, I can sell it and make money.

This is only true if you take the photo in a public place. Otherwise:

i) If you take it in my house, or while you are on my property, you need my consent.

ii) If you take it on someone else's land/property you need their consent. But even that may not always be enough; see this page.

iii) If I commissioned you to take it, although you keep the copyright, you cannot publish it or exhibit it, etc (applies to wedding photos, for instance); see Copyright Designs and Patents Act section 85

So there are restrictions. And restrictions could just as well apply, or be made to apply, to a server log.


Small claims court

The underlying problem with IP rights, both in 'the individual' case and in the behaviour of traditional media, is that it relies on actually fighting such problems through the courts. And that costs money. Serious money.

Since autumn 2012 the UK justice system has had a small claims track for IP cases where the value of the claim is less than £10,000. [More details here.] There is no reason why the same system should not be applied to privacy cases. And sure, £10,000 is a trivial sum to a big corporation; but I doubt if any corporation who cares about its public face would want to fight a lot of such cases.

The IP small claims court can issue injunctions to prevent future infringement, as well as award damages.

The US Copyright Office has been conducting consultations with a view to bringing in a similar system. I don't know what point they have arrived at on this.

Calling all Spare Rib veterans: Sisters, don't lose your rights!


Re: Good of you

to draw the attention of all those former Spare Rib contributors who read El Reg to this item

As a former contributor to Spare Rib, I endorse that statement. Thanks, Andrew.

Who runs UK? 'Tories, Lib Dems and Google' says Labour


Re: The meejah

At a conservative estimate, the creative industries account for roughly 6 or 7 per cent of GDP. (Some put the figure as high as 8 or 9 per cent.) Within the creative industries, the largest export sector is publishing, an entirely copyright dependent industry.

Television exports are booming, I believe. (See for instance http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/oct/02/life-on-mars-russian-remake.)

UK.gov proposes massive copyright land snatch


Re: UK Copyright Law sucks

I am sorry to have to tell you this, Directphoto, but earlier this year the French legislature smashed a huge hole in the droit d'auteur. Read this post: <a href="http://blog.authorsrights.org.uk/2012/02/28/france-guillotines-copyright/">France Guillotines Copyright</a> and this post: <a href="http://blog.authorsrights.org.uk/2012/03/08/the-new-french-legislation-further-points/">The New French Legislation</a>.

Google fined for book copyright



'What the worldwide implications are is not clear. French copyright law does not recognise "fair use", which Google used in its defence. French publishers have always insisted that making a digital copy is still making a copy and therefore should be paid for.'

There are implications for the UK, it seems to me. UK copyright law recognises 'fair dealing', but it is much more narrowly defined than the US 'fair use' exceptions. It would not be legal for Google to digitize whole works without permission in the UK, any more than it is in France.

And the Berne Convention, which guarantees international copyright protection, and which was cited in the French case, also protects UK publications.

Googlebooks re-deal won't let orphans go


Two well-meaning ladies

"English-speaking countries: the US, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia ... 'countries with a common legal heritage and similar book industry practices'"

Ah yes: not New Zealand, where the Society of Authors strongly opposed the settlement and lobbied the NZ government till it agreed to look into their concerns.

And not India, where the legal system is also based on English common law, and which is said to be the third largest publisher of books in English in the world (after the US and the UK). India recently made diplomatic representations to the US government to the effect that the Google Book Settlement would encroach on the copyrights of Indian authors and publishers.

And not, interestingly enough, Ireland: another common law jurisdiction.

In the USA there has been, at least, a debate raging ever since the first version of the settlement was announced last year. Two US writers' organisations have come out against the settlement and joined the <a href="http://www.openbookalliance.org/">Open Book Alliance</a> that has been formed to fight it.

I have not seen any of this controversy properly reflected in the information about the Google Book Settlement that has been put out by the three main UK authors' organisations: the Society of Authors, the Writers Guild of Great Britain, and the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society.

Nor has it been regularly covered by most of the UK news media. (The Register has been one of the few exceptions - along with the Financial Times.)

Many, probably most UK authors are still largely in the dark about the scope and detail of the settlement.

And now we see two prominent UK authors, Margaret Drabble and Maureen Duffy, join the tiny group of 'representative plaintiffs' in the Google Books class action case. Drabble is the Chairman of the UK Society of Authors. Duffy is the Honorary President of the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society.

Apart from the USA, the countries that are still in the GBS are those where the authors have not so far put up a strong resistance, and in particular those where the authors' organisations have gone along with the rosy view of the settlement that has been propagated by the US Authors Guild, one of its main instigators (along with the Association of American Publishers and, of course, Google Inc).

If you are a UK author and you don't like the idea of these two well-meaning ladies, without so much as asking you, opting you in to a dubious and highly detrimental quasi-contract, and granting your publishers an interest in rights - digital rights, US rights - that you may never have licensed to them in your contract, it is time to spread the word around and start lobbying the government. Only the government can get us out of this.

Merkel rips into Google Books


@Trouble with copyright...

'Perhaps she should read Lawrence Lessig's Free Culture.'

The thing the Lessig fanboys never mention is that Lessig advocates that all our web access should be intercepted and monitored by an agency set up by the government. This is his answer to the problem of how artists should be paid: the government, he says, should levy a special tax and distribute the proceeds among artists for their support. How much each artist receives is to be determined by the popularity of his or her work, as established by this all-seeing agency.

So at one swoop Lessig would

a) institute an organisation dedicated to spying on everyone's internet use and reporting to the government

b) take away artists' independence and make them rely on government handouts for an income.

Is this what you want to see, Ivor?

Google Books opens French front in war with publishers


Re: re:depends

Greg 10 - in the UK the publisher holds copyright in the typography and layout ('typographical arrangement') of a book for twenty-five years after publication (see Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, 1.1.15). Even if a work goes out of print within that time, and an author reverts the rights to the text, the publisher continues to keep the rights to the typographical arrangement. (And fair enough: a lot of work generally goes into design and typesetting.)

I don't know whether French law on intellectual property has a similar provision relating to the typographical arrangement in an edition. But even if it doesn't, that doesn't necessarily mean that typography and layout are not protected: it is possible they are covered under broad provisions protecting creative works.

DoJ urges court to reject (unedited) Googlebooks pact


@This does not give Google any copyrights

"As for people who don't want Google reprinting their stuff, fine, come forward, Google will *pay* you to tell them to stop using your stuff under this deal. Probably a lot more money than anything considered an orphaned work is worth too."

Sorry Corrine, but you are way off mark.

i) Under the settlement agreement as it currently stands,if Google have already digitized an author's books and they choose to opt in to the settlement the company will pay them some money, yes: $60 a book, approx £36 in UK money. Not exactly a fortune. If they are a non-US author, I understand that to receive the money they will have to have a taxpayer ID from the US government; in order to arrange that they have to obtain an apostille from a notary. I believe that this will cost them at least £70: and obviously there will also be the cost of sending this valuable document to the US by insured airmail letter.

Then if the book is still under license to a publisher, the whole £36 will be paid to the publisher, not the author, and it will be up to the publisher and the author to agree what share the author gets (and imagine who has the power in that situation).

ii) Under the settlement agreement as it stands now, authors of single-authored volumes are permitted to tell Google to stop displaying/selling their books - if they can track down the entries for them in Google's ropy database. Writers in short forms - poems, short stories, essays - whose work appears in multi-authored volumes cannot not do this: they may ask not to have their work displayed, but they cannot stop Google selling it. Maybe you think this doesn't matter? It matters if you are a poet or short story writer.

iii) Your remark about 'orphaned works' is muddled. An 'orphan work' is a work whose copyright owner cannot be traced. No one who owns the rights to a true 'orphan work' is likely to come forward, for the simple reason that they either don't know or can't easily prove what rights they own.

Orphan works are not the same as out-of-print works. The ownership of most out-of-print works is fairly easily established, for those who go through the proper channels. You would be wrong if you assumed that because a book has gone out of print the rights to it aren't likely to be worth very much. It is quite usual for books to go out of print for a while and then be reprinted. And there are various ways in which the rights to an out-of-print book may acquire value: for instance, if it is a non-fiction book on a subject that suddenly becomes topical, or an earlier novel by an author who wins a major literary award, or who writes a best-seller.

Google books deal 'bad for biz', thunders Microsoft


@Books not in print

When a book goes out of print, in the majority of cases, the rights revert to the author. In general, authors want to see their out-of-print books made available, provided the deal is a reasonable one. What most of them don't want is to see the emerging market for digital books distorted by a huge corporation which scans their books without asking them (illegal in the UK, and quite possibly in the US, too), invites them to 'claim' their own books on a ropy database riddled with inaccurate data, and whose planned digital editions apparently consist of shoddily reproduced copies of the print pages, and raw OCR output.

EU consults on problems of digitising libraries



"10 to 15 years should be perfectly adequate. If it's going to make money, it'll either do it in the first year or two, or never."

One of the pains of the Google Book Settlement fracas has been listening to people who know nothing at all about the writing trade confidently spouting total rubbish.

i) Some of the books with the all-time biggest sales have been 'sleepers', gradually building popularity over many years through word of mouth. The Lord of the Rings is a case in point.

ii) It is likely to take at least 10 years for an author to achieve name recognition with the public: at which point his/her early books may finally start to make money

iii) Books can, and often do, go in and out of print over many years, earning their authors further welcome payments with each reprint

And let's say this loudly and clearly: most authors earn only very modest sums from their writing, and those amounts have been falling sharply in recent years. You want, out of ignorance and greed, to slash their incomes still further? Then look forward to a future in which your favourite mid-list writers - the ones who aren't top sellers, but steadily turn out books you enjoy reading - are driven out of full-time writing; maybe stop writing altogether.

Do you want a future in which your choice of new reading matter is confined to books 'by' celebrities, online fanfic, and Wikipedia articles? I assure you, it is a real possibility.

Internet Archive stares down Google book mine


@Re: Then sue Google

"As I vaguely recall, there was a class action suit which the plaintiffs settled on behalf of all US authors. Although people (mostly law fetishists) may regard this as a "neat hack" by Google, it raises all suits of issues about class actions and how people can effectively sign away your rights ostensibly on your behalf, even though you may not know anything about it."

It does indeed. But the settlement has not yet been approved by the judge. And the plaintiffs will be challenged as to whether they really are adequate representatives of the settlement class - among other issues.


@Foreign authors?

DavCrav - Since your book is still being written, you don't have to worry about the Google Book Settlement. It only affects books published up till 5 January this year.

Of course, if the publishing industry suffers financial damage owing to, eg, piracy, as a result of Google's scanning books and putting them online, it may affect your chance of finding a publisher.

Whether, if your book is published, Google will scan it without your permission is a question that cannot be answered right now. A lot may depend on whether the Settlement goes through, and in what form.

Even though a book hasn't been published by a US publisher, it is copyright in the US under international law. Under the settlement agreement, everyone who has a US copyright is opted into the settlement, regardless of whether they have been published in the US.

Authors who formally opt out of the Google Book Settlement remain free to sue Google for copyright infringement - but I think the case would be heard in the US and I doubt whether the CPS would get involved. Unfortunately.

As for the WTO's rules on copyright infringement: the short answer is that what's happening is against them, but Google, the Authors Guild and the AAP are trying to get round them using the Settlement.

Google Book Search - Is it The Last Library?


@El Reg for sale

"A judge has ruled that third parties can license the work of people they don't legally represent"

He hasn't made his ruling yet.

"Those orphan works are orphans"

Except when they aren't. The 'orphan books' tag is being widely used as propaganda for the settlement: it is implied that it will only affect a lot of old rights whose ownership is uncertain.

The truth is that a lot of the authors, and authors' heirs, who haven't claimed their books yet, or opted out of the settlement, are perfectly easily traced: it is just that Google has declined to go looking for them. (And the settlement notice system is a bad joke: even in the US, let alone outside it.)

These authors of what Google also calls 'unclaimed books' believe that their rights are protected under international copyright law (and let's hope they are). They haven't yet got the message that there are people out there with big plans to help themselves to their work.


@6 months until you can download this on torrent!

"It wont take long for the entire Digital Library to be ripped to an offline Database and uploaded as a Torrent!

Fool of a Took Google has just made copyright material easier to steal!"

I think you are probably right, unfortunately, but I doubt whether it would do much damage to Google. I think the sure source of income for Google in this is what it will make from ads posted on search results and preview pages. I don't think piracy will do much, if anything, to reduce that.

The people who will lose out most from piracy are the authors, who will suffer damage to the value of their copyrights. And the authors who will lose out most of all will be the ones who don't even realise this is happening, so they won't know to pull their books from display. Most of them will be outside the US.

Thumb Up

@Where's the problem here?

"A poor quality OCR with errors can probably be fixed": sure, with manual input - if Google will pay for that.

But one of the problems with Google Books is that very often the *scanning quality* itself is dreadful: a fact well known to anyone who has tried to use the free public domain offerings for any serious purpose. Nothing is going to fix that problem apart from rescanning: never mind all that flannel about 'Nobody is ... likely to scan these books again.'

But you are right that there are huge legal problems, both over the original scanning, and still more, in my view, over the settlement agreement. The commercial problems stem basically from the fact that Google's attempts to circumvent the law potentially place it at an advantage compared to its more law-abiding competitors: which is unacceptable, and damages the whole framework within which we all do business.

Google turns up nose at ebook monopoly claims


@ So sue me #

"All this does is give some protection to Google being sued by the Guild and Association. And if the original publisher/author wasn't a member of either then Google is probably still back in court."

Unfortunately, this is not the case.The agreement purports to bind virtually all authors and publishers worldwide, whether they are members of the Guild or the Association or not, and whether or not they even know about the law-suit: they are all defined as members of the 'settlement class'.

In addition, it gives Google the right to greatly extend the uses it is making of the books it has scanned, with or without the consent of the rights-holders. Consent is to be presumed, if they don't opt out in time (and time is getting short).


So there are "orphans" for which *someone* *may* still claim copyright? #

"Guess what? The rights are not with the authors but with the publishing house, in general."

That is nonsense. You are writing out of ignorance.

A 25-year copyright term? - well, go ahead and plug the idea, if you are prepared to see veteran authors starving on the streets in their old age...

The copyright term can be changed by legislation, if there is a need. What is happening in the case of the Google Book Settlement is private law-making by means of a civil law-case to the benefit of a wealthy corporation, Google.


The Google Book Settlement, in a nutshell

As a result of some very fancy legal footwork, and with the co-operation of a US authors' organisation and the Association of American Publishers (these bodies were last heard of suing Google for copyright infringement!) Google is trying to change the legal rights and modify the contracts of virtually every author, literary estate and publisher in the world, without their explicit agreement, to award itself unprecedented rights to reproduce their work in the United States.

The stuff about 'orphans' is mostly smokescreen. Most of the books whose rights-holders really can't be traced are of very little interest to anyone. The real truth is that clearing copyrights individually with the rights-holders in the time-honoured (and legal) way is too expensive and time-consuming for Google. Google is hungry for great quantities of free or cheap content against which to post ads. I think that that is what this is mainly about, at least from Google's point of view.

Authors (and their heirs or executors) have till 5 September to opt out of the Google Book Settlement; otherwise, assuming the court accepts the settlement agreement, they will find themselves bound in what amounts to a perpetual contract of great length and mind-numbing complexity, containing many clauses favourable to Google.

After 5 September, if the settlement goes through, they will have to register with a new outfit called the Book Rights Registry in order to keep control of their US rights. In the case of those who fail to do so (most likely because they have not understood what is happening) any money earned by the use of their work will be divided between Google, the Book Rights Registry and the rights-holders who have registered. (Some may trickle down to charities.) The proposal to give rights-holders who sign up a share of the money earned by the books of rights-holders who haven't is one of a number of features of the scheme that has attracted criticism.

But the root evil of the scheme is the universal opt-in of all owners (or licensers) of copyrights. This is against international law and agreements on intellectual property.

I may add that even authors who have never published in the States are being caught in this net. Google is digitising indiscriminately, and plans to go on doing so.