More On The Exciting World of Copyright

September 19th, 2005 · No Comments
by Booksquare

If we were to be put in charge of the government (and let us assure that nobody would be that brave), two of our initial acts would be to modernize the Patent Office and revisit copyright laws. Probably in that order, but we can be capricious.

Google’s plans to digitize the world continue at a breathtaking (from a whole of human history perspective) pace. At some point, Google’s ambitious goals are going to slam up against a bunch of “well, we never thought about that” bureaucracy. It will not be pretty. The arguments are laid out like this:

The outcome could determine how easy it will be for people with Internet access to benefit from knowledge that’s now mostly locked up — in books sitting on dusty library shelves, many of them out of print.

“More and more people are expecting access, and they are making do with what they can get easy access to,” said Brewster Kahle, co-founder of the Internet Archive, which runs smaller book-scanning projects, mostly for out-of-copyright works. “Let’s make it so that they find great works rather than whatever just happens to be on the Net.”

Versus this:

To endorse Google’s library initiative is to say “it’s OK to break into my house because you’re going to clean my kitchen,” said Sally Morris, chief executive of the U.K.-based Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers. “Just because you do something that’s not harmful or (is) beneficial doesn’t make it legal.”

Which leads us to wonder what is the point of having a kitchen if nobody in the family knows it’s there? This is all going to come down to such exciting concepts as “fair use” and “precedent”. But maybe it will also raise the question of how most modern art is controlled by relatively few gatekeepers.

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