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[P]
They found out about #bookwarez..

By nevauene in Op-Ed
Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 05:10:31 AM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)
Internet

Well, it was bound to happen. #bookwarez/efnet was stumbled upon by the 'aboveground' media, and quickly killed off by sensationalistic stories with titles like Pirates Invade Book Publishing. Yes the vultures of the mass media have descended again, sniffing out another potential threat to massa's intellectual property rights.


I've been lurking around the channel for nearly a year now myself. I am sorry to see yet another great little unknown channel go +i due to corporate media vultures like Wired (who, as usual, don't have the slightest clue what they are talking about, and are clearly being fed hyped-up hearsay by their info-trolls) coming in for the kill, and of course bringing the rest of the Brave New Media in tow..

#bookwarez is / was a great place to find all kinds of programming / sysadmin books, not to mention a good, if somewhat limited, selection of fiction as well (leaning heavily towards award winning sci-fi authors).

As far as the threat to corporate revenue goes here, I think realistically it is even less likely with a medium like books than it is with music. People want real books to sit down and get cozy with, they don't want to read a novel on their computer screen. I managed to find Henry Miller's "Tropic of Capricorn" through a #bookwarez link. I started to read it, and was really impressed - alot better than I thought it would be, great critical and caustic narrative way ahead of it's time. But am I going to read the whole thing sitting at my box? No. I want to read it in bed. I want to read it in the bath. I want to turn the pages, and dogear them profusely. A laptop doesn't cut it, nor does a Palm or anything else. So I went out and bought the book.

Same goes for programming books; a good programming book you want in hardcopy, for reference. A bad programming book, on the other hand, you rm and thank god you didn't actually pay good money for it.

So the question is, is this story itself doing exactly what I'm attacking here, and casting more unwelcome light upon #bookwarez? Well, yes. But thanks to Wired et al, it's days of innocence are surely over for good now anyhow.

I am posting this not only as an opportunity for discussion, but to urge all of you to get involved and "pirate" books. Legislators are increasingly moving to actually extend copyright duration (Sonny Bono law comes to mind), so ignore their mountains of new legislation and fight them. Tell every industry that revolves around so-called "intellectual property" that you'll pay if you choose to pay, not because they try to force you to through crap like the DMCA, bought-and-paid-for legal precedents, etc.

Got some good fiction you think geeks would benefit from reading? Transcribe it. OCR it. Form groups, and have those who haven't read a given book before proofread and fix OCR errors. Create channels for distribution, get it out there on IRC fserves, on dedicated BBSes, on ftp, whereever. Pay for the books you love, cause you know there's nothing quite like the genuine article, but fight for your right to share with others noncommercially.

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They found out about #bookwarez.. | 76 comments (71 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
I find it funny... (3.23 / 21) (#4)
by skim123 on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 04:00:26 AM EST

I find it funny that publishers would make a big deal about an electronic version of a book that can be obtained for free and NOT be against libraries. Granted, a library does buy a number of copies, but that copy total is far less than the total times it is checked out. It's not like the library sends the publisher $x for every time the book is checked out... Oh well.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


Re: I find it funny... (4.31 / 16) (#5)
by blane on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 04:10:33 AM EST

It's not like the library sends the publisher $x for every time the book is checked out... Oh well.

Libraries do exactly this. It's known as Public Lending Rights (PLR) and means that authors get a very small amount of money for each book that is loaned from a library. There are some agreements between countries, so that foreign authors also get paid.

This is true for the UK, and for Germany. I would presume the USA also has a similar scheme. Please check your facts!



[ Parent ]
Re: I find it funny... (3.60 / 5) (#30)
by YellowBook on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 10:39:59 AM EST

I've never heard of this (in the U.S.A). Do you mean that libraries in the rest of the world micropay each time a book is checked out, or that they just pay a higher initial price for books than individuals do? The latter may be true in the U.S., but definitely not the former.

I just looked up "Public Lending Rights" on Google, and all of the hits come from non-U.S. sites, mostly Commonwealth countries. I'm sure the publishing companies are lobbying for this in the U.S., but I doubt they'd get away with it -- librarians here can be pretty vocal when their perogatives are threatened.



[ Parent ]
Re: I find it funny... (3.60 / 5) (#35)
by squigly on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 10:57:32 AM EST

Do you mean that libraries in the rest of the world micropay each time a book is checked out

Essentially that. I'd guess it was a monthly payment from the county library service to each publisher based on number of books rather than a single payment each time a book is taken out. In England I think the cost is a few pence per book. Not sure how the loan rates compare with the typical royalty payments though.

--
People who sig other people have nothing intelligent to say for themselves - anonimouse
[ Parent ]
Re: I find it funny... (3.00 / 1) (#61)
by blane on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 03:57:12 AM EST

It's interesting the USA doesn't handle PLR - I would have thought with standard copyright (Berne convention?) it was agreed internationally. Would US librarians really fight this - I would say it makes sense to pay the authors a small payment for providing their work to others without charge (OK, I may be biassed, my dad used to write books, and we got our first train set when he got an unexpected PLR cheque in).



[ Parent ]
Re: I find it funny... (4.57 / 7) (#36)
by Kip on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 10:58:51 AM EST

The USA does not have a PLR arrangement for paying publishers or authors for each loan of a book from a library. Libraries in the US buy books from one of a pair of large distributors, (Baker & Taylor is the one we use) and the price is usually about 20%-40% off the full retail price. That is the only payment libraries make in regards to their books.

[ Parent ]
Re: I find it funny... (2.71 / 7) (#20)
by hubie on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 09:04:04 AM EST

Also, digitial material can be copied ad infinitum where libraries only lend material that has been purchased, and they do so in a manner that is both in the spirit and the letter of the law.

[ Parent ]
Re: I find it funny... (3.20 / 5) (#27)
by YellowBook on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 10:34:19 AM EST

Publishers are against libraries. They'd shut them down if they could. It's just that public libraries are such a well-established institution that they can't attack them openly.



[ Parent ]
Re: I find it funny... (3.50 / 4) (#47)
by Matrix on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 04:42:50 PM EST

You seem to forget that when public libraries were first created, publishers cried out against them as tools of the devil that would destroy American culture. If anything, they've proven to be the opposite. Remember, too, that the nature of a corporation is (generally) to be concerned only about its short-term profits. Publishers, especially, scream about any new technology that they have to adapt to, then when someone forces them to adapt, they make buckets of money off it.


Matrix
"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

Re: I find it funny... (2.00 / 1) (#58)
by skim123 on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 11:47:21 PM EST

I think that's why I like Internet-based businesses, because they realize how quickly things adapt and aren't afraid of new technologies.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Re: I find it funny... (3.00 / 1) (#62)
by Matrix on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 07:36:40 AM EST

Yes, a good online business can be very successful and interesting indeed. Unfortunately, most online businesses aren't good. Things like we'll-make-money-because-its-the-Internet dot-coms, for example.


Matrix
"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

Re: I find it funny... (none / 0) (#65)
by skim123 on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 02:36:09 PM EST

Things like we'll-make-money-because-its-the-Internet dot-coms, for example

While there are a lot of companies like that, you'd be surprised at how many there are that are good, solid, profits-first Internet companies. I've worked for two such companies... no commercials during the Superbowl, no media blitzes, no huge budgets... rather, just an average office, minimal marketing, and profits.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Re: I find it funny... (none / 0) (#66)
by Matrix on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 03:14:00 PM EST

Cool! I want one! ^_^ Seriously, I wish there were more of that kind of company, or even that more investors would go for them instead of the Superbowl media blitz ones.


Matrix
"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

Quick, hide the warez! (3.60 / 15) (#8)
by acb on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 06:34:58 AM EST

I have to say that obtaining a book electronically certainly can be useful, if only to have it available to do a very fast search for certain keywords - sure indexes in hardcopies attempt to provide us with a feature such as this, but it isn't the same.

But on another personal note, I am not a fan of reading large wads of material electronically, I quite often print out papers or other discussions simply to read them either then, or later on.

Of course copyright is an issue when it comes to this, or more to the point, licensing (in that sense anyway) of the material, and payments to filter through to the publisher / author (like copyright was originally imtroduced in England in the 16th century for that anyway)

The ether is a wonderful thing, but I will be sad when the newspaper is replaced outright by an epaper - for once my parents and I actually agree completely on something :>
--- acb #kuro5hin
Good grief! (3.27 / 18) (#9)
by eric.t.f.bat on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 06:35:12 AM EST

I've produced two songbooks for the SCA and I also have a web page with all the other songs I've written myself. The web page doesn't have any of the stuff from the songbooks, and I don't give people permission to OCR the songbooks even for personal use. Why am I so selfish? Because the profits from the songbooks are donated to AIDS research, and I'm not interested in letting people reduce that income.

But here's the important bit: I wouldn't be any happier with illegal copying (whether the copies were pirated for money or merely kept for private use to save having to buy the original) even if the money went to me, or partly to a publishing company and partly to me, even if the percentage that went to me was relatively small. Why? Because those songs are my work, I earn the money I get paid, and I don't feel like giving my money to anyone without a good reason. I might choose to give you money if you begged in the street; I wouldn't be particularly happy if you just took it without asking. Publishers earn what they get; spoilt children using daddy's flatbed scanner don't.

I'm sorry if this disturbs people. I'm sorry if I seem evil for not giving away my work gratis. I'm sorry that "information wants to be free" and I'm denying you all that freedom. But I'm not sorry out of guilt: I'm sorry because there are so many amoral thieves here and so few people with a clue.

: Fruitbat :

Re: Good grief! (3.60 / 5) (#38)
by mindstrm on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 12:37:40 PM EST

Though I completely agree with your reasoning; that you should not in any way have your work compromised by 'pirates'...

I'm curious as to what lets you say 'you cannot OCR my work, even for personal use?'
Personal use falls under fair use, I would think. I can OCR any book I have, and stick it on my computer, whenever I want, without asking anyone's permission.


[ Parent ]
Fair Use (2.00 / 2) (#48)
by eric.t.f.bat on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 05:41:17 PM EST

I suspect that fair use provisions are different in different countries. I'd have to check out Australian copyright law, but my initial suspicion is that scanning in an entire work is ipso facto violation of copyright, even if the initial intention is to never give it to anyone else. Does anyone here have knowledge to confirm or refute this? Note: US law in most things is different to the rest of the world; witness that discussion about how US legislators are maybe possibly theoretically thinking about banning mobile phones used by car drivers...

: Fruitbat :

[ Parent ]
Re: Fair Use (3.50 / 2) (#51)
by Mitheral on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 07:01:20 PM EST

In Canada and the USA (and I'd bet most Berne Convention member countries) you are allowed to spatially shift any copyrighted works you own. This allows you, for example, to copy a cd to cassette to listen to it in your car. Of course shifting like this is usually only practical when your can do it automatically/mechanically or if the cost of the desired format is so outrageous it makes it worth your time.

Of course stuff like the DMCA in the states is a move by the big media companies to resrict that right.

[ Parent ]

Computer, one Tom Clancy novel and a hot coffee. (3.70 / 20) (#10)
by erotus on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 06:42:20 AM EST

"No matter what," said Adler, "we are facing a serious problem because once you put digital files online, there is no foolproof way to protect them."

Well duh... There is no stopping digital piracy. I'm not advocating piracy but simply stating a fact. I would say 99% of people I know would rather read a hard copy rather than sit in front of a monitor. The simple fact of the matter is, book piracy will never reach the level of music piracy or software piracy. It just won't happen. Some claim that having "free" (cough, cough) music online helps them to sample and possibly buy the entire album based on a couple of songs. This should be even more true for books.

Also, many speak of piracy using a very aristotolian black or white logic. The truth is, some degree of piracy helps the industry. In Microsoft's case, it gave them monopoly status on the desktop and Bill Gates even admits this. Had windows 3.1 been copy protected somehow and not pirated, the windows 95 upgrade, which thn was protected through a CD key or code number, would not have been the most popular software buy of the decade. Microsoft new if they turned the other way while people pirated, they would make money off upgrades, Office software, and lock people in their environment.

On the other hand, do authors deserve to be compensated for their works? Sure they do however, when the cost of manufacture and distribution reach almost zero then what? Imagine living in a star trek type world where people own replicators in their homes. Imagine using a tricorder to scan common ordinary things so you could replicate them. You could replicate coca cola, quarter pounders with cheese, computer hardware, or even clothing - what then? Will McDonalds sue people who put happy meal images on the internet? Image that kind of warez page!
click here to download: happymeal.img
click here to download: coke_classic.img

Rather, will we be living in a world like star trek, where people only work as a service to humanity because the pursuit of material wealth becomes irrelevant due to the abundant and replicatable nature of things? Remember, in the 24th century star trek world there is no currency on earth. The pursuit of wealth becomes a moot point when anyone can have anything. So as we build this bridge to our future, what are the short term solutions? long term goals? I believe in time we will have the answer, an answer which hopefully wil be humanitarian and just in nature.

Food replicators... (3.22 / 9) (#13)
by BigStink on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 07:27:12 AM EST

The idea of distributing image files for food is pretty intriguing, but it also makes me think that it would be such a waste of replicator technology if people were to use it to distribute McDonalds "food".

The only saving grace of McDonald's offerings is that they are marginally more convenient than preparing food for oneself. But if the replicator technology allowed any food to be created in an instant, people could use their replicators to make far superior food to a Happy Meal. Instead, people could trade images of gourmet food prepared by the world's top chefs, and people could have instant access to food with a high nutritional value.

This sort of technology would probably spell the end for the world's homogenised fast food outlets. If a replicator ever is invented, I wonder whether the fast food corporations would lobby for legislation to make food replication illegal, in order to artificially protect their outdated industry?

[ Parent ]

Re: Computer, one Tom Clancy novel and a hot coffe (3.20 / 10) (#19)
by hubie on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 08:59:52 AM EST

I'm not sure what is more disturbing, people who learn history from TV and movies, or people who base moral and technical arguments on Star Trek and Star Wars.

[ Parent ]
Re: Computer, one Tom Clancy novel and a hot coffe (4.00 / 2) (#53)
by erotus on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 08:17:58 PM EST

First and foremost, I do not watch much TV or movies nor do I learn my history from them. Learning history from a US perspective in today's schools may not be all too factual either. History is told from the perspective of the historian which could be biased. I am not basing a moral/technical argument on Star Trek. I'm simply answering the question with a question... I want to stir even more discussion.

If you read my original post I said that authors DO need to be compensated for their works. Diving into this quasi-futuristic possibility lets us examine some things... After all... everything is just an arrangement of atoms.. zero's and one's... placed in a particular order to mean something.... Whether replicators become reality in the 24th century is still yet to be known. I believe whatever man can imagine, man may eventually build. People dreamed of flying centuries before airplanes were invented.

In the end, I do believe that artists, writers, etc... will be compensated for their works... There are artists and writers who are moving away from publishing houses and record companies and selling directly to the consumer... Piracy will still exist, but the artist/writer will make much more money as a result of selling directly to the consumer. Piracy will always be there, I'm not justifying it... just stating the fact.

[ Parent ]
Steal This Comment (2.00 / 16) (#11)
by codemonkey_uk on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 07:06:24 AM EST

Go on. I've given permision. Except its not stealing if I give permision. I am surprised that this "story" got to the front page. So, you got your illegal copyright infringement ring shut down. Boo hoo.

Either buy a book, if its worth the money, or hunt down something distributed for free. Its you choice.

Thad
---
Thad
"The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell
And what about borrowing? (3.20 / 10) (#15)
by dabadab on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 07:54:34 AM EST

I have to admit - I am a pirate.
I have read many books (in their dead-tree format) which I have not bought, but which were kindly lended to me by my pirate friends. Yeah, that's right, I have not paid a single penny for them - yet the publishing industry did not collapse.
Of course, I realize that scale can change things - you can lend a book to a friend or two, but an OCR'd copy can be DL'd by millions - yet I really do not believe that online book-pirating will ever reach a scale where it would be really harmful to the publishers.
--
Real life is overrated.
[ Parent ]
Re: And what about borrowing? (3.20 / 10) (#18)
by sakico on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 08:58:28 AM EST

A person who buys the book owns that copy of the book. They can burn it, read it, sell it for either more or less than they bought it for, or loan it around to all of their friends. After any or all of the above, there is still only one copy of the book, and the author has received compensation for it. If one of the friends who read it enjoyed it, they will go out and buy their own copy, again compensating the author/publisher.Somewhere along the line, they receive compensation for each and every copy (with the odd illegal no-book-cover exception).

I can give you my copy of a book for you to read, then get it back and loan it to another. I cannot photocopy the entire book and give the copy to you legally. Lest you get any ideas that only distribution is illegal, you cannot legally receive the copy either.

As amusing as the idea of rebellious teenagers trading "hot, zero-day literary warez" in a massive underground ring is to me, it is and shall remain quite illegal, despite the fact that it will never cost the publishers and authors much money as reading long texts in ugly formats is no fun, and those who truly appreciate books would buy copies anyway. (Similar to the incorrect valuations on software piracy, few of the people who wind up with illegal copies were likely to buy the genuine article. Those who would will probably buy it anyway.)

For what it's worth, I, like the earlier poster, had really hoped that I had left the legions of anti-copyright armchair anarchists behind on Slashdot.

(And the guy who changes his alias every day or two while posting OCR copies of novels to rec.arts.sf.written via anonymous remailers is probably going to manage to get a few of them shut down in the end. What a hero. You should search on Deja for one of his rants, subjected "Copyright Funeral Today - 25 ebooks uploaded to freenet". The kiddie made me work a bit to develop a killfile that would keep him out.)

[ Parent ]

Re: And what about borrowing? (3.50 / 8) (#22)
by dabadab on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 09:49:16 AM EST

The point what I was trying to get through (with little success) was that there is a flaw in the system.
A book is nothing more than a carrier of thought - and in most cases you have to read it only once, not more. So lending a book and reading it is very similar to getting an OCR'd copy. (Your statement (if I like a borrowed book, then I will buy it) is very akin to the argument "If I like an OCR'd book then I will buy it" - perhaps it is what happens, perhaps not.)
I think that publishers (and the ppl in general) should be more relaxed about piracy (and I speak about kids spreading stuff among themselves, not the massive forgery industry in Russia and the other "real pirates"). I think that losses caused by piracy are overstated, and it is more of a result of the trigger-happiness of legal vultures than of common sense (this kind of piracy is typically done by kids or other people who are low on money - thus they could not purchase not even the books/software/whatever they need so if they copy it freely it is still not a loss for the copyright owner)
I am not anti-copyright, I just think that the copyright system has to change. The current system is based on the assumption that intellectual products are distributed in a physical form (book, CD, whatever) that is relatively expensive to produce and distribute. But with the advent of advanced information technology this is about to change. Intellectual products can be distributed at nearly free of cost - but of course writing a book still takes the same amount of work that it did before. What I see as a solution is to have cheap access to electronic form of writings/music/whatever. By lowering the price, people will buy more things thus they become richer (in an intellectual meaning) and authors also get their payment.
--
Real life is overrated.
[ Parent ]
Re: And what about borrowing? (2.71 / 7) (#34)
by codemonkey_uk on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 10:53:11 AM EST

If I loan a book out, I can only loan it to one person, and that person will be somone I trust. Eventually, and hopefully, I will get the book back. The person I loan it to does not get to keep it, not do they get to loan it to their friends.

I would say that if I buy a book, and I love it, and I rave about it to my friends, it will be read by up to 10 people. Tops. And thats probably over the course of a year. Thoese people might even recomend it to there friends, and they would have to go and buy it, if they want to read it.

If I where to OCR it, and put it online, it could be picked up by search engines, and read by, say, a million people in a year. If each of thoese where to do the same, anyone in the world could read it, anytime they like.

The author, who spent time and love creating, potentially, a work of art, a lifetimes acheavment, gets nothing.

Loan a book. Create a few sales.
OCR and upload. Steal forever.

Thad
---
Thad
"The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell
[ Parent ]
Did you even read the story? (4.00 / 4) (#42)
by mulvaney on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 01:42:24 PM EST

The poster clearly stated that #bookwarez was trading only *free* books. How is that piracy?

The whole point of this story was how Wired misrepresented their group. So he posts a story explaining it, and the people talking here misrepresent it all over again...

Mike

[ Parent ]
Re: Did you even read the story? (3.00 / 1) (#60)
by Potsy on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 01:31:53 AM EST

The poster clearly stated that #bookwarez was trading only *free* books. How is that piracy?

Looking back at the story, I don't come across a statement to that effect anywhere.

On the other hand, I did see a mention of getting a copy of "Tropic of Capricorn" through #bookwarez, which is most definitely not free.

Are we talking about the same story?

[ Parent ]

Bring on the w4r3z d00ds (3.80 / 25) (#12)
by Carnage4Life on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 07:10:27 AM EST

Pay for the books you love, cause you know there's nothing quite like the genuine article, but fight for your right to share with others noncommercially.

Wow, I thought I'd left all the pro-piracy advocates behind at Slashdot but it seems that I was wrong. It is especially disturbing that some of these people, like this author, somehow believe they have a right to distribute copyrighted works simply because they're not charging money for it.

As a developer of software, and thus a copyright owner, I find it despicable that people disrespect and defraud the creators of copyright works whether they are musicians, software developers or book authors. I've read so much poorly written rhetoric defending what essentially is the right to steal that I cringe every time I hear the word Napster or the phrase "information wants to be free".

A lot of people point to the fact that information is easy to replicate in the digital age and then leap to the illogical conclusion that it should then be free. This conclusion is only justified if and only if the digital content costs nothing or next to nothing to produce, if it doesn't then the "it's easy to replicate" argument holds as much water as a busted sieve.

PS: I realize piracy will always exist and have no problem with it. What I have a problem with is people who try to pass of stealing as some holy mission or God given right such as this author. If you are doing something wrong at least admit it instead of hiding behind tired, misused slogans like Information Wants To Be Free and other such drek.

Re: Bring on the w4r3z d00ds (4.30 / 10) (#32)
by El Volio on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 10:46:59 AM EST

Let's keep in mind the original purpose of copyright as set forth in the Constitution: a limited-time ability to have control of distribution of the work. This was to encourage authors to produce works, while still allowing the public to enjoy the work. The original concept was for a limited time so that society as a whole could derive maximum benefit. That was the purpose of the phrase "public domain". By publicly releasing your work, you're acknowledging that it's out there to benefit other people. The limited-time rights are actually granted from the public to encourage you to keep producing. After that limited time expires, the work is in the public domain and you have to keep producing.

Copyright extensions (now for the life of the author plus what, 75 years?) have completely destroyed that purpose. What the author of this story is advocating (and I don't necessarily totally agree or disagree with him) is keeping in mind that purpose. If your work is of sufficient quality, then let it be compensated. Otherwise, try again. It's sort of a civil disobedience approach.

OTOH, I agree in part with you and Lars Ullrich: under current law, the copyright owner has discretion as to how that should happen. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the whole thing, which is why I try to use free software: it lets me use it the way I want, but it's legal and ethical. "Try-before-you-buy" would be just fine for me; truly free software is even better.

This is why I prefer real bookstores to Internet ones, and why I don't buy shrinkwrapped books: I want to examine the product for myself first, to verify that it's what I need. Too bad "try-before-you-buy" has become so anathema to much of the commercial software world.

To paraphrase Robert Heinlein (if anyone has the actual quote, please feel free to correct me), "Writing beats working for a living".

[ Parent ]

Re: Bring on the w4r3z d00ds (3.88 / 9) (#37)
by Captain Derivative on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 11:23:42 AM EST

I agree with you about how the duration of copyright has been grossly overextended. But it seems to me that a lot of people use that excuse to explain away their piracy. A lot of times on Slashdot I've heard people say something like "I agree with the idea of copyright, but corporations have bribed the government into extending it way too long." And then they talk about why that makes it right to download MP3s of just-released music on Napster.

Look, if you support the original copyright, show it. Don't pirate anything that was copyrighted in the last 14 years (or whatever the number is exactly). It's that simple. You lose a lot of credibility saying that and then downloading an album released last week (screw the RIAA, sure, but the artists aren't being compensated either), not to mention the credibility of the people who actually believe and follow it.

I don't mean to accuse you of this, but it just seemed an appropriate place to put this, since you made the overextension-of-copyright argument. It's just I see this messed-up reasoning too often.


--
Hey! Why aren't you all dead yet?! Oh, that's right, it's only Tuesday. -- Zorak


[ Parent ]
Re: Bring on the w4r3z d00ds (4.30 / 10) (#40)
by hazel-rah on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 12:44:44 PM EST

Wow, I thought I'd left all the pro-piracy advocates behind at Slashdot but it seems that I was wrong.

piracy and pirate are sensationalistic terms. the book-traders of this article, if they are guilty of anything, are guilty of copyright violation, not piracy. yes, the dictionary says it's the same thing, but it isn't. calling copyright violation piracy is like calling shoplifting rape. it suggests far more malice and violence than is actually taking place. you may say i'm being pedantic, but this whole debacle is an image war, so this kind of thing is important.

It is especially disturbing that some of these people, like this author, somehow believe they have a right to distribute copyrighted works simply because they're not charging money for it.

to me, this is a perfectly rational belief. bookstores do it, they even provide couches and coffee shops to make it more comfortable.

before i buy a book, especially a computer book, i want to read enough of it to know i want it. *before* i buy it. like i said, i can go the bookstore and read most of a book without buying it, and nobody gets up in arms about that. can this priviledge be abused? yes, and it probably is, especially with magazines. do we call people who do it pirates? no.

just because a book online has the potential to be downloaded millions of times and printed out doesn't mean that it is. again, from the bookstore example above, if i wanted to, i could probably go to a bookstore and read every magazine they had and not buy anything. as long as i was quiet and put everything back where i found it, nobody would care. some people might think i was a big dork, but hey, it's my life, right? how is looking at books online any different? most people are just going to read enough to decide if they want to buy the book or not. a few of them will, yes, read the whole thing online. but that happens in bookstores now, and nobody cares. it's a just a control thing. authors and publishers will get used to it.

you might say it's unreasonable to expect every author to make their works available online for pre-purchase perusal, they may not have the time or technical ability... well, they don't have to! curious readers are obviously happy to do it for them. just stop hassling them about it. it's free promotion and criticism, the latter of which is far more valuable to me as a writer.

As a developer of software, and thus a copyright owner, I find it despicable that people disrespect and defraud the creators of copyright works whether they are musicians, software developers or book authors.

as a writer and thus also a copyright holder, i find it despicable that other copyright holders so arrogantly believe that they alone created anything, and that they alone should be compensated for it. the creation of things, particularly art, is a cumulative process, and cannot be done without borrowing profusely from other artists. try writing a song without ever having heard music before and tell me how good it is. the most popular music today also happens to be the most derivative. i find it despicable that copyright law does not allow those who influenced or inspired copyrighted works to somehow be compensated for helping them come into being. maybe artists should be paid for the *time* they put into creating and performing derivative works (all creative works are derivative, by the way) and *nobody* should have copyright. my extreme view isn't very popular, implementation of it would be difficult given today's infrastructure, but it's a perfectly valid point of view. your view is no less extreme, but it is in fashion and happens to be supported by current law, which in turn supports the current copyright-dependent industries. that doesn't make it better or more ethical than mine, and technology is rapidly making it worse and harder to implement. maybe it's time to rethink things. maybe we're already rethinking things, and acting accordingly.

A lot of people point to the fact that information is easy to replicate in the digital age and then leap to the illogical conclusion that it should then be free.

it has nothing to do with logic. there is no conclusion or premise. it is just a fact- when the capability to make and widely distribute perfect copies exists, information IS free. this is going to affect supply and demand for copyable products. no legislation can fix this without harming our basic right to free speech and freedom of association. people who depend on copyright to earn a living will have to adapt to this change in conditions.

What I have a problem with is people who try to pass off stealing as some holy mission or God given right such as this author. If you are doing something wrong at least admit it instead of hiding behind tired, misused slogans

there is a middle ground in copyright discussions where both extremes absolutely will not go. this is why you keep accusing anti-copyright people of "hiding" or rationalizing a crime, and they keep calling you fascists. no matter how many times copyright violators are characterized as children, thieves, or rationalizers with a guilty conscience, i promise you, they are none of these things, just as you are not a fascist. you seem to think anti-copyright people are breaking the law with the expectation that they will benefit from the fact that most people don't break the law. this is not true. they want *everyone* to break the law because in their view it's a meaningless and counterproductive law. by implying they are just trying to get something for nothing at your expense, you are sticking your head in the sand. this issue is not black and white. the phrase "you are a thief, plain and simple" is as much drek as "information wants to be free." let us recognize this and mention both of them no more.

-f. hazel

[ Parent ]
Re: Bring on the w4r3z d00ds (3.00 / 4) (#44)
by Carnage4Life on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 03:06:49 PM EST

Sorry I can't respond to your entire post but I have class in a few minutes. I'll just respond to what seems to be the salient point of your post.

as a writer and thus also a copyright holder, i find it despicable that other copyright holders so arrogantly believe that they alone created anything, and that they alone should be compensated for it. the creation of things, particularly art, is a cumulative process, and cannot be done without borrowing profusely from other artists. try writing a song without ever having heard music before and tell me how good it is. the most popular music today also happens to be the most derivative. i find it despicable that copyright law does not allow those who influenced or inspired copyrighted works to somehow be compensated for helping them come into being.

And current copyright law agrees with this stance. That's why royalties are paid to copyright holders when tracks are sampled (e.g. Puff Daddy pays out a bulk of the money he receives from his heavily derivative songs to the original creators) or lyrics reused.

Copyright law exists to protect invention of copyright works, if the Opportunity Cost of creating copyright works becomes too great then there'll be less content creation. This is especially true in software. If it took 2000 people,making at least $50,000 a year, 2 or more years to create Windows 2000 or the latest release of Oracle or some random ERP or SCM application, then there is no economic justification for giving it away for free. If people like you have their way and piracy becomes widespread and acceptable then large scale software projects that serve the needs of the consumer (not the developer) will cease to exist and if they do, they will take extreme measures to prevent their investment. Already people like you are causing the companies to adopt the ASP business model to thwart the attempts of software pirates who aim to steal their revenue. Please explain to me how the existence of large scale complex applications will continue if we all resort to your proposed state of anti-copyright anarchy?

[ Parent ]
Re: Bring on the w4r3z d00ds (3.66 / 3) (#54)
by Stargazer on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 08:50:29 PM EST

And current copyright law agrees with this stance. That's why royalties are paid to copyright holders when tracks are sampled (e.g. Puff Daddy pays out a bulk of the money he receives from his heavily derivative songs to the original creators) or lyrics reused.

What about those artists who can not afford to pay such extravagant licensing fees? Are we to presume that, since they haven't made enough money from their own works, that their use of others' would be meaningless? Copyright law does not agree with the sentiment that works ought to be freely usable to everyone.

Copyright law exists to protect invention of copyright works, if the Opportunity Cost of creating copyright works becomes too great then there'll be less content creation. This is especially true in software.

If this is the case, freshmeat's appindex would not be nearly as expansive as it is. Cost can be measured in time as well, and it takes time to code all of those programs. I can hear someone already saying, "But they are copyrighted -- otherwise, they can't be GPLed/BSDed/whatevered!" However, the GPL simulates copyrightlessness in a world practically run by copyright.

If it took 2000 people,making at least $50,000 a year, 2 or more years to create Windows 2000 or the latest release of Oracle or some random ERP or SCM application, then there is no economic justification for giving it away for free.

Economic justification? No, probably not. However, this was and is not an economic argument; it is a philosophical argument. From a philosophical standpoint, there are many reasons to offer this information for free -- the most prominent of which is to increase its usefulness.

If people like you have their way and piracy becomes widespread and acceptable then large scale software projects that serve the needs of the consumer (not the developer) will cease to exist and if they do, they will take extreme measures to prevent their investment.

Since when was the developer not a user as well? Does s/he not also use the software? You can't be an effective coder if you don't know what works and what doesn't for what you're programming, and the only way to achieve this is to be a user yourself.

Already people like you are causing the companies to adopt the ASP business model to thwart the attempts of software pirates who aim to steal their revenue. Please explain to me how the existence of large scale complex applications will continue if we all resort to your proposed state of anti-copyright anarchy?

First, there's no indication that the increasing vehemencee of business tactics have been as a direct result of increased copying. Heck, you didn't even prove that copying has increased over any interval of time in recent history. Disney extended copyright, and if anyone's copying Mickey Mouse's mug, it certainly isn't showing in their annual reports.

Second, quite simply, if businesses would be more concerned with the betterment of society, and less with their pocketbooks, this would not be a problem in the first place. Again, this is a philosophical argument, not an economic one.

-- Brett



[ Parent ]

Philosophical Argument? (2.00 / 1) (#56)
by Carnage4Life on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 09:26:17 PM EST

Every software developer in the I have ever met even those that work or have worked for MSFT believe that at least some software should be free (as in beer and as in speech). So this is not a philosophical debate and we are not here to debate whether it is good to give away code or not but if it is a viable business plan.

If all software becomes the purvey of lone hackers working in their spare time due to the fact that they have to get real jobs to offset the cost of writing software then a lot of software will simply not get written. This is not speculation but fact. the names of the types of applications I described are not those that scratch Joe Random Hacker's nor can they be tested and verified without great expense (e.g. Enterprise level Relational Database Management Systems, Supply Chain management software, Enterprise Resource Management software, etc). The eventual losers in this scenario will be the consumers of software that anti-copyright anarchists claim to defend and no one else (of course all those software billionairres will disappear as well).

[ Parent ]
Re: Philosophical Argument? (2.50 / 2) (#59)
by Pakaran on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 01:16:51 AM EST

The eventual losers in this scenario will be the consumers of software that anti-copyright anarchists claim to defend

I think it's important to note that the majority of free software advocates copywrite their software; they just license it under certain terms to ensure that it remains free. The essential difference, then, is that free software is simply distributed under copywrite terms that are not intended solely to ensure the financial future of its author.

[ Parent ]

Re: Bring on the w4r3z d00ds (3.00 / 2) (#55)
by nevauene on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 08:53:01 PM EST

ha.. you accuse me of "slashdot" sloganeering, and then you come on strong with the same old boring strawman rhetoric that passes for 'discussion' on That Other Site every day of the week, especially re: the issue of copyright.

hazel-rah made _alot_ of good points in replying to you, most of which you blissfully ignored to continue saying the same thing over and over again. dogma anyone?

For the record, I am all for the "proposed state of anti-copyright anarchy", being an anarchist. I pay for the books (and music) that mean something to me, I don't merely consume it in digital format and leave the artists in question high and dry. People like yourself don't tend to believe that people might actually be generally good for it, that they might actually pay just because it's the right thing to do. Rather you make 'freeloaders' out of people, and want the state to enforce your copyrights and make sure you are paid for every last copy in existence.

Sorry, but it suddenly doesn't work like that anymore, and all rhetoric aside, such so-called "piracy" will continue whether you like it or not. I will happily contribute my time to making sure it does, and so will many others.

again, hazel-rah is dead on in saying: they want *everyone* to break the law because in their view it's a meaningless and counterproductive law. by implying they are just trying to get something for nothing at your expense, you are sticking your head in the sand.


There is no K5 Cabal.
[ Parent ]
Re: Bring on the w4r3z d00ds (2.00 / 1) (#57)
by Carnage4Life on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 09:41:25 PM EST

For the record, I am all for the "proposed state of anti-copyright anarchy", being an anarchist. I pay for the books (and music) that mean something to me, I don't merely consume it in digital format and leave the artists in question high and dry. People like yourself don't tend to believe that people might actually be generally good for it, that they might actually pay just because it's the right thing to do. Rather you make 'freeloaders' out of people, and want the state to enforce your copyrights and make sure you are paid for every last copy in existence.

As I said in my post I had a class to attend so I responded to only the salient point of his post.

As for the rest of your post; history, economic theory and psychology have taught us that if people can get something for nothing they generally will. Simply because you are an exception to the rule does not mean expecting copyright holders to live off the charity of their consumers will somehow benefit them more than the current state of affairs. As I said before and will mention again if the Opportunity Cost of creating copyrighted works becomes to high, then the creation of such works will drop considerably. This is especially true in the world of software, and I am yet to see a semi-decent answer to the question posed on how copyright anarchists plan to deal with that.

[ Parent ]
Re: Bring on the w4r3z d00ds (none / 0) (#64)
by YellowBook on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 12:07:15 PM EST

Already people like you are causing the companies to adopt the ASP business model to thwart the attempts of software pirates who aim to steal their revenue.

Hrm. I tend to doubt that that's the main reason that many companies are positioning themselves as "Application Service Providers". It appears to me that the main reason a company would become an ASP would be to try to capture a continuous revenue stream from their customers rather than the one-time revenue from a sale.

After all, even though most computer users are totally computer illiterate, they're not totally stupid, and will happily use a working old version of a program even when you want to charge them for a bright shiny new one. Traditionally, there have been three ways to get users to pay you more money:

  • Improve your product so that users will want to upgrade. This requires expensive R&D, so it is rarely done.
  • Make cosmetic improvements to your product and advertise heavily.
  • Make a new release that breaks compatibility with the existing release. This only works if you have a monopoly or near-monopoly within the niche your product occupies.

The ASP model avoids this problem by never giving the users anything they can hold on to. With any luck, the availability of Free Software for most purposes will prevent ASPs from being profitable.



[ Parent ]
Reading at the bookstore (none / 0) (#73)
by Asperity on Thu Sep 28, 2000 at 10:42:05 PM EST

like i said, i can go the bookstore and read most of a book without buying it, and nobody gets up in arms about that. can this priviledge be abused? yes, and it probably is, especially with magazines. do we call people who do it pirates? no.

I used to go to the local Barnes & Noble superstore and do that all the time back when I lived near one. If a book had just come out and I didn't have nearly thirty dollars to buy it, and I was too impatient to wait until the public library would get their orders for it in, you'd find me sitting in one of B&N's comfy chairs for as many hours as it would take to read the whole thing.

The big bookstores write such non-purchases off as the cost of providing a friendly buying environment. As long as you don't actually harm the book, they're fine with it. And sometimes they don't even seem to mind if you do hurt their books or magazines by spilling coffee from the cafe or whatever on 'em.

do we call people who do it pirates? no. 'Course not. We call 'em cheapskates. :)

[ Parent ]

ya can't steal that which you can't own (none / 0) (#68)
by sayke on Wed Sep 27, 2000 at 06:52:37 AM EST

this is a philosophical argument. its about questioning the nature of property, and business plans, etc, will be determined by the answer to these questions, not vice versa.

what does "property" mean to you? is it possible to own a pattern? and be consistant with that answer - if one pattern can be owned, they all can be. is that problematic? don't like the implications of someone owning the number 3? too bad, man, but thats the logical extension of your position. please ponder the fact that your position implies that numbers are to be "owned" on a first-come first-serve basis. absurd, huh?

also, you seem to subscribe to the labor theory of value, which is clearly a crock of shit. it doesn't really matter how much work i put into something - the number of people buying it is a function of supply and demand, not mere effort-put-into (which is a factor in supply, true, but just that - a mere part of the equation)...

i (obviously) don't think patterns can be property - i think the most ontologically useful definition of property is more or less "that which you can prevent others from using." (so yea, i think that trade secrets, when actually kept, are quite legit) yes, that follows directly from "the closest thing to right is might" and "nothing but the ends can come close to justifying the means", and i suppose i'm an anarchist, but those are different (philosophical) debates completely.

and, i think Rainy was right about it just being a matter of time before it becomes practical to read digital-format books. gimme a couple of years, and i'll be slippin on my wearable's headset, sitting back on my couch, and rereading "godel, escher, bach" on the hologram thats bein projected onto my retina... (this discounts honeywell/xerox's ebooks, etc... heh.)

shrug. ya can't fight philosophy - its safe to say the earth goes around the sun, and its safe to say that the judeo-christion god is a contradiction in terms, and its safe to say that information is free, regardless of who puts what cliches on their bumperstickers.

ps: i'm both a software developer and a musician, and i think that if someone wants something, and i can make it, i'll make it if they pay me. this applies to both software and music. ontologically elegant, no? oh yea: read this essay.

pps: god doesn't give rights - rights are a useful abstraction, like money, math, and intention. here be interesting philosophical debates aplenty =)


sayke, v2.3.1 /* i am the middle finger of the invisible hand */
[ Parent ]

Re: ya can't steal that which you can't own (none / 0) (#72)
by XScott on Thu Sep 28, 2000 at 10:05:29 PM EST

I liked and agree with your comment very much, but I'm uncomfortable with some of your arguments.

I think of intellectual property as something that you can have in a society or not have and either is consistant. Kind of like the parallel postulate in geometry or the business with cardinality and Cantor.

For instance, you use "that which you can prevent others from using" as a definition of property. Well if you pay the lawmakers, and prod the law enforcers you can prevent someone from using your intellectual property. I've been dragged into court for patent infringement (it was a mathematical algorithm I thought) and they prevented me and my company from using it. "The closest thing to right is might" would sit just fine with the Disney, the RIAA or the MPAA because they have a good deal of might.


-- Of course I think I'm right. If I thought I was wrong, I'd change my mind.
[ Parent ]
Re: ya can't steal that which you can't own (none / 0) (#76)
by sayke on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 10:28:00 PM EST

damn, didn't notice your post till now. thats what i get for not checking my user info on a regular basis... thanks for responding, though. i think your arguments, while perfectly sound, are kinda beside the point. here is why:

indeed, people can and do pay the lawmakers and prod the law enforcers into enforcing (where they can...) an absurd definition of property. this is to be expected - might, even when viewed through several legal and lexical abstraction layers, is still might, but that doesn't mean i don't think its a good plan to avoid getting squashed by might wherever and however i can (in some ways, its not so mighty after all, etc).

this process of squish-avoidence can take many forms; different kinds of might can counter each other. if we convince lawmakers (i really think they should be called "rulemakers"... hehe... semantics...) to aim the might they implicitly wield someplace else, well then, the might has changed hands. if we can route around pettily absurd legal definitions, well, thats just another kind of "might" being exerted.

disney, the RIAA, and the MPAA do certainly wield a lot of might, but might is not a simple vector. there are lots of kinds of might, and, well, if the EFF and ACLU swing the "legal might vector" around a bit, so much the better. if napster servers keep popping up in out of the way places, and nifty new distributed file-sharing systems fill the gaps left by other ones, (reorienting the "technological might vector", so to speak) so much the better, too.

i suppose my point was that its somewhat useless to complain about might vectors we cannot affect. its useless to ask "what should be possible?" if we can affect certain might vectors, great, lets get busy. but if not, lets look for other avenues of approach, and stop taking the moral high ground, and appealing to emotion ("save the starving artists!"). or something like that... ;)


sayke, v2.3.1 /* i am the middle finger of the invisible hand */
[ Parent ]

Bullshit (2.92 / 13) (#14)
by Rainy on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 07:51:02 AM EST

People who say 'well reading from your monitor will never replace a good ol' paper book' remind me of creationists. No proof, no logic, just say what you feel like saying. I, for one, have absolutely no problem reading a book from a screen - exactly like reading a paper one. I think people who do have problem with that are either not accustomed yet, or have problem with low refresh rate (that can be fixed with a better monitor), or can't find good software to read a whole book (vim can be set up to remember line bookmarks between sessions). Portability? There's developments in portable book readers. There's laptops. Palm pilots. Sure, right now they're a bit corny, but first papiruses or scrolls were rather awkward too, eh? Books also were, I bet.

As far as bookwarez go, I think what's bound to happen in the next ~50 years is one of 2 things: 1. authorities get a hold onto internet, with every illegal site popping up being traced immediately and prosecuted by relevant police in their country. 2. whole system of copyright is abandoned, with authors writing/composing their stuff and hoping for donations. On the average, people are honest and this will probably lead to more money being payed than right now, because if a person really likes some book, he might go and send $20 instead of paying $5 like he does now. It may also lead to more quality writing than we see now; because now authors are often trying to hype their book up to sell it, instead of writing something insightful/touching that people really enjoy. IMHO, anyway.
--
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day

Re: Bullshit (4.20 / 10) (#17)
by squigly on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 08:37:24 AM EST

eople who say 'well reading from your monitor will never replace a good ol' paper book' remind me of creationists. No proof, no logic, just say what you feel like saying.

Really? I've heard a lot of reasonable comments on why dead trees are better. Here's a few of them -
  • Books are more portable than computers
  • Books don't need a power supply
  • Contrast of ink on paper is better than a display especially compared with LCD screens
  • Easier to keep place by using the pages as a frame of reference
  • Books are cheaper to replace if they get damaged than computers (beneficial for reading in the bath and other dangerous locations).
  • Monitors are in the wrong place. People don't seem to like looking up at something they're reading. I've never seen anyone hold a book at arms length in front of their face. They always look down at it.
Of course there are a lot of reasons why computers are better too. I'm not dening that.

--
People who sig other people have nothing intelligent to say for themselves - anonimouse
[ Parent ]
Re: Bullshit (2.80 / 10) (#21)
by Rainy on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 09:35:08 AM EST

* Books are more portable than computers
How is a book more portable than a palm pilot or a specialized reader? Yeah, they're more portable than *some* computers.
* Books don't need a power supply
True, true.. But I can't imagine, however hard I try, that this will have any weight: a pilot lasts what, 30 hours on 1-2 batteries (I'm not sure, I don't have one..)? Portable reader doesn't even need a CPU as fast as palm's, all it has to do is display pages of text. Now, 8 batteries cost about $2-3, and getting cheaper all the time. Is this really an issue?
* Contrast of ink on paper is better than a display especially
compared with LCD screens
Again, I personally have no problem with that, but if it is a problem for most people, a way will be found. There is no inherent reason why contrast can't be as good as that of paper/ink.
* Easier to keep place by using the pages as a frame of reference
???? IMHO, this is absolutely untrue. With paper books I always lost my bookmarks, I'd start reading a book, put bookmark somewhere, go to another chair to read, and forget where I left it. With vim, I just hit mb and there it is, bookmarked for as long as I need it. More presize too: line instead of a page.
* Books are cheaper to replace if they get damaged than computers
(beneficial for reading in the bath and other dangerous
locations).
Not a big issue, in my opinion. Readers will get to be much cheaper, perhaps cheaper than books are now, and who reads in bath anyway?
* Monitors are in the wrong place. People don't seem to like looking
up at something they're reading. I've never seen anyone hold a
book at arms length in front of their face. They always look down
at it.
Again, I don't have a problem with that, but I noticed that some people reposition the monitors to look down on them. Anyhoo, that shouldn't apply to palms/portable readers.

Overall, some of your arguments are valid, but only temporarily. I'm not sure if I made it clear enough, but I'm annoyed with people who claim paper books will never be replaced. 'never' being the key word. Right now e-books are in the gutenberg-press stage. Give it some time, will ya?
--
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
[ Parent ]
Re: Bullshit (4.25 / 8) (#24)
by fuzz on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 10:15:48 AM EST

as a bibliophile and a geek, I feel like i'm pretty well qualified to answer this one. squigly has it pretty much dead-on. personally, i read quite a lot on my computer, including a few novels and short stories. but there isn't any computer out there (or that i can imagine) that will come close to replacing the book.

a book, as an object, has much more associated with it than just writing on pages. books have a certain texture, a certain amount of flexibility, a certain weight. it's just not something that can easily be duplicated using a computer.

i can certainly see portable book readers becoming mainstream, and quite usable; i just don't think the book will ever be replaced. i believe that the two mediums will exist side by side for quite a long time.

[ Parent ]
Re: Bullshit (none / 0) (#69)
by Rainy on Thu Sep 28, 2000 at 10:21:13 AM EST

1000 B.C.

I don't think scrolls will ever be replaced by these new so called 'books', no sir. Scrolls are not just writing on pieces of pergament - they have certain texture, certain weight, elasticity if I may say so.. Sure, I can see books being used in some circumstances, if only for compactness, but scrolls will NEVER, EVER be replaced - remember my word. History will prove me right. :-)
--
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
[ Parent ]

Re: Bullshit (3.71 / 7) (#28)
by squigly on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 10:34:46 AM EST

Well, given a waterproof palm pilot, with an exceptional display, and a few features that paper can't offer (Font selection, automatic indexing, a few extras that other people might come up with) I'd certainly consider it over a normal book. Especially if it was also my mobile phone, radio portable web browser and just about anything else that I might want to carry with me but wouldn't want to use at the same time as a book.

There's still a certain satisfaction to having a huge shelf full of books, although I could see this concept seeming rather old fashioned some time. I'm sure there will still be sufficient book die hards to make sure that bookshelves stay around.

--
People who sig other people have nothing intelligent to say for themselves - anonimouse
[ Parent ]
Re: Bullshit (none / 0) (#70)
by Rainy on Thu Sep 28, 2000 at 10:22:56 AM EST

Yes.. similarly to how there are still some horse-driven carriages around, while most people use cars.
--
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
[ Parent ]
flip side (4.25 / 4) (#39)
by keltor on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 12:41:48 PM EST

of course there are some things that dead tree is worse at, for instance the bible. reading it from cover to cover, the points above apply. but try to find a quote in it, or answer a crossword puzzle question of someone's wife. a computer version can be searched, and the bible version that came with the OS is a full concordance supporting boolean searches.

taking this a step further, imagine that you are a fan of a particular author and have noticed what you think might be a theme (colors for things, that 2 characters are never in the same scene-- are they the same person?, etc) being able to easily search the text for such clues would give me a cheap thrill:--)
A picture had better be worth a 1000 words-- it takes longer to download (this comment posted from a debian X-Box)
[ Parent ]

Re: Bullshit (4.00 / 2) (#50)
by anonymous cowerd on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 06:52:14 PM EST

I've seen a few of the flat panel screens on newer laptops which would be just great to read off of. Imagine a 14 or 15 inch diagonal screen with an aspect ratio of about three to two; this would give you a facing-pages image about the same size as this trade paperback on my lap right now. Now mount it on the face of a fairly shockproof and waterproof box an inch or so deep with a half-inch margin around the edge of the screen, and make it a touchscreen for input. You could set it on your lap and read it in the same posture as you read a book. Now add a low-current processor, some good long-lived batteries, and a few tens of gigabytes of data storage space. Think about how many books you could store in ten gigabytes of ASCII! In the volume of one full-sized printed book, the entire contents of a library!

While I'm dreaming, add a scanner on the back of this package, so you could stock up your one-book library by scan-and-OCR down at your local dead-trees library. To remove the capitalist police-state terror aspect of this daydream, complete this fantasy with the delightful imagining of all the intellectual-proprty bandits either jailed, hanged or in exile. Starting with the lawyers and lobbyists for the Disney corporation - that's the company whose lobbying efforts you have to thank for ninety-five year copyrights instead of twenty-eight year ones like they used to have a few decades back, all to protect their so-precious "intellectual property," that is, the imbecile image of a cartoon rat.

God DAMN that Mickey Mouse, WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

"This calm way of flying will suit Japan well," said Zeppelin's granddaughter, Elisabeth Veil.
[ Parent ]

Re: Bullshit (3.57 / 7) (#33)
by mattc on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 10:48:09 AM EST

Well, I'm not an expert on the topic, but reading from a monitor is like staring into a flashlight (a monitor emits light) whereas reading a book is reflected light. This may explain why it is easier to read a book.

Also, I'm not about to lug a 17" monitor into my bed or on the hammock in the backyard every time I want to read something.

[ Parent ]

Re: Bullshit (2.50 / 2) (#46)
by Matrix on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 04:37:09 PM EST

Umm... Not quite. I personally find that my attention tends to wander a bit when reading something onscreen, just as it does when I'm listing to a book on tape. For me, reading a hardcopy book is much better. I can find things in it faster (for a reference book), and I find that I remember stuff I've read off a hardcopy better.

You may find it easier to read off your screen. Remember that not everyone does.


Matrix
"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

I always wondered.. (3.36 / 11) (#16)
by CYwolf on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 08:08:58 AM EST

How come so many books are being scanned in? Isn't this extremely impractical to OCR every page of a book, then basically read the book over again looking for errors and/or reformatting the text? It's not like copying a CD where you can just pop it in and hit the 'Rip CD' icon on your desktop and (maybe) manually enter the song titles.

Do these people have automatic scanners with the ability to flip a page? If not, they must have a heck of a lot of patience. =)
I really don't see this as a threat to traditional book distribution.

Because. (3.42 / 7) (#26)
by mindstrm on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 10:24:02 AM EST

It's the easiest way we have to pirate a book.

Handheld scanners. OCR, by the way, is getting very good. It's not nearly as flaky as it was several years ago.

A threat to book distribution? Sure it is. It's a hint at it, anyway.

Boy.. you just wait until a college kid can get pirated copies of his $1000/semester textbooks off the net for free. He'll happily fork out the few hundred bucks for a printer and bring each chapter to class.




[ Parent ]
Re: I always wondered.. (4.33 / 3) (#49)
by anonymous cowerd on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 05:56:10 PM EST

I've been working on two rather large books (public-domain English translations of Schopenhauer's "World as Will and Idea" and Marx's "Capital," each in three volumes) for Project Gutenberg, a little bit at a time, maybe two or three days a month, for the last six months. I use a flatbed scanner and a commercial Win32 OCR program, and I'm maybe a bit over half done.

Yes, it does take a good deal of time and tedious manual effort, but not when you compare it with pre-Gutenberg book manufacture (think monks, quills, incomprehensibly great patience). But when I'm done, any student of economics or philosophy anywhere in the world with Internet access will be able to get and freely duplicate these historically important books, for the cost of a click and for as long in the future as people can still read ASCII, so that makes it worthwhile.

As an additional bonus you get to deep read the book you're transcribing, which is an interesting experience - I think there are a few posters in comp.lang.c who have done this with K&R but aside from them it's kind of rare to read any book so obsessively closely. I transcribed and/or proofread every last word of "Pride and Prejudice" and by the time I got done, I could just about hear Jane Austen's voice in my dreams.

Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

"This calm way of flying will suit Japan well," said Zeppelin's granddaughter, Elisabeth Veil.
[ Parent ]

Probably a dumb question... (1.40 / 10) (#23)
by goosedaemon on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 09:58:14 AM EST

What is "OCR"ing something and how does it work?

Re: Probably a dumb question... (3.11 / 9) (#25)
by squigly on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 10:19:07 AM EST

Optical Character Recognition. Basically you scan a book and get the computer to work out what each character is based on shapes of letters. Reasonably effective but still quite common to see a lot of mistakes.

--
People who sig other people have nothing intelligent to say for themselves - anonimouse
[ Parent ]
The full story... (4.81 / 11) (#29)
by bookwarez on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 10:38:50 AM EST

As a very long time member of #bookwarez, I was very pleased to see a discussion log pick this up -- the channel has meant a lot to me over the past year+, and it's a shame to see it go so quickly and abruptly. For those of you interested, I figured I should share our story -- the side that doesn't get posted in Wired, which is, of course, very different.

#bookwarez was a channel of book/knowledge lovers. We are not pirates, however, we do not necessarily discourage it. Our primary members sought to *collect* books from the web, and store them in a centralized channel so they are easier to come upon. Try doing a search for a sepcific book on the web -- you may be surprised to find that quite a few books, with the author's knowledge or not, are available out there. Many people don't know this, so we collect them. We do also OCR some books, however, as someone pointed out above, this is a very time consuming process and isn't something that's done every day.
On Wednesday night, we received an email at bookwarez@yahoo.com from ParisPoet@aol.com:


Hi... my name is M.J. Rose and I write for wired.com. I am doing an article
on people who like to read books on line and who download books and sites
that offer free ebooks. I'd like to interview the person who runs bookwarez.
Who might that be? And could I have a phone number? I'd like to set up the
interview for either Thursday afternoon or Friday morning.
Thank you,
M.J. Rose


At first we were excited -- hey, some free publicity, and a chance to get our message out. The more we looked at it, however (and the rather loud voicings of a particular op), the more we remembered that Wired is probably not the vehicle that we want to use to communicate to the world. So, we tabled the offer...we decided that we'd like to respond however, because to not do so would have just plain been rude. So we drafted a response declining the interview.

However, before we can send it, we wake up Friday morning, and there it is -- the top news story for the whole day...(well, you saw the link up at the top)... Needless to say, most of us were stunned. How dare they get things so *wrong*?? But, as always...consider the source... The #bookwarez homepage began to get hundred and thousands of hits, and the person who runs it asked me to do something, even though he knew I really couldn't. At first, I just put up a denial (such as the one that's mentioned in the article). It pointed out the obvious stupidities of it, but, those obviously weren't added to the article. The hits kept coming so I deferred and made the URL bounce to this one:
http://www.computerworld.com/cwi/story/0,1199,NAV47-81_STO44382,00.html

(sorry, my HTML skills are lacking this morning -- it's early :>)

By this time, several of our ops and servers had already vanished. The core of the group met in a channel to talk about what to do. In the meantime, I fashioned this response to M.J. Rose:


Kudos on a fantastic article...that must have taken
you all of, what, a week to research? And thanks for
giving us a grand total of a day to respond to your
email...we do have other things to do than monitor a
rarely used mailbox for invitations to participate in
mindless sensationalism.
Honestly though, we don't take that much offense to
your article. Sure, it would've been nice if you had
checked your facts a little more closely, but who are
you to be saddled with such responsibility? For
instance:

In your send paragraph, you link to two different
sites that both contain the name "bookwarez". One
might think that these two sites are related, after
all, same name (an uncommon one, at that). However,
if you'd looked a little closer, you'd realize that
the "message board" has absolutely nothing to do with
the "#bookwarez" group, and in fact, I personally had
never even heard of it until your article. We have
since taken down our own homepage due to the number of
hits, but if you had looked it over a little bit,
you'd see that there are no links to illegal
materials, no copies of Harry Potter (which I might
add that I own, in hardcover), no Stephen King (who
I'm not a fan of, so I don't have any of his work) or
anyone else.

Sorry for the long, rambling paragraph, but you've
really misinterpreted us, all in the interests of a
few extra banner ad views.

For the record, and perhaps you should keep this in
mind, #bookwarez is a loosely knit group of volunteers
who enjoy knowledge and books in general. We are not
pirates. An accurate description of us would be
"collectors". We keep track of *free* books on the
web, collect them into one place, and let people
download them without having to scour the internet
looking for them. We obtain our materials from places
like Project Gutenberg (http://www.promo.net/pg) and
free sections on itknowledge.com and what used to be
itlibrary.com.

In closing, if I may be idealistic about things. I
admire what you may be trying to do... as more and
more authors release works to the web, there is a
great chance that they may be pirated. We are deeply
opposed to this. The Internet is such a great method
of distributing information. PDAs are handy devices
which make it nice and easy to carry hundreds of books
in one's back pocket. It's great that authors are
finally catching on to these things, and they need to
be aware that there are hazards to this medium. But
calling the members of #bookwarez pirates is wildly
inaccurate and wrong.

-The members of #bookwarez

P.S. It should be noted that a better method to stop
piracy than going after pirates would be to use
stronger software methods and encryption. It would
have been more accurate if this were mentioned more
prominently in your story rather than just as a side
note at the end.


Suffice it to say, that none of this made it into her article either.

So, anyway, #bookwarez is no longer. It's truly sad that a trashy 'zine like Wired can cause so much bad for people who are generally good and generally trying to help. But, hey...that's how it goes...

Feel free to email me with comments, etc at bookwarez@yahoo.com -- but don't ask for an interview :P



Re: The full story... (4.00 / 2) (#45)
by Matrix on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 04:35:24 PM EST

Actually, the best way to prevent piracy is to make it so there's no need for people to pirate things. I doubt CD "piracy" would be "so widespread" now if CD prices were anything close to reasonable. Book prices are, I find, generally pretty good. But you run into a milder version of the problem anime fans do: bookstores don't stock reasonable amounts for what they consider to be "niche" markets, and what they do stock is generally pretty crummy. So those who can find a good book are more likely to find people to share it with online.

Stronger software and encryption is a bad thing. It prevents fair use, to some degree. And it will eventually be broken. And doesn't really prevent a really determined pirate anyway.


Matrix
"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

Check it out (3.33 / 9) (#31)
by Funakoshi on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 10:46:30 AM EST

Might want to check out Project Gutenberg. Project Gutenberg

Sonny Bono killed Gutenberg. (none / 0) (#67)
by pin0cchio on Wed Sep 27, 2000 at 12:16:52 AM EST

Project Gutenberg is limited to content published before 1923; all content published on or after January 1, 1923, is under perpetual copyright in the United States (and it is constitutional, thanks to DisneyCo and Sonny Bonehead).
lj65
[ Parent ]
why would anybody trade books online? (3.40 / 5) (#41)
by keltor on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 01:04:03 PM EST

you know, the internet is pretty cool. if i have a question, i just open up a search engine type in a couple words that seem relevant and away i go looking through the responses. i generally find the answers i want...

so these guys had a channel dedicated to distributing books (copywrited i'm assuming), and no authors were being compensated as they would be by the publishers standard dead tree version, or by the version you can download from the publisher for a fair price (same as book, minus distribution and medium costs)-- oh wait, like music this is not an option. therein lies the problem. i am at a computer alot, and this sort of downloading a book or a song is a quick fix. it is the easiest and fastest way to get to the content i'm looking for. publishers and the like may not like it (may positively loathe it), but the customer is looking for convience and affordablity etc. if my choices are between stealing or buying a product that is one thing, but if the only access to the product is a pain in the butt, i am going to want to steal it just to have it in a more convienient format (and sometime dead tree is more convienient, but we the people are looking for the convienence of the choices of whatever format we want).

for the past 100 years music has been being recorded and archived, why can't i have internet access to that archive? why can't the internet give me all the freedom to checkout a book, that walking down to the library for a dead tree provides?

there exists the way we want things to be. but reality is made up of the way things actually are. changing things to the way we want it to be, is a worthy goal when it provides more benefit that current reality. but if reality is better, trying to change it is not going to succeed i think.


A picture had better be worth a 1000 words-- it takes longer to download (this comment posted from a debian X-Box)

Out-of-print books? (2.75 / 4) (#43)
by aphrael on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 02:22:05 PM EST

What would be really useful --- and for a while it seemed like Amazon might be able to provide this kind of service, but they went down a different path --- would be a website which allowed you to download, for a fee or not for a fee, out-of-print books. The problem is that out-of-print books will only be reprinted if the publisher can sell enough to justify the enormous expense of a print run; if you're the only guy looking for it, you're pretty much hosed. Of course, such a site would immediately run against copyright law. *sigh* It would only work if you could get approval from the publisher in question, which would entail either convincing them that they'd never make any more money on that title anyway, or that you'd kick them royalties and could ensure that copy protection works.

Re: Out-of-print books? (4.00 / 1) (#74)
by kraant on Sat Sep 30, 2000 at 07:17:29 AM EST

Getting a little off topic here I was chatting on #kuro5hin a little while ago and I suggested to people that they needed to read "The Organisation Man" by William Whyte. I can't be sure but as amazon doesn't stock it I suspect that it's out of print.

Now I'm not going to launch into a diatribe about how if only copyright was more limited in time I could have typed it up and sent it to them. What I'm instead going to point out is the chilling effect extended copyright has had on unpopular or inconvenient speech.

Perhaps this is just an unfortunate side effect and totaly unintended on anyones part but it's effects are real and disasterous nonetheless.

What not being able to easily point people at things like "The Organisation Man" does is narrow the viewpoints available to an already very spoonfed social gestalt.

This is a similar situation as that described by "Manufacturing Consent" where the prevailing views and morals in society are controlled by people who control the information.

People may pay lip service to the idea of relativism but this is just a mask for a morality that under close inspection is just as constrained and illogical as any that has come before.

For example (although it is beating a dead horse) Most people have a lot of trouble getting their heads around the idea that Intellectual Property isn't in any way a natural right.

Now lets take a slightly different angle that most people who talk about this.

Imagine trying to explain to a medieval scholar that copying a book was wrong.

For someone who'd dedicated their life to learning and teaching coming from a background of the gradual loss of massive amounts of knowledge over a period of centuries. It wouldn't just be horrifying it would be unthinkable.

What a lot of people don't consider is that we should approach the concept of Intellectual Property differently not because the concept of intellectual property is wrong per se. But because our background and our circumstances do not reflect those of our parents.

In fact I suspect that eventualy there will be a massive backlash against the idea of IP because of the way it creates scarcity of knowledge. After all revolting peasants always broke into the granaries first.

But anyway personaly I think that if the owner of a copyrighted work isn't willing to distribute it for reasonable rate it should immediately revert to the public domain preventing the dissappearence of certain works and it would also prevent abuses of copyright to prevent dissemination of inconvenient knowledge.

*shrug*
--
"kraant, open source guru" -- tumeric
Never In Our Names...
[ Parent ]

I'm guilty (3.66 / 3) (#52)
by TinCho on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 07:28:19 PM EST

I lurked around bookwarez some months ago. Sure, I downloaded some books I didn't own (but some I did), but I think the whole experience can be resumed in two books: The Lord of the Rings and The Big U.

As a big fan of JRRT, I have 3 editions of LOTR, in two different languages. It's a huge book, full of characters, places, references, etc. So the word doc I downloaded it's great to annotate, find, cross reference, etc. I think I should be allowed to have a digital version for this purposes, if I had (as I do) payed for the book (3 times, in my case).

The Big U is a different case. I read mentions of Stephenson for a long time, so I went to Amazon to buy one of his books to see what all the fuzz was about. Lemme see, The Big U, damn, out of print. You can buy it in zShops. Ok, no big deal, click the link. WTF?! 650$? No way.
I remembered #bookwarez, and after maybe 30 mins I had a copy on my drive. I loved the book. The result: last month I bought SnowCrash, and now I'm finishing Cryptonomicon. So, at least for me one *pirated* copy of an out-of-print book made me spend 40 bucks+shipping.

Maybe book publishers could realize that going digital is a great way to extend the earnings, while keeping the costs down. I centainly would have paid 5$ for The Bug U (even more after I read it).

Licenses for books (3.00 / 3) (#63)
by mocker on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 11:00:13 AM EST

Just out of curiosity, how many people out there have purchased a computer book that was out of date in 6 months? Computer books are not by any means cheap. It would seem that a logical thing to do would be to subscribe to an ebook and get it constantly updated as long as you pay the subscription (which would hopefully be better than buying a new book every time). PS - First post, please be gentle.
Rules only apply to those who care.
Jefferson on Intellectual Property (none / 0) (#71)
by freebird on Thu Sep 28, 2000 at 02:28:04 PM EST

OK, this is a lame post, and I wouldn't even expect to get away with on on slashdot. But:

There was a Jeffersion quote included in a post last night, I swear it was on this thread, and now I can't find it. My computer crashed as I was pasting it out. It was one of the best statements of why and how knowledge needs to spread freely I've ever seen, using a beautiful metaphor of flame jumping from canlde to candle.

If anyone knows the quote, or where I might have seen the damn thing, I'd sure appreciate it if you'd let me know. Sorry for the stupid post, but if it calls anyone else's attention to this wonderful quote, it's a good post after all.

...TAGGATC...(etc)

More from Jefferson (none / 0) (#75)
by Asperity on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 08:29:04 PM EST

I dunno what that quote might've been, but I've got a t-shirt with a great line from him: "I cannot live without books."

This might be something to consider for anybody who'd like to stage some sort of revolt/protest/whatever against increasing prices for books.

I just bought a nine dollar paperback today. (With my discount card, it was about a dollar less.) But really... this wasn't even a trade paperback, it was a mass-market size. Since when are they supposed to be that expensive?

Another rantish thing: what is the deal with so many books now going from exorbitantly-expensive hardcover to only-slightly-less-outrageously-expensive trade paperback? (Well, I know what the deal is: publishers make more money.) It's sad. Especially if you live in a town like mine where there's no used book store. (The closest is forty miles away, and the selection there isn't great.) Um, book lovers of the world, unite, or something.

Problem is, I can't stand the thought of boycotting publishers that pull these tricks. What to do?

[ Parent ]
They found out about #bookwarez.. | 76 comments (71 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
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