[conspire] Book Burning continues thanks to the Feds

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Tue Mar 22 20:34:34 PDT 2011

Quoting Edward Cherlin (echerlin at gmail.com):
> My proposal would be for the settlement to allow anybody to set up a
> registry and digitize books, with a requirement for data sharing
> between all such registries. 

'The settlement'.  Let's talk about the concept of 'the settlement' for
a moment, here.

The matter at hand is a civil lawsuit -- which is to say, a private
property dispute between two parties, heard in front of a judge --
filed by Authors Guild and several other such groups against Google, Inc.
over gross violation of copyright law that Google, Inc. pretty much
admittedly had been conducting while offering the plaintiffs'
proprietary works (among others) in their entirety to the public
electronically in a way that asserted unique rights to Google in so

(_After_ being sued, Google trimmed the offered electronic content on
other people's works still under copyright to just excerpts, with the 
amount and nature of the excepts chosen by them.)

A civil lawsuit can legitimately duke out in court -- various sanity
provisions permitting -- litigator group A's effort to raid litigator
group B's property rights and vice-versa.  However, if A or B attempted
to get the judge to expand that claim to _everyone's property on Earth_,
we would call that utterly crazy.

For example, if you and I were neighbours, and you sued me over a fence
dispute, I might, if I had delusions of grandeur, propose to the judge
that, as part of a fair settlement between Ed Cherlin and Rick Moen,
that Rick Moen receive for a modest lump-sum fee rights to control
placement and composition of _every fence, anywhere_.  You'd probably 
call that a bit crazy.  (Actually, no, you would call that very crazy.)

Well, guess what?  Google, Inc.'s 'settlement proposal' has been just
about the same:  Authors Guild legitimately represents only a
infinitessimal fraction of the world's book authors; ditto all the other
plaintiffs.  And yet, Google proposed that 'the settlement' include its
grab of proprietary rights against every book written, everywhere, by

'The settlement' would essentially amend both the nation's copyright
statute, title 17 of the United States Code, and international
copyright treaties -- as if a single district court judge in NYC had 
suddenly become embued with the powers of the United States Congress to 
overwrite our Federal statutes _and_ of all the other national
governments who've ratified the Berne Convention.

That doesn't make any more sense than it would if a judge decided to
change all property laws about all fences in the world, just because one
property owner in Menlo Park, California thought it might be a good idea.

Now, I'm all in favour of major changes to Title 17.  However, it just
isn't up to Judge Chin and Google, Inc. to make them -- and especially
not on behalf of all the world's authors without asking them.

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