[conspire] Book Burning continues thanks to the Feds

Ruben Safir ruben at mrbrklyn.com
Wed Mar 23 00:30:00 PDT 2011

On Tue, Mar 22, 2011 at 08:34:34PM -0700, Rick Moen wrote:
> 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
> doing.
> (_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
> anyone.

I disagree with that.  First, its not property, and the comparision is
inapropriate.  Secondly, that's not what Google did.  They scanned books
largely out of print adn unlocked that wealth of information.  It should
be allowed wether the authors wish it or not.  Otherwise, the more
appropriate comparison is that someone claims all the air and water that
touches their property is thiers to prevent everyone else from using it
for the next 99 years, plus another 99 years.

Further, the settlement would not have prevented another company from
likewise scanning books, especailly out of print works and doing the

Law that thinks about this as "property" needs to be reversed and google
should start to lobby for a change in the law.


> '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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