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Offline Book "Lending" Costs US Publishers Nearly $1 Trillion 494

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from a tongue-in-cheek blog post which puts publisher worries about ebook piracy into perspective: "Hot on the heels of the story in Publisher's Weekly that 'publishers could be losing out on as much $3 billion to online book piracy' comes a sudden realization of a much larger threat to the viability of the book industry. Apparently, over 2 billion books were 'loaned' last year by a cabal of organizations found in nearly every American city and town. Using the same advanced projective mathematics used in the study cited by Publishers Weekly, Go To Hellman has computed that publishers could be losing sales opportunities totaling over $100 billion per year, losses which extend back to at least the year 2000. ... From what we've been able to piece together, the book 'lending' takes place in 'libraries.' On entering one of these dens, patrons may view a dazzling array of books, periodicals, even CDs and DVDs, all available to anyone willing to disclose valuable personal information in exchange for a 'card.' But there is an ominous silence pervading these ersatz sanctuaries, enforced by the stern demeanor of staff and the glares of other patrons. Although there's no admission charge and it doesn't cost anything to borrow a book, there's always the threat of an onerous overdue bill for the hapless borrower who forgets to continue the cycle of not paying for copyrighted material."
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Offline Book "Lending" Costs US Publishers Nearly $1 Trillion

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  • Dammit... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @02:09PM (#30821848)

    Don't give them any ideas.

    The copyright circus is stupid enough already.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by zeridon ( 846747 )

      I really wanna see them trying on this.

      As a minimum it will be completely hilarios

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Opportunist ( 166417 )

        Not only hilarious, but it might open the eyes of a few "what should I care, doesn't affect me" people. Libraries are a cornerstone of learning. If they start trying to crack down on them, I'd guess the anti-copyright front gets considerably larger.

        • Re:Dammit... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by ByOhTek ( 1181381 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @02:32PM (#30822278) Journal

          not exactly - many of them would see library vs. unauthorized download as a completely different beast.

          Amongst other things, you can't load the same book out twice at the same time. Waiting lists could enough to get someone to buy something they wouldn't have gotten already.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by TheRaven64 ( 641858 )
            You don't lend a book out more than once at a time, but a popular book may be lent several hundred time by a library before it's replaced. I own books that have been borrowed by over ten people. If I lend a book to ten people, then copyright law considers that fine. If I put something on a P2P network and two people download it, I get a statutory fine of several thousand dollars (well, I would if I lived in the USA). There seems to be some disconnect there.
            • Re:Dammit... (Score:5, Insightful)

              by qengho ( 54305 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @02:56PM (#30822706)

              If I lend a book to ten people, then copyright law considers that fine. If I put something on a P2P network and two people download it, I get a statutory fine of several thousand dollars (well, I would if I lived in the USA). There seems to be some disconnect there.

              Not defending the publishing industry, but there is a material difference: your copy lent to ten people remains a single copy and returns to you (you hope), but the one you uploaded to two others has become three copies. Still, I don't doubt the publishing industry is inflating the losses.

            • Re:Dammit... (Score:4, Informative)

              by OldeTimeGeek ( 725417 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @02:58PM (#30822738)
              No disconnect. The book isn't lent out to ten people simultaneously - one person has to return it before another can have it. There still is only one physical representation of the book. In digital form, there is no real limitation to the number of copies and any number of people could have it simultaneously.
            • Re:Dammit... (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Bill_the_Engineer ( 772575 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @03:28PM (#30823224)

              If I lend a book to ten people, then copyright law considers that fine. If I put something on a P2P network and two people download it, I get a statutory fine of several thousand dollars (well, I would if I lived in the USA). There seems to be some disconnect there.

              The disconnect is in your comparison. When you lend a book, you don't expect it to be copied and redistributed. When you put something on a P2P network, you expect it to be copied and redistributed, because having copies distributed throughout the P2P increases efficiency. So while you may only observe that two people downloaded your copy, you can't tell how many people downloaded copies originating from those 2 downloads...

              Now your comparison makes sense if you were distributing source material that required some DRM mechanism to read, and there was some DRM server that only allowed a certain number of copies to be "checked out" at a time. Checked out in this case means having the ability to read and/or use. I've used electronic libraries that had this kind of DRM in place.

              However, I do not think you intended to promote the use of DRM in your posting.

              The other problem with your comparison is that libraries have permission to lend books, while nobody gave you permission to publish a book in digital form on the P2P network.

              • Re:Dammit... (Score:4, Insightful)

                by Mr. Slippery ( 47854 ) <> on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @04:02PM (#30823672) Homepage

                The other problem with your comparison is that libraries have permission to lend books

                Since when does anyone need "permission" to lend out an item that they own? I lend books to people all the time. I neither have, nor require, permission to do so.

              • They own the books. They have the right to do whatever they please with them, with or without the publisher's permission. Copyright restricts publishing, it says nothing at all about already produced artifacts. Lending very well can lead to copying and redistribution. There's absolutely nothing stopping someone from memorizing a library book and reciting it to their friends, other than the effort. There's no DRM on dead trees.

                Copyright made perfect sense in the days where the cost of a printing press meant

              • Re:Dammit... (Score:5, Insightful)

                by steelfood ( 895457 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @04:27PM (#30824000)

                The other problem with your comparison is that libraries have permission to lend books

                Yeah, I was up to you until that point. It's the other way around. Nobody "gives" people permission to lend or even copy books. Instead, the government grants authors and "content creators" the ability to restrict this right of copy for a limited time. That's copyright.

                The right to use information is among the inalienable right granted by our Creator (whomever this might be), the right of liberty. It is enshrined in the first amendment, the right to free speech, because the written word is a manifestation of speech.

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by nine-times ( 778537 )

                So while you may only observe that two people downloaded your copy, you can't tell how many people downloaded copies originating from those 2 downloads...

                When I loan a book to 10 people, I don't necessarily know how many people they loan the book to. I don't even know if someone copied the whole book and distributed it.

                Anyway copyright laws weren't intended to place limits on who could read books, so there's nothing wrong if I lend the book out to hundreds or thousands of people. They were intended to protect authors from publishers as well as protecting publishers from other publishers.

          • Re:Dammit... (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @03:27PM (#30823204)

            I see a continuum of possibilities...

            If I have a copy of a book on my hard disk, and I've never read it, then does it really count as being out twice?

            If I have a copy and read it, and then two weeks later someone else reads a copy of the book and I'm not reading it, does it count?

            If I'm reading the 113th page of the book and other people are reading the 7th and 211th pages, does that count?

            If I'm reading the third word of the 4th sentence and another person is reading the 8th word of the 12th sentence on the same page, does that count?

            If the library has a copy of the book and it sits there unread and then two people read it on the same day, how about that? (happens a lot with reference books when a paper is assigned and the book is on special reserve status).

      • The former head of the RIAA, Hillary Rosen, actually gave a speech decrying the very idea of libraries loaning out books for free. She seriously wanted to charge for every time a book was read.

        No, I have no link. It was probably ten years ago. She resigned in 2003.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I believe it has already been done in Spain []. I'm not aware of the current status of the idiocy, but as far as I recall, the libraries there were going to charge a lending fee for the books for the "benefit of the authors". It is crazy that governments would allow to do this, and that people would not go "en masse" to the streets to oppose this abuse. The libraries were instituted to grant access to knowledge to everyone.

        There needs to be a balance between protecting privat

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Hal_Porter ( 817932 )

      Libraries already pay a fee to the author each time a book is loaned out. []

    • Re:Dammit... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mrcaseyj ( 902945 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @02:25PM (#30822110)

      In related news it has been discovered that the contents of textbooks, which often sell for $200 or more, are largely made up of information and ideas developed by previous authors. The previous textbook authors are starting to complain that they aren't getting any royalties from new textbooks and are now calling new textbook authors "seagoing murdering thieves" (pirates). Others are wondering why books mostly inspired by previous works, have more than a hundred year copyright, when the Constitution only authorizes copyrights for limited times, not a trillion years.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by postbigbang ( 761081 )

        Sadly, those guys signed contracts that allowed the publishers to use their stuff until the sun becomes part of the blackhole at the center of the Milky Way. McGraw Hill and Pearson Ed are just a couple of examples of cash cow publishing that manipulate the length of copyrights to their own profitable ends. Imagine that.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        There are quite a few of us tring to write and provide free textbooks. The reason: As a text book aurthor of a book thats sold over 3000 copies, guess how much i get? Nothing. And I don't have permision to use the book in my classes.

        So we do the Creative Commons thing. Make it free and the class can get the book any way the want. Once these "book printing machines" become more common, people will even be able to buy a hard copy if thats what they want.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dkleinsc ( 563838 )

      Practically obligatory reading on this issue, by some guy named Stallman: []

    • Re:Dammit... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jc42 ( 318812 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @02:31PM (#30822236) Homepage Journal

      Don't give them any ideas.
      The copyright circus is stupid enough already.

      Too late. The publishing industry has been thinking and talking along this line for a long time already. There's a conventional statistic among publishers, to the effect that every book sold is read by four people. This is usually mentioned in a context that makes it clear that there's a problem. Often they don't bother mentioning how this multi-person readership happens, but it doesn't take much questioning to learn: libraries. And the point is always that the publishers are "losing" 3/4 of their potential sales to the multi-reader "problem".

      One of the reasons that a lot of publishers have developed an interest in e-books is that they see it as a way of limiting readership. After all, people won't much loan out their e-readers, and so far, few libraries have experimented with supplying electronic copies of books to their members.

      (I wonder why this is? Are they such Luddites? Or are they just ignorant of the technology? Or perhaps they don't see a way to collect overdue fines. ;-)

      • Book publishers today announced that they are launching a new educational campaign targeted at the people who steal their intellectual property by reading books they didn't buy.

        Their "Campaign to Promote Illiteracy" will be mandatory in most schools in the next semester. Students will be treated to videos with titles such as "Johnny Can't Read"; older classes will be subjected to aversion therapy with pop-up books such as "My Pet Goatse" and "Animal Farm-sex".

        They'll also be promoting their new android-based phone, which enables illiterates to send "text" messages using only pictures, so that texting becomes a game of rebus []. For example, he message "Can I see you tonight?" becomes
        "picture of a tin can" = "can", +
        "picture of an eye" = "eye", +
        "picture of waves" = "sea", +
        picture of a female goat" = "ewe", +
        "picture of dog poop" = "number 2" +
        "picture of a knight on a horse" = "knight"

        "can eye sea ewe 2 knight" = "can I see you tonight"

      • Re:Dammit... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) * on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @03:02PM (#30822818) Homepage Journal

        (I wonder why this is? Are they such Luddites? Or are they just ignorant of the technology? Or perhaps they don't see a way to collect overdue fines. ;-)

        Actually, I think it's because most new e-books come with EULAs which specifically prohibit lending. And they have the DRM to back it up.

        Publishers fought like hell against the public lending library concept when it first started becoming widespread ~150 years ago. Fortunately for everyone, they lost the battle. Now they see a chance to fight it again, and in the current IP-philic legal environment, they have a good chance of winning.

        • Re:Dammit... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by jc42 ( 318812 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @03:58PM (#30823634) Homepage Journal

          Funny thing; I just finished writing another reply in which I mentioned the publishers' opposition to public libraries in the early 1800s. So now I suppose that one or the other (or both) of us will be modded "redundant". ;-)

          Maybe it's time to also bring up the very early history of copyright, which was invented primarily to limit the publication of bibles and other religious texts to only "approved" publishers. The purpose wasn't monetary; it was to prevent publication of documents opposed by the officially-approved religion, by limiting the publishing to officially-approved publishers. It was also to control the distribution, so that only members of the approved priesthood could access the texts. The rest of the population was intentionally kept illiterate, so that the priesthood could be the only religious authorities.

          So things could be worse. The "Intellectual Property" people could be actively campaigning against literacy. They could be pushing for laws banning access by "the masses" to their products. They could get laws passed making it illegal to teach your children to read. People like them have done such things in the past. Such things were among the real reasons that the legal concept of copyright was originally developed.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by maxume ( 22995 )

        I would say it is well past the experimental stage: []

        It just isn't to the widespread stage yet (presumably because not all that many people have ebook readers).

        • Re:Dammit... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) * on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @03:34PM (#30823298) Homepage Journal

          Go to those libraries' sites, and notice what's missing?


          This is kind of like an ISP saying "you can access any site you want through our network, as long as it's not Google." Note that I'm not blaming the libraries for this, at all -- it's strictly Amazon's fault -- but it's still the elephant in the living room for e-book lending.

  • Excellent satire (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jeffasselin ( 566598 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <ednilocamroc>> on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @02:09PM (#30821852) Journal

    Really, too often what's funny is what is true, or at least points at facets of reality that other methods of communication cannot manage to talk about as easily.

    • by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @02:38PM (#30822362)

      The only problem is that it isn't completely accurate. It portrays libraries as quiet places where people will glare at you if you make too much noise. In the past, that used to be true, but not any more, at least here in Arizona. Now, kids run wild, and people chitchat on their cellphones at full volume in library common areas, and librarians don't do anything about it because it's become futile.

      It'd be nice to live in a civilized city where people really were quiet in libraries.

  • by bbbaldie ( 935205 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @02:10PM (#30821862) Homepage
    Libraries are nothing but effete businesses designed to rip off the publishing industry and fill innocent victims' minds with confusing, dangerous propaganda! A. Hitler, spokesman, RIAA
    • It's not the socialist "public authorities" you have to worry about. It's the "peer to peer lending" perpetrated by individuals with no state intervention or support!

  • by srussia ( 884021 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @02:11PM (#30821884)
    Sunlight costs lightbulb makers nearly 100 bazillion dollars!
    • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @02:21PM (#30822046) Journal

      Sunlight costs lightbulb makers nearly 100 bazillion dollars!

      Only if you invest for the short term. Personally, I invest for the long term. I'm quite sure that my lightbulb investments will prove profitable in 5,000,000,000 years.

    • Don't forget about the power companies. Of course, Mr. Burns has a solution for all of this...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MiniMike ( 234881 )

      I'm starting an oxygen supply company- I wonder if there's anything I can do about this 'atmosphere' that people are currently getting their oxygen from?

      • they're all thieves, and you might have to use force to stop them from using your oxygen supply.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jameskojiro ( 705701 )

        You would need to put everyone in a suit filled with inert gas like Argon and then charge them for both the noble gas and the o2.

  • And the PORN!!! (Score:3, Informative)

    by tacarat ( 696339 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @02:13PM (#30821916) Journal
    Voyeur and amateur stuff abounds! How they came up with the names like "National Geographic" still confuses me, though. Ask for that or the "medical journal" sections. Don't forget to wink knowingly.
    • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @02:27PM (#30822140)
      That's nothing. The Economist once had a cover with two copulating camels (the female didn't look to happy). For a brief moment in history, economists figured out that 1 + 1 = 3. If you don't know where the extra one came from, you haven't spent enough time in the "medical journal" section.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      "National Geographic":

      National - its initial distribution was throughout the US, (since Europe already had way better porn), hence it was "National".

      Geographic - Only slightly cryptic. "Graphic" is right there in the word - I don't know how much plainer they could have made it. They are telling you that if you buy their smut, you will have the most graphic scenes you can imagine of African villagers gathering crops and herding cattle while wearing grass skirts and codpieces. The origin of "Geo" is
  • by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @02:13PM (#30821918)
    I always thought books would have been "liberated" first in the digital world because text has a lower bandwidth than music or video. However there is a high entry cost of converting to text. So the system had to wait until it had enough bandwidth to support photos of text which are easy to make.
  • As a mathematician (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @02:16PM (#30821960)

    I am irked by the phrase "advanced projective mathematics." This to me is a red flag warning me of some business school BS coming up.

    • by schon ( 31600 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @02:31PM (#30822240)

      I am irked by the phrase "advanced projective mathematics." This to me is a red flag warning me of some business school BS coming up.

      Pff- you elitist ivory tower eggheads and your fancy-schmancy degrees think you know everything! If you had any sort of street-smarts, you'd realize that there's a reason people with MBAs run the world!

      Now if you'll excuse me, I'm late for my MBA meeting - we've decided to solve the financial crisis by making the leaf the standard unit of currency - everybody will be rich beyond their wildest dreams!

    • by jc42 ( 318812 )

      I am irked by the phrase "advanced projective mathematics." This to me is a red flag warning me of some business school BS coming up.

      I suspect that this was part of the satire. (But I could be wrong.)

    • by spun ( 1352 ) <loverevolutionar ... m ['oo.' in gap]> on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @02:38PM (#30822368) Journal

      Now you're just adding to the stereotype that mathematicians have no sense of humor.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      You may wish to be careful banding about your knowledge of mathematics. There's rumor that the government may target those associated with the dissemination of ideas connected with the Al-Gebra movement. Members trained to perform subversive calculations of the Al-Gebra movement might be considered a threat to the government. Clearly the people involved in this line of thought do not think like normal people, and are a danger to society as we know it.
  • Where I am they have Videos and DVDs too.

  • by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @02:16PM (#30821974)
    Apple convinced people to pay for some of their music and cellphone apps with low prices and convenience. I am hoping for a "three-peat" later this year in the ebook world. $10-$15 ebooks are still too pricey.
  • can't sue the government.
  • They tore down the libraries. Because lending books is evil.

  • by maxwells_deamon ( 221474 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @02:17PM (#30821996) Homepage

    When the authorities have requested copies of patrons borrowing records, the libraries almost always refuse to provide it without a search warrant!

    • by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @02:21PM (#30822052)

      When the authorities have requested copies of patrons borrowing records, the libraries almost always refuse to provide it without a search warrant!

      Actually I believe you'll find that libraries now tend to delete all records after the books are returned, so a search warrant is useless. Hence the publishers can't even find out who the evil 'borrowers' might be.

  • Make eBooks Cheaper! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by omnichad ( 1198475 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @02:19PM (#30822008) Homepage

    If I could "own" (even with DRM) a book for $2.50, I would never bother making a trip to a library. Even at lower prices, publishers could increase their profits substantially by bypassing the libraries.

    • by Pojut ( 1027544 )

      100% agreed, although I think $2.50 might be a bit too cheap....I think $5 is a good price point for a digital copy of a book. Still, you have the right idea...lowering prices substantially on e-books would net publishers a massive increase in sales, especially with the emergence of e-readers going mainstream.

      • The correct price is max( demand($price) * $price )
      • by Surt ( 22457 )

        $5? When I can get it used for $1 or borrow from the library for free? $5 per book will definitely pay my way to the used book store. I'd say $2 or even $1, like music is about right. You get way, way less bits of data with a book than with a song.

        • by Pojut ( 1027544 )

          True, but writing a book also takes a tremendous effort...I'm putting up the $5 price point as a possibility due to the number of copies a book has to sell for the author to make decent money and for the time investment required.

          As someone who writes (working on a book, although I don't expect it will ever be published) and does music production ( if you are interested in what I'm currently working on), writing takes considerably longer. Charging the same amount for a bo

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by egburr ( 141740 )

            I agree, writing a book is a tremendous effort. After the initial writing (including research when necessary), you have editing, re-writing, layout & design, proofreading, printing to film, proofreading the film, making plates for the press, running off a few copies, proofreading those, marketing the book, buying the paper, printing the book, packaging the books, shipping the books, putting the books in stores, returning/destroying copies that haven't sold (to make room for new books). Every step of the

  • Hackers (Score:5, Funny)

    by nacturation ( 646836 ) * <> on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @02:20PM (#30822032) Journal

    Notorious hacker group "The Librarians" thumbed their collective noses today at the intellectual property industry as they investigated new ways to channel IP into the hands of teenagers.

    "I got this great new bag today," said one student, "and realized I needed a few novels to put in it." [Editor's note: we believe the term "bag" is street for a memory storage device.]

    One self-proclaimed member of this criminal organization stated "The biggest challenge with kids today is getting access to reading material. Many come from poorer families and depend on the free availability of reading material to supplement their school-provided education." She continued, "That's why today we're announcing a reading competition, with the winner awarded a really wonderful bag to store their materials in."

    When pressed for clarification, this member stated "Of course all the reading materials would be provided for free. That is the whole purpose of what we do." Upon further research, it is believed that local and federal funds are being diverted for these activities.

    Organizations representing intellectual property owners did not immediately answer calls. [Editor's note: we let the phone ring once, then hang up. If they can't answer their calls in less than one ring, it's not immediate enough for us.]

  • by AB_Rhialto ( 1490817 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @02:23PM (#30822082)
    While funny, the point of the article is quite saddening. People have been involved in 'socialist' activities since before we were human and only just recently, has it become something of a curse to help one another out (sharing) at the expense of a Corporation potentially losing a sale opportunity.

    Don't get me wrong, Corps have to make money, but there has been an amazing full court press of propaganda that has twisted the case for helping and sharing the burden to some degree as socialism or communism (and for the Republicans out there, I'll add Fascism, since it ends in an ism).

    We won't even talk about all the infrastructure that government puts in place because, well, that is a form of socialism too, and its far better to little to no government so everyone can look after themselves.

    I wonder who would be best able to take care of themselves in such a scenario, individual voters and their families or large corporations (since they have most of the benefits of being a 'person' but none of the responsibilities)?
  • by circletimessquare ( 444983 ) <circletimessquare&gmail,com> on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @02:26PM (#30822132) Homepage Journal

    His adventures in books, plays, television shows and movies continue to pay dividends for the heirs of his creator, Arthur Conan Doyle. Holmes's latest appearance on film, directed by Guy Ritchie, has sold more than $311 million in tickets worldwide, and on Sunday won a Golden Globe award for its star, Robert Downey Jr.

    At his age, Holmes would logically seem to have entered the public domain. But not only is the character still under copyright in the United States, for nearly 80 years he has also been caught in a web of ownership issues so tangled that Professor Moriarty wouldn't have wished them upon him. []

    dear all creators:

    no, it does not make any fucking sense that your grandchildren should profit from a story you wrote, a song you sang, a movie you directed, whatever

    it simply does NOT make sense. it is an intellectually and philosophically corrupt concept

    intelletual property law only deserves to be disrespected, fought, and subverted. intellectual property law is a parasitical drain on our culture. intellectual property law must be destroyed. it is not of any benefit to anyone except certain entrenched well-connected, well-lawyered interests

    • While I agree in part with your sentiment, it's worth noting that Doyle's actual writings *are* in the public domain [].
      • but not in the usa

        not that that is supposed to mean anything morally, intellectually, or philosophically valid

        anything made before the year 2000 should be in the public domain, and that's the way i'm going to act. there is no reforming ip law, it is too broken and too securely in the pocket of deeply vested interests

        the only morally valid thing to do is to completely ignore, circumvent, and undermine ip law

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by egburr ( 141740 )

          A 10 year limit is probably a bit short for books, but anything greater than 1/2 of the average expected lifespan of the people is too long. Something created the day I was born should be in the public domain by the time I have matured. If it remains copyrighted throughout my entire lifetime, then it is effectively an unlimited term, which in the U.S. is contrary to the constitution.

  • People can borrow books without violating laws. This is what libraries facilitate. Without a way to read books without paying for every one of them, people would either not read as many books, or make a bazillion copies as a matter of course, rendering copyrights useless.

    So libraries are not taking away profits (aside from imaginary money that will never be realized). In fact, they facilitate the money that the publishers make now.

  • *sigh* (Score:2, Informative)

    by Zaphon ( 13837 )

    What blows my mind is that this guy doesn't seem to know that Libraries just like Video Rental stores pay MORE for the items than normal retail. And I'm not talking a little more either, it's usually pretty dang ludicrously expensive.

    • Re:*sigh* (Score:5, Informative)

      by mschuyler ( 197441 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @03:00PM (#30822780) Homepage Journal

      Wherever did you get this silly idea? Libraries pay the same discounted rate as bookstores, usually in the neighborhood of 45-55% BELOW retail. Most books are purchased from Ingram or Baker & Taylor, wholesalers. If you do the math on this, it winds up that a million dollar book budget buys 2 million dollars worth of books. (Take the 45% you just saved; buy more books. Take the 45% you just saved; buy more books. Repeat until funds=0.) I supervised the Technical Services Department of my library (and IT) for 25 years, which included the book budget.

  • Cause and Effect (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DarKnyht ( 671407 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @02:37PM (#30822344)

    This is what happens when a government runs the value of their money to the ground by over-spending/borrowing. The purchasing power of the average family goes down and they start making tough choices about where their money goes. Things like overpriced cable television, unnecessary luxury trips, entertainment purchases (books, movies, music), and other non-essential items don't get purchased. Instead of the Corporations facing this reality and coming up with quality products that have value, they instead blame 'piracy' for their woes.

    Sorry Corporations, food and gas to get to work is more important than a $30 Blue-Ray movie, especially when I is delivered a few weeks later at my door via my Netflix queue. Used video games are more attractive (even bargain bin ones) than $60 for the latest greatest, and if I am desperate I can rent for $3 at Hollywood Video. Radio is free and generally will play something worth listening to, so that song better be really good for me to spend even $0.99 on it (Ke$ha need not apply).

    These days I use the library, netflix, rentals, borrowing, ebay, or any other legal means to save a buck on entertainment these days. Even if that means just playing cards with the family or going to the park.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is a bad analogy, as there is a fundamental difference between ebook piracy and library lending...
    A library has a single copy of a book and it can be borrowed by only one individual at any given time. Pirating an ebook results in new copies of the same material.
    Seriously, is it so difficult to understand the difference between copying and lending/borrowing?

  • Digital Library (Score:4, Interesting)

    by organgtool ( 966989 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @02:41PM (#30822402)
    Several years ago (before the likes of Rhapsody and other services), I considered writing an application that would allow you to share your music library by allowing anyone using that software to search for songs and stream that file so long as no one else was streaming that same song. Essentially you were just borrowing the song the same way you would borrow a CD from a library. In order for this software to be considered legal, I would have had to implement DRM and I did not trust my software engineering skills enough at that time, so I just let the idea pass, but it was interesting because I'm sure the members of the RRIA would have hated it, yet legally it would be analogous to a public library. I wonder if there will be digital versions of public libraries for books in the future.
  • by phliar ( 87116 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @02:46PM (#30822534) Homepage
    Here's Pat Schroeder, then the incoming president of the Association of American Publishers, in the Washington Post of Feb 7, 2001. She was interviewed at the meeting of the AAP, hence the "brie-eating mortgage holders".

    "We," says Schroeder, "have a very serious issue with librarians. ... Technology people never gave their stuff away, but now folks are saying, 'You mean the New England Journal of Medicine is charging people?' ... Markets are limited. One library buys one of their journals," she explains, pointing to the Brie eaters. "They give it to other libraries. They'll give it to others." If everyone gets a free copy, she says, the publisher and the writer and others involved in making the book go unpaid. "These people aren't rich," she says of those in the room. "They have mortgages."

    These are the people arguing against making publicly funded research publicly available. Here's the full article: Pat Schroeder's New Chapter [].

  • by TheWizardTim ( 599546 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @02:47PM (#30822558) Journal

    When I was growing up, my family did not have a lot of money. Almost all the books I read were borrowed from a library. As I got older, my mom and dad moved in to better jobs, and some of my books were purchased. By the time I was in high school and college, the only time I went to the library was to do research for school papers.

    Now that I make good money, I never to go the library. I buy all my books (from independent book stores if I can).

    Like any good drug dealer they need to keep the first "hit" free.

    • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @04:04PM (#30823712) Homepage

      To me, this raises a more interesting issue: where would you be if you didn't have the library when you were younger? How would it have shaped your life to not-have access to books at a young age? Maybe you wouldn't be able to afford them now.

      It's in society's best interest to make books and educational materials as available as possible. That's why we have libraries in the first place. That relatively small investment in getting little TheWizardTim access to books has now turned him into a successful [whatever-you-are], which provides a huge return on investment.

      We may someday see arguments that stricter copyrights are good for the economy because it allows more profits for publishers. What we shouldn't forget to include in those calculations is all the economic waste of having little TheWizardTims everywhere grow up to be poor stupid criminals instead of upstanding and productive members of society.

  • by mindbrane ( 1548037 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @02:51PM (#30822610) Journal

    there is an ominous silence pervading these ersatz sanctuaries, enforced by the stern demeanor of staff and the glares of other patrons.

    Cut the crap grandpa, it's obvious you ain't been in a library since one of the wheels fell off your walker a decade ago. Libraries now are a cacophonous din emergent from the cross talk between cell phones, online chatter and wailing of ankle bitters jettisoned by their mothers into a free for all day care centre. Librarians caved years ago and carry on loud conversations with all and sundry. I live 3 blocks from Vancouver's main library, I time my foray, plan my entry and exit strategies, and run it like a half back with the game on the line and time running out.

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @03:10PM (#30822970) Homepage Journal

    In books printed around 1900. The language was startlingly familiar. You were supposedly allowed to use the book for private, personal use only. You weren't allowed to sell it or rent it out.

    The first sale doctrine meant that the copyright holders couldn't impose such uses on third parties without entering into a contract. That wasn't feasible in the era when publishers sold to bookstores who had no interest in becoming license brokers. Things are different for ebooks, where it's easy to sell licenses rather than copies. In fact, that's what's behind one of the niftier features of Amazon's Kindle: you can copy your book to your iPhone or Kindle as you like, you just can't resell or lend it.

    There's no question that eliminating this nonsense was *good* for book publishing as a whole, because this was a deal which left the public hungry for more of their product. Some individual publishers could have made more money on certain individual works. In the transition to electronic formats, the book publishing industry could easily become the next music industry.

  • by mschuyler ( 197441 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @03:13PM (#30823012) Homepage Journal

    Fact 1: Public libraries are just about the best return on investment for your tax dollar. For every dollar you spend supporting the public library, you get about $8.00 back in services. If you had to pay retail (or even discounted) for every book borrowed from the public library, that's the ROI you would see. Name another government organization that can give you a better ROI. (Note: You can't.)

    Fact 2: If you have a recession, usage of the public library goes up. Ironically, the library budget is subject to the recession as much as any other business or government entity. For most businesses, if traffic goes up, so does income. It's the opposite for a public library.

    Fact 3: If it were not for public libraries, many books would not be published at all. That's because publishers factor in the public library market in their decision to publish. Larger public libraries buy a given title in the hundreds of copies. There are over 16,000 public libraries in the US. The market is not trivial.

    Fact 4: Public libraries are largely responsible for publishers' 'Backlists' of older titles. Nobody else buys them.

    Fact 5: It is an established fact that people who use public libraries buy far more books than people who do not. Public libraries help create the market that gives profits to publishers.

    Fact 6: Research libraries, especially, are a captive audience for the over-priced, rip-off "scientific" journals that cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars a year that academics "must have." No individual can afford them. If libraries "just said no" those journals would fail in a heartbeat.

    Fact 7: Cutting off libraries is a stupid idea. It's cutting off your nose to spite your face.

  • by professorguy ( 1108737 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @04:03PM (#30823690)
    You guys are all shouting about how you don't want libraries to disappear. And yet you also say you'll switch over to e-books if the price is low enough.

    I'll assume you understand that as soon as more money is made from e-books than real books, the real books go away. And the day after that, the libraries go with them because the only DRM allowed will be pay-per-read.

    Far fetched? Just wait....
  • Big difference (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cdrguru ( 88047 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @07:37PM (#30826424) Homepage

    When I borrow a book in a library, it is mine for a limited time. When I pirate, it is mine forever.

    When I borrow a book in a library, I can't sell it or destroy it. When I pirate, I can sell it (to a silly noob) or do whatever I want with it.

    When I borrow a book in a library, I can buy it in a bookstore if I really want to keep it. When I pirate there is no need to ever buy anything because I have it already.

    A library is no threat to publishers in any real fashion. There are a limited number of books that can be lent out and the library buys them. Pirating, on the other hand, involves no purchases (other than the first) and there are an unlimited number of copies that can be obtained.

    While a library might be useful for some, there is no real revenue threat. Piracy is a complete revenue threat with the object being the destruction of revenue from digital goods. If everyone can download for free, why would anyone buy? Talking about differences in quality or the "experience" of the original vs. the pirated item is silly - the entire operation of "piracy" involves the original item. We aren't talking about the original song vs. a high school band trying to imitate the original. It is the original, it is just free for everyone.

The intelligence of any discussion diminishes with the square of the number of participants. -- Adam Walinsky