Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:thats simply wrong (Score 1) 240

In addition to those they give (VCR's used for time-shifting, image thumbnailing), I'd also add copying a program into RAM for the purposes of executing it (assuming ownership of the copy on disk). (Distressingly, my memory is that the status of this isn't clear in the US, but elsewhere in the world I think it is).

Comment Re:If I were an author ... (Score 1) 240

The inability to accomplish a dream is no reason to abrogate the rights of people.

Again, that's circular reasoning, when the question we're trying to ask is exactly the question of whether people should have this particular right.

Some rights don't have to be granted: we take them to be, as they say, "self evident". I don't consider the right to have a government-granted monopoly on certain texts or ideas as among those inherent moral rights.

Note, that's not the same as saying that I don't think such rights should be granted--I think they *should* be--I'm only saying that we do it mainly for practical reasons (as an incentive to creation and dissemination, etc.) rather than a priori "moral" reasons.

But even if you do consider copyright a "moral" to some degree, I don't think that continues to a good guide once you get down to questions like "does the owner of a book need the author's permission to allow a 3rd party to scan the book for the sole purpose of searching it and presenting snippets giving context for the search results".

So it really does come down to the question of weighing the practical advantages and disadvantages to the world of granting that specific right.

And considered that way, the ability to "accomplish a dream" in one or the other case really is one of the factors to be weighed.

And full-text search of 10's of millions of books--that's a hell of a dream.

Comment Re:If I were an author ... (Score 1) 240

I believe people should have to pay for copyrighted work.

Fine. That's not the question, though--the question is *which uses* of copyrighted works should people have to pay for?

The Lord of the Rings movies required payment to whoever inherited Tolkien's rights.

The warehouses worth of epic fantasy written since then required none.

That's a lot of money people who got paid for stuff that wouldn't have existed without Tolkien having set pen to paper.

Most of us would argue that's a reasonable trade off: Tolkien didn't get everything he could be said to have deserved, but there was also a lot of interesting and creative work done that wouldn't have been if it all had to go through the bottleneck of his heirs.

they would be making money (or increasing value) by using my work and not paying me for it.

That happens all the time. For-profit institutions have libraries too. The price I paid for one measly copy of K&R doesn't begin to approach the value of the income I've received from what I've learned from it.

Again, for me it comes down to weighing practical consequences: how much income are authors going to give up, versus what kinds of services are no longer going to be possible?

Yes, tracking down the owner of "orphaned" works... will be problematic. And there's the problem of reaching an older generation of copyright holders.... But this is Google we are talking about.... I'm sure they can figure it out.


A big university library has around 10 million books. Google claims a goal of scanning 130 million. There are something like a million more published a year.

Forget orphaned work or hard-to-reach authors; just consider authors that still individually hold rights to their books. How do you get legal permission from millions of them, at a per-book cost (I'm not even talking about the licensing; just the labor cost to contact them and verify that they agreed) that makes the whole project feasible?

And once you do, what do you actually expect to actually wring out of them for your 10 millionth (or whatever it works out to be) of the advertising income due to google books?

Hey, I'm just hand-waving here myself, but my intuition here is that if we require opt-in, we're just not going to get anything like Google books in our lifetimes, if ever.

Comment Re:Defense? (Score 1) 240

"libraries have to buy copies of their books like everyone else, and they can still only lend one copy out to one person at a time. No extra copying or duplicated access is going on here"

So, the question is which uses of the copyrighted work require the rights-holders permissions, and which don't. It would be convenient to be able to draw a simple bright line at "copying", but that's never how it's worked:

- photocopying a small part of a book for your personal use in research is generally fine (but: go see reams of fair use guidelines for details).
- renting is complicated even though there's no copying involved (if I remember right: generally "first sale" permits it, but there are specific prohibitions in the US in the case of music).
- Using a character from a novel in a movie may involve no literal copying, but may require permission even when the plot and dialog is new.

Computers fuzz the lines too: you normally have to copy a program into RAM to run it, though most people would consider that ordinary use of a copy that they owned.

And personally I don't see a strong "moral" argument from one side or the other in these cases--I think the best way to decide where to draw these lines, however messy it may be, is weighing the likely practical consequences.

Comment Re:Defense? (Score 1) 240

"First sale rights means that I am allowed to sell the copy of a book that I bought."

Apologies, I thought I remembered first sale include more general rights to make personal use of a copy, but I think you're right. (The same rights may still exist but more likely fall under fair use.)

"First sale rights does not allow me to let you scan my copy of the book."

If we permit a library to scan its own books, and then provide a google-books like search in them, then I wonder where we'd draw the line?:

- Universities A, B, and C each provide full-text search of their own collections.
- Google provides Google book searches by collating results from searches sent to A, B, and C.
- Google in addition rents and/or sells hardware and services necessary for A, B, and C to scan and provide full-text search to their collections. At this point it's just Google book search except that the data stored in Google's data servers is nominally still the university's.
- Google book search.

To me the differences all seem unimportant as long as the only use of the scans is to provide search results.

Comment Re:If I were an author ... (Score 1) 240

"You have no right to full-text searches of books."

That's exactly the question posed by the case. I suspect you can make a good case that current last *does* grant you that right.

And, then whether it does or not, you can ask: *should* the law grant that right? Deciding that is a matter of trying to decide in which world we'd all be better off: a world where authors got a little more incentive to write (thanks to the additional revenue stream from licensing to search engines) versus a world in which a project like Google books is possible. Personally, I'm pulling for the latter.

"People pay good money for access to databases to search published journals."

And they get access to some little walled garden of works controlled by one publisher or consortium of publishers.

Compare that to full-text search of multiple major university libraries.

And ask if there's any chance we'll ever get the latter, if the only way to do it is to track down ever single copyright holder.

Comment Re:Defense? (Score 5, Insightful) 240

"What is Google's defense?"

They're not distributing copies of books--they're doing searches and returning small snippets. The books are scanned, with the permission of their owners, only in order to allow those searches.

I would have thought first-sale rights would permit the owners of books to have their own copies scanned, and that fair use would permit Google to search them and return snippets.

None of this cuts into the publisher's traditional source of profits at all, as the publisher is still who a member of the public goes to to get a copy of the book.

If we really think copyright holders should have complete control over how every copy of their work is *used*, not only distributed, then they should have cut off the problem at the source and forbidden libraries....

Comment Re:If I were an author ... (Score 4, Insightful) 240

"Rule of law"?

Look, google isn't distributing copies of these books. They're searching for terms in them and returning snippets. That doesn't compete in the least with the business of people that are selling the entire book.

"there is nothing good about what Google is doing, except to the very short sighted."

They're providing an unprecedented and extremely useful service: the ability to perform full-text searches of entire multiple libraries' worth of books in fractions of a second from anywhere in the world.

If we require opt-in, then the immense number of rights owners involved is likely to make building such a service impractical.

We could be having the same argument about libraries: why shouldn't copyright owners be consulted about whether they want their books loaned out?

Fortunately the drafters of the copright law produced something flexible enough to provide incentives to authors while still allowing for services such as libraries. Flexible enough, even, to accommodate services like Google's that didn't exist at the time--fair use and first-sale rights provide all the basis the courts would need to find Google well within the rule of law, and I very much hope that's what happens.

Comment Re:Wait for Ivy Bridge. (Score 1) 204

I've heard this claim repeatedly, but I've used three different intel graphics chipsets and three different nvidia ones under linux, and all the nvidia ones worked better (no random corruption, working S3 suspend) than all the intel ones.

Is that using open-source drivers or nvidia's proprietary drivers? (Again, for my case I'm only interested in the free drivers.)

Comment Re:Wait for Ivy Bridge. (Score 2) 204

"I bet you'll have a hard time finding anyone running integrated graphics in a home built machine, certainly not one running a top-tier CPU in it."

As a kernel developer I have scripts running all day that compile new kernels, boot VM's to them, and run some tests. The faster the better. I wouldn't say no to lower utility bills either even if it's not the first thing I look at.

But in any case, for graphics, the integrated stuff is fine. And Intel's involvement in Linux graphics development has meant their stuff has been among the best supported for a while. (Maybe that's changed lately, I haven't kept up). I usually build my own machines (partly exactly because I seem to recall it being hard to find pre-built desktops with higher performance that could get usable graphics without the need for proprietary drivers. Which may not be a factor for others but I want to be able to debug problems on the latest upstream kernel without worrying about what some binary driver might be doing.)

So there's one small counterexample, to your first statement if not the second. (I usually get a better CPU but nothing "extreme".)

Comment Re:Uh... art?! (Score 1) 243


Shrug. If it's projected on a screen in a movie theater, it's a movie. If it happens on a stage in a theater, let's call it a play. That doesn't make it a good movie, or good theater. If it's stuck on a pedestal in an art gallery, let's call it art, OK? Why is that a problem?

And personally I think sticking it on a pedestal under a spotlight in an art gallery adds an extra dimension of hilarity to the whole idea. I like it.

Comment Re:A PDF? (Score 1) 243

I don't know which is stupider, the concept of the art project, or that they are distributing a list of links over the internet with a PDF file.

Well, this is primarily something to be displayed in a gallery so I suppose it makes sense to make something printable that could be stuck on the wall next to it or included in the exhibit catalog, or whatever. And then why not throw it on the web site. This is a problem for you?

Comment Re:Wishful thinking (Score 1) 312

http, ftp and rsync links on the website, or clicked the "Latest Stable Kernel" icon on that very website, right?

Fair enough. Note, though, that most users get their kernels from their distro, who build them from source that hopefully they got out of git or otherwise verified.

Also in theory it should be easy to verify the tarballs that were distributed. It'll be interesting to see whether that turns up anything.

Thanks to the open source nature of the kernel it is trivial to add a rootkit and make a new tarball.

Open source? I think you overestimate the difficulty of malicious modification of binaries.

Comment Re:Can someone explain (Score 2) 1239

When dollars are created at the rate of a few billion per day, why anyone is surprised that they get diluted?

Yes, that would explain the record high inflation we've had since the start of the recession:

Err, wait. OK, but surely exchange rates went off a cliff? Um, OK, I'm not turning up much there either....

Can you open a small business and sell goods to China?

Googling.... From, "In 2003, the most recent year for figures, a total 16,874 U.S. SMEs exported to China." Too lazy to find something more up-to-date.

And if you want to help exports, you could worrying about the dollar being to *low* against foreign currencies....

taxes are high

Compared to other countries:

Historical revenues for US:

Comment Re:They weren't thinking about it though (Score 2) 1239

you can't keep spending more than you take in without it coming back to bite you

Not actually true; given steady (across business cycles) income growth, you can keep spending more than you take in while keeping your debt load (hence debt service) a constant percentage of your income. That is in fact what most countries do.

That's not to say the US doesn't have a long-term debt problem: mainly, as I understand it, we need to get health care expenses under control and raise revenues. But it's a solvable problem, which is why people have continued to be willing to loan us money at very low rates (and probably will despite any downgrading); people who are actually betting their money on it think we're extremely likely to figure this out.

Slashdot Top Deals

In English, every word can be verbed. Would that it were so in our programming languages.