Intellectual Property

"When you buy a book, you're also buying the right to read it aloud"

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The release of Amazon's latest Kindle electronic reader, which features a text-to-speech option, has sparked a major controversy in the world of audiobooks. As The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week, Authors Guild executive director Paul Aiken claims that the Kindle's computerized reading voice may violate copyright law. "They don't have the right to read a book out loud," Aiken said. "That's an audio right, which is derivative under copyright law."

Bestselling author and graphic novelist Neil Gaiman takes a different view:

When you buy a book, you're also buying the right to read it aloud, have it read to you by anyone, read it to your children on long car trips, record yourself reading it and send that to your girlfriend etc. This is the same kind of thing, only without the ability to do the voices properly, and no-one's going to confuse it with an audiobook. And that any authors' societies or publishers who are thinking of spending money on fighting a fundamentally pointless legal case would be much better off taking that money and advertising and promoting what audio books are and what's good about them with it.

Back in 2000, Jesse Walker explained how copyright and intellectual property laws stifle popular culture. For more of Reason's intellectual property coverage, click here.

Full Disclosure: Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, is a donor to Reason Foundation, the nonprofit organization that publishes this website.

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  1. Authors Guild executive director Paul Aiken claims that the Kindle’s computerized reading voice may violate copyright law. “They don’t have the right to read a book out loud,” Aiken said. “That’s an audio right, which is derivative under copyright law.”

    Oh, for fuck’s sake…

  2. Under current copyright law, the purchase of a book entitles you to two things: (1) the possession of the physical book, (2) the right to f*ck off and die.

  3. The right to read it aloud is just 1-Click away.

  4. Aiken is an idiot.

    There is no possible reading of the current copyright law that would support his interpretation.

    A couple of examples of fair use: http://www.readthistome.org/
    http://dbs.myflorida.com/library/

  5. Scrap copyright. Just put an end to it.

  6. I support of the concept of IP.
    I support reasonable IP protection statutes.*

    This is not only unreasonable but downright fucking stupid.

    * Go ahead and try to expel me. I reversed engineered my decoder ring years ago. I can mass produce them if I want.

  7. If a song is copyrighted, does that mean that distributing the lyrics in text form without permission is a copyright violation?

    If you don’t think so, then you’ve already accepted that text and audio forms of a work are treated as separate copyrighted items.

  8. Waving the bloody shirt again, eh Warren?

  9. you’re also buying the right to read it aloud, have it read to you by anyone, read it to your children on long car trips,

    Yes if uses are personal and not commercial

    record yourself reading it and send that to your girlfriend etc.

    Nope, no different than copying a DVD. You can send her the book, Kindle, or DVD, but not a copy – that constitutes distribution.

  10. With J sub D here. The only problem is determining what is “reasonable”. I tend to support shorter lives for patents (max 10 years), because IP laws should only apply to inventions that are original, and in my experience most things that are patented are only a few years ahead of the idea developing without any special incentive in that area.

  11. This isn’t a good idea. Later, when we’re all downloading books peer-to-peer, they may want to be able to show how reasonable they’ve been about copyright law.

  12. J sub D,
    “* Go ahead and try to expel me. I reversed engineered my decoder ring years ago. I can mass produce them if I want.”

    I’m a afraid you’ve infringed on our patent. You will be hearing from our lawyers shortly.

  13. Say, does anyone here own a Kindle or a Sony Reader? If so, what do you think? I’ve seen the Sony in a store once, but didn’t get much of a chance to play with it.

  14. Authors Guild executive director Paul Aiken claims that the Kindle’s computerized reading voice may violate copyright law. “They don’t have the right to read a book out loud,” Aiken said. “That’s an audio right, which is derivative under copyright law.”

    What is this guy’s phone number? It would be to call him up and start reading passages of copyrighted works to him.

  15. It would be *fun* to call…

  16. economist,

    Why worry about marginal changes in the length of patents when copyright is the one that has been effectively made infinite in length? Name the last work that went from copyright to public domain from expiration of copyright time?

  17. My “moderate” position on copyright is that any changes in copyright length are not retroactive. If you released it under a 25 year copyright that is all you get, even if the law is currently 90 years (or whatever it is).

  18. If Aiken was right, then all the 508 features of websites and computer operating systems would also be illegal – and arguably, the only thing the Kindle is doing is replicating these features for a mass audiance vice just the disabled.

  19. Oh-so-reasonable Neu is now spewing the term “idiot” left and right. I hope I’m not to blame.

  20. Tbone,

    So, what are your thoughts on the valentine day mixtape…

    Illegal distribution of copyrighted material?

  21. Citizen Nothing,

    You’re the idiot that gave me the idea.

  22. I mean idiotic idiots need to have their idiotic idiotologies pointed out in the cause of stamping out idiocy.

  23. Neu Mejican…one of us…one of us…

  24. Name the last work that went from copyright to public domain from expiration of copyright time?

    I would have to look up to see if this is an urban legend, but ‘It’s a wonderful life’ supposedly lapsed into the public domain due to failing to renew the copyright in the 70’s (because of an oversight of whomever had the ownership rights), and that’s why it was played so much for the next two decades.

  25. J sub D, you’re towing the lion for big publishing.

  26. Answering my own question:

    All copyrightable works published in the United States before 1923 are in the public domain[13]; works created before 1978 but not published until recently may be protected until 2047. [14] For works that received their copyright before 1978, a renewal had to be filed in the work’s 28th year with the Library of Congress Copyright Office for its term of protection to be extended. The need for renewal was eliminated in 1992, but works that had already entered the public domain by non-renewal did not regain copyright protection. Therefore, works published before 1964 that were not renewed are in the public domain. No additional copyrights will expire (thus entering the public domain) until at least 2019 due to changes in the applicable laws.

  27. So, what are your thoughts on the valentine day mixtape…

    wuts a mixtape?

  28. Ipod generation,

    Same as a muxtape.

  29. So: before 1923 -> in public domain
    1923-1964 – in public domain if they screwed up and failed to extend.
    For next 10 years, nothing will enter the public domain.

  30. Oh, and the next 10 years gives congress 10 years to extend it again.

  31. Citizen Nothing | February 13, 2009, 1:23pm | #
    Neu Mejican…one of us…one of us…idiots

    Fixed that for ya…idiot.

  32. I’ve played with a Kindle, test driving it for my wife when they were looking at the technology for undergraduate reference work. It reads fairly well and is fairly portable, but it strains against the constraints of its design. I’d rather have the ability to read books with the same software off of a small laptop with a reversible hinge.

    In many ways it’s like an iPod Touch. Knowing that the same form factor can do so much more, you get the feeling what you have has been deliberately crippled. You feel a bit ripped off.

  33. CN,

    I don’t join clubs.
    Clubs are for idiots.

    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    Okay. I am done now.

  34. I’ve been reading some of the works of Dickens on my iPhone.
    Finished David Copperfield and am halfway through Bleak House. The interface is surprisingly good.
    Of course, now I’m blind.

  35. So can someone tell me who finally wins Jardyce v. Jardyce?

  36. NM,

    Personal use provisions, similar to taping the Super Bowl and copy/rebroadcast warning on your Blu-Rays.

    Onesies/twosies in the comfort of your home (or your girlfriends), no problem. Rebroadcast at the local bar or selling ’em on eBay, infringement.

  37. Jarndyce. Hard to type when your blind.

  38. you’re.
    I’ll just give up now.

  39. Copyright should be 50 years from publication or the till the death of the copyright holder, whichever is greater.

    I’m being very generous to any copyright holders out there. Piss me off and the number gets reduced and the “whichever is greater” caveat gets removed.

  40. How do you feel about nandtapes, Neu?

  41. “This isn’t a good idea. Later, when we’re all downloading books peer-to-peer, they may want to be able to show how reasonable they’ve been about copyright law.”

    Or maybe when everybody is getting free books and people on the internet are saying “The authors should be making it back with fees from speaking engagements!” they want to be able to demonstrate for the judge that they’ve been aggressive about pushing their perceived rights all along.

    Still a losing battle though!

  42. what about the use of audiobooks for blind people? If I happen to be near a vision impaired person who is listening to a book, is he/she or I guilty of infringement?

    How about the teacher who reads aloud to her students so they can pick up on cadence, inflection, nuance of dialogue, and pace? What about children’s story hour at Barnes and Noble or the local library?

    I know my concerns seem pedestrian compared to the rest of the discussion on this thread, but if reading aloud is now copyright infringement, I might have to work hard on developing my telepathy so I can “think” books at kids instead of reading aloud.

  43. P.S. Is the kindle voice any good? Or does it sound like HAL’s dimwitted grandfather?

  44. CN,
    I think everything by Dickens is public domain by now.

    The limit on copyrights is 50 years, right?

  45. Is the kindle voice any good? Or does it sound like HAL’s dimwitted grandfather?

    Judy Tenuta provided the voice.

  46. robc,
    I think it’s harder to defined what would be a “copy” (as opposed to an original invention) for a patent.

    I actually don’t have much problem with long copyrights, as I don’t think any two people would independently write two books exactly alike.

    And copyright law doesn’t prohibit cheap ripoffs.

  47. I’m holding out for when I can download all of mankind’s writings directly into my brain. I don’t have time to read all of that, after all.

  48. I can see how the right to distribute audio copies could be copyrighted, but don’t think it should apply to electronic readers.

    Nobody buys BOTH an audio copy and a hard copy. Or anyway owning a copy of a book ought to confer the right to listen to it in audio form.

    Now, if someone recorded the reader’s output and then sold copies of it, that would be an infringement.

    But just having an electronic device read it out loud to you – or rather the existance of the electronic device itself – doesn’t. You still have to pay for the book in the first place. And all rights derive form the original publisher. the only right’s he’s selling to the audio book company are the right to make professional recordings and sell them. Not some special additional status of having exclusive rights to all audio renderings of the book, in any form.

    Shite … two different people could record the same book and sell competing versions, and it wouldn’t be a problem.

  49. Madbiker brings up an excellent point. I say, let’s have some SWAT raids of story hour.

  50. According to Homer L. Hall:

    “anything copyrighted before Jan. 1 1978 has a copyright term of 28 years and may be renewed for another 28 years. Beginning Jan. 1 1978, cr for works not made for hire ….is 47 years…for works not made for hire, copyright lasts for 50 years after the death of the last surviving creator, and for works of hire…75 years from first publication or 100 years from the time of creation, whichever comes first.”

  51. Amazon sucks and is, in my opinion, more bad than good. Their customer service is the absolute worst and they treat everyone badly: publishers, customers, and vendors. They hide customer details from vendors meaning all communication must originate through Amazon but their emails often get blocked as spam (with good reason) so the customer never sees it. This hurts vendors and customers but Amazon is terrified people will cut them out (again with good reason).

    Amazon forces irrational shipping rates on vendors Vendors aren’t allowed to set their own rates. So a four volume set is considered one book by Amazon and ships at the rate of one book.The postage they charge for overseas orders now doesn’t cover the actual cost of shipping except for Canada. Canada is charged the same rate as Pakistan yet shipping to Canada is significantly cheaper. So Canadians are grossly overcharged while the rest of the world is undercharged. When postage rates recently went up Amazon left the rates vendors receive at the same place.

    In my line of work I have to deal with these people. I have tried to clarify policies only to have Amazon employees lie to me. Three different Amazon employees told me contradictory claims on the same day not long ago. In addition Amazon actually blocks vendors from selling some books making it appear Amazon is cheaper than the vendor when in fact they have just prevented the vendor from selling the item.

    My dealing with Amazon professionally has convinced me to never deal with them in my private life.

    The best thing to do is for people to order directly from vendors whenever they can. They will get better customer service without all the obstacles that Amazon intentionally puts in the way of good service.

  52. “Piss me off and the number gets reduced and the ‘whichever is greater’ caveat gets removed.”

    That sounded like a threat, especially when you consider that the other number pertains to the author’s mortality.

  53. MadBiker,

    You are one law change behind. Those numbers got even longer in 1996 with the Sonny Bono Law (a wholely-owned Disney product).

  54. Then the book I quoted it from is wrong. It was published in 2003 – 3rd edition. Perhaps I need to bring it ti the attention of the JEA.

  55. Sugarfree: I have a cigar that I need you to smoke.

  56. I’m deathly afraid of fourth-hand smoke, which is the use by avatar of virtual tobacco products. And fifth-hand smoke, which is watching a movie, reading a book, or listening to a song about tobacco products. And sixth-hand smoke, which reading a review of any movie, book, or song that mentions tobacco products.

    I have a Federal grant to discover seventh-hand smoke and how to combat it.

  57. our next immunity challenge will be authors versus blind people. it will feature one kindle and one hardcopy of “the brothers karamazov”. be sure to tune in!

  58. Whoa! Sixth hand smoke? I feel like I just got the equivalant of those damn Publisher’s Clearhouse letters from back in the day.

    “You may already be a victim of cancer!”

  59. Copright is a tool, just like a hammer. You can build a house with a hammer or bludgeon someone to death with a hammer. The hammer is not responsible for the good or evil done with it.

    The vast majority of “copyright” abuse that libertarians complain about is really coporate rent-seeking — copyright is just the hammer.

  60. HLM sounds like one o’ them anti-Wal-Mart crusaders. I’ve never had a problem with Amazon (as a consumer). In fact, they’re my preferred bookseller.

  61. Here’s my short analysis, based mostly on memory, so I could be wrong.

    The author has a copyright in the literary work. As long as the Kindle is streaming the audio and not “fixing” any data, then there’s no sound recording issue and no derivative work issue. The Kindle “reading” the work would be a performance, but as long is it not a public performance, there’s not infrigement.

    I believe I’ve mentioned it before, but here is my plan for copyright:

    Copyright is more like real property than personal property, so treat it somewhat similarly. There is no set term. For the first ten years of a copyright, there is a small fee for maintenance. After that, the copyright owner pays the higher of A) a set fee based on a formula (such as $100^(number of years the copyright has existed/10)) or B) a percentage (maybe 10%) of the appraised value of that copyright. The point would be to allow a reasonable amount of time to artists/authors to gain the benefits of their work. After that, there is a strong incentive to make economically efficient use of the property or allow it into the public domain to allow others to use it.

  62. Let’s get a few things straight about copyright law:

    1) The owner of the copyright in a literary work has the exclusive right to perform that work publicly. The key term there is “publicly,” which is defined in the statute to mean in “a place open to the public or at any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered.” (It also applies to broadcasting to the public.)

    2) So, the vast majority of the scenarios in which we would normally imagine a book purchaser reading the book aloud are not infringement, and it makes no difference whether the performance is effected by means of one’s organic vocal chords or a Kindle’s synthesized ones.

    3) To violate the public performance right using the Kindle, one would have to take it out to a public place (or else invite a whole bunch of strangers into one’s house) and have it read to them. Unlikely.

    4) Because all the above is true, the AG rep is trying to invoke not the public performance right, but the right to “prepare derivative works.” The problem with this is that most courts (and the Copyright Office) hold that a derivative work has to be fixed. So making a tape or digital recording of the Kindle reading a book would be creation of a derivative work, but the mere act of reading aloud would not be.

    5) All this aside, while I think the AG’s stated opinion on their legal rights is wrong, and agree with Gaiman that their approach is wrongheaded, I am not entirely unsympathetic to their anxieties. The advent of the Kindle has put authors and publishers in the same boat as record companies. The Kindle is the iPod of reading. Once the majority of the reading public has embraced e-Books, and file swapping of books becomes as prevalent as it is of music, the book publishing business model as we know it will have to radically change. I’m not saying this is necessarily a bad thing or that we should blindly resist it. But I can understand authors being worried about how exactly they’re going to make a living in the brave new world.

  63. The advent of the Kindle has put authors and publishers in the same boat as record companies

    ADAPT OR DIE!!!

    Okay, sorry about the yelling. Business models sometimes become null and void. Deal with it.

  64. the book publishing business model as we know it will have to radically change

    Okay, good, you beat me there.

    I can understand authors being worried about how exactly they’re going to make a living in the brave new world.

    I can understand them being worried, but I dont give a fuck.

  65. But I can understand authors being worried about how exactly they’re going to make a living in the brave new world.

    If we go the no-more-copyright, adapt-or-die route, then we will back, I suppose, to authors needing rich sponsors.

    I think that’s about it. Even the old “serial novel” business model of the 19th century won’t work in the on-line world. Unlike (some) musicians, nobody is going to be able to make a living giving live performances of their novels.

    Any other ideas?

  66. If we go the no-more-copyright, adapt-or-die route, then we will back, I suppose, to authors needing rich sponsors.

    You give absolutely no reason as to why.

    The authors of Against Intellectual Monopoly have been able to sell their book despite the availability of it in their OWN website, for free! It is clear they adapted quite well.

    http://www.dklevine.com/general/intellectual/against.htm

    The founder of the Foundation for Economic Education clearly made all essays and articles free for distribution, and their magazine can be read for free in their website – yet they continue to sell books and magazines, plus they do not have a problem finding contributors. They seem to have adapted quite well.

    Any other non-issues?

  67. Plays instead of novels.

    Like musicians, make money off of live performances.

  68. Like musicians, make money off of live performances.

    Welcome to the new middle ages.

  69. T-bone,

    I don’t see how you reconcile these two:

    1) record yourself reading it and send that to your girlfriend etc.

    Nope, no different than copying a DVD. You can send her the book, Kindle, or DVD, but not a copy – that constitutes distribution.

    and

    2)[regarding a mixtape] Personal use provisions, similar to taping the Super Bowl and copy/rebroadcast warning on your Blu-Rays.

    Onesies/twosies in the comfort of your home (or your girlfriends), no problem. Rebroadcast at the local bar or selling ’em on eBay, infringement.

    Sending a recording of yourself reading is not fair use, but sending an actually copy of the audio recording is fair use?

    How do you figure?
    Either both are prohibited or both are fair use.

  70. T-bone,

    Or are you saying it would be an infringement to give your girl the mixtape, but not to play it for her while you were there?

    Can you lend a personal use copy?

    It seems that the only way either activity breaks copyright is when you are selling the copies. Or distributing on such a wide scale that you are impacting the copyright holders ability to profit from their work.

    What am I missing in your claims?

  71. A successful business model implemented by an author.

    http://craphound.com/index.php?cat=5

  72. I thought the rule of thumb was that if you’ve purchased or otherwise legally received one copy of the copyrighted material, you’re allowed to have one copy at any given time.

    So, lending a book to a friend who reads it and then gives it back: OK

    Scanning a book into a computer and e-mailing the scanned images to a friend, while you still have use of the original: violation

    Scanning a book into your laptop before you go on vacation and leaving the book at home where no one will read it: OK

    I’m sure the law is more complicated, but this seems reasonable to me.

  73. Plays instead of novels.

    Like musicians, make money off of live performances.

    Not every novel works as a play…and nonfiction definitely doesn’t have this option.

  74. It seems that the only way either activity breaks copyright is when you are selling the copies. Or distributing on such a wide scale that you are impacting the copyright holders ability to profit from their work.

    What if everyone who buys a book makes 5 copies and gives them to friends? None of these people are significantly harming the copyright holder’s ability to profit, but taken as a whole they are.

  75. The authors of Against Intellectual Monopoly have been able to sell their book despite the availability of it in their OWN website, for free! It is clear they adapted quite well.

    Some people will buy a book just because they don’t like reading long texts on a computer screen…and printing is time consuming and expensive. Now, if someone else were distributing free hard copies of their book and they were still selling them, you might have a point. (and in any case, this is one anecdote versus the common sense that people won’t pay for something they know they can get for free)

  76. cunnivore | February 13, 2009, 5:45pm | #
    It seems that the only way either activity breaks copyright is when you are selling the copies. Or distributing on such a wide scale that you are impacting the copyright holders ability to profit from their work.

    What if everyone who buys a book makes 5 copies and gives them to friends? None of these people are significantly harming the copyright holder’s ability to profit, but taken as a whole they are.

    This has been studied in the music industry with the following basic findings.

    This type of activity leads to significantly increased sales for obscure artists.

    It has a negligible effect on sales for most artists.

    It has a negative effect on sales for very popular artists.

    When aggregated across the industry the impact is marginally positive.

    Why would this be any different with books?

  77. If a song is copyrighted, does that mean that distributing the lyrics in text form without permission is a copyright violation?

    Actually, that is the position a number of writers are taking.

  78. (and in any case, this is one anecdote versus the common sense that people won’t pay for something they know they can get for free)

    Like much “common sense”, that is wrong:

    Nine Inch Nails Free Album Tops Amazon 2008 Mp3 Sales Chart

    How To Increase Your Sketch Comedy Business By 23,000 Percent (Monty Python Edition)

    For Radiohead Fans, Does “Free” + “Download” = “Freeload”?

  79. And Neu Mejican again takes the collectivist position on an issue. Is anyone surprised?

    Momma, don’t let your children grow up to be successful, because then their work is free for the taking according to some people.

  80. TANSTAAFL:

    Those are some wonderful anecdotes. Supposing you have a job, do you offer to work for your employer for free, and then just hope he or she pays you at the end of the week?

    If not, why not?

  81. Since you keep moving the goalposts, I’m not wasting any more time.

  82. cunnivore,
    There’s no talking to some people. It’s an article of faith among a significant proportion of posters here that Intellectual Property is all a figment of the legal imagination.

  83. “Any other ideas?”

    Ministry of Culture, dammit! Why won’t anyone here listen to me? We need a ministry of culture! That way everything can be as entertaining as NPR and PBS!

  84. economist,

    It’s my own fault for coming to H&R on a public computer without an INCIF enabled browser. If pig wrestling were an Olympic event, I’d be Michael Phelps.

  85. I think one option is to make acquiring the work legally no more difficult than illegally. I’ve bought quite a few games through Steam (a digital distribution system), basically because it was easier than downloading it illegally.

    They really need to get into the internet as a distribution system too. There’s a decent number of webcomic creators who make a living off of ads and t-shirt sales. There are probably a few reasons this isn’t taking off with books. One is that books aren’t generally written episodically, one chapter isn’t necessarily finished before the next is written. Another would be the publishing industry provides a more stable income to creators. The publishing companies would also be less necessary to the process.

  86. Let’s hope that when this inevitably goes to and gets laughed out of court it’ll have a chilling effect on further frivolous copyright lawsuits.

  87. @Cunnivore: what if someone buys a copy of a book and lends it to 5 of his friends?

    What if I legally download a copy of Little Brother for free, and it’s such a good book that I buy a copy and recommend it to other people, some who prefer to read it in paper form? What if I don’t buy a copy? What if I download another book illegally and do the same? What if…

    Honestly, what if we all just deal with the realities of digital media. Copyright protection is impossible; whining about copyright violation is a waste of time; suing copyright violators tends to be a pyrrhic victory. Copyrights will be violated, end of debate. Evolve or die.

  88. cunnivore,

    Collectivist?

    Fair use is now a collectivist concept?

  89. cunnivore,

    I wonder if you hold copyright on as large a body of works as I do. Producers of intellectual property are entitled to profit from their effort. That entitlement, however, is limited. One of the primary limitations on it is the liberty of other individuals. I don’t get to tell you how use the input my work provides. You have a lot of legitimate freedom in that sense.

    Both legally, and morally.

  90. In a Digital age copyright no longer exits. Fighting that will not change it, it will simply make you lose.

    The new profit is not money, it is attention. And one can make money from attention!

  91. The New Amazon Kindle 2 Has Arrived
    Price: $359.00 & this item ships for FREE

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00154JDAI/reasonmagazinea-20/

  92. nonfiction definitely doesn’t have this option.

    Bah.

    McCullough’s Adams bio seemed to do just fine in performed form (on HBO).

  93. Justen / Brian,

    If copyright is irrelevant in the digital age, why are you guys so desperate for it to stop being enforced?

    McCullough’s Adams bio seemed to do just fine in performed form (on HBO).

    That’s not the kind of non fiction I was talking about (it’s also not a live performance). I was talking about nonfiction that is not telling a story.

    And yeah, I can just imagine how well LOTR would have done if the only way of profiting from it was by producing plays, rather than books or movies. And a million other things.

  94. cunnivore,

    If copyright is irrelevant in the digital age, why are you guys so desperate for it to stop being enforced?

    Why are you so desperate for fair use to be further restricted?

  95. Fair use is now a collectivist concept?

    When you think about it, it kind of is. The doctrine of fair use claims that the IP rights of the creator can be abridged for the public good.

    Now I don’t oppose fair use in general — IP isn’t property in the same way as a house is, obviously — but there is a balance to be struck. Many copyright owners want even the making of personal copies for one’s own use to be infringement, while many anti-copyright folks want fair use to essentially swallow up all of copyright law. If the former prevail, we face cultural stagnation due to the danger of infringement lawsuits for the slightest use of copyrighted material; if the latter prevail, we face the same fate because few artists will be able to produce works they cannot profit from.

  96. Oh and there’s no way in hell that making five copies of a song and giving them to friends is fair use, so let’s not even refer to it as such, NM.

    If handing out free copies of books/music is so great for sales, we should trust that the market will reward those who do so. No change in copyright jurisprudence needed.

  97. And I should add that I think a lot of these problems would be solved if the length of the copyright term was shortened to 20 years as it was at the Founding. So I’m not enamored with the current state of copyright law, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  98. Leave it to the fantasy author to bring it back to reality, huh?

    This isn’t going to replace audiobooks. I can see using it for newspaper or magazine articles, maybe, but nobody’s going to listen to a robot voice reading a novel for any length of time. And even if they do, it’s their right.

  99. Say, does anyone here own a Kindle or a Sony Reader? If so, what do you think?

    I love it and I’ve got the new one on order. It’s not going to replace print, but to me its advantages outweight its disadvantages.

  100. cunnivore | February 14, 2009, 2:23pm | #
    Oh and there’s no way in hell that making five copies of a song and giving them to friends is fair use, so let’s not even refer to it as such, NM.

    So you are against the common notion that a mixtape shared with friends for non-commercial purposes is fair use? I realize that opinions differ on this, but even the RIAA doesn’t go after this kind of limited sharing. They don’t bother with it until the sharing is open to all comers. IIRC, courts don’t even have a problem with that as long as the person who downloads a copy deletes that copy within 24 hours (or the person offering to share it makes them agree to such a condition).

    If handing out free copies of books/music is so great for sales, we should trust that the market will reward those who do so. No change in copyright jurisprudence needed.

    As I mentioned above… the market rewards lesser known artists for allowing free sharing…while it punishes already popular artists a bit. This has been well studied.

    So I’m not enamored with the current state of copyright law, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    I was not suggesting so. I was suggesting that the claims that a kindle reading a book violated audio rights was an idiotic idea. The current copyright trend is towards ridiculous restrictions on fair use. The trend needs to be reversed. It is driven by a collusion between big business and government. I thought this kind of collusion was one of the pet peeves of libertarians. No?

  101. In the spirit of sharing copyrighted material.

    I am one of the copyright holders for this track
    http://www.mediafire.com/download.php?zwrnmuadnig

    Feel free to share it with all your friends.

  102. Damn,

    Just double-checked, that link is dead.

    I’ll post it somewhere else and share it later.

  103. Say, does anyone here own a Kindle or a Sony Reader? If so, what do you think? I’ve seen the Sony in a store once, but didn’t get much of a chance to play with it.

    I own a Kindle, and I’m happy that I made the purchase. Very easy to find the book you’re looking for in the Kindle Store (with the caveat that even with “200,000+” books there are still some big gaps in content).

    The screen hasn’t caused me eye strain like computer screens, but if you want to read in the dark you’ll need a book light.

    Navigation within a book is great if the book was properly formatted, but if it wasn’t it becomes a bit clunky, if not downright bad (but I’ve only had one bad experience out of 20 with formatting and that was with Rothbard’s “Mystery of Banking”).

    Battery life is very good without the wireless on, with the wireless on I’d say it is okay. You can use the web, but know that it is a bit slow and you’ll want to keep it to websites that are mostly text (or on their mobile device versions).

    People have complained about the page next button being easily pushed, but that only happens if you aren’t using the cover the Kindle comes with.

    Lastly, most of the books are $9.99, which is a big savings from buying a hardcover for $20+.

  104. NM, it’s illegal to go 66 MPH in a zone with a speed limit of 65 MPH. Yet cops never bother to go after such speeding because they have limited resources to devote to speeding enforcement. Similarly, if the RIAA tried to go after every copyright infringement that occurs they would run out of resources.

    The current copyright trend is towards ridiculous restrictions on fair use. The trend needs to be reversed.

    I agree…but I think the expansive version of fair use that you offer is too much…never mind all the folks on here who want to scrap copyright altogether.

    It is driven by a collusion between big business and government. I thought this kind of collusion was one of the pet peeves of libertarians. No?

    There are some types of collaborations between big business and govt that are fine. For instance, Wal-Mart calling the police when one of their stores is burglarized is fine with me. What libertarians need to oppose is big business seeking special favors from govt that other organizations don’t get.

  105. It’s an article of faith among a significant proportion of posters here that Intellectual Property is all a figment of the legal imagination.

    Well, to a certain breed of legal positivist, all property rights are figments of the legal imagination.

    It can be surprisingly difficult to differentiate intellectual property rights from other intangible property rights from real property rights, though.

  106. Text-to-speech is not an audio copy of the book; it’s technology!!

    Two very different things – I agree w/Gaiman.

  107. Simply stated,when you buy a book,you also buy the right to read it aloud which is reasonable.

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