Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Rowling and Others Angry Over Piracy

A whole bunch of authors, among them JK Rowling, Aravind Adiga and Ken Follett, are up in arms over the fact that their books appear on "social publishing site" Scribd.com, and can be read for free. Readers can also download the text and edit it as they see fit.

The text was probably scanned in an entered manually, because the titles involved have not yet appeared as legitimate e-books. (Though the message here is plain - e-books need to be made available much more quickly.)

The company says it is prepared to immediately remove copyrighted material when they receive notice from the copyright holder, but says that it relies on the community policing itself.

Nevertheless, internet piracy is one more thing for authors and publishers to worry about, and is a problem that isn't going to go away. No longer does copyright actually protect you before your material is ripped off.

Some publishers though, are using Srcibd to post first chapters of books they are promoting.


Chet said...

The front page of the Scribd site is very clear about what is allowed on the site:

Upload Your Own!

It seems to be run along similar lines as YouTube. If that is the case, copyrighted material can be removed once a complaint is received. And must be removed immediately.

bibliobibuli said...

oh yes. but the onus is now on AUTHORS to complain. not on those who want to use material to ask permission. don't you see what a shift is implied by this??????

it is like my blog content being stolen and the onus being on me to track down the bugger who put it on his blog.

frankly i think even with this rule the authors involved should sue the pants of scribd and whoever put the work up and maybe on those who download copyrighted stuff. that'll learn 'em.

Chet said...

I'm sure the fans will report copyright infringement at the site when they come across it.

I did a search for J K Rowling on the site, and came up with a list of her books supposedly available on the site.

The page for (Book 2) J. K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets has this notice:

"The document "(Book 2) J. K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" has been automatically removed from Scribd by our automated copyright protection system because it appears very similar to an unauthorized copyrighted document that was previously removed from Scribd.

Like all automated text-matching systems, ours sometimes makes mistakes. If you believe this document is not infringing and was removed in error, please contact copyright@scribd.com"

The interesting bit is the second paragraph.

However, J.K. Rowling - The Tales of Beedle the Bard is still available on the site - not as text, but the full reproduction of the book, cover, credits, etc., including this line "J. K. Rowling has asserted her moral rights".

Document Information about this item includes this - Copyright - Attribution Non-commercial - Which is apparently a Creative Commons licence.

Copyright infringement recognised by the site must comply with the criteria established by Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA") of 1998.

bibliobibuli said...

"I'm sure the fans will report copyright infringement at the site when they come across it."

yeah but they didn't, did they? they downloaded it. and writers and their publishers had to do their own detective work. sure there is creative commons but as i found out, it doesn't actually mean very much to content theives. the DMCA is much more useful (but is a US not an international law and i am not sure if/how far it protects those who are outside the US who get their content stolen by those within the US)

bibliobibuli said...

i'm soliciting opinions here - Chet and (if he reads it, Leon) especially - you guys download e-books all the time. v current stuff. do you check to see if the work is reproduced w the author and publishers permission? if it wasn't would you still download it? have you ever reported copyright violations? does it not matter so long as people are reading?

pirated movies abound in malaysia and people don't feel guilty about buying them because they are often unlikely to see the films at the cinema and when they do, the censors will have made cuts. but does the same "shut your eyes to the morality of it" extend to books?

Pete said...

This is very similar to what Google has been doing with its "Google Book Search" project. It's been scanning books in US libraries without the permission of authors or publishers, and the onus is now apparently on those whose copyright is infringed to (first) find out about it, and (second) to notify Google that they don't allow it. It's an opt-out rather than opt-in model which really overturns the whole idea of copyright... and that's probably the outcome that Google is seeking.

It's no surprise to find other content thieves following in Google's path. The question is, who will bother to create content in future?

Anonymous said...

something interesting re the Google settlement :)


Anonymous said...

"The question is, who will bother to create content in future?"

People who care about content, whose reward lies in actually changing the world, making a difference in it, via effective prose, before passing on. People who do not care who wrote what, because if it makes a positive difference, does it matter who wrote it and how many copies there are?

adline a.g. said...

deleted my last comment because i've just noticed that you've already written about the scribd issue. thanks for giving us your take Sharon!

bibliobibuli said...

yes, but i liked the links you put in and have been meaning to add them as post script. anyway great minds and thinking alike and all that jazz, hey?

Anonymous said...

And what about books whose copyright period has expired? the Gutenberg Project has lots of really old books that are no longer protected by law, is it morally right to copy them just because the law says you can?

Anonymous said...

And that's the other thing, why's the Gutenberg Project acceptable but Scribd.com not?