Posts tagged ‘Intellectual Property’

GBks stepping on the dragon’s toes

Explain me this, GoogleBooks is still in hot water with it’s omni-tude of steamroll vacumning literary works for digitization until individual copyrightholders pip up and say No, you can’t have mine. Considering there are more than 50 million books officially published (who knows how many more unofficially) that does not include magazines, graphic novels and other printable creative works, and you can see the potential of having all that accessible online anywhere in the world, but also the monopoly GBks might have over the literary history of mankind.

If the squakers in the US think the GBks settlement is a bad idea for being passively affirmed until positively opted out of,  know that the proceedings against Google have not stopped the work of the machine. Writers in China are upset that GBks have scanned their works without permission. What does Google do? It apologises and says it will hand over the list of Chinese books it has digitized – not that it will delete them from the database. I hope the Chinese aren’t suckers.

January 12, 2010 at 10:43 am Leave a comment

Plagiarism or mash-up

Mash-ups are a sort of sampling technique, where you take bits of sound/visual/sculpture or what have you, mix them up a lot perhaps changing an edge or two but still retaining recognisable origins, to create a ‘new’ work. How original the ‘new’ work is can be hard to tell, because if it’s not sufficiently original or clearly rips off too much from elsewhere, well, you’ll be hearing from lawyers.

Sampling is very common in the music industry but almost always credit is given or permission obtained. In literature, sampling, if not used as quotation, can come very close to plagiarism. Of course there are ways around this call, for example if bits pulled are from public domain works or the bits fall under ‘fair use’. The key here is giving credit – if you’re not sure if you should point to your source, best to do so. But if you’re copying someone, please don’t say “everyone does it”, because dude, it’s still wrong – unethical if not illegal.

Other ares, such as photoshop-ing images are harder to catch but I don’t know  much about visual use except to say that trademarks are what companies register to protect their brands.

November 9, 2009 at 10:56 am Leave a comment

Will Google own all IP?

In a move that proves that commerce will always overfill a pothole, Google has announced that it is set to be an e-bookstore, among its other roles. This is quite different from the Goggle Book Settlement it is pursuing and which is being investigated by the Dept. of Justice. (Basically, the settlement is for authors, publishers and other US copyright holders to opt-out of allowing Google Books to put up their books/stories on GBks. Google currently shows up to 20% of each book they’ve  had scanned, and potentially 100% of  books in the public domain. There’re a whole load of issues surrounding loss of rights, monopoly, classes of persons affected and jurisdiction–go here for a rough guide of the settlement.)

What I find interesting is Google’s pre-emptive move to secure a favourable position ahead of the Sept. settlement deadline and the October hearing by going retail. The worst case scenario is the DoJ decides the settlement is anti-trust and disallows it. Google could appeal/amend the settlement. Google could still keep, and sell, its preview of books to other distributors, including libraries and universities. As a sweetener, having Google as your distributor would be like, oh wow.

The best case? Unlimited future earnings for Google from selling access to these books or from selling and publishing e-books. This puzzles me–Google isn’t in the retail business. It’s a platform that delivers information; any kind, anyone’s, information. It sells services. I consider books to be a product, not a service. So what does Google do? They decide to be a publisher too. Why not? Amazon does it. Vertical Integration is where it’s at–control upline and downline access to facilities (such as a large marketplace or depository) and, if you’re big enough, buyers will have to come to you. News Corp, for one, does it too. Considering Google’s reach, it would be a hard deal to resist. But what does Google know about the nuts and bolts of publishing not to mention the peculiarities of readers’ buying habits, really? Google might as well say they’re going into aqua farming.

Google Books, the settlement, the e-bookstore, cloud computing… are all related. Each enhances the other and none should be viewed in isolation. Google wants to be the only platform you need to use to access information. In future, the world will not run on physical products but on licences and intellectual property. Many commentators see this as a clash of goliaths – Amazon v Google for the future e-book market. I see this as Google following its guiding principle to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful no matter whose toes they have to step on. The settlement and the DoJ investigation are merely another obstacle. What a wonderful goal, if only it wasn’t concentrated in one hand.

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June 10, 2009 at 1:49 am 5 comments


Evecho’s newsy bits

News, updates and links from the lesbian and publishing ‘verse that interest me, my current projects, keeping up with authors and sharing musings on middle-class life, gourmet adventures and comparisons between East/West perspectives. My opinions will likely be linearly logical and gayly bent, as they tend to be.