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View Full Version : Did Libraries Ever Have "Sharing" Issues Like Todays P2P Networks


Markxxx
05-24-2009, 09:44 PM
I love books and I used to buy books, but since I moved to Chicago, I haven't bought any. Chicago has a kick ass library system. Now, hows this for cool, you can go online and hold a book at any Chicago Public Library and they'll send it to your local library for you to pick up. You don't even have to go further than your closest branch to get a book.

Anyway I was thinking, the music and movie industry hates Peer to Peer (p2p) because these people are getting the movies and music for free. But before all this, did any book associations oppose the establishment of libraries? (By book associations I mean whatever would be the equivilent of the movies and RIAA-Music people that oppose p2p)

Now I realize it's not exactly the same thing, in p2p you're keeping the file, whereas in a library you have to give the book back. Actually in Chicago's library you can check out DVDs and CDs, and frankly, though illegal, nothing is stopping you from ripping those to your computer.

But skipping any arguments over the music/movies p2p, did the publishers of books and authors of books think (or do they still think) that libraries cut into their profits.

I mean I am a great example of a person, who bought books, until I moved to a place with an excellent library now, I never buy books. Well I buy books when the Chicago Library has a booksale, but the authors aren't getting any money from that.

HorseloverFat
05-24-2009, 10:52 PM
Public municipal libraries predate a lot of our copyright laws and are generally seen as the work of good government. Government wants a library system because its a social service and helps advance society, education, and commerce. Because of this and a bazillion other reasons there really isnt any organized movement against libraries other than the typical loud-mouth fringe of tax cheapskates and pro-censorship social conservatives.

Considering a library is accountable for its licenses, unlike P2P, there really isnt an comparison. The business logic here is sound too. For instance, there are books I would never, ever buy but may borrow from the library. So my library reconizes the demand and buys 10 copes. Thats probably ten copies that the publisher would not have sold. This is the logic behind video rentals too.

You can read a little history about the modern public library here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Library#Public_libraries

Well I buy books when the Chicago Library has a booksale, but the authors aren't getting any money from that.

So what, these authors made money on its original sale. Consumers (in this case the library) have the right of first sale doctrine. This means they own what they buy, thus can sell it used without a third party demanding a cut.

HorseloverFat
05-24-2009, 10:59 PM
Its also worth noting that all this hemming and hawing and bending over backwards for the rights of the copyright holder and worrying about corporate profits is something new to society. I feel we have been conditioned by a litigious society and by a corporatist philosophy. People in the past saw knowledge as an amazing thing and education as a powerful force in the world. Now it seems we just worry whether CEOs have enough jaguars and if middle managers are spending three weeks in tahiti. Not to be too cynical, but social responsbility and the betterment of man was taken more seriously during the time of the founding of the public library systems in the 19th century. Or at least there was more idealism.

anson2995
05-25-2009, 01:10 AM
Its also worth noting that all this hemming and hawing and bending over backwards for the rights of the copyright holder and worrying about corporate profits is something new to society. I feel we have been conditioned by a litigious society and by a corporatist philosophy. People in the past saw knowledge as an amazing thing and education as a powerful force in the world. Now it seems we just worry whether CEOs have enough jaguars and if middle managers are spending three weeks in tahiti. Not to be too cynical, but social responsbility and the betterment of man was taken more seriously during the time of the founding of the public library systems in the 19th century. Or at least there was more idealism.

That's baloney, frankly.

Copyright as a legal concept was born shortly after the invention of the printing press in the mid 17th century, when that new technology led to widesperead literary piracy. It had been an issue even before that, particularly for composers and their patrons. Folks have always been concerned about the rights of authors to maintain some control over (and make a living from) their work.

It's kind of ironic for you to invoke the concept of "social responsibility and the betterment of man" in a post that derides the entire concept of copyright... but I don't want to stray into GD territory. However, I'm baffled at how you draw a connection between the authors of books and CEOs with jaguars. Are you presuming that publishers are the ones who hold copyrights on books? They don't.

Quartz
05-25-2009, 02:07 AM
In the U.K. authors get a royalty each time a book is loaned. It's called the Public Lending Right (http://www.plr.uk.com/)

Anaglyph
05-25-2009, 02:53 AM
Journal subscription prices are significantly higher for libraries than for private subscribers.

Der Trihs
05-25-2009, 04:44 AM
Because of this and a bazillion other reasons there really isnt any organized movement against libraries other than the typical loud-mouth fringe of tax cheapskates and pro-censorship social conservatives.I HAVE on occasion heard libraries denounced by the copyright nuts. Generally by the ones extreme enough to get outraged over people sharing books at all or reading over someone's shoulder. One especially demented proposal I recall was to outlaw paper books and newspapers and require all published matter to be presented on monitors equipped with eye trackers, to make sure no one read over anyone's shoulder. Fortunately they've yet to gain much if any traction.

It's kind of ironic for you to invoke the concept of "social responsibility and the betterment of man" in a post that derides the entire concept of copyright... but I don't want to stray into GD territory. Not really; copyright is getting perverted more and more as a tool to suppress information, instead of just to make sure the originator gets paid for his/her work and thus continues to produce. Or as a tool to gouge out money that the originator never sees, or as an excuse for destructive behavior like putting DRM in software that damages people's computers. Not much "social responsibility" there.

Exapno Mapcase
05-25-2009, 09:24 AM
Although copyright goes back a long way and is referenced in the Constitution, the real battles for copyright took place after steam-driven high-speed printing presses were introduced in the mid-19th century. American publishers stole British books by the thousands. By the second half of the century a few American books were popular enough to be stolen by Europeans, Uncle Tom's Cabin most notably. The major issue about copyright law has always been piracy.

The Europeans created the Berne Convention in 1886, which the U.S. didn't sign, and the International Copyright Treaty in 1891, which it did.

Library borrowing wasn't an issue for most of the 19th century, because there were very few public free lending libraries. Most libraries were small, required memberships and charged fees to lend books. Not until the 20th century did the library evolve into the institution we know it as today.

And some authors did grumble about lost sales. They always have. As Quartz noted, most European countries give authors royalties for library use or for photocopying duplication. The Authors Coalition (http://www.authorscoalition.org/) collects these moneys for American authors and parcels it out to writers organizations. That way the authors get at least something back.

The argument over whether libraries cut into sales or create new customers has been going on forever. You can find authors and publishers who will argue any side of that argument. Nobody's ever figured out a way to quantify it. Virtually all authors are united in their dislike for outright piracy. That's been true for longer than the library issue.

Markxxx
05-25-2009, 02:33 PM
So have their been fusses about it? I was interested in a debate, because this is general questions, I was just wondering if there were efforts in the past to get libraries to stop lending books.

I guess it wasn't till the beginning of the 1900s where people were really and truly literate either. I recall reading an interview with George Burns and he said he never got past the third grade and he couldn't read well at all. He said he hired a girl to read him his script and he memorized it intensely. So at the radio mike he'd pretend to read but he'd have the script memorized. Jackie Gleason also commented that his reading skills weren't what they should be.

So I can see how you can argue libraries perfrom a positive force, as reading, unlike movies and radio is active not passive

RealityChuck
05-25-2009, 02:37 PM
Essentially, libraries are not violating copyrights. You can argue as to whether they help or hurt sales, but it is not a copyright issue.

Copyright is the right to make copies (simple enough, but people seem to forget this). Libraries are not making copies of books, thus there is no copyright violation.

File sharing OTOH, does make copies -- there is one on the server and another on your computer (and on the computer of everyone who downloads.

Not really; copyright is getting perverted more and more as a tool to suppress information, instead of just to make sure the originator gets paid for his/her work and thus continues to produce.This is utter nonsense. Creative work is not mere information. To call it such is a slippery redefinition of the term information to mean "anything I can get my hands on."

If you like an artist, musician, or writer, you should have enough respect for him to be willing to pay him for his efforts. And the copyright system is the only way to make sure this happens equitably to all creators. Copyright does make sure that the creator gets paid. Maybe the publisher gets more than the writer, but the writer always gets something.

As a gedankenexperiment, what would you think Disney would do if there were no copyright? Don't you think they'd just find a really popular book (say Harry Potter) then make a movie at it without paying the author anything?

RealityChuck
05-25-2009, 02:40 PM
So have their been fusses about it? I was interested in a debate, because this is general questions, I was just wondering if there were efforts in the past to get libraries to stop lending books. Not really. There have been movements (more successful in Europe, as mentioned above) to pay authors a fee, but no serious efforts to shut down libraries on the issue.

I guess it wasn't till the beginning of the 1900s where people were really and truly literate either. I recall reading an interview with George Burns and he said he never got past the third grade and he couldn't read well at all. He said he hired a girl to read him his script and he memorized it intensely. So at the radio mike he'd pretend to read but he'd have the script memorized. Jackie Gleason also commented that his reading skills weren't what they should be.That's more a failure of their particular schools than in literacy in general. Back in the 1830s, it was expected that all children learn to read and write. It may have gotten worse as schools became more crowded, but literacy in the US was always pretty good; it was considered a requirement for a free society.

Nava
05-25-2009, 03:15 PM
As a gedankenexperiment, what would you think Disney would do if there were no copyright? Don't you think they'd just find a really popular book (say Harry Potter) then make a movie at it without paying the author anything?

Bad example: Disney has been making money from tales with expired or unknown writer's rights and then trying to renew their own royalties through fraudulent means (for example redubbing their movies - this was declared fraudulent by Spanish judges after starting de oficio inquests into this issue).

Measure for Measure
05-25-2009, 03:48 PM
Recall also that copyright was initially granted to 14 years, renewable once. Intellectual property has never been an absolute.

There is a nice graphic showing the history of copyright law here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_Act_of_1790

anson2995
05-25-2009, 06:36 PM
Not really; copyright is getting perverted more and more as a tool to suppress information, instead of just to make sure the originator gets paid for his/her work and thus continues to produce. Or as a tool to gouge out money that the originator never sees, or as an excuse for destructive behavior like putting DRM in software that damages people's computers. Not much "social responsibility" there.
Again, I say "baloney." (And the OP's question was about libraries lending books, so your point about DRM doesn't really apply at all.)

This whole argument about copyright suppressing the spread of information is utter BS conjured up to rationalize piracy, to push the idea that "information wants to be free" and that copyright is just a tool of greed used by the soulless corporate automatons who we shouldn't care about anyway. It's a lie. Piracy hurts the guys at the bottom of the food chain the most. Capitol Records and Disney and Microsoft will survive P2P just fine. College bands and independent filmmakers and small software publishers are getting killed.

Exapno Mapcase
05-25-2009, 06:37 PM
Today Americans buy millions of books. Today huge numbers of American children are functionally illiterate. Both are true.

Generalizations about the entirety of American history are even worse. Americans have always given education a high priority, but high school graduation rates didn't go over 50% until after WWII. Mass market sales of cheap magazines, dime novels, and penny newspapers started before the Civil War, but picture magazines also had huge sales because they featured less text. The masses of immigrants that flooded cities, especially New York, from 1890-1910, when Nathan Birnbaum wasn't going to school, were extremely poor and parents pulled kids from schools to make money at what we would consider a ridiculously early age, although many of them grew up to be successful and literate.

In all times from the Revolution on, Americans read heavily and Americans didn't read at all. That's the only generalization possible to make.

And the only generalization possible to make about authors and libraries is that a few authors have always grumbled about having non-buyers have access to their books for free. I can't think of any organized movements about it, though.

Bad example: Disney has been making money from tales with expired or unknown writer's rights and then trying to renew their own royalties through fraudulent means (for example redubbing their movies - this was declared fraudulent by Spanish judges after starting de oficio inquests into this issue).
I'd like to know more about this. Unfortunately, royalties is the wrong word so I'm not sure what you might be referring to. Nothing of Disney has ever fallen out of copyright to my knowledge in this country, and I'd be surprised if it happened in Spain.

But every fantasy writer who ever lived makes money from older public domain tales. Tolkien couldn't have written a word without them. And you can't copyright ideas in the first place.

Lemur866
05-25-2009, 10:08 PM
Essentially, libraries are not violating copyrights. You can argue as to whether they help or hurt sales, but it is not a copyright issue.

Copyright is the right to make copies (simple enough, but people seem to forget this). Libraries are not making copies of books, thus there is no copyright violation.

File sharing OTOH, does make copies -- there is one on the server and another on your computer (and on the computer of everyone who downloads.


And why is this important? I understand why we have our current laws about the making of copies, but making copies isn't something magical. If you borrow a book from a library, and read it, and return it, you've used the author's work without compensating them in any way. So what's the *moral* difference? That you didn't make a copy? But the only reason making an unauthorized copy is wrong is because if you do that the creator of the work doesn't get compensated for their work. Same as when you borrowed the book from the library.

Exapno Mapcase
05-25-2009, 10:48 PM
And why is this important? I understand why we have our current laws about the making of copies, but making copies isn't something magical. If you borrow a book from a library, and read it, and return it, you've used the author's work without compensating them in any way. So what's the *moral* difference? That you didn't make a copy? But the only reason making an unauthorized copy is wrong is because if you do that the creator of the work doesn't get compensated for their work. Same as when you borrowed the book from the library.

This is a very standard trope of anti-copyright writers, and it misses the actual argument by miles.

The issue is not payment, per se, but control. Copyright gives authors or other copyright owners control over how their works may be used, who may use them, what licenses are issued for them, and even whether to put them on the market at all. In all cases it should be the authors' choice what happens to the book, not the choice of random people on the street.

Lack of understanding over control shows up in almost every anti-copyright argument. We did a thread recently about an Edward Gorey (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=501088) book. Because the book has not been reprinted some people took the view that anybody could reprint it as they wished. The claim was that it didn't matter that you could get the book from a library or buy it used, or that the author and illustrator might not have wanted another edition. Instead it was morally right to post it for free on the Internet regardless of what the author or Gorey's estate might have in mind for the future. Their argument again used only money. Used books and library books don't compensate the copyright owners, so I am free to steal it without compensation myself. The issue of control never entered their heads.

Control is certainly closely entwined with the issue of money. Remember at all times that money is the junior partner in this arranged marriage. It's my work, damn it. I get to decide what I do with it, even if that means hiding it in my basement. And especially if I tell the world at the top of my voice that I don't want them stealing my works and posting them. It doesn't matter in the least why I feel that way. I have the absolute complete legal right to act that way and you have zero, no, nil, nada to say in the matter. The vast majority of authors have proclaimed that library sales are acceptable as part of the social contract of promoting literacy, that the blind and other handicapped readers can get copies to convert into readable formats, and that used books must be allowed because of the first sale doctrine that is larger than mere books. At the same time the vast majority of authors say that the taking of works for other any reasons, especially with the specious excuse that they're so easy to steal that there shouldn't be any penalty for doing so, is an excuse so morally abysmal, so abetting of sheer robbery, and such a spiteful wresting of control right out of our hands that no language is strong enough to castigate it. (If you're a libertarian who is favor of private property and still advocate taking our goods and livelihoods away with no compensation, not even a contract, note that you are abrogating every principle that you pretend to give lip service to.)

I'd like to hear the justification for ripping the private property we're desperately trying to hold onto right out of our hands to use for purposes we've already strongly condemned. Don't tell us you're doing us a favor. We'll be the ones who decide that, not you. We'll be the ones to decide everything, not you.

That's control. And that's what we fight for.

Markxxx
05-26-2009, 12:06 AM
Again I was just interested in if libraries ever got flack over lending books. I didn't want to debate file sharing or whether the copyright law is correct. There's plenty to talk about but I just was curious about that and don't want the thread to get moved because the topic changed.

:)

Thanks

Tim@T-Bonham.net
05-26-2009, 12:20 AM
I love books and I used to buy books, but since I moved to Chicago, I haven't bought any. Chicago has a kick ass library system. Now, hows this for cool, you can go online and hold a book at any Chicago Public Library and they'll send it to your local library for you to pick up. You don't even have to go further than your closest branch to get a book.Just where did you move from, that this wasn't done there? It's a fairly standard thing in large public library systems.

Here in Minnesota, it works not only within a local library system, but also to the other public library systems, and the university & college libraries in the state. So via ILL (Inter-Library Loan) you can get any circulated book in the state.

Spectre of Pithecanthropus
05-26-2009, 01:05 AM
And why is this important? I understand why we have our current laws about the making of copies, but making copies isn't something magical. If you borrow a book from a library, and read it, and return it, you've used the author's work without compensating them in any way. So what's the *moral* difference? That you didn't make a copy? But the only reason making an unauthorized copy is wrong is because if you do that the creator of the work doesn't get compensated for their work. Same as when you borrowed the book from the library.When you borrow the book from the library, the library had to buy the book originally. Or it was given to them at some point in the past by a third party who bought the book. OK, we'll take that further and suppose the third party bought the book for twenty five cents at a yard sale--but still, at the beginning of its life, that book was bought, the publisher paid, and the author got their cut. Your local taxes and/or university tuition, alumni membership fees, etc., go to support the library so in the end you do pay for the books you borrow. And the operative word is "borrowing". You don't get to take it home and keep it forever.

Quartz, I don't know the law here but I am pretty sure lending royalties would be unthinkable here, at least for printed materials. I must say I find the idea absolutely abhorrent. The creators of content get their slice when the books are sold, not every time someone opens a copy.

Beware of Doug
05-26-2009, 01:40 AM
I agree with Exapno's assertion that control is the real issue. But that inevitably has to mean not creator control, but owner control. And that gets into conflict with the idea of a cultural legacy. Which might not, but ought to, be important to all of us.

Take NBC, which used to burn every reel of film in the vaults after a few years, ensuring that thousands of hours of programming would never be seen again. Are the IP rights of big corporations really more important than preserving a cultural resource that in a sense becomes everyone's "property" the moment it goes out over the air?

Lemur866
05-26-2009, 07:39 AM
I'd like to hear the justification for ripping the private property we're desperately trying to hold onto right out of our hands to use for purposes we've already strongly condemned. Don't tell us you're doing us a favor. We'll be the ones who decide that, not you. We'll be the ones to decide everything, not you.

That's control. And that's what we fight for.

If it's about control, shouldn't copyright expire upon the death of the author?

Our copyright system was not handed down by the Archangel Gabriel. It is a social bargain. The purpose of copyright laws is only secondarily to benefit the producers. The primary purpose is to benefit the rest of us, and it turns out that a good way for the rest of us to get more books and such is to figure out a scheme whereby the creators benefit.

But when copyright doesn't act to benefit the rest of us, what then?

Exapno Mapcase
05-26-2009, 11:28 AM
If it's about control, shouldn't copyright expire upon the death of the author?

If I own a grocery store and die, shouldn't the store be thrown open to the public for free vegetables?

IP is property and needs to be treated analogously. It's already much more limited. Unlike every other type of property IP is taken from the owner after a period of time and stops being an asset. Authors' families have to eat even if the author dies.

And Beware of Doug, NBC was the conduit for the programs but not the copyright owner of record for almost any.

Sorry for the continual hijack, but such comments are too inflammatory to let lie.

anson2995
05-27-2009, 08:02 AM
Again I was just interested in if libraries ever got flack over lending books.
To try to get back to this subject... libraries *buy* the books on their shelves, so as an author, I would hope that every single library has my book. I get a royalty when they do. There are publishing houses (and genres of books) that target the library market exclusively.

Libraries and P2P networks are engaging in completely different activities. A better analogy for libraries would be radio stations. Will some people listen to a song on the radio for free rather than buy it? Sure, but the radio station pays for the CD and/or pays a licensing fee.

Mr. Slant
05-27-2009, 09:08 AM
It may interest the OP to know that a number of authors and publishers will threaten persons in the used book trade with lawsuits for "selling my book used, and without buying it from me".
I'm not sure about the rationale, but I do know that if you ask nicely, Amazon will remove your book from its catalog, thus locking out the title from exposure on the world's biggest book marketplace.

Exapno Mapcase
05-27-2009, 10:33 AM
It may interest the OP to know that a number of authors and publishers will threaten persons in the used book trade with lawsuits for "selling my book used, and without buying it from me".

That would be very odd behavior since the first-sale doctrine (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First-sale_doctrine) specifcally contradicts this.
The first-sale doctrine is a limitation on copyright that was recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1908 and subsequently codified in the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. 109. The doctrine allows the purchaser to transfer (i.e., sell or give away) a particular lawfully made copy of the copyrighted work without permission once it has been obtained. This means that the copyright holder's rights to control the change of ownership of a particular copy end once that copy is sold, as long as no additional copies are made. This doctrine is also referred to as the "first sale rule" or "exhaustion rule."
I know a few authors grumble about this just as a few grumble about libraries, but I've never heard of a lawsuit. Could you provide any cites?

Mr. Slant
05-27-2009, 12:04 PM
I don't believe any of them have actually sued; rather, they attempt to bully booksellers into compliance with varying degrees of success.
It does work from time to time; what's typical is that a bookseller who lists books on Amazon, Ebay, Alibris, Biblio and ABEbooks will withdraw the books in question from Amazon and Ebay but leave them up on the other site.
On a $15 book with poor market demand, it's barely worth responding to the nutjob author.

Now, this is odd, but apparently Barnes & Noble asks Amazon to remove books with B&N as the publisher from Amazon's catalog. Yet again, Amazon complies. There are books that get missed in the takedown requests, however.

Mr. Slant
05-27-2009, 12:10 PM
Missed edit:
On edit:
I keep hoping to get one of these authors, just so I can get one of them on the phone and try to figure out their reasoning.

Exapno Mapcase
05-27-2009, 01:31 PM
I'd still like to hear of some actual examples, with names.

The B&N thing is probably pretty simple. B&N publishes books that it tells you are exclusives to B&N, so it has a stake in not having them appear elsewhere. But that is totally irrelevant to the other issue.

anson2995
05-27-2009, 01:57 PM
The B&N thing is probably pretty simple. B&N publishes books that it tells you are exclusives to B&N, so it has a stake in not having them appear elsewhere. But that is totally irrelevant to the other issue.

I have done several books for B&N's publishing arm (Sterling), and I can confirm that they sometimes have exclusives. They don't ask Amazon to de-list them, they simply don't make them available to the trade. The publisher gets 50% on titles they sell to other stores and 100% on titles they sell in their own store, so it's s strategy that can work.

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