These Keys are Made for Typing

Keep on Blogging!By golly I’m living in bizarro world. Yesterday the House stripped a provision on a spending bill to allow drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. In other words, the House said no to drilling! It may get contentious in the Senate, but it’s a HUGE change of pace in Congress, who, reeling after Tuesday’s elections, is worried about angering too many Americans. In response to the election results, and with an eye toward the future, Democratic New York Senator Chuck Shumer said of Republicans beginning to distance themselves from the Bush Administration, “If you are a moderate Republican, you are starting to say, ‘I am not going to follow George Bush over the cliff.'” Amen.

Go Shatner, Go!William Shatner revealed he is working on a prequel to the Star Trek series about the adolescent life of Kirk and Spock. Er, um, wasn’t Enterprise the “prequel” series, which, according to David Brin and others, should have written itself because all the plot lines were already there, and, in effect, destroyed itself by trying too hard to insert irrelevant plot lines and make Scott Bakula into a good actor? I.e. does Shatner really think this one will work? Where will they be? Earth? Starfleet academy? Already much of our technology is beyond what they had on the first series. So what happens now when they change the time to an even earlier period? Hmmm. I’ll have to watch this one closely. I’m intrigued, but also disappointed. The Star Trek universe is huge, with so many possibilities. Why do they always have to get stuck on the same characters and locales?

The 2005 World Fantasy Awards are listed over at Solar Flare. The giant Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke won best novel. I wonder how many judges actually finished the book.

CD with DRM.  Evil is as evil does.As some of you may know, Sony is now inserting DRM (Digital Rights Management) software into their audio CDs. When you slip one of these sneaky beasts into your computer, it installs anti piracy software which disables any copying of any CD ever again, and not just Sony CDs. All CDs. A list of titles with the software is provided by BoingBoing. I understand the need for artists to protect their work, but this just crosses the line, because it means Sony is making a moral and legal judgment not just on its own music, but on all music, essentially playing CD Ripper God. At times like these I’m glad we have organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

I’m very ambivalent about the new Google Print services which will allow any web user to view a short portion of text from millions of digitized books. While BoingBoing and Slashdot proselytizes the technology, I feel that abuses may be large. How will this play out if I write a novel and it becomes available (albeit, in pieces) on the net? Won’t a clever hacker figure out a way to connect the disjointed pieces into a complete novel and then sell it or trade it across the net? Shouldn’t authors have the final say on their copyright and not the publishers and/or users? Here are some links: link link link link

3 Replies to “These Keys are Made for Typing”

  1. Matthew, exactly, yes — it doesn’t even take a clever hacker to assemble a whole book from the page images. Easily automated.

    Fortunately, there’s a solution: The COCOA (Copyright Owners’ Control of Access) standard lets copyright owners specify visibility of page images for their work.

    (It doesn’t impact Google’s ability to index or report search results.)

    Details at http://www.CopyrightAccess.com and a petition to urge Google to adopt COCOA at http://www.petitiononline.com/cocoa/petition.html

    Have a look, comments welcome via the site.

    –Dr. Andrew,
    Chair, The COCOA Association

  2. The Sony DRM thing is utterly terrifying. I will never purchase a Sony CD again. I get most of my music from ITunes anyway. As for the Google thing, I’m not as worried about copyright infringement as you. Look at Cory Doctorow’s experiments with free downloads and the effect on hard copy sales. I think anything that makes books more consumable and enjoyable to readers is good for writers. It may be “easy” for a clever hacker to piece a book together this way, but how many people are actually going to do that? Don’t the advantages of making your book more accessible to people outweigh the liabilities?

  3. Lauren, I think many people are going to be getting their books in the future in an electronic form, especially with new technologies like dynamic paper, which looks and feels like real paper but can change print on the fly. Cory Doctorow and others specifically allow their books to be available free of charge by the Creative Commons License. Cory also has a broad fan base to allow him to do this.

    What about the rest of us who have no such base? Should google and amazon and others be making the decisions for the artists, or should the artists be deciding for themselves where their work is to appear? Ubiquitous text is wonderful in concept, but copyright exists for one very important purpose: to ensure that people who work hard on something retain control how that something is used. Are you saying we should throw copyright aside in order to make books “more accessible” ? To me that is a big mistake.

    I think there is room for a compromise. Authors should opt-in their works (not opt-out as it is now) and they should receive a micropayment everytime someone views their work. This can easily be financed by keyword based advertizing which google already uses anyway to find the text. As an author, I should be the one to decide if I want to charge for my work, or if I want give it away for free, and none other. I feel very strongly about this.

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