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Against Monopoly

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Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.





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Google book scanning settlement violates public interest

Michael Helft writes in the NYTimes to update the status of the Google book scanning project. The longer it has been pending, the more the objections, now in the hundreds, and the greater the messiness of any settlement link here.

The two great public goals of the settlement are being largely forgotten in the squabble over who gets what from the deal. Those goals are obvious--making so many books searchable on line and available to all at a reasonable price.

The orphan-books issue is a legalism, as they have been of no interest to the owners for years, not even enough for them to come forth and assert a claim. Why owners ever have any interest in orphan works remains a mystery; they are nothing more than abandoned books and properly public property.

In this respect, the proposed settlement gives a wide group a vested interest in the money to be generated by the settlement, for which they have done nothing.

The settlement also creates an effective monopoly on sale of the books, not as a matter of law but as the practical outcome since Google has already paid the sunk costs of scanning the books and putting them on line.


Comments

What does it mean to say the settlement "violates the public interest"? What has this standard got to do with anything? This is the state's language that it uses to propagandize the public into thinking it is legitimate.

The problem is not Google's trying to work within/around the copyright system: the problem is that there is a copyright system. As for public interest--it's certainly in the "public's interest" (whatever that means) to have access to works previously orphaned due to the pernicious effects of the state's evil laws--laws which are not Google's doing, but the state's.

I always thought the concept of public interest was clear at least for purposes of discourse. Wikipedia defines it thus: "The public interest refers to the "common well-being" or "general welfare." The public interest is central to policy debates, politics, democracy and the nature of government itself. While nearly everyone claims that aiding the common well-being or general welfare is positive, there is little, if any, consensus on what exactly constitutes the public interest."

We need to recognize that copyright is not going to get abolished. As of now, it isn't close to having the votes. We need to educate people why copyright was created and how it has been abused. Then we will have a chance to limit it. And if we are effective, we might even get it eliminated. The story is there to be told. We just have a lot of history and self-interest to overcome.

We need to recognize that copyright is not going to get abolished.

We might hope, though, that this eventually becomes a moot point as copyright becomes completely unenforceable.


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