From Victoria Strauss at Writer Beware:
Here at Writer Beware, we love the weird stuff–the nutty, fring-y, even, dare I say, totally freaking insane things that are always cropping up at the boundaries of the publishing world, often spawned by people who haven’t really taken the time to think things through.
Or maybe they’re just idiots. Hard to tell sometimes.
So…playing now on Kickstarter, a project called Story Surgeon (I’ve embedded a screenshot at the bottom of this post to immortalize the concept). Created by aspiring author Ryan Hancock, Story Surgeon is:
An eBook notation app that saves your personal edits as a separate file, and can be shared with anyone who owns the original eBook.
In other words, Story Surgeon is an app that enables anyone to alter a published book in any way they like, and spread the alterations around at will.
Although it will be a complicated app to develop, the idea is simple. Buy an eBook in ePub format and download it to your iPad. Download the Story Surgeon app. (It will be free on release day and probably many days thereafter.) Then you can use the app to read the original eBook (booooring) or make your own person [sic] changes to the text. (OH YEAH!)
Use the “find and replace” tool to substitute bad words, cut out whole portions of the book you thought were lame, or completely rewrite the novel with you as the main character.
Once your filter is perfect, you have the option to upload it into Drop Box and post your link on the Story Surgeon General Blog. (As we grow we’ll get our own servers and streamline the sharing process.)
The filter is kept separate from the eBook and no copyrights will be infringed upon. Anyone who uses your link and downloads the free filter will have to have purchased the original eBook. Filters will always be free.
As an author, I’m so very relieved to know that even if random people use an app to create altered versions of my books and post links to them on the Internet, my copyright won’t be infringed upon.
Link to the rest at Writer Beware and thanks to Jeanne for the tip.
In updates, Victoria acknowledges that some believe that this would be fair use under US copyright law.
PG was reminded of a company called CleanFlicks, started to remove content that was not child-friendly from DVD and VHS versions of popular movies – sexual content, profanity, etc.
The service was structured so that CleanFlicks bought and paid for a separate copy of the DVD or tape of the motion picture in its original form for each copy CleanFlicks sold so the movie studio received full compensation for the copy of the movie licensed for home consumption. CleanFlicks used its technology to doctor the movie to remove the nasty bits and sold or rented the the cleaned-up movie to consumers.
The Directors Guild of American and Hollywood studios were preparing to file suit when CleanFlicks filed a preemptive lawsuit. CleanFlicks lost.
Here’s a short summary of the court decision:
“[Moviemakers'] objective…is to stop the infringement because of its irreparable injury to the creative artistic expression in the copyrighted movies,” the judge wrote. “There is a public interest in providing such protection. Their business is illegitimate.” [Judge Richard P.] Matsch ordered CleanFlicks and the other defendants to hand over their entire inventory of scrubbed flicks to the five major Hollywood studios and stop “producing, manufacturing, creating” and renting the cleaned-up material within five days or face possible court action, including the likelihood of massive penalties.
One of the concepts that floated around in the CleanFlicks matter and is present with Story Surgeon is the moral rights of creators in their works. Moral rights are generally protected under European law, but receive less (or no) recognition under the laws of the US, UK and other common law jurisdctions.
Here’s a definition:
The term “moral rights” is a translation of the French term “droit moral,” and refers not to “morals” as advocated by the religious right, but rather to the ability of authors to control the eventual fate of their works. An author is said to have the “moral right” to control her work. The concept of moral rights thus relies on the connection between an author and her creation. Moral rights protect the personal and reputational, rather than purely monetary, value of a work to its creator.
The scope of a creator’s moral rights is unclear, and differs with cultural conceptions of authorship and ownership, but may include the creator’s right to receive or decline credit for her work, to prevent her work from being altered without her permission, to control who owns the work, to dictate whether and in what way the work is displayed, and/or to receive resale royalties. Under American Law, moral rights receive protection through judicial interpretation of several copyright, trademark, privacy, and defamation statues, and through 17 U.S.C. §106A, known as the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (VARA). VARA applies exclusively to visual art. In Europe and elsewhere, moral rights are more broadly protected by ordinary copyright law.
In the United States, the term “moral rights” typically refers to the right of an author to prevent revision, alteration, or distortion of her work, regardless of who owns the work. Moral rights as outlined in VARA also allow an author of a visual work to avoid being associated with works that are not entirely her own, and to prevent the defacement of her works.
Link to the rest at Moral Rights Basics