Copyright

EU’s Highest Court Allows Libraries To Digitize Books Without Rightholder’s Permission

19 September 2014

From Techdirt:

The [EU Court of Justice]case concerned a university library in Germany that wanted to digitize a book that it had purchased so as to be able to make it available electronically to its visitors. The publishing house tried to sell it an e-book of the work concerned that could be used for this purpose, but the library refused. Because it involved the EU Copyright Directive, the case was referred by the Federal Court of Justice in Germany to the EUCJ, which has now released the following decision:

the Court holds, first of all, that, even if the rightholder offers to a library the possibility of concluding licencing agreements for the use of his works on appropriate terms, the library may avail itself of the exception [permitted by the EU Copyright Directive] provided for in favour of dedicated terminals; otherwise, the library could not realise its core mission or promote the public interest in promoting research and private study.

Furthermore:

the Court finds that the directive does not prevent Member States from granting libraries the right to digitise the books from their collections, if it becomes necessary, for the purpose of research or private study, to make those works available to individuals by dedicated terminals. The right of libraries to communicate, by dedicated terminals, the works they hold in their collections would risk being rendered largely meaningless, or indeed ineffective, if they did not have an ancillary right to digitise the works in question.

 

Link to the rest at Techdirt

Setting Your Own Standards of Excellence

7 September 2014

From NYT bestseller and former writing professor Dave Farland:

This past few weeks I’ve been looking at the business practices of many of our authors and felt pretty overwhelmed by just how nasty things have gotten. As a reader, I’ve always been careful about what I buy, but so many authors are misrepresenting their own works, that lately I’ve been considering whether I should stop reading or promoting indie works at all.

. . . .

But there are still some huge problems with the way that some authors are promoting themselves. The problem hit the spotlight with the nastiest case of plagiarism that I’ve ever seen. The author Rachel Ann Nunes, whom I’ve known for at least a dozen years, had her work plagiarized by an indie author who then proceeded to try to bully her and attack her reputation online, using fake identities to leave a string of negative reviews not only of Rachel’s work, but attacking her personally as someone who was “self-righteous,” saying that all of her books were trash.

. . . .

1) Thou shalt not plagiarize. It used to be that I would see a case of plagiarism every couple of years. Now it seems to be happening online every day. If we’re going to stem the tide, we need to hold plagiarists accountable. That means that when they put things for sale online, then try to slink away when caught, we need to uncover their identities and hit them with the full penalties of the law.

Don’t just report plagiarized works online—attack the thieves who are doing it.

The worst of the plagiarists are creating “Frankensteins,” books cobbled together from one chapter here, another chapter there, so that technically the author can’t be held accountable for breaking copyright laws. The reader doesn’t know that he has been swindled until he gets a few chapters into the book.

. . . .

5) Thou shalt not disparage the work of other writers for gain. A few years ago, we heard about a mainstream author who had gone online and attacked well over a hundred other writers, giving their novels lukewarm reviews, then telling the readers that the books were nowhere near as great as his own. I see this happening in reviews on Goodreads and Amazon.com. You don’t need to do it.
Now, if a book really is a piece of crap, you can be honest about it, just don’t sing your own praises at the same time.

Link to the rest at David Farland and thanks to Christine for the tip.

The Heir’s Not Apparent

7 September 2014

From The New York Times:

The story of the street photographer Vivian Maier has always been tangled — she worked much of her life as a nanny, keeping her artistic life a secret, and only after she died in 2009, at the age of 83, nearly penniless and with no family, were her pictures declared to be among the most remarkable of the 20th century. Now a court case in Chicago seeking to name a previously unknown heir is threatening to tie her legacy in knots and could prevent her work from being seen again for years.

The case was filed in June by a former commercial photographer and lawyer, David C. Deal, who said he became fascinated with Maier’s life in law school and took it upon himself to try to track down an heir. He did so, he said, because he was upset that prints of her work — from more than 100,000 negatives found in a storage locker at an auction, containing images now possibly worth millions of dollars — were being sold by people who came to own the negatives but had no family connection to Maier, who spent most of her childhood in France and worked in Chicago, where she died.

. . . .

Chief among the owners of Maier’s work is John Maloof, a former real estate agent in Chicago who bought tens of thousands of the negatives for less than $400 in 2007 and has spent years tending and promoting her work through commercial galleries, museum exhibitions, books and a recent documentary,“Finding Vivian Maier,” that he helped direct. Mr. Maloof hired genealogists to find heirs to Maier in France and eventually paid an undisclosed amount for the rights to her work to a man named Sylvain Jaussaud, whom experts identified as her closest relative, a first cousin once removed.

But Mr. Deal hired his own genealogists and last year traveled to Gap, an alpine town in southeastern France, home of Francis Baille, a retired civil servant whom he believes to be another first cousin once removed.

Mr. Baille, who had no idea he was related to Maier, agreed with Mr. Deal to seek to be recognized as her heir under American law. Reached on Friday by phone in France, Mr. Baille said, “For now, I just do not want to talk about this.” But his French lawyer, Denis Compigne, said: “It’s an extraordinary situation. You can imagine what it’s like to get a telephone call about someone who died that he never knew, with this precious legacy. He is very, very surprised.”

The legal case to determine whether Mr. Baille is Maier’s closest relative has now set in motion a process that Chicago officials say could take years and could result in Maier’s works’ being pulled from gallery inventories and museum shows until a determination is made.

. . . .

The Stephen Bulger Gallery, in Toronto, which lists dozens of Maier prints on its website, received a letter on Aug. 19 from a Chicago law firm, Marshall, Gerstein & Borun, representing the estate, asking it to preserve all documents related to her work and its sale.

“We are investigating the potential misuse and infringement of copyrighted works whose rights are held by the estate,” the letter said, adding that the firm anticipated “filing litigation against the responsible parties upon completion of our investigation.” An exhibition of her work is on view at the Toronto gallery.

. . . .

Under federal copyright law, owning a photograph’s negative or a print is distinct from owning the copyright itself. The copyright owner controls whether images can be reproduced and sold.

Mr. Maloof said that he had been working for more than a year to register copyright to the images on the negatives he owns, based on his agreement with the man he believes to be Maier’s rightful heir, but that the copyright applications were still pending. (In his own research, he said, he too found the name of Mr. Baille, but he came to believe, based on the advice of his genealogists and lawyers, that Mr. Jaussaud was legally the closest heir.)

“I’ve been obsessed since the beginning with trying to find out who Vivian Maier was and whether she had heirs,” Mr. Maloof said. “I was always trying to do what was as legally and ethically aboveboard as possible.”

Link to the rest at The New York Times

PG says this story is another reminder that all creative artists, including authors, need to properly plan for what happens to their work after they die.

In the US, the people who can help are called estate planning attorneys. (PG is not one of those)

I’ve been plagiarized!

4 September 2014

From author Aubrey Rose:

Well, somebody stole my book. A kind fan pointed out that Clarissa Black’s book City Girl, Mountain Bear was similar to my novella City Girl, Country Wolf. Too similar. This “author” has taken my storyline and rewritten my book scene for scene, changing just enough to be able to get through Amazon’s plagiarism filters. Not a single sentence is the same, but the story is exactly the same. Check it out…

First scene overview: A high-powered executive woman is in her highrise building, on the phone with someone who is sending her away for a corporate merger. I’ll go through and point out the similarities.

The first sentence illustrates exactly the kind of plagiarism Clarissa Black has committed – rewritten sentence-for-sentence. There’s no reason for a motorcycle to be riding by in the street outside her office – it’s just a detail that they copied because it was there in the original.

  • mine: “a motorcycle rode by her office window, its motor revving loudly.”
  • ripoff: “A motorcycle blared through the City Street.”

Then while still on the phone with corporate, she’s interrupted by her receptionist:

  • mine: “The receptionist poked his head inside her office.”
  • ripoff: “Antonio’s head popped in the office”

Which irritates her.

  • mine: “She gestured at Seth to leave”
  • ripoff: “I gestured for Antonio to enter”

. . . .

So it goes, for the rest of the book.

This is my book, scene for scene, rewritten in the first person and paraphrased so that it doesn’t look like plagiarism. Every single scene is like this. This is a substantial paraphrasing of my book, and as such is plagiarism.

. . . .

[I]f you see a plagiarized book, please REPORT IT to Amazon and to the author who’s being ripped off. I wouldn’t have known if it hadn’t been for a fan letting me know I was being plagiarized. I’m trying to get Amazon to take down the ripoff book right now, will update once I know if they’ll listen to me…

update: Clarissa Black’s account is down; it took Amazon about a week to respond. Good work, Amazon!

Link to the rest at Aubrey Rose

Here’s a link to Aubrey Rose’s books

Standing Against Plagiarism – Part 2

2 September 2014

PG previously had a post about author Rachel Nunes and her claims that another author had plagiarized one of her books.

Rachel has now filed suit against the alleged plagiarist. A copy of her complaint follows:

 

Nunes (Text)

Thanks to Marc for the tip.

Here’s a link to Rachel Nunes’ books

Millions of historical images posted to Flickr

1 September 2014

From BBC News:

An American academic is creating a searchable database of 12 million historical copyright-free images.

Kalev Leetaru has already uploaded 2.6 million pictures to Flickr, which are searchable thanks to tags that have been automatically added.

The photos and drawings are sourced from more than 600 million library book pages scanned in by the Internet Archive organisation.

The images have been difficult to access until now.

Mr Leetaru said digitisation projects had so far focused on words and ignored pictures.

“For all these years all the libraries have been digitising their books, but they have been putting them up as PDFs or text searchable works,” he told the BBC.

“They have been focusing on the books as a collection of words. This inverts that.

“Stretching half a millennium, it’s amazing to see the total range of images and how the portrayals of things have changed over time.

. . . .

“Most of the images that are in the books are not in any of the art galleries of the world – the original copies have long ago been lost.”

The pictures range from 1500 to 1922, when copyright restrictions kick in.

. . . .

The Internet Archive had used an optical character recognition (OCR) program to analyse each of its 600 million scanned pages in order to convert the image of each word into searchable text.

As part of the process, the software recognised which parts of a page were pictures in order to discard them.

Mr Leetaru’s code used this information to go back to the original scans, extract the regions the OCR program had ignored, and then save each one as a separate file in the Jpeg picture format.

Link to the rest at BBC News and thanks to Tony for the tip.

And here’s a link to the Internet Archive Book Images on Flickr

A service that boils popular non-fiction books down to their most formative and salient points

30 August 2014

From Android Police:

Let’s be honest, busy people don’t have time to trudge through long books made of mostly filler. Unfortunately, publishers know they can’t put a high price on a 40-page book. In the end, authors are stuck building a lavish sea of meaningless words around the simple concepts they want to convey. That’s where Blinkist comes in. It’s a service that boils popular non-fiction books down to their most formative and salient points. Think of it like Cliffs Notes, but even shorter and not funded entirely by high school students.

. . . .

Blinkist suggests you can fly through Guy Kawasaki’s The Art of the Start in 18 minutes and Phil Rosenzweig’s The Halo Effect in just 13. Each book has a brief description and hints about who might want to read it, and all of the content is laid out in simple sections with just enough text to get the point without a bunch of repetition or unnecessary examples. There are currently over 400 books in the catalog, with about 40 new books added each month.

Link to the rest at Android Police

To answer an obvious question, copyright protects the expression of ideas, not the ideas themselves.

17 U.S. Code s102 (b) states:

In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work.

The distinction between an idea and the expression of an idea may not always be clear but, for example, the idea of a young man going off to a boarding school where magic is taught and magical creatures are kept is not protected by copyright law while Harry, Hermione, Hogwarts and the particular world created by Rowling is protected..

Google Wins Victory in Row With German Publishers

24 August 2014

from re/code:

A German regulator handed Google a victory on Friday as it said it would not pursue a complaint brought against the Internet search engine operator by a group of publishers for giving users access to their news articles.

Several publishers including Axel Springer SE and Burda had banded together in a group called VG Media to demand Google pay them for making their online articles available to the public.

“Sufficient suspicion is always necessary to initiate an abuse procedure. The complaint from VG Media did not establish this,” Andreas Mundt, president of Germany’s Federal Cartel Office, said in a statement on Friday.

Link to the rest at re/code and thanks to Joshua for the tip.

US officials say monkey selfies can’t be copyrighted

22 August 2014

From Engadget:

Here’s a friendly tip for all wildlife photographers out there: don’t let mischievous monkeys (and other jungle animals) push the shutter button in your stead. The U.S. Copyright Office just released a new public draft of its compendium of practices, and in it, the agency clearly states that it will only recognize original works created by human beings. This new section’s first example of works it cannot register? “A photograph taken by a monkey.” 

Link to the rest at Engadget and thanks to Joshua for the tip.
.

Standing Against Plagiarism

7 August 2014

From author Rachel Anne Nunes:

My life was torn apart this weekend when it came to light that an anonymous author on the Internet, who is known only by a logo and a fake name, had plagiarized my novel, A Bid for Love (formerly entitled Love to the Highest Bidder), which is the first of a trilogy.

. . . .

I finished my novel in late 1996, and it first came out in August 1998. It was actually the second novel accepted by my publisher, but they made me write two sequels to my first novel before they released A Bid for Love (then called Love to the Highest Bidder).

After being advised of infringement on my copyright, I waited a few days to see if Mullens would explain herself. When she didn’t, I searched for her email and sent off a direct message, asking for an explanation and the ARC, in the hopes of verifying that it wasn’t copied. I also sent a few of the reviewers a query asking them to either read my novel to verify if what I’d heard was true or to send me an ARC.

. . . .

[A] follow up from the same reviewer: Rachel I have had quick skim through your story A Bid For Love and I agree that your concerns are warranted. The similarities between The Auction Deal and A Bid for Love are too many for me not to conclude that The Auction Deal may not be an original work.

Reviewer #2: I received an email today stating the author cancelled the book tour, this may be why. I don’t mind reading your book and letting you know if it seems plagiarized to me . . . I am sure this is why the tour was unexpectedly cancelled, this promoter doesn’t even have an explanation.

. . . .

Reviewer #3: Hi Rachel. I have to tell you that at first I blew off this message . . . I then looked up your book and realized that they seem very similar. The author has since stated that she will not be publishing “her” book. I am going to remove my review of The Auction Deal. I am terribly saddened that your book has been plagiarized. You have a great story. I do have to say that I read this authors first two books and this one was nothing like the first two, I was surprised but thought maybe she had expanded her writing. Anyways I will be removing the review.

. . . .

When Mullens heard of my contacting the reviewers directly, she immediately requested that all the reviewers delete the ARC.

Link to the rest at Rachel Anne Nunes and thanks to Sariah for the tip.

Here’s a link to Rachel Anne Nunes’ books

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