Yenya's World

Wed, 10 Dec 2008

Just a pointer to two interesting blog posts I have just read: Ted Ts'o discusses the ethical problem of wanting an e-book version of something which is out of print for a long time, and also has an interesting follow-up in which he discusses whether copyright is a matter of money (like most books or films) or control (like in some software, especially many copylefts like GPL). So what do you think about handling rights for the work which is abandoned for a long time, or simply which is not available in your local part of the timespace? And should rights for "static" work like books, music, films, photos, etc. be handled differently than rights for things which can be improved by further work of other people (like software)?

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2 replies for this story:

Peter Kruty wrote: Costs factor

Well I don't see any difference between so called "static" and "other" work as you mentioned. From my point of view is software bunch of intellectual work. Same for books or music, SW or movies. In a similar way how you can deconstruct software into pieces reuse / improve / recombine, you can also deconstruct music into samples / tracks which can be then recombined into other work (mash-ups, hip-hop ...). Also in a similar way how you can reuse intellectual idea encoded into algorithm you can also reuse theme of the music piece, or of the book. Only difference I can see is the ratio of fixed costs and variable costs. In software industry it is huge difference, where fixed costs for creating of software (let say game) can be millions of dollars, comparing to cents which costs producing of one copy of the SW - CD/DVD. For book this ratio is different as printing of the book is more costly then CD. This ratio is also similar for music/movies because of the way how they are distributed, but it is different for books. What is the consequence? With the increasing amount of produced CDs/DVDs/Books overall costs (fixed+variable) for producing are decreasing (fixed costs are diminished with the amount of products sold), therefore it is cheaper for manufacturer (cost per piece) therefore the income increases (because with the increasing amount end price is not lower). It is interesting to see that in the industry where most of the products are cheaper to produce with increased amount is the pressure on copyright control bigger as they are trying to keep their sells as high as possible. In the books industry it is still not so significant, but with the increasing amount of ebooks provided the pressure will increase as well.

Milan Zamazal wrote:

I think that in that particular case the answer is very simple: Don't care about the book and read something else. It respects author's wishes. Of course, it's easy to circumvent it, but why to do so? There is a lot of good literature to read. OTOH, there are real problems with copyright control. It sometimes happens that a technical book gets out of print and the issuer, who took all rights away from the author, doesn't intend to make the book available again. The author has to make hard negotiations to get permission to distribute his own book freely. This is a real problem, because it goes against author's wishes and with technical books there may not be an alternative book to read. So it's more important to tell authors what's necessary to do rather than what they should wish. As for the level of control put by law on each kind of intellectual work, it is a political decision. There is no easy answer based just on general ethical principles.

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