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Wednesday News: DOJ Agency Pricing Update; Google Book Suit Update

First up are summaries of the two lawsuits involving publishing.

DOJ: On Friday, the DOJ filed a document which essentially asks Judge Cote to approve the settlement between itself and three of the six defendants (Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster) without a hearing. The DOJ argued that a hearing would present an unnecessary delay. The parties opposing the settlement and any “friends of the court” briefs are due on the 15th. Penguin is filing an appeal from Judge Cote’s refusal to push the Class Action claims to arbitration. Resolution of that appeal could take a couple of years.

Google Book Scanning Settlement: This probably requires a whole post from me and I’ll probably do that on Sunday. The big news is that the Authors Guild has filed a motion for summary judgment against Google. In any case there are questions of fact and questions of law. A question of fact is whether the light was red or green. A question of law is whether a person is negligent automatically if the light was red and you drove through it. Questions of fact are for the fact finder to decide. The fact finder can be a jury or can be the judge (in the case of a bench trial). Questions of law are for the judge to decide.

A motion for summary judgment is when you say to the court that there are no “material” facts in dispute and therefore the only question that remains is one of law and you want the Judge to decide the questions of law now. Most of the time, there is no testimony or taking of evidence. You file three documents: The motion, a statement of undisputed facts, and the brief (or memorandum of law) in support of the motion.

The Author’s Guild has argued that it is undisputed that Google scanned books and that therefore liability hinges on making the copy. The statement of undisputed facts goes into great detail about all the “copies” that Google has made from the original scan to copies of the scan provided to the Universities participating in the program. Authors’ Guild doesn’t go into the fair use defense, limiting its argument to the idea that if Google’s definition of “fair use” is adopted then an author’s right to control licensing rights of their books for purposes of search and indexing is lost. Any display of a copyrighted book not licensed is a violation of copyright per the Authors’ Guild argument. I’m not overly impressed by the argument. More on Sunday.

The idea behind this is that authors post available dates and then fans buy in. The tour date is not fulfilled unless the predetermined tickets are sold out.

This is a terrifying account of the hacking of Mat Honan, a senior writer for Wired’s Gadget Lab.

I had Google 2 Step authentication turned on but it was a hassle. After reading this, however, it’s a hassle I will have to live with.

It is only going to get worse. Piracy has started to move beyond the Internet and media and into the physical world. People on the fringes of tech, often early adopters of new devices and gadgets, are now working with 3-D printers that can churn out actual physical objects. Say you need a wall hook or want to replace a bit of hardware that fell off your luggage. You can download a file and “print” these objects with printers that spray layers of plastic, metal or ceramics into shapes.”NYTimes

The impact of 3D printing really didn’t hit me until I watched the video that I posted Monday of the girl with the tiny exoskeleton made from parts printed from a 3D Printer.

We especially regret the perception that our process was biased in favor of a confirmed harasser. It is our responsibility to implement our anti-harassment policy in a way that corrects for the societal power imbalances that are often present between harassers and their targets, and for the fannish interconnectedness that often leads to these cases being judged by friends and colleagues of one or both parties. We failed in that responsibility.”ReaderCon

I’m not sure if you all are aware of what happened with ReaderCon. I’ll give a short rundown. A ReaderCon female convention attendee was harassed at the ReaderCon convention. She reported the incident and the ReaderCon board reported that the facts, witnesses and the accused own admissions led to confirming the female’s report and was the basis for suspending the harasser for two years. This became the source of a great deal of consternation because ReaderCon had a zero tolerance policy. If the facts found harassment, then the harasser was to be banned for life. ReaderCon failed to administer their own policy. Based on both inside and outside pressure, ReaderCon ultimately reversed its decision, posted a real apology, and the entire board resigned. It was a powerful move by ReaderCon. I applaud the entire organization, the fans, and others for their work.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

15 Comments

  1. Courtney Milan
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 08:09:29

    It is only going to get worse…. Say you need a wall hook or want to replace a bit of hardware that fell off your luggage. You can download a file and “print” these objects with printers that spray layers of plastic, metal or ceramics into shapes.

    It kind of boggles me that someone looks at that and says that it means things are “getting worse.” You mean that maybe, I’ll be able to take the shitty disposable things that are created today and make replacements for two-cent things that are necessary for functioning, but which easily break? You mean that someday, when there’s a piece for my 20-year old car that breaks, instead of combing the Internet for a junkyard replacement and having it shipped great distances, I might be able to download a spec that someone else has made and print a new copy? This is “making things worse”?

    When we get to that point, I hope that makers of physical goods will realize what (some) makers of digital goods have discovered: That the best defense is, and always will be, a good offense.

    Make it easy for people to download your specs. Don’t charge too much. Make it widely available. If you do that, nobody will ever have any need to pirate. (Does this mean that people will still pirate? Of course. But it’ll make you more money and save you more heart-ache than scorched-earth anti-piracy.)

    I guarantee you, that if I have a choice between buying a manufactured good from a company that puts up specs allowing its users to print little parts to keep its products working and one that prosecutes people who print off zipper hardware, I’ll be going with the company that makes it easy for me to use their things.

  2. Christine M.
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 08:29:04

    I saw the Wired article yesterday and it scared the shite out of me. Granted I’m an Internet nobody, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen. I wonder if Amazon and Apple will eventually make a comment and if so, if they’ll actually say something useful, for once.

  3. Lynnd
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 08:35:16

    @Courtney Milan: YES! …. and make products of good quality, with good workmanship and materials, so that I will be more tempted to buy those products rather than take the time and effort to source my own materials and “print” my own version.

  4. Sunita
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 08:47:31

    The Pompidou museum in Paris had an amazing exhibit of objects made from a 3D copier. Here’s an example, but there were many others. I had no idea what I was looking at until I realized the copy machine was over in the corner, along with a detailed explanation. There were smaller objects, shaped a bit like vases and other bowls and vessels, that I first assumed were normal sculptures. It was mind-blowing.

  5. becca
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 09:55:50

    The ReaderCon apology is a masterpiece of what an apology should look like. No excuses, no “I’m sorry if you were offended” waffling, just clean and straight out, with a good list of things they will be doing to prevent the issue from arising again. I wish the apology was getting as wide-spread as the original issue was.

  6. lucy
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 10:09:05

    Ugh, the Google 2 step authentication process was such a hassle that I didn’t last even a week with it on, but since I’ve read that article from Wired I’m toying with the idea of turning it on.

    3DS printing sounds awesome if it’s something that we will all be able to do soon.

  7. Eliza Evans
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 10:54:56

    Invisalign braces are created by those 3d printers. I had a year-long course of them and I found the trays (and the retainers I wear now) to be quite sturdy. Much better than having a mouth full of metal as an adult!

  8. Janet W
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 14:47:30

    I really like Courtney Milan’s response — basically, build a better mouse-trap, give the consumer what they need easily — you’ll have customers for life *my interpretation of Milan’s words*

    Isn’t there a 3rd high profile publishing lawsuit? What’s happening with the Harlequin authors lawsuit? Are we not getting information about it because it isn’t in court yet? Who’s betting for a last-minute settlement with the settlement terms closed to the public? My dh’s company was involved in a dead-to-rights case that dragged on and on and on until it was resolved 2 seconds before they went to court and I’m pretty sure that secrecy was part of the settlement. N.B. I am not a lawyer so all my comments are just ignorant outsider comments based on what “I” suspect often happens.

  9. Jane
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 15:13:52

    @Janet W: The Harlequin lawsuit was filed only a couple of weeks ago and at the time of the announcement, Harlequin hadn’t been served with the papers yet. This is important because service of the lawsuit starts the response time. Most foreign countries (for the purposes of the rules of civil procedure for cases filed in the US) are allowed 60 days to file a response after the service of the papers. My best guess is that the suit won’t be answered until late September or October.

  10. Brian
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 15:29:01

    Speaking of lawsuits. Jane, have you seen any updates on the Sourcebooks / Anita Clenney lawsuit? Just curious how that all worked out.

  11. Jane
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 15:31:15

    @Brian: It was settled. I don’t know any of the details. Her old titles appear to still be for sale by Sourcebooks … not sure what that tells us.

  12. Darlynne
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 16:00:53

    I’m completely creeped out by the hacking story, but thank you for the link. Forewarned and all that.

  13. Susan
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 17:26:07

    I’ve been following the Readercon kerfuffle on Jim Hines’s site (and others). I’m glad the board finally did the right thing, but it should never have come to this. Sometimes, I feel as if it’s 1912 instead of 2012, especially in regards to women’s issues. But then I read about the 3D copies and the Mars expedition and get excited about the future.

  14. Wahoo Suze
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 22:44:13

    I don’t see how having a 3D printer would lead to piracy, unless the 3D printer itself (and its supplies) was dirt cheap. Would you spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a printer, rather than spending a couple of bucks on a widget?

    I could, though, see this printing technology leading to a VAST reworking of the manufacturing economy that’s boggling my imagination.

    I know the first iteration of a particular part is often hand-carved by an artist, and modified until it works, and then that’s used as the template for mass-produced parts. I think that first iteration would still be hand-carved (or 3D rendered) by an artist, but then whole lines of manufacturing could be replaced by printers.

    That would decimate a lot of manual jobs, but possibly increase demand for particular skills (like artists to carve or do 3D renderings, and technicians for the printers, and lawyers to argue about intellectual property).

    Would you have to patent each part of your gadget so that people couldn’t replace individual parts? Hmmm. Okay, putting away the brain now, because it’s overloading.

  15. DS
    Aug 09, 2012 @ 09:22:16

    @Wahoo Suze: Piratebay has a section called Physibles where torrents for 3d printable digital designs can be listed. This showed up on I think Techdirt about six months ago. It’s mainly nerd cool stuff like make your own Zuckerberg head or Anonysmous mask, but I am watching the technology with interest.

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