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The library of the Future

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larienna
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This thread was made in response to another thread where people said it was unethical to download a Book as PDF to take a loot at it. Second, since I am working in the field of libraries, I want to give you an overview of what the future can hold which will be totally different than the way it works right now.

First I want to say that my national library has a subscription to a hundreds of databases including "Books 24 by 7" which contains thousands of electronic books for free. Since there is a "books 24 by 7" database only for information technology books, probably that the book I downloaded was there. All these access are given to me for free, the only restriction I must follow is that I must live in that national's library country. So if I download it from bit torrent instead, it does not really matter since I probably already would have access to the content.

Second, in the future, probably that all books would be available electronically and many of these books would be available for free through libraries. First because according to the legal deposit rule, publisher must submit a free book to their national libraries. Second because national libraries generally have enough money to pay subscriptions to databases like "books 24 by 7", which in fact I pay with my taxes.

Also the new "kindle" makes it even easier to read electronic books. Since it can contain thousands of books, you could go at your library every week, download all the new books on your kindle and get access to all the published books for free.

If you expand the concepts above, if everybody has access to books from their national's library for free, it will mean that eventually everybody will have access to the same books for free. Which mean that at this point, from a user point of view, there won't be any difference between giving a free access to all the population to electronic books VS giving the electronic books for free to all the population.

It's also at this point where the notion of copyright would become obsolete. Many people confuse copyright with intellectual property. Copyright is the restriction to prevent people from duplicating a work. Intellectual property is an indication of who is the author of a work. Removing copyright allow people to duplicate the work but the author of the work stay the same.

By the way it has been proven that the "1 illegal copy = 1 copy not sold" theory is not true. A publisher released a book which was simultaneously sold physically and distributed electronically for free and he said that it never really hindered the sales. So the formula should be "1 free copy = many copies sold".

As for board games, it's just a matter of time before we get an electronic board with electronic cards that would be flashable with files downloaded from the net. Since libraries are currently also lending board games for free, they would probably also be lending electronic board games for free. So instead of buying games, you would go at your library (which could be on the web, not necessarily phisically), download the content, flash your board and play the game.

So this is why I am not so fanatic about the copyright thing. The only thing I agree with is that people should not make money (or gain any other benefits) out of the work of others. That I agree. If I make a game and somebody else sell it for himself, that is bad. If I sell a PDF game and it ends up circulating on bit torrent, well there is nothing I can do about it and I won't do anything to stop it. At least it would prove that people likes my game. If somebody want's to remake my game with better artwork and give it for free, again there is nothing I can do about it. I would not mind negotiating with those people, but I would not go crazy and try everything to stop them.

Brykovian
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I get it, but don't get it

I understand the benefit to the consumer of a creative work when they gain access to it for what seems like no cost of their own ...

But how does a creator/owner of intellectual property earn a living from it when the IP is distributed to everyone for free?

-Bryk

SiddGames
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Not

I disagree with much of your extrapolation. The idea that the flow of material (books or music, for example) will continue unabated without the protection of copyright is deeply flawed. It's all about money. If you look at professional authors who support themselves exclusively by their writing, they will simply not be able to continue without the income provided by copyrighted publication. It is their JOB, hence "professional" writer. If all works eventually become free, the overall volume and quality of those works will decline because those writers will have to get a different job to support themselves. Production of intellectual property will be reduced to a mere hobby. Very few creators will be able to support themselves through the goodwill of their fans, and that generally takes a certain critical mass that most creators will never achieve (e.g., Nine Inch Nails releases all their music for free on their site, but they already have enough real fans who willingly pay to support them).

Your theory of national libraries also only applies to those countries that would pass such laws requiring submission of works. I doubt seriously such a law would ever pass in the United States, for example.

You are also quite wrong about the Kindle. The Kindle is not simply hardware. It is an entire service. Your purchase of a Kindle includes a lifetime subscription to the built-in wireless download service from Amazon, and the copyright holders decide what to allow Amazon to put on the Kindle and how much money to charge for it. That's part of the reason it is so expensive -- the sale price includes the cost of the infrastructure required to support the download service and, I suspect, some "overhead" related to copyright/licensing fees. If Amazon could not make money off the Kindle, there would be no Kindle. I'm sure there are or will be stand-alone e-book readers, but the copyright holders won't be supporting that since they won't make money off it.

Saying that "if X is free at the library, then obtaining X for free online is the same thing" is false, even for Books24x7. They support copyright and have come to an agreement with the copyright holders whose works they provide, and I'm sure part of that agreement is how those works are distributed. If your library subscribes to their service, it is legal for you to go down there and review an electronic copy, while it remains illegal for you to download it from some random network.

This is the same flawed reasoning that a lot of proponents of illegal downloads make. "I could do it legally this way, so that makes doing it illegally this other way okay." No, it does not. One way is legal and the other way is illegal. If you don't like that, then lobby your legislative body to change those laws (which I know is actually a pretty strong movement in some countries), but until that time, the activity is, in fact, illegal. If you browse a book on a store shelf or go get it from the library, that's legal. If you download someone's illicit copy of it, that's illegal. It's that simple.

I hate to make an ad hominem argument, but I suspect very strongly that your lack of fanaticism for copyright is directly proportional to how much of your income depends on the sale of your copyrighted material. If you were 40 years old with a wife and two kids to support and your ONLY income was the sale of your books and games, I think you would feel differently.

ilta
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Downloading vs. Sales, and Legality vs. Morality

The argument advanced by publishers is that downloading hurts sales, but I have yet to see actual evidence of this. Publishers assume that every download is a person who would have purchased the given item in a store, but that is demonstrably false. Downloads include people who are interested in evaluating something before purchasing it, as well as people who will purchase it on ebay, as well as people who have no intention of ever purchasing it at all, as well as people who might borrow it from a library or a friend. None of these avenues will result in money for the publisher, let alone the original creator. True, some downloaders would, if they couldn't download, buy something in a store, and that is indeed lost revenue. But this number is (likely) balanced by the number of downloaders who evaluate before purchasing, who pass on their recommendations to others, who offer donations/ticket-sales directly to content creators, or who have already purchased the book and simply want to read it on their Kindle, too.

Point of information: libraries paying "royalties" to authors for the right to lend books is called a Public Lending Right, or less controversially "Author Compensation," and it simply doesn't exist in the United States, although Canada and several European countries do recognize it. In the United States, at least, non-profit libraries are empowered to lend more or less as they wish, simply by government fiat. They can even make photocopies and digital copies, with various limitations. They didn't "come to an agreement" with authors, it's just right there in the copyright code (sections 108 and 107, if you're interested).

I agree with SG that there is today a legal distinction between borrowing a book from the library and downloading a copy from a peer-to-peer network and printing it out at home. One is legal under copyright statutes, the other is not, and maybe that's also moral, even though they share the similarity that both involve you reading a book for free in the comfort of your own home. But I think that if SG (and the US) can draw that line, perhaps a line also exists between theft, which deprives someone of something that they then cannot use, and download, which does not.

Morality is a different matter than legality. It might be that something is legal, but immoral, or illegal, but moral. Slavery comes to mind, of course, as does (some on both side would argue) prostitution. Morality can transcend the law, which strives to come as close to true morality as possible but takes time to catch up. We're in that stage now, where our understanding of morality must evolve to meet the changing standards, practices, and technology of today's society.

So, my challenge to you: what morality can you feasibly create that permits libraries, but disallows p2p downloads? If not compensating authors is bad because it will discourage creative output, then lending is bad, along with downloading (not to mention the whole of western civilization, which until very recently saw no need to protect IP). If lending is a public good, because it spreads information, then so is downloading, which is an even more effective means of doing so. If it's a "slippery slope" to content creators being paid nothing for their work, because at the end of the slope it is universally available for free, then why draw the line after libraries rather than before them?

simpson
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ilta wrote:So, my challenge

ilta wrote:
So, my challenge to you: what morality can you feasibly create that permits libraries, but disallows p2p downloads? If not compensating authors is bad because it will discourage creative output, then lending is bad, along with downloading (not to mention the whole of western civilization, which until very recently saw no need to protect IP). If lending is a public good, because it spreads information, then so is downloading, which is an even more effective means of doing so.

Not really an argument for semantics but it sounds more like ethical practices rather than human morality since the subject is dealing with information.

A point to consider is the agency of copyright and what it is:
Copyright is a privilege of protection against unlawful use of rights. Its not a moral/ethical issue in any case for the rights holder to do whatever he wishes to do with the IP. It would only be a moral/ethical issue with the end user (or non-copyright holder) that wishes to abuse an established social contract.

A counterpoint to "free information is warranted":
Information is not free, at some point distribution will always come in and cause a cost -- whatever media form the information takes, it will cost someone money/effort to distribute it. From an ethical standpoint, it doesn't matter HOW the information is distributed or HOW EFFICIENTLY the information is shared. If a copyright holder feels that his work is being used in violation, then he can claim copyright violation -- that's the ethical crux, a violation of terms.

Quote:

If lending is a public good, because it spreads information, then so is downloading, which is an even more effective means of doing so.

You are drawing two causes to one correlation; I could argue that drinking water is good, because my body needs it, then so is drowning, which is an even more effective means of doing so.

how a person can resolve this ethical dilemna:
What it comes down to is how the end user decides to treat the privilege of shared information; does he put the value more on ACQUIRING the information OR does he give more value to the OWNERSHIP of the copyright?

simpson

doho123
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ilta wrote:The argument

ilta wrote:
The argument advanced by publishers is that downloading hurts sales, but I have yet to see actual evidence of this. Publishers assume that every download is a person who would have purchased the given item in a store, but that is demonstrably false.

While I hear this argument many times as a defense for "pirating," I have never heard a publisher claiming that 100% of those downloads are lost sales. Granted, whatever the percentage that they believe is lost (be it 80% or 50% or whatever) is probably higher than it is, it is still significant.

ilta wrote:
True, some downloaders would, if they couldn't download, buy something in a store, and that is indeed lost revenue. But this number is (likely) balanced by the number of downloaders who evaluate before purchasing, who pass on their recommendations to others, who offer donations/ticket-sales directly to content creators, or who have already purchased the book and simply want to read it on their Kindle, too.

And another pirating myth, about balancing. So while we cannot trust the numbers that the publishers quote, we can surely trust the "likely numbers" quoted by said pirates.

There was some article on gamasutra a while ago about piracy, and a company that was tracking sales/piracy rates. After making some adjustments to their DRM code making it tougher to pirate, their sales shot up 70%.

So, it appears that all those "well, I'm just trying it before I buy it" suddenly had a reason to buy it. They most likely would never have bought it otherwise.

ilta
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Quote:I have never heard a

Quote:
I have never heard a publisher claiming that 100% of those downloads are lost sales. Granted, whatever the percentage that they believe is lost (be it 80% or 50% or whatever) is probably higher than it is, it is still significant.

Publishers claim this all the time! Just google "internet piracy" and you can see a thousand hits where publishers make either an explicit claim that downloads = lost sales, 1:1. Or consider all the news reports about piracy being a $x industry, where $x is the retail price of the games times the number of times they've been downloaded. The music industry made the exact same claim about mp3 players, and before that they made it about CD-burners, and before that it was cassette tapes, and before that radio. Each time they've emerged stronger than before exactly when they've harnessed the technology, rather than cowering in fear from it.

Look, I didn't quote any numbers. I just said it stood to reason that there were benefits to permitting copying and sharing as well as costs, and that these benefits are rarely taken into account when the overall effect of piracy is reported.

Taking an example from our tiny world of boardgame design, consider print-and-play, which is what started this debate. Many games are originally released as completely print-and-play, so their authors create and distribute them with no intent of profiting from them. That alone destroys your original thesis, which is that games won't be created if there's no money to gain.

But, you say, what about commercially released games? Surely the necessary materials to print your own copy of Pandemic would be well-guarded, right? Yet a cursory search of BGG shows that even fairly big game publishers (Z-Man, in this case) routinely upload the full rulesets, boards, and cards for their games. These are among the most popular downloads for any entry on BGG that offers them. You say that this would necessarily destroy the income stream, but the facts are against you -- many people buy these same games, even though they could easily assemble them themselves. Indeed, Z-Man publishes the rules and board precisely BECAUSE he knows that, in large part, these drive future sales. Another example: Lost Cities is a wonderful but overproduced game that famously requires no more than two decks of cards and a marker, and for which the rules and even the card designs are easily available online. But it sells just fine.

Quote:
There was some article on gamasutra a while ago about piracy, and a company that was tracking sales/piracy rates. After making some adjustments to their DRM code making it tougher to pirate, their sales shot up 70%.

The story I think you're talking about here is this one:
http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=17350

I would encourage people interested in this sort of thing to read it. It talks exclusively about casual games, however, and leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Check the comment thread for some of those questions.

There's also a brief follow-up that answers some but not all of them:
http://gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=17408

Basically, fixing the simplest way for people to pirate drove sales up 70%, but we're talking about a change in the percent (increase) of a percent (legitimate copies) of a percent (taken online after downloading). Other methods had little or no effect, especially against the bigger picture.

I only mention this because you brought it up. I don't really want to get into a discussion of the practicalities of casual computer game DRM and other anti-piracy measures here, as I think there are better places for that. I'm more interested in the morality of these actions, especially as it relates to board games.

Quote:
If a copyright holder feels that his work is being used in violation, then he can claim copyright violation -- that's the ethical crux, a violation of terms.

Yeah, he can try. But if it's a library's lending policy that's causing him to "feel" like his work is being used in violation, then he will lose his case. And why? The government has simply declared that libraries can lend books to people. Presumably there's a reason for this; libraries serve some public good. What public good do they serve that Larienna's "library of the future" (ie p2p downloading) doesn't?

As for the drowning analogy, you make a false comparison. Drinking water is good only in so far as it allows the body to live, not because it's good on its own merits. It is a means to an end, where the end is life. On the contrary, widespread knowledge is held by supporters of libraries to be a meritorious end in and of itself, and I agree completely. But if that's the case, more of this end good (knowledge) is better than less of it, just as a more alive body is better than a, er, less alive one.

As I've said, I still haven't seen a clear line in the ethical sand between library lending and peer-to-peer filesharing except my need to walk down the street for one and not the other, and a few clauses in the US copyright code that offer no explicit moral or ethical justification for their presence.

simpson
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...

Quote:
As for the drowning analogy, you make a false comparison.

The analogy is used to illustrate your argument being false. You are stating that two instances are relative with one being qualitatively better (good) because it has a larger quantifiable (more of). First off, correlation does not mean causation and vice versa. Secondly, saying that anything is better in larger amounts is rational but not true.

Quote:
As I've said, I still haven't seen a clear line in the ethical sand between library lending and peer-to-peer filesharing except my need to walk down the street for one and not the other, and a few clauses in the US copyright code that offer no explicit moral or ethical justification for their presence.

My assumption here is that your definition of what is "ethical justification" is unresolvable unless its dependent on how much it puts you out rather than the protection it offers. If its not an ethical issue for you, then how would anyone convince you otherwise? If you are looking to see how others resolve the ethics of it, then look at the social contract of work vs. entitlement.

Ask yourself...
If I make a game, then how much of it are others entitled too? Are they entitled to the "knowledge" of my game or the "entertainment" of it? Is there any form of protection I can fallback on in any case?

simpson

ilta
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Still no bright line

I still don't see what you're talking about with correlation and causation. I know very well that one doesn't mean the other. How is that relevant here?

Quote:
saying that anything is better in larger amounts is rational but not true.

Agreed! But I said precisely the opposite, as I tried to make clear in my last post. "Anything" is demonstrably NOT better in greater quantities; on this we agree. My point is that the one thing that IS necessarily better in larger quantities is something valued for itself -- an end, rather than a means. Drinking water is a means to live, not an end, therefore it is not necessarily better in larger quantities / greater efficiencies / etc. Which is why drowning is bad: not because it's "too much of a good thing" but because it undermines the original end, that being life.

The relevant "end" for the library debate is the spreading of information, presumably (is there another? enlighten me!). Libraries do it, as do stores, as does filesharing. One might argue that physical libraries do it better than filesharing in some ways, because you can take a book with you to the beach, while your computer screen washes out in the sun, and printing your own copy of War and Peace from a computer file is expensive, time-consuming, and aesthetically dubious. Physical books (whether lent or store-bought) don't need batteries, either. The Kindle changes much of this, of course, as will its descendants. Your talk of the "existing social contract" assumes that it never changes, but it is a constantly evolving fabric binding all of us together; ethics are informed by the current contract but not bound by it, because (presumably) immoral behavior is immoral no matter what a given society permits at the moment.

But all this is dancing around the issue. What's the line? I can borrow a book from a library, and I can borrow a book from my friend, because borrowing is good because spreading knowledge is good. But if that's the case, why not borrow in such a way (ie electronically) that both my friend and I can simultaneously enjoy the book, and therefore spread knowledge better?

Why are libraries good and filesharing bad? Surely libraries hurt first-party sales, make some people less likely to purchase books, etc (surely they also serve all of the positive purposes I outlined in my first post, as well, perhaps more or perhaps less than their negative effects). But regardless of their cost to publishers and content creators, their right to lend is enshrined in the law. Why? Is our goal to make people get off their asses and go outside if they want free books? To give librarians jobs? To have a pretty building downtown? These are all great examples of ways in which a library differs from filesharing, but none of them are advanced by defenders of libraries. The thing I hear is that knowledge is good in and of itself. It is an end, not a means, they say. Filesharing is another way of achieving this end, but is illegal. Somewhere between legal library lending and illegal filesharing there must be some line, right?

Right?

simpson
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Quote:What's the line? I can

Quote:
What's the line? I can borrow a book from a library, and I can borrow a book from my friend, because borrowing is good because spreading knowledge is good. But if that's the case, why not borrow in such a way (ie electronically) that both my friend and I can simultaneously enjoy the book, and therefore spread knowledge better?

The line is whether the copyright holder considers what you are doing (sharing) is not borrowing but a violation of his rights. It not what you think is right or wrong, its the owner of the property exercising his rights.

Also, the law isn't immutable. Legislature changes all the the time. If you find the line between public property/private property to be a double standard, then offer a solution instead of trying to get people to convince you on why it works.

simpson

SiddGames
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ilta wrote:That alone

ilta wrote:
That alone destroys your original thesis, which is that games won't be created if there's no money to gain.

Actually, my thesis is that the overall quantity and quality of "content" will decrease without the protection of copyright, not that it will disappear. I had this argument with a friend after my previous post.

With copyright protection:
* A professional creator can spend 40 hours a week making a living by creating content.
* He could optionally spend additional "free time" each week on creating content, say, 24 hours per week.
* A professional can thus spend AT LEAST 40 hours per week and as much as 64 hours per week creating.

Without copyright protection:
* A creator must first work his "day job" 40 hours per week to support himself.
* He can then spend his free time creating content for 24 hours per week.
* A hobbyist can thus spend AT MOST 24 hours per week creating.

I don't think it is any more plain than that: less time spent creating content means lesser quantity and/or quality of content. The exceptions (the very popular, the well-marketed, the extremely prolific, etc.) will just prove the rule.

I think a big reason for this cultural shift away from copyright is due largely to the ease of conducting the illegal acts, and a reason why board games are a poor candidate for "piracy" -- it is actual work to make your own homemade copy of most boardgames, whereas it is effortless to download (and make practical use of) a PDF or MP3 file.

This is what bothers me the most about the current trend -- that it is essentially saying, "It is very easy to get what I want illegally, therefore it should stop being illegal." I just don't think that way, I guess. I tried to make the following comparison with my friend, regarding the "it doesn't hurt sales" argument:

You are a carpenter. You make and sell tables for a living. You have several copies of a table in your store when Alice comes in and takes a table home to use -- she doesn't pay you, and she never intends to actually buy the table, but she takes it home for 3 months to use it, then returns it to your store. You never sell out of that model of table, so her taking it did not reduce your sales (and as I mentioned, she never intended to buy one anyway).

I think most people would agree that Alice is in the wrong in that scenario. Why do written words or performed music matter less than tangible goods? In all cases, the creator had a cost to produce the work (time, effort, materials, education, whatever) and then placed a value on that work. If you want to enjoy his work, you must pay that value.

Anti-copyright basically says that a creator does not deserve to be compensated for his work if technology allows us ignore his desire for compensation. That's the part that bugs me.

Willi B
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Mass Distribution

A library should not be a file sharing institution until a 10 year gap. Let the author make his money before you take away any chance that artist has of making a living at it.

Libraries and files sharing should wait 10 years before doing massive distribution (not just carrying a few copies that are negligible). When you do things electronically, that is the equivalent of being a mass-distributor and in COMPETITION with the artist and his publisher. Thus, you are literally taking away the food from the mouth of that artist. Once a 10 year mark is hit, mass distribute anything you like in the realm of entertainment.

Is it too much to ask to have people actually pay for something that took work to create? Or to at least request it from the library? The current book borrowing system is good, but some are arguing for more convenience... but that is at the cost of the creator without which there would be no file to share.

I want to make games... but I want to make money for making games as well. I may do a print and play option to promote it, but that should be my option.

bluesea
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Just had a listen to

Just had a listen to this:
http://www.softwarefreedom.org/podcast/2009/jan/20/0x05/

This podcast isn't entirely applicable to this discussion, but the history and background given in the first part of the podcast is very interesting and well worth a listen.

Redcap
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This comment is directed at

This comment is directed at larienna...

You are using hypotheticals to prove your point, which doesn't really prove or disprove anything; it is just hypothetical. It might happen, it might not.

I tell you what though , if you made a book and said I could download it for free, and it was good, I would download it for free. If you politely requested that I paid you money for that book and that I don't download it for free even if it is offered somewhere, I would not download it for free. I like you and respect your polite requests.

"Well redcap, larienna's book is just too good. We can't force people to pay for such a great idea that will revolutionize the world", exclaim the masses.

"But he asked us to pay..." is my simple reply.

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