Sunday, January 20, 2019

Controlled Digital Lawlessness

"CDL" is an acronym for "Controlled Digital Lending", and the trouble with CDL is, it is controlled and run by persons who have absolutely no right to copy, publish, or distribute copyrighted works to the public.

The Authors Guild is taking it very seriously, saying, "We must stop this Controlled Digital Lending nonsense in its tracks," and "...for those books not yet available in ebook format, CDL usurps that market before the author has even had a chance..."

One of the problem organizations is Internet Archive's "Open Library", which is starting to refuse to remove copyright infringing books from its collection, when authors request a takedown. Allegedly, Internet Archive is citing CDL as a justification for their alleged piracy.

If you object to CDL, sign here.

As good example of usurpation of a book by a living author is described by Matt Enis who gives the Librarian perspective on "CDL". Apparently, this topical book was loaned out 27,000 times, which is 27,000 sales the author could not make. The CDL folks see this demand as making their case for digital lending without the permission of a copyright owner!

Sixty-four people have signed a document --a white paper-- putting forward their plan to normalize and legalize digital lending. Much to his credit, Matt Enis points out, that there is no first sale lending right for digital copies under copyright law, and that because of the effect of digital lending on sales, recent best sellers are not good candidates (for permissionless scanning, copying, and unauthorized lending.)

What is a "white paper", and can anyone write one?

Apparently, a "white paper" is someone's opinion on the way things ought to be, and the more people who sign it, the greater its perceived authority. It's not law, but activists would like to cite their white paper as proof of legitimacy.

One has to be careful of weasel words like "white paper". Parse advertisements some time. You cannot escape them, so you might as well amuse yourself by looking for the loopholes.

For instance, "scientifically tested" does not mean "scientifically proven".
" #1 dentist approved..." is a case where lack of punctuation creates ambiguity. Does "Number 1" describe the prestige of one particular dentist, or does "Number 1" refer to the product and "dentist-approved" is an additional adjective describing the product?

It's not just American authors who take issue with CDL.

Porter Anderson, writing for Publishing Perspectives reports that the UK's Society Of Authors is also up in arms about unauthorized lending out of California.

The British authors' society has given the Internet Archive until February 1st, 2019 to take down UK authors' works, and to prevent its inventory of ebooks from being loaned to readers in the UK.

By contrast, and speaking of lawlessness in high places, Justin Trudeau just appointed an alleged piracy enthusiast as Canada's Attorney General.

Canada's top lawman says that "current normative structures" (or, our laws and morality) "ought to be adapted" (ie, changed) "to reflect..." (his own liberal)  "understanding of the impulse to share..."  He is talking about music in this context, but what he means is that piracy ought to be considered lawful and normal, because piracy is popular.

If CDL cannot be stopped, at least there ought to be PLR. That's Public Lending Right, and it means that every time a book or ebook is loaned out by a library, its author receives a small royalty.

All the best,

Rowena Cherry

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