29 January 2010

GBS Update

The Settlement (in essay form)
The Lawsuit (in essay form)

Just a quick update on the fun and games: Yesterday (28 January) was the deadline for objecting to or opting out of the GBS Amended Settlement. I've had endless microseconds of amusement reading the submissions this morning, which largely track what I've been complaining about since the lawsuit was first filed.

The essential problem underlying this entire mess can be summed up in one word: Ego.

  • Google's egotistical assumption that — contrary to two thousand years of history in the West — it could ask forgiveness rather than get permission for a misuse of someone else's intellectual property, and expect to get away with it.
  • Google's egotistical assumption that because its motto is "Don't Be Evil," it isn't... neglecting that villains almost never consider themselves evil outside of Bond films and bad comic books.
  • The Authors['] Guild's egotistical assumption that it represents all authors.
  • The Authors['] Guild's egotistical assumption that it even understood copyright law.
  • The University of Michigan's egotistical assumption that, as a "library," it has the right to do anything it wants with copies that are in its collection... presuming that it gets a piece of the action.
  • The participating publishing companies' egotistical assumption that they control any of the rights at issue for orphan works, for works that have gone out of print, and/or for works under old contracts that don't explicitly transfer electronic rights.
  • The settling lawyers' egotistical assumption that they understood the mechanics of class-action settlements.
  • Just about every commercial participant's egotistical assumption that it's about money.
  • Just about every submitter's egotistical assumption that he/she/they could write as well, or as clearly, on these complex issues as did Ursula Le Guin.