U.S. Copyright Office Releases Report on Orphan Works and Mass Digitization (InfoDocket)

The Report documents the legal and business challenges faced by good faith users who seek to use orphan works and/or engage in mass digitization projects.

The TeleRead Take: Slow progress on this issue, but still, progress. I think this is an important, and often overlooked topic.

Five Authors Who Will Inspire You to Fight the System (Book Riot)

Activism is exhausting. It’s all very well to say that you’re going to be proactive and fight the power but actually doing it? Day after day after day? That takes stamina and inspiration.

The TeleRead Take: If you are looking to break out of a genre rut and try something new, these Book Riot lists are great starting points.

How to Self-Publish Your Books on a Budget (Media Shift)

Putting together a quality book involves not just writing it, but getting it edited and formatted, designing a cover, and having a marketing strategy around it.

The TeleRead Take: A good overview, although I think it over-complicates the process some. I have been both writing and editing directly into Sigil for my stuff—it’s free, includes such frills as spell check, and makes an ePub file. I don’t have to convert later, and my book is ready to go.

A Publishing Insider Turns The Page On A Bygone World In ‘Muse’ (NPR)

When he took the plunge into fiction, Galassi followed that age-old advice: Write what you know.

The TeleRead Take: A fictional take on the ‘legacy’ publishing model, while it was going on. Cool!

Power Beamed to Camera via Ambient WiFi signals (BBC)

Wi-fi signals have been used to beam power to a surveillance camera.
The battery-free camera was modified so it could scavenge power from ambient wi-fi signals, store it and then use it to take photos.
The experiment was one of several by US researchers looking at ways to use wi-fi as a power source.

The TeleRead Take: The BBC notes the possibilities of this tech for The Internet of Things. Both positives and negatives here. This could make Big Brothering a lot easier than before in certain situations.

Kindle Daily Deal: The Perfect Assassin (and others)

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  1. Blame Google for why the orphan works issue flamed up and then died out unresolved years ago. Google in its greedy SOBs stealing content from others mode, tried to treat virtually any out-of-print work in an academic library as a free-for-the-taking orphan work. That’s all the university library scanning they did and the resulting lawsuit by the Authors Guild.

    Google’s argument, that any work out of print was free for the taking and posting, could not have been more in violation of the Berne Convention, which could not be clearer in its insistence that out of print and even never printed works are fully protected.

    Google’s claims about orphanhood were bogus and diverted attention from the real problem. There are a host of books, magazine articles and the like that have truly been orphaned. I found an article in a 1920s magazine that was so marvelously written, I wanted to read more from the author. Unfortunately, the author was apparently an ordinary guy who never wrote anything else for publication. If I’d want to republish his article, there was literally no clue as to who his was apart from his rather common name and that he had a wife and three daughters. And to make matters more complicated, the magazine was no more.

    In contrast, the books Google was treated as orphaned were almost textbook cases of books whose authorship is easily tracked. Someone significant enough to have written a 1,000 page scholarly work on the French revolution was, in almost every case, a university professor and part of a close-knit and small profession. Tracing who they were and the latter events of their life is incredibly easy.

    I can even give an example. In the 1980s, I became interested in a book from the 1930s by a book by a UC-Berkeley professor. I contacted his department and within a week they had put me in touch with a retired professor who’d known him well. That would not have solved all the copyright issues, but it totally removed his book from the orphan category.

    The real problem in cases like that are legal ones. Wills typically aren’t required to assign intellectual property rights. In fact, you’d be surprised to discover that even some prominent authors died with their copyrights unassigned. John Steinbeck’s rights fell into the residuals provisions of his will, and the result has been a legal mess as to who owns those rights. Last I heard, they’re now in the hands of the children of his third and last wife who aren’t his children. His own children (I know his daughter-in-law personally) have no control over his copyrights despite their efforts.

    The rest of the blame for the orphan problem and every other deficiency issue in our copyright laws rests in Congress and the members of both parties. They’re eager to please those with lobbyists. Obamacare is a mess because in its case what was passed pleased four powerful lobbies: insurance companies, drug companies, hospitals, and AMA-like physicians. The public had no significant impact on the result, hence all the disasters that have followed.

    But with copyright, there’s no consensus among those who have K Street lobbyists. Google, among others, wants copyright to be as loosey-goosey as possible. The major book publishers want the exact opposite. They want to protect their backlist even if it remains out of print. In between is the entertainment industry, which wants to be able to ‘borrow’ freely from authors, but wants what they create to be protected until the end of time. There’s no way to please special interests who differ that much, so Congress does not even try.

    Better hop down off my hobby horse. I have a book for nurses, Senior Nurse Mentor: Fixing What Ails Hospital Nursing Morale, that I need to proof one more time and then send off to all the usual outlets. I want nurses to read it so much, the digital editions are going to be free.

    –Michael W. Perry

  2. @TheFiveAuthors

    One of them seems to be a concession to popularity. How about a substitute? Taking a que from a recent comment elsewhere, I’d vote for Upton Sinclair who aimed for the heart and hit the belly. But what a hit! It changed the way we eat. He was also one of the most devoted authors to a cause and could teach activism. Of course, young readers will not feel as attracted to him as the other.

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