Missing the point

Missing the point: The Authors Guild is crying foul about Amazon’s new book search feature claiming it may violate authors’ contracts. However, as Eugene Volokh points out, even if true, “Amazon would still have a decent fair use claim even if they can’t claim a contractural right.” I suggest the guild put the issue up for a vote by its membership before having such a mis-guided knee-jerk reaction as the one they appear to be having. Or, publishers should distribute a contract rider offer to their authors allowing them to include their books in one of the most powerful bookselling tools ever to be created. (via paidcontent.org)

  • Hudge

    Law of unintended consequence – what an incredible tool for researching term papers! You could have dozens of sources in your bibliography. Another unintended consequence – an incredible temptation to plagiarize and even more incredible tool for checking to see if plagiarism has occurred.

  • Rex Hammock

    I agree with all of your points, Bill. Although, I don’t view any of these as “unintended consequences.” The plagarism detector tool will become an instant hit with teaching assistants who run across a profoundly insightful and prosaic sentence in the context of blather. Also, the bibliographic tool is profound as well. I think serious researchers will purchase more books, while students will use it to help them find library books. Either way, it will get more books utilized and more authors explored. For the authors guild to view this as a threat to their members is ridiculous.

  • Hudge

    By unintended, I mean that the Amazon guy, what’s his name – it’s like ads, I can remember content but not whom it is supposed to benefit – probably didn’t peg the business model on the wonderful applications you mention – other than selling more books.

    I agree the author’s union is on the wrong side of this issue. If an author doesn’t want his or her stuff to be used, that would seem to be part of a contract negotiation with the publisher, not a union dictate (having been a union member once and coming from a family of union folks, I’ve seen the brilliance of union dictates.)

  • Rex Hammock

    Bezos (ol’ what’s his name) was very aware of the applications, I believe. And, he was very aware that the Amazon database is used everyday for all types of purposes he can never imagine. And as strange as this sounds, it’s not about selling books. It’s about our attention. It’s about using the Amazon search box as an extension of our central nervous system.

    He wants you and me and everyone else in the world to use the search box on Amazon.com in anyway we can dream up to use it.

    Why? Well, Google sells no books and very little product of any kind. However, it is now being estimated that when the company goes public next March (or thereabout), the company will be valued at $15 billion (a staggering dot.com era valuation).

    Jeff Bezos wants the Amazon.com search box to have the same valuation…and he will, if he keeps adding features like “search inside the book” to it.