A book is a storehouse of knowledge and experiences. It has several advantages.
A book is our best friend. In our society we have friends and foes. Even the so-called friends can cheat us in times. However, books are our never-failing friends. Just like a good friend, it gives us company during idle time. A good book guides us in our lives.
Books are the voices of wisdom, past and present. The knowledge stored up in them invites us and gives us joy.
We read books not only for instructions but also for entertainment. It is the most harmless occupation for using time in a productive manner. The bookshelves are the standing source of joy to all book-lovers. To an educated man there is no pleasure comparable to the pleasures of reading books. Books provide us with varieties of entertainment. Some give us loud laughter, some a smile and some only an unexpressed joy.
Books help us forget for a while the cares and anxieties of daily life. Those who can read books are lucky indeed. A reader of books forgets his worries for the time being and finds pleasure from it. Money cannot buy peace of mind. Power cannot heal our sorrows. Books can, when all other fail.
A book is the windows to the outside world. The books on traveling can take us into the jungles of Africa, to the desert of Sahara, to the top of Everest or to the ice-fields of the Arctic. And all the while we can relax in bed or on armchair.
A book can put us in the time-machine. It can take us the great minds of the past and the present. Books on antiquity bring vividly to us the world of the past. We go back in thought to the dim, old days of the past.
Books can broaden our mind and gladden our heart. We see into the secrets of life and universe in the books on science, religion and literature. We love books for all these reasons.
Knowledge itself is also a great source of pleasure. Books on expeditions and adventures fire our imagination. Detective stories give us thrills and keep us absorbed. From all these we derive both pleasure and surprise.
However, there are numerous books and we need choice of books. We do not have enough time and energy to read all these books. We know, good books ennoble our minds, while bad books pollute it. Our time is precious; we cannot waste it by reading trash. So, we should read those books which may be our best companions, which can enlarge our vision and make our life more meaningful.
Less hypothetically, when Carnegie Mellon University tried to digitize a collection of out-of-print books, one of every five turned out to be orphaned. When Cornell tried to post a collection of agricultural monographs online, half were orphans. The United States Holocaust Museum owns millions of pages of archival documents that it can neither publish nor digitize.
Of more than seven million works scanned by Google so far, four to five million appear to be orphaned. If Judge Chin approves the settlement in something close to its current form, the authors and publishers will let Google commercialize these works — sell them, display them online with ads, charge libraries for their use, and more. A portion of the money thus earned will go to Google outright; the rest will go to a new Book Rights Registry, where it will regularly be set aside for five years waiting for absent owners to claim it. At the end of each five-year period, all unclaimed funds will be distributed to the authors and publishers whose works the registry represents.
This is a smart way to untangle the orphan works mess, but it has some serious problems, the most obvious being that it treats orphans as if they were Brats who can be set to work for families who had no hand in their creation. Nothing in the history of copyright can possibly allow for such indenture. In an essay written late in life, James Madison explained that copyright is best viewed as “a compensation for a benefit actually gained to the community.” There were good reasons, he wrote, to give authors a “temporary monopoly” over their work, “but it ought to be temporary” because the long-term goal is to enrich public knowledge, not private persons.
Madison honors the same beneficiaries found in the Statute of Anne, the writer and the rest of us. In no case are third parties meant to profit, as the Google settlement would allow. To let them do so would be like letting an executor drain an estate whose rightful heirs cannot be found.
Surely there are better ways to dispose of orphan income. The Department of Justice in fact suggested one two weeks ago, when it issued a critique of the proposed settlement saying, among other things, that the court might do as we do with actual orphans: appoint a guardian to look out for them until they come of age. In this case, I believe, such a guardian would have to be charged with service to both the rights holders and the public good. He would have to try to find lost owners and pay them their due; should no owners be found, he would have to devise a way to release these works to the public domain. (He could simply require that users who’ve been charged for orphans get their money back, or that the fees Google charges libraries be lowered in proportion to revenue collected in error.)
The idea of a guardian obliged finally to serve public ends suggests a second way to expand Defoe’s metaphor. The Brat of the Brain has never been thought of the way that European nobility once thought of their land, as something to be handed down generation after generation. A copyright may be inherited, yes, but not in perpetuity. At this nation’s founding, “perpetuities” were understood to be one of the devices by which aristocracy maintained its power, and the founders therefore looked on forms of long-term ownership with a skeptical eye.
Jefferson especially believed that no generation had a right to bind those that followed. “The earth belongs . . . to the living,” he wrote to Madison in 1789; “the dead have neither powers nor right over it.” That being the case, “perpetual monopolies” in arts “ought expressly to be forbidden,” Jefferson’s own suggestion being that copyright run no more than 19 years.
Such time-limited ownership relocates inheritance to serve democratic rather than aristocratic ends. Where Europeans had shaped inheritance to serve powerful families, Americans would shape it so that something new under the sun — “the people” — might receive the legacy of all their forebears had created. The founders valued “civic virtue,” the honor that private citizens acquire by acting for the public good. By insisting that copyright exist only for “limited times” (as the Constitution says), they suggested a way that law itself might engender virtue, transforming the fruits of human imagination from private into common wealth by the mere passage of time.
The point here, of course, is that the parties to the Google settlement are asking the judge to let them be orphan guardians but without any necessary obligation to the public side of the copyright bargain. Quite the opposite: if Judge Chin grants them a pass to profit from orphan works, he will also be granting them a private monopoly in digital books.
Why? Because the Google case is a class-action lawsuit structured such that it will bind all rights holders unless they opted out by a deadline that passed last month. The missing owners of orphan works could not do that, of course; by definition they don’t even know this litigation concerns them. Now, included by default in the proposed settlement, their Brats are being readied for trade.
That does free the orphans from copyright limbo, but here’s the catch: They will effectively belong only to Google and the other settling parties. It will be almost impossible for any other online player to get the same right to use them. The only way a potential competitor could avoid the threat of statutory damages would be to do what Google did: scan lots of books, attract plaintiffs willing to form a class with an “opt out” feature, negotiate a settlement and get it approved by a judge. Even for those with time and money to spare, that promises to be an insurmountable barrier to entry.
Thus does the settlement portend Google’s unlimited dominion over electronic books. By aggregating the monopoly power latent in each orphan, the proposed agreement doesn’t just get the Brats to work on Google’s farm; it secures for Google a lasting monopoly in this newest of book trades. Talk about making hay!Continue reading the main story