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Stamp out starving writers, buy their books!

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Organized Crime and the University of Michigan

The Authors Guild, the Australian Society of Authors, the Union Des Bookcase verticalÉcrivaines et des Écrivains Québécois (UNEQ), and eight individual authors have filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in federal court against HathiTrust, the University of Michigan, the University of California, the University of Wisconsin, Indiana University, and Cornell University. Essentially, the suit accuses the University of Michigan the others of stealing copyrighted works and offering them to students and faculty members.

First, the universities obtained from Google unauthorized scans of an estimated 7 million copyright-protected books. (The rights to those works are held by authors in dozens of countries.) Next, the universities pooled the unauthorized files in a repository organized by the University of Michigan called HathiTrust. Then the University of Michigan decided, all on its own, that the copyrighted works were “orphans” — books whose copyright holders couldn’t be found.  And now the University of Michigan has announced plans to permit unlimited downloads by its students and faculty members of those copyright-protected works. Thus, the University is giving away books for which it has no rights and doing it without consulting the writers who posses those rights. Of course, the University isn’t giving away courses or any of its own intellectual property.  After all, you have to draw the line someplace.


More Notes

Tim Carmody, in his excellent piece, "How Haiti Became Poor", notes that President Trump's racist policies and vulgar language have sullied the word "shithole" which used to be one of the all-time great swear words. He's right. It's another terrible power this careless President wields.