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back to article Top Brit authors turn flamethrowers on barmy IPO

Britain's best-loved storytellers turned their fire on the People's Revolutionary Council of Newport yesterday – otherwise known as the Intellectual Property Office. The IPO wants to use the power of the state to rob authors of the right to see any royalties from sales into education. Just like that. And no, this is not a joke. …

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Anonymous Coward

Google: ....

All your politicians are belong to us.

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Unhappy

Clueless.

What else is there to say.

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If the governmennt does not want to pay royalties on textbooks ...

... they can hire an author to write a textbook. They could require their teachers to spend one hour per month updating a wiki that becomes a set of textbooks and pay a software consulting firm £130,000,000 per year to maintain the wiki. Plenty of solutions without resorting to copyright infringement.

By the way, ideas are not concrete objects. If the supermarket has 100 bottles of wine, and I steal 10 copies of each, and the supermarket still has 100 bottles of wine then the laws that apply to ideas could bear some relation to the laws that apply to property. Until someone can demonstrate such a theft, the term intellectual property remains an oxymoron.

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Thumb Down

Arsehole ...

Wine is renewable give it a year and you can have another bunch of grapes. So what if I've taken your current supply the vines are still there, and even if I'd grubbed them out you can still replant scions, all you have to do is wait a few years, you haven't actually lost any thing. Not evebn the bottles as I dumped them in the recycle bin.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If the governmennt does not want to pay royalties on textbooks ...

re: Ideas...

If I ride on a train without paying for the ticket, or park a car in a car park, without paying, I've not lost anyone anything. Why should they object?

I think a better way is to look at who profits on whose efforts.

If I park my car or take the train, I profit from something which it is generally accepted I should actually have to pay for. A company doesn't profit from a service provided, but you know it was inconceivable that I would be paying for that service because it's not of sufficiently high quality and/or it costs too much.

If I copy a book, I profit, again from something which it is generally accepted that I should pay for. Furthermore, it's likely that the author will start to not bother about writing any more books, if people don't bother paying for them, or they may just write vampire trash as the lowest common denominator where they have the best chance to sell their work.

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FAIL

Re: Arsehole ... (rhymes with dumb troll)

That is the stupidest argument in favour of theft I ever saw!

"So what if I've taken your current supply"

Because that supply cost something to produce. Land, raw materials (the vines, stuff to help make the vines grow), harvesting, production (grapes don't squeeze themselves you know), marketing, shipping...

The grapes may, literally, grow on vines. But without all the other things (which cost time and money) they won't be becoming wine any time soon.

In the meantime, while I wait for those grapes to grow back, what am I going to do about the supply which I paid to create and which I'm not going to get any income from because you stole it? Well, your skin is renewable too, maybe I can peel you and use it as fertilizer. Don't worry, it'll only be a minor inconvenience, it'll grow right back and you haven't lost anything really.

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Re: Arsehole ... (rhymes with fell dowm hole)

Do you not think that books also take time to create, and if some one has copied and distributed the work they have effectively destroyed the market? Films also take time to create, a large number of people may have been involved in creating the costumes, and the props, and the soundtrack. If someone has copied and distributed the work then they again have destroyed the market for the work.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Arsehole ... (rhymes with fell dowm hole)

Can you name any successful authors, musicians or film makers that have stopped writing books, making music or releasing films primarily because someone "destroyed the market" for their product?

Funny, neither can I.

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Boffin

Re: Arsehole ... (rhymes with dumb troll)

There's probably a word for "failure to recognise irony".

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Pint

All your royalties are belong to us

That's not really the lesson I wanted them to learn from the freetards...

Beer, when will it be free?

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Not very much apparently

I love the internets:

-------------------------

From: Fuck you <Fuckyou@you.com>

Subject: Reg reader comment: Top Brit authors turn flamethrowers on barmy IPO

Date: 8 March 2012 09:30:21 GMT

To: Andrew Orlowski <andrew.orlowski@theregister.com>

A Reg reader has the following comments to make on the story Top Brit authors turn flamethrowers on barmy IPO. The request to send this message came from the IP address 212.---.---.---

Fuck you.

-------------------------

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MJI
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Facepalm

Re: Not very much apparently

We have comments - you get this.

We may not agree - we may agree - no excuse for rudeness.

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Re: Not very much apparently

Sort of a shame then that you chose to start your article with an insult.

"Moral high ground" Look it up.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not very much apparently

Wtf? Did I miss something? You didn't even express an opinion.

No wonder there's no FotW anymore. Nobody cares about quality these days.

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I don't know if it's the same in the UK

... but here in Ireland the textbook publishers have a lovely little scam going where they change the textbooks every year, so that they can't be passed on second-hand. Also a lot are of the type where you have to write into the actual textbook, so even if you could pass them on, they'd be useless. This is the sort of thing governments should be looking at.

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JC_
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Re: I don't know if it's the same in the UK

Indeed, the only changes to the text are minor layout modifications (so page & line number references are no longer the same). Replace the practise questions & answers in the back, give the teacher the new edition for free and all then the students have no choice but to buy it.

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Pint

Re: I don't know if it's the same in the UK

Minor revisions in textbooks have been common in the states for over 40 years now... Used to be every 2-3 years, the author/publisher would come out with a new edition, the college professors would get a free copy, and then would specify that only THAT particular edition could be used in the class... Meanwhile the price of textbooks has gone into the stratosphere... Back in the late 60's when I was in college it would cost me $100-150 for the textbooks for a year. Now you're lucky to get off with less than $300-500 PER SEMESTER. It's not unusual for one textbook to cost $150, and the instructor requires the textbook, a workbook, and maybe some other book or two, which you'll open one time. And there's a new edition every year.

I need a glass of wine, but I guess horse piss will have to do.

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Anonymous Coward

The book business has no intention of making the same mistakes as the music business

...such as suing members of the public – and it is welcoming digital markets rather than fighting them.

What said that?

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Re: The book business has no intention of making the same mistakes as the music business

They may not be making exactly the same mistakes as the music biz, but they are still making some bloody stupid ones.

It is ridiculous that several years after the release of a book the ebook prices will often still remain at the launch (hardback or sometimes more) pricing, I've seen cases where an electronic copy of a book costs over double the cost of the paperback, even taking shipping into account! Seems fairly hard to justify that one to me ...

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WTF?

Garbage ...

If this ever came into law I can see authors explicitly stating that their body of work is not for use by and/or sale to education establishments.

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Re: Garbage ...

My thoughts exactly. If I were an author, which sadly I'm not, I would explicitly state that my works were not for sale in schools/colleges etc.

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JC_
FAIL

Re: Garbage ...

That would be a problem for the 2 seconds it would take to pass a law that voids any such restrictions.

Regardless of whether this is fair or not (and I'm not saying it is), it's refreshing to hear discussion about copyright being made more limited, rather than extended again and again and again...

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Headmaster

Yes, true, but

"I'm pretty sure if I went to my local supermarket, stole 19 bottles of wine and sold them outside, I wouldn't be walking free today."

Well, no you wouldn't. But while it doesn't excuse the bootleggers' behaviour, to do what they did to your books you'd have to go into your local supermarket, make 19 cheap copies of bottles of wine and sell them outside. Not theft but fraud, and a more appropriate analogy should really be used.

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Unhappy

EBooks versus Traditional Books

I believe this debate is around how many reuses a electronic book should be allowed within a school and are eBooks as worthwhile for authors as traditional books.

Currently when a school receives a paper book they are allowed to wrap it in stiff plastic wrapper to extend the books life through many sets of grubby little hands. This usually gives a book an average life of 10 uses. Some are longer some are shorter. Depends how well the book is made and how popular it is with the kids .

Book houses are proposing that when electronic books are issued to schools the digital books are restricted to 6 uses as well as a time frame before a book has to be repurchased with no regard for how many times it is issued.

I believe Julia is more concerned with the closing of traditional library's as she will sell much less traditional books. Moving schools to electronic books holds nothing for authors as they won't be repaid for reissues as the electronic licenses will remain with eBook house which are different organisations from the traditional book houses.

The current moves of the ConDem government is to get better value from schools is driving the move to eBooks as they are cheaper. No Library, No Librarian's, no storage, no transport cost. Fixed costs every year. Perfect for the ConDem world.

So i think this is less about copyright but more around this governments efforts to rid this fine country of our Library's and free access to education.

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Not just text books.

There is an argument that various bits of Government use from time to time.

"Because you are writing this for the Public Sector, the IPO belongs to us, because you wouldn't write it if we werem't there"

This is so that they think they can collect the royalties if you resell it, usually what happens when they win the argument, is that they demand far more in royalties than a commercial organisation would do, and thus never sell another copy.

It's the obvious next step, in the mind of a cost saving government Agency. Don't pay for IPO, and then market it as you own.

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Boffin

Re: Not just text books.

Not all schools are public-sector.

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WTF?

Lobby the IPO

The link to comment directly to the idiots at the IPO is here:

http://www.ipo.gov.uk/pro-policy/consult/consult-live/consult-2011-copyright.htm

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g e
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WTF?

Ooookaayyyy

So it's OK for the gov to steal royalties from starving artisans but not joe public when a rich (and generous-to-politicans) corporation gets its shit downloaded by Joe Public who may never actually have bought it otherwise anyway...

Tidy, as they say in the Western Land of the Druids

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Re: Ooookaayyyy

Two wrongs make a right, you say?

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Re: Ooookaayyyy

No but is it reasonable that eBooks cost the Public Sector more than the current paper based versions?

So any saving made by the Government in closing Library's and detrimentally affecting our children's future is fed to MegaCorp.

I'm supporting Library's and our children's future as well as the public purse.

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Re: Ooookaayyyy

Solution: Use proper books and don't close libraries. Simples.

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Re: Ooookaayyyy

@Irish donkey

"is it reasonable that eBooks cost the Public Sector more than the current paper based versions?"

Until the reuse license issue is sorted, vs wear and tear of physical books, the relative value of paper vs ebooks is still debatable.

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Happy

Re: Ooookaayyyy

Good point but if eBooks are going to cost the same as Paper Books. Why spend all the money on eBook readers and infrastructure to support their use. Sounds more like another Gubbermint IT Elephant

Using eBooks should be cheaper and easier because I for one enjoy a good paper book.

And what would Christmas be like. Here I bought you a eBook. I'll email it to you. Its hardly the same

Just keep Library's open and then every child in the country can enjoy a real book.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ooookaayyyy

How many starving artisans spoke at this Publishers Association Seminar?

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Anonymous Coward

Buy the IP for the books...

The government could just pay a fixed sum and buy out the IP. So set up an open tender to pay for the IP for already created content (ie not paying for 'writers' and a 'writing process'). Then provide the content as open source with wiki-style editing, possibly paying an editor to ensure harmonisation and appropriate revision.

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Devil

Abso-bloody-lutely

I don't see why they don't do this now. Pay some people to create the books for them, then copy as many times as they like.

No problem.

These authors probably ought to shut up quick-sharp, before everyone realises they're unnecessary.

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Re: Buy the IP for the books...

Lot of sense spoken there, which is why it won't be listened to. After all, why change the way you source educational material? That sounds like a lot of work when you can rewrite the rules to stop paying without changing your behaviour.

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Re: Abso-bloody-lutely

They don't do this now because that would be against "the market". It would be "big government", which is Satan's own political system eh wot, doncha know.

Funnily enough, there is one area where educational materials *are* centrally funded: Gaelic-medium education in Scotland. The Mail, the Tax-Payers' Alliance et al will immediately jump up and down about the thousands being spent on a-language-that-isn't-God's-own-English, and completely fail to do the sums... under which they'd find that centrally commissioned material is actually head-for-head cheaper than stuff subject to market forces.

You can explain this to an economist in two words: "reduced risk", yet somehow the idea that reducing competition reduces efficiency (which is generally true, but not applicable here) leaves them incapable of accepting this simplest of simple law of economics.

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FAIL

Re: Abso-bloody-lutely

Why don't you just do it then?

Oh- lack the talent, perhaps; they say that everyone has a novel in them...but that's where 99% of them should stay.

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Re: Abso-bloody-lutely

I'm not talking about novels, I'm talking about text books which do not require creativity in anything like the same order, and can be commissioned to order.

I'm suggesting that these are written like software - to order, by employees or contractors, so that the commissioning party owns the result. As a software engineer I don't own the IP to the software I create as part ofd my job. I don't see why this model can't be applied to textbooks.

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bummer. i am writing (of getting some ideas down) for a childrens book that i want to write for my son.

it would be annoying for all schools to suddenly be able to give out free copies if it goes well.

on the other hand - was mine the only school to just photocopy anything it wanted and only have 1 of certain books?

ref the Gruffalo woman - not much sympathy. we have 2 of the books as my son likes them. i saw the DVD in asda. £9 for 26 minute cartoon seems a rip-off to me!

why do kids need ebooks anyway? they are more expensive to buy, the ereaders cost more to initially purchase too and im sure little kids will break them easily. surely with austerity measures to us all we dont need to be wasting cash on such things? what is wrong with actual cheap books?

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Anonymous Coward

Childrens' book

Do yourself a favour once you've written that book, and get someone else to proof-read the punctuation eh?

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Ros
Childcatcher

Your school probably wasn't doing anything wrong. The Copyright Licensing Agency sells licenses to schools so they can do that sort of thing. They monitor what gets copied and sort out these hard-to-collect payments on behalf of authors.

I agree with you about giving primary school kids ereaders, it's not going to be cost effective unless they're reading a lot of books that are out of copyright. They could get broken deliberately or break down, and they're not as accessible as paper, especially when you forget to charge them. And of course they're nowhere near as visually appealing as a shiny new book illustrated in full colour.

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Re: Childrens' book

@ Do yourself a favour once you've written that book, and get someone else to proof-read the punctuation eh?

yeah, i was in a rush. i wrote it in notepad whilst doing other things and didnt check it over. i dont think internet threads are the right place for nicely constructed prose to be honest.

i also dont bother with apostrophes either when online, as you can see :)

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Headmaster

Re: Childrens' book

Or capitalize I or initial letters in sentences.

Does give your posts that nice "I don't care you have problems with how it looks, be glad I'm replying at all" feel...

I do think internet threads are the right place for proper punctuation and spelling - it does help in more easily understanding what somebody said... But who knows, I might be wrong, being a foreigner and all...

PS: in contrast to others in the optional punctuation department, you did reply, tell us your viewpoint and... it must be said, quite coherently. Kudos for that.

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Anonymous Coward

One Rule for Them, One for Us

It seems the bureaucrats are allowing legalized piracy simply because they can yet, on the other hand there's sanctions against illegal downloads of music. Why should people respect the law if the IPO can circumnavigate it to the government's benefit (as presumably they can shave millions off the education budget) whenever they like?

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Dodgy reporting

Having read the document on exemption for educational purposes (http://www.ipo.gov.uk/consult-ia-bis0317.pdf) there are a number of options listed

Option 0 – Do nothing

Option 1 – Expand the types of works covered by education exceptions and enable copies to be communicated to students via interactive displays

Option 2 – Increase the proportion of a copyright work that can be copied under the education exceptions

Option 3 – Expand the definition of current education exceptions to enable distance learners to access educational materials over secure networks.

Option 4 – Widen the definition of an ‘educational establishment’

Option 5 – Remove the ability of licensing arrangements to restrict the use of exceptions

Option 6 – Implement all of Options 1-5

And for option 5, the IPO states clearly.

"Copyright owners will experience costs due to lost licensing income. The extent depends upon how many of Options 1 to 4 are implemented in combination with this Option, and how much of the uses covered by Options 1 to 4 are covered by existing licensing schemes. Owners of literary copyright could lose up to £24.6m p.a. (CLA payments); broadcast copyright owners could lose up to £7.2m (payments from ERA), but it is likely costs will be lower (see p20). Other rights owners may be less affected."

So its not like they are hiding things. And who will decide the law - the MPs not the IPO.

i've have been more impressed if you'd mentioned that you can write to "Taffy Yiu" at the IPO.

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Silver badge

The same mistakes, or different ones, lead to a similar outcome

"The book business has no intention of making the same mistakes as the music business – such as suing members of the public – and it is welcoming digital markets rather than fighting them."

It won't help them all that much. As e-reading becomes more popular, expect piracy to further undermine authors' ability to make a living from writing.

Incidentally, there is and was no strategy that the music industry could have implemented that would have prevented the situation they are now in: what they were and are up against is the tech companies that massively profit from piracy, and end-users who want everything they want, for free. What kind of business strategy could overcome that? Any remedies must come from legislation and law enforcement.

If there is one factor that might mitigate the effects on piracy on the publishing business, it is that a physical book and an e-book are vastly different experiences, as opposed to music being the pretty nearly same irrespective of its being listened to as a stolen file on an mp3 player or on a cd player as a purchased, physical item. (And don't tell me about bitrates and frequency response; I know all about it. Few people care.)

And, of course, the amount of music one can consume vastly outstrips the number of books one can consume.

And someone will have to explain to me why suing downloaders is a bad strategy. After all, by definition, someone who is downloading files illegally is hardly a paying customer. Actually it seems to me that the risk of being sued might be the only possible way to deter downloaders. (I seem to recall reading a study that said that those RIAA lawsuits actually had helped to either reduce or slow the growth of piracy, but I can not find the link now.) After all, what is a downloader going to do? Stop listening to music? Download again and riskget sued again? Boycott the music? What difference would boycotting the music make, if the boycotters stealing rather than purchasing, anyway?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The same mistakes, or different ones, lead to a similar outcome

"Incidentally, there is and was no strategy that the music industry could have implemented that would have prevented the situation they are now in: what they were and are up against is the tech companies that massively profit from piracy, and end-users who want everything they want, for free. What kind of business strategy could overcome that? Any remedies must come from legislation and law enforcement."

There has always been music piracy and piracy is easier than ever. But instead of trying to offset that by taking advantage of tech's ability to reduce distribution costs and make it easy to consume, what did they do?

They competed to monopolize the market instead of collaborating to create a better market. On top of that they thought digital meant they could protect IP with DRM. Then what happened?

Companies took them up on their offer, and then became dominant suppliers who could start dictating terms back to them.

They were one good, open API from success and blew it.

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