Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Quotes 50¢

The digitized book or periodical is opening the door to all new potential revenue streams. Because digitization means info mining becomes easier; I can find any fact or word or phrase in any published work in only a few seconds.

Previously, a publisher or author could quote a source and give credit within the work to create payment: I cite you and give credit and you have no legal right to complain.

You published your book and maybe it made some money, but mostly, it didn't. And the source felt no bitterness at losing a piece of a pie that was never made.

But now, each and every word can be isolated and tracked and highlighted and aggregated and analyzed and valued. So then, if each and every word can have value, where does "fair use" end? The threat of an accusation of plagiarism is no longer enough. Is there now a point where compensation is required?

Let's say I quote you in my book. And you make the argument that there is a greater need for creators to know how much of their work is being shared or read or highlighted or critiqued than there is for the reader to retain her privacy, then a site like Amazon would be required to turn over statistics for which of your words are increasing in value.

I quote you. And my book becomes popular. And you find out that people are quoting you from the quote they found in my book. You could go back to my publisher and demand payment for what has now increased in value. Fair Use ends when it's no longer Fair. And you might take me to court to prove that it's no longer fair. And then others would let the courts decide where fairness ends and payment begins.

The point is, that when bits and pieces of longer works leave the pack to stand on their own, then there could be a reason to side with the creator and rule that money needs to change hands.

Can you imagine reading an ebook and suddenly finding that one of you favorite quotes has disappeared because the author didn't pay?

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