Friday, July 8, 2011

Carnegie's 19th century 'Cloud Storage System': a parable

Everybody knows Andrew Carnegie was a great philanthropist of libraries in the 19th century. But let us enter a fantasy world for a minute in which Carnegie sets up libraries which are made up almost entirely of books that were illegally copied.  

So now there are millions upon millions of counterfeit books stocking the shelves of newly-built libraries in towns large and small across America, Canada, Great Britain and Ireland ... and even in Belgrade. If this had really happened, is there any doubt that Andrew Carnegie would not be thought of today as a great philanthropist? Would there be any way to describe the Carnegie lbrary legacy as anything other than an unmitigated disaster for copyright and for authors?  Would it have made any difference in our estimation of Mr. Carnegie that he didn't actually create the unlawful copies himself nor was he sure that all 100% of the volumes in his library were counterfeit ?  

Why, then, is there hesitation to call Google Music Beta, Amazon cloud player and iCloud, as presently constituted without verification, an unmitigated disaster for copyright and for authors? Is this a “speaking truth to power issue”?

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