Thursday, August 11, 2005

More on ProQuest

The purpose of this blog, my fellow writers, is not to snow you. The UnSettlement releases defendant ProQuest for all of its databasing. This is an indirect indication that the class representatives have accepted a ProQuest argument that its is a non-infringing microform-style system.

In all candor, that argument has a little more heft than the pitiful rationalizations of some other defendants in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Tasini ruling. Photographers, for example, may have overreached in post-Tasini cases against National Geographic, which reaffirm the principle that the key is whether individual works within a collective work are presented “in context.” Library microfilm is the obvious model.

My point is that authors might win some and lose some in the final shape of comprehensive negotiations for a fair future rights regime. But in the meantime what gave the Authors Guild and their mouthpieces at Kohn, Swift & Graf the right to give away this piece of the negotiation in secret?

As long as we’re on the subject, let me add that I do not believe that the New York Times/ProQuest partnership hews to copyright law either. I’ve ordered my two 1989 New York Times Magazine articles from the ProQuest Archiver. Neither one is “in context.”

“Joe Montana: State of the Art” -- a profile of the star quarterback -- omits the inside frontispiece photo with the note: “Blocked due to copyright. See full page image or microfilm.” On the back-of-the-book “jump” pages the columns are repasted, like galleys, without the original adjoining advertisements. “Rich Makes His Pitch” -- a story about the city of Buffalo’s bid to land major league baseball -- has parallel idiosyncrasies and gaps.

So if the class representatives accepted the argument that ProQuest was kosher, I think they were lazy at best, corrupt at worst. What else is new when it comes to the UnSettlement?


Post a Comment

<< Home