Internet and Computers

The Copyright Wars Pop Up on Indigo

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I haven’t heard yet what Indigo (chapters.indigo.ca) is going to do about its Terms of Service (TOS). I’ve been informed that the “legal team is working very hard to tackle the issue as soon as possible. They are discussing the Terms of Use at length with other legal experts to ensure your concerns are properly addressed.”

And so while I wait to hear what the lawyers have to say (which I’m sure will be couched in the most cover-the-ass gobbledygook), I’ve been involved in a conversation about copyright with a young Indigo employee. Every time I think the conversation is petering out, it rises up again. Copyright is definitely a hot topic. The discussion is frustrating and engaging. It’s enlightening about how some young minds think and informative about copyright. And it’s come close to degenerating to all-out war.

It makes for a rivetting read — you’ve got to check it out! — and I’m still mulling over what to do with what I’ve learnt. One thing I ought to do is digitally protect my writings on this website better. And if I could afford it, I would digitally watermark my photographs. It’s a sad, sad day that I must do this. It’s sad that people feel entitled to steal and take ownership of words and pictures just because it’s out in the public sphere, yet the whole point of art is for public consumption. Balancing public consumption with retaining ownership is a fine line that rests on the respect of all consumers and companies towards artists. Perhaps the tension created by the few who give no respect will never be resolved, and artists will always be fighting the copyright wars, only the turf will change from generation to generation.

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Internet and Computers

Copyright, Moral Right Theft Continued: The Indigo Chapters Version

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So because of the Facebook debacle and after reading a blog post comparing* various Terms of Service (TOS), I checked out the TOSes of the social media websites I belong to. I left the Indigo Chapters community to last — in fact I didn’t even think about it, being Canadian and aimed at serving authors, until I happened to log on — and was shocked at what I read. Now, I know I have trouble reading, and had real trouble with comprehending technical passages when I signed up for Indigo Chapters Community over a year ago, but I’m sure I would have gone haring off in the other direction when I read this and understood what it meant:

“The User acknowledges that any content, e-mails, postings, offers, software, videos, photos, text, graphics, music, sounds, questions, creative suggestions, messages, feedback, ideas, recipes, notes, drawings, articles, stories or other information, data, materials and opinions (including, without limitation any postings on community forums) (“Submissions”) that he or she may provide, e-mail, post, upload or otherwise transmit to the Website shall be deemed and shall remain the property of Indigo, including all copyright, without reservation, and User waives in favour of Indigo any and all moral rights in such Submissions. “

What people were outraged about with Facebook was their attempt at copyright theft; but here Indigo says outright it’s taking copyright away from the users and with no compensation whatsoever. Unlike most social media sites, it doesn’t even acknowledge that users ought to have the right to retain copyright on their own work. In addition, it’s claiming that we’re waiving our moral rights too. Now, I’m not sure they can actually enforce the latter without a signature on our part, but it would take a lot of dough to take them to court to find out plus no one could do it unless they discovered a misuse of their works in which their name was still attached.

So what do I do? I’ll probably remain a member because, unlike with Facebook, I have to enter all my content manually. For comments in community forums, where I write small snippets, copyright theft will be no big deal…except that it pisses me off and with waiving moral rights, we’re all opening ourselves up to having our words used in a way that we wouldn’t agree with yet still having our name attached to them.

I’ll definitely stop posting longer writings and reviews. I was thinking of replacing reviews with links to them here on my website, until I read this totally incomprehensible clause:

“By including a link to the Website on a Third Party Site, User automatically grants, and represents and warrants that it has the right to grant, to Indigo an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use the Website in order to link to, use, copy, publish, stream, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part), summarize, and distribute the content, links and other materials of any kind residing on any web pages on which User places the link.”

Maybe I shan’t post a link after all. This is waaaaayyyy too complicated to read and to understand. If someone can explain it to me and all my readers, that would be great!

I’m starting to understand why all these rights grabs: in the knowledge economy corporations compete by not hiring original creators, instead they acquire their money-making content for free through these TOSes without any responsibility, either in payment or in ethical use, to the creator.

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*The author Amanda L. French, Ph.D, summarized Facebook’s TOS in terms of those from other social media thusly (her blog may be down from too many hits, that’s why I’ve copied it here):

Conclusion? Go ahead and be outraged. Facebook’s claims to your content are extraordinarily grabby and arrogant. Here’s the rundown, which I go through in more detail below:

  1. Facebook apparently wants to keep all its rights to your stuff after you remove it from Facebook, and even after you delete your Facebook account; they just removed the lines that specified that their rights end when your content comes down. Nobody else (of those I looked at) would dream of that; mostly they specifically state that their rights to your content end when you remove the content from their site or delete your account.
  2. This one kills me: Facebook claims it can do whatever it wants with your content if you put a Share on Facebook link on your web page. Unbelievable–and unique, as far as I can tell. People can post links in Facebook to your content just by copying and pasting the URL, but if you want to save them a few keystrokes by putting a link or a widget on your site, Facebook claims that you’ve granted them a whole mess of rights. Count me out.
  3. Other sites point out in their terms of service that you still own your content: Facebook doesn’t mention that little fact. Facebook also neglects to remind you that you’re giving other Facebook users rights to your Facebook content, too — YouTube, for example, makes it clear that other people besides YouTube have a right to use and spread around the videos you upload. In general, other sites’ terms of service just have a more helpful tone.
Bookstores

Connecting to Community

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I spread my presence across the bookstore Net and then realised I was overextended. I signed up for Amazon Connect awhile ago. It’s similar to chapters.indigo.ca Community; in fact the Community is probably a take-off of Connect. I tried to stay current with both, but in the end, especially after all of Amazon’s shenanigans, I’ve let the Amazon Connect profile ride and participate on  and off in the Chapters Indigo Community.

They each have their strengths and weaknesses. I like the Community’s shelves, a sort of virtual replica of one’s bookshelves and CD holders and the fact that you can sign out. But Amazon Connect is soooo much easier to figure out and to find people on it, as long as you’re in the right area of Amazon.com. In contrast, it’s taken me awhile to figure out the Community, and I really don’t like the fact that it doesn’t automatically pull in my blog. Also, their FAQ on whether one can see a person’s profile on the community without being a member of the community wasn’t very helpful. Sure you can, they blithely answered, omitting the small detail of how to find a profile.

My own profile isn’t linked to Lifeliner on the book page, nor does there seem to be a people search feature as on Connect. But since I did happen to mention my book in one of the blogs I posted on the Community, there’s a link to the blog post on the Lifeliner page and hence to my profile. And voilà, I’m found. Sheesh. Connect doesn’t put my profile on the Lifeliner page either. It seems to me that if they want authors to have profiles, the least they could do is put a link or icon or something that a reader can click on to go to my profile. The best part about it is it’s a Canadian community focussed on Canadian authors and readers, which gives it a friendly feel.

Unfortunately, as far as I can see, Amazon.ca does not have the Amazon Connect feature. It doesn’t even list my book as in stock. Now there’s irony for you: even though people have ordered copies of Lifeliner from it, the Canadian subsidiary of Amazon is the only one of the three (US, UK, and Canada) that lists Lifeliner — a Canadian book by a Canadian author on a Canadian topic — as out of stock.

So if you’re an Amazon.com fan, you can find my Connect profile here. And if you prefer chapters.indigo.ca, you can find my Community profile here.

Bookstores

Lifeliner at World’s Biggest Bookstore

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Lifeliner is once again front and centre at the World’s Biggest Bookstore in downtown Toronto near Dundas and Yonge. Look for it on the Hot and New Nonfiction Table at the front of the store or in the Biography section upstairs under “T” for “Taylor,” Judy’s last name. All the copies have these beautiful blue “autographed by author” stickers on them — yes, I signed every copy! — and as soon as I receive them, they’ll also have the Reader Views Award stickers on them. Nothing like a gussied-up front cover to say, “This is the book to buy!”

Please pass the word to folks you know, work with, hang with, say hi to on the street, anyone you know, for I have 8 weeks to prove that this book is salable and worthy to be kept in store. If you can’t find it, I can attest that the folks who work at WBBS are very helpful and easy to approach, so don’t be shy. In fact if you look confused, they’re liable to approach you and find what you want as has happened to me many a time!

Bookstores

Follow the Bouncing Lifeliner

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Can you follow the bouncing book? Because I can’t!

My marketing guy at iUniverse, with profuse apologies from him and Chapters, told me that Chapters is yanking Lifeliner from the display in the World’s Biggest Bookstore because of a “corporate initiative.” What the heck does that mean? Apparently, it means they need the space for another commitment. Sigh.

They will now stock it from April 1st to June 1st. I shall give you all the details on April 1st because as I’m now learning you just never know where my book will end up. In the meantime, dear interested potential readers, please order it through one of the affiliate links on the right sidebar. It’s much the easiest way!

Bookstores

Stop the Presses!

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Contrary to what I’ve been telling everybody, Lifeliner is not being stocked at Indigo at Bay and Bloor, but at the World’s Biggest Bookstore on Edward Street near Yonge and Dundas. You will find it either on the Hot and New Nonfiction display at the front of the store or upstairs in the Biography section. The manager was very pleasant and helpful in me going in to sign copies at such short notice. I hope you will stop in and pick up a signed copy in the next 8 weeks. And if you can’t find it, please don’t hesitate to ask one of the helpful staff members.

Bookstores

Joining the Community, the chapters.indigo.ca one

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chapters.indigo.ca is building a “NEW community online.” Have you seen the ads plastered all over the subway? They recently turned the volume down to a few ads tastefully scattered through the cars, but as an author, they pounced on me as soon as my book hit their virtual shelves. They wanted me — me, ms. unknown — to join their community along with all the big-wig authors. Cool. I joined up.

It’s taken me awhile to acquaint myself with the basics. I settled at first with just filling out some rudimentary profile info. I didn’t upload a photo of myself — all these online places keep asking for your photo! — but chose a nice icon instead. I couldn’t figure out what to populate my shelves with and finally decided to start with a few pre-injury favourites and ended with a post-injury current book. DVDs I have very few of — mysteries, of course, I had to put up there on my shelf. And lastly music. Well, that’s a toughie. What do I like? My tastes have changed, but there were a couple of easy choices to begin with. Listening to the radio this morning, I realised I’d forgotten another obvious choice. Will definitely have to add her!

But filling a few shelves is only the start of building your presence in the chapters.indigo.ca community. There are all sorts of other things they want you to reveal about yourself and contribute as well. What are my top tens (uhhhh…do I have any?); what are my reviews (I like, I don’t like, what more can I say?); what are my recommendations (now here’s something I could probably sink my teeth into, given time); what groups am I in (first Facebook groups, now community groups, I’ll have no time left for anything else!)? Questions, questions, questions. And then there are posts to do. Posts? How is a writer supposed to keep up?! First a personal blog then a community post and then Amazon blogs? Facebook makes it easy. They’ll import your blog automatically. I think I’ll just copy and paste relevant blog posts from here into the community. The groups are like book clubs; they really are designed for readers. And here’s where I fall down because my current reading sucks. How can you be a writer and not a voracious reader? Easy. Get a brain injury! I think I’ll steer clear of groups for the moment.

So if you’re a reader, this new online community looks promising. There are many, many familiar names on there. And of course, there’s me! If you have already bought books from chapters.indigo.ca, then it’s pretty easy to join the community. Actually it’s easy to join even if you’re not a current customer. So click over to the community and look me up!