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BBC "5 Live Investigates" on Books LLC, Sunday night 9pm UTC
[.To WMUK-l for local interest, and foundation-l as the issue's been
discussed there at length.]


Just spoke to a researcher, Charlotte something, for BBC 5 Live
Investigates, Sunday 9pm, this item likely to go out 9:45pm or so.
This was just for her research, it wasn't a recorded piece.

The piece is on Books LLC and similar operations, which sell reprints
of Wikipedia articles as books on Amazon. She was after the Wikipedian
viewpoint.

I said that it's entirely legal - that you can use our stuff without
permission, even commercially, and we like that - "Please, use our
stuff!" - you just have to give credit and let other people reuse your
version: "share and share alike."

So the only issue is that it isn't clear enough these books are just
Wikipedia reprints. For us, the annoyance - I said that "annoyance" is
probably the word - is when a Wikipedian finds one of these books,
goes "aha, a source!", buys it and ... discovers it's just reprints of
stuff they have. "While trademark is an issue, we'd like them or
Amazon to make it a *bit* clearer that these texts are Wikipedia
reprints."

She wasn't clear on the business model. I said these are
print-on-demand books, where *no* copies exist until someone orders
one, at which point a single copy is printed and sent. POD is *very
good* these days - you can send a PDF to a machine, and the machine
will produce an *absolutely beautiful* perfect-bound book for you,
which previously would have been quite pricey. This is enough for them
to have a tiny, tiny niche.

I also pointed out that anyone can make their own PDFs of Wikipedia
articles and some of the projects have partnerships with outside
companies to do nice printed books of Wikipedia reprints. But in such
cases, everyone is very clear on what they're getting: a nice printed
physical copy of content they already have for free on the web.

I tried to answer very descriptively, as I can't speak *for* 160,000
people, but there's been enough foundation-l and related discussion to
get an idea of what people think. My apologies if I missed bits, this
was off the top of my head without referring to nuances of discussion
:-)


- d.

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Re: BBC "5 Live Investigates" on Books LLC, Sunday night 9pm UTC [ In reply to ]
On Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 06:40, David Gerard <dgerard@gmail.com> wrote:

> Just spoke to a researcher, Charlotte something, for BBC 5 Live
> Investigates, Sunday 9pm, this item likely to go out 9:45pm or so.
> This was just for her research, it wasn't a recorded piece.
>
> The piece is on Books LLC and similar operations, which sell reprints
> of Wikipedia articles as books on Amazon. She was after the Wikipedian
> viewpoint.
>
> I think there's a sense of annoyance among writers whose work is being
copied that the books are so expensive -- sometimes around $50 for a
10,000-word article -- and that the ads for them on Amazon don't make clear
enough that they're on Wikipedia for free.

The ones I'm thinking of, Alphascript Publishing, give the names of three
editors as though they might have written or edited the material, when in
fact it's lifted word for word.

Also, as you said, we've seen editors try to use them as sources, not
realizing they're in a hall of mirrors.

Sarah
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Re: BBC "5 Live Investigates" on Books LLC, Sunday night 9pm UTC [ In reply to ]
On 28 January 2011 13:28, SlimVirgin <slimvirgin@gmail.com> wrote:

> I think there's a sense of annoyance among writers whose work is being
> copied that the books are so expensive -- sometimes around $50 for a
> 10,000-word article -- and that the ads for them on Amazon don't make clear
> enough that they're on Wikipedia for free.
> The ones I'm thinking of, Alphascript Publishing, give the names of three
> editors as though they might have written or edited the material, when in
> fact it's lifted word for word.
> Also, as you said, we've seen editors try to use them as sources, not
> realizing they're in a hall of mirrors.


Yeah. The problem is there's no direct action we can really take
without hampering the good reasons for reuse of our material. Or just
scaring people off. I think the best we can do is raise awareness.
This will do that, slightly.


- d.

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Re: BBC "5 Live Investigates" on Books LLC, Sunday night 9pm UTC [ In reply to ]
On 28 January 2011 13:56, David Gerard <dgerard@gmail.com> wrote:
> Yeah. The problem is there's no direct action we can really take
> without hampering the good reasons for reuse of our material. Or just
> scaring people off. I think the best we can do is raise awareness.
> This will do that, slightly.

I suspect that all we have to do is wait. Someone has effectively
worked out how to spam Amazon. What one person can do so can others.
Eventually the level of spam will rise to the point where Amazon will
have to act or lose customers due to their service being degraded.

--
geni

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Re: BBC "5 Live Investigates" on Books LLC, Sunday night 9pm UTC [ In reply to ]
On 28 January 2011 18:44, geni <geniice@gmail.com> wrote:
> On 28 January 2011 13:56, David Gerard <dgerard@gmail.com> wrote:

>> Yeah. The problem is there's no direct action we can really take
>> without hampering the good reasons for reuse of our material. Or just
>> scaring people off. I think the best we can do is raise awareness.
>> This will do that, slightly.

> I suspect that all we have to do is wait. Someone has effectively
> worked out how to spam Amazon. What one person can do so can others.
> Eventually the level of spam will rise to the point where Amazon will
> have to act or lose customers due to their service being degraded.


Yes. In the meantime, we can use publicity about this to spread
awareness that we're all about reusing our stuff, and that we would
only ask nicely that the books be represented accurately as curated
Wikipedia reprints. (This is a breathtakingly generous way of
describing them, but I'd suggest being nice to the idea of reprints as
we introduce civilisation to the notion of reusability as being the
normal order of things.)


- d.

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Re: BBC "5 Live Investigates" on Books LLC, Sunday night 9pm UTC [ In reply to ]
On Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 12:48, David Gerard <dgerard@gmail.com> wrote:

> On 28 January 2011 18:44, geni <geniice@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > I suspect that all we have to do is wait. Someone has effectively
> > worked out how to spam Amazon. What one person can do so can others.
> > Eventually the level of spam will rise to the point where Amazon will
> > have to act or lose customers due to their service being degraded.
>
>
> Yes. In the meantime, we can use publicity about this to spread
> awareness that we're all about reusing our stuff, and that we would
> only ask nicely that the books be represented accurately as curated
> Wikipedia reprints. (This is a breathtakingly generous way of
> describing them, but I'd suggest being nice to the idea of reprints as
> we introduce civilisation to the notion of reusability as being the
> normal order of things.)
>
>
The problem with presenting it positively is that most Wikipedians who've
discussed it (that I've seen) don't like them. They worry that readers are
being exploited, they worry about quality, they worry about proper
attribution. They don't like that Amazon is being spammed. I've seen people
ask whether the Foundation can do anything to stop it.

If it were some helpful company offering to bind WP articles for a tenner,
that's one thing, but charging $50 for 10,000 words that you can get free on
WP is horrible. And someone seems to be buying them, because you see used
copies being sold too.

Sarah
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Re: BBC "5 Live Investigates" on Books LLC, Sunday night 9pm UTC [ In reply to ]
On 28 January 2011 13:56, David Gerard <dgerard@gmail.com> wrote:
> On 28 January 2011 13:28, SlimVirgin <slimvirgin@gmail.com> wrote:
>
>> I think there's a sense of annoyance among writers whose work is being
>> copied that the books are so expensive -- sometimes around $50 for a
>> 10,000-word article -- and that the ads for them on Amazon don't make clear
>> enough that they're on Wikipedia for free.
>> The ones I'm thinking of, Alphascript Publishing, give the names of three
>> editors as though they might have written or edited the material, when in
>> fact it's lifted word for word.
>> Also, as you said, we've seen editors try to use them as sources, not
>> realizing they're in a hall of mirrors.
>
>
> Yeah. The problem is there's no direct action we can really take
> without hampering the good reasons for reuse of our material. Or just
> scaring people off. I think the best we can do is raise awareness.
> This will do that, slightly.
>
>
> - d.

From March 1st it might be worth contacting the UK Advertising
Standards Authority, as their remit is being extended then:
http://asa.org.uk/Regulation-Explained/Online-remit.aspx

Amazon product descriptions almost certainly fall under "non-paid-for
space online under [the marketer's] control". So a misleading
description ought to lead to action. But the issue here is the
misleading *lack* of any description. It could be an interesting
conundrum for the ASA!

Pete / the wub

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Re: BBC "5 Live Investigates" on Books LLC, Sunday night 9pm UTC [ In reply to ]
On 28 January 2011 19:04, Peter Coombe <thewub.wiki@googlemail.com> wrote:

> From March 1st it might be worth contacting the UK Advertising
> Standards Authority, as their remit is being extended then:
> http://asa.org.uk/Regulation-Explained/Online-remit.aspx


Oh, I *like* that one. That and some other comments here and
elsewhere, I've added to a blog post on the topic, which I hope can
also raise awareness:

http://davidgerard.co.uk/notes/?p=506


- d.

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