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Authors take on pirate library Ebook Bike

Society of Authors demands that pirate library remove books in copyright; EU directive a threat to link-sharing; British Library to digitise obscene books; The London Book Fair asks if books will edit themselves in the future.

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Again, if it’s in copyright, please don’t scan it

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Ebook Bike causes an uproar for making newly released novels in copyright available for free online. Image source: Ebook Bike

A few weeks ago, we reported on the ultimatum issued by the Society of Authors to the Internet Archive. The society wants the latter to stop circulating UK books in copyright on its Open Library.

The library was initially set up to help kids in developing countries access crucial learning materials such as math books and so on. But of course, those kids won’t have the need for copies of Phillipa Gregory’s most recent romance novels, or the entire series of George R R Martin’s Fire and Ice.

A few days ago, the Society of Authors has had to deal with a similar issue posed by Ebook Bike. Members of the society complained that the online library has been accepting uploads of their books, which are still in copyright.

Of course, the Ebook Bike is not making it any easier with snarky remarks like this:

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Adios, link-sharing

The behaviour of Ebook Bike is certainly not helpful to those concerned about the upcoming EU Copyright Directive. They want information to be shared freely. This, however, shouldn’t be confused with sharing books illegally on open internet libraries.

If Article 11 is passed, then fan sites like Reddit and review blogs won’t be able to even share links to a news site – or perhaps a book publisher site – without paying for that access.

This is mad. Reciprocal links are not fodders for web spiders that crawl the world wide web. They’re there to encourage proper attributions and credits so that users don’t have a good excuse to plagiarise. They’re also there to help promote a particular work.

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British Library to digitise obscene books

On the other hand, a welcome news from the digital front. The British Library has announced that it will digitise its collection of obscene books from 1658 to 1940.

There wasn’t much resistance because the works are out of print and out of copyright. Works to be digitised include classics such as Fanny Hill, written by John Cleland in 1748 whilst he was in debtors’ prison.

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Fanny Hill will be digitised by the British Library. Image source: Wikipedia

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Don’t edit for us, robot, make us a cuppa

Will books of the future edit themselves? Possibly. Gmail has begun to second-guess our email messages, so why can’t a software second-guess our entire novel?

Darren Ryan, CEO, Deanta, will be chairing a session on this topic at The London Book Fair on 12 March 2019. Creativity and critical thinking are crucial in the age of artificial intelligence (AI). Jobs that are more clerical or administrative will give way to digital platforms and fine-tuned logics.

Now, is the editor’s role administrative in this AI sense? We’ll find out. We think authors, designers and illustrators will be around for a bit longer – but let’s see if Mr Ryan can show us an instance where an AI software can compose another Game of Thrones.

Will Books of the Future Edit Themselves?
12 March 2019, 10.45 am – 11.15 am
The Buzz Theatre, London Book Fair

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Editor, Story Of Books. Co-founder, GLUE Studio. A writer since 1995.

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