festering, much of the book industry seems to have dozed off into complacency when it comes to dealing with monetization models for digital books. DRM works just fine, thank you very much, and life-plus-a-lifetime global copyrights for books is now an accepted norm. Amazon? Hey, if you can't beat 'em, sell on 'em, and charge 'em the same for a twenty-year old book as for a new one, because, well, that's what we do, don't you know.
National Library of Norway, which is embarking on a project to digitize tens of thousands of older in-copyright Norwegian book titles, from masterworks by Nobel laureate Knut Hamsun to the first detective novels by Nordic noir king Jo Nesboe. The outlet for this effort is called bokhylla.no ("bookshelf"), an online ebook portal that's not notable for its design but rather for how it's making these digitized in-copyright books available. The price to the consumer: free.
ASCAP or BMI increments a few pennies' worth of royalty revenues due for payout to a song's rights holders, extracting bulk payments from broadcast outlets in exchange for dealing with the back end of royalty payouts. Number-one hits on the airwaves get the same income per play as obscure songwriters, but since the hits are played more often, it all adds up. This has worked since pretty much the dawn of the radio industry, and has enabled public venues such as government-licensed radio frequencies to serve the public with free content, paid for indirectly by advertisers, in this instance.
So fine, Author's Guild, get mucky all you want with Google, but the truth of the matter is that if you spent a fraction of the effort that you've put into this lawsuit into working out a Web-wide standard for per-page-view royalty back ends, you'd all be wealthier and have not missed out on reaching a generation of readers now largely ignoring books. The world is a culturally poorer place as the result of this misguided energy, I fear, but hopefully some late-in-the-game rethinking of royalties on the Web can set things right. Always glad to help, of course.