Saturday, September 23, 2006

Stupid Database Tricks -a DUH! Moment

Someone was going on to me recently about how wonderful it must be to be a bookseller- a world of Paradise and roses, or so I am given to understand. Well, sure it is, but there are a few thorns in the garden as well. I was just reminded of another one this morning while strolling through the databases-

There's a certain "bookseller" (term used really, really loosely) on one of the major databases who has gotten hold of a whole bunch of 100-year old Century Magazines and other periodicals and offers xeroxed articles from them. That in itself is a fine service, and quite valuable for anyone who needs a specific article. Nothing wrong with it at all.

The problem begins with their pricing structure- for $19.00 they will send you the article you want, usually 2-6 photocopied pages. In the description the "bookseller" states that "This reference is for personal use only. It may not be reproduced for commercial use. By ordering this reference you are agreeing to these terms".


It gets better. Further down the listings you will find exactly the same article, from the same vendor, offered for $44.00, with the note- "this reference is authorized for commercial use. It may be reproduced in books, magazines, television, or in any manner desired".

Well thank you, God! The only problem is that it's a photocopy of out-of-copyright material. No new content has been added, not even new covers. Nobody can claim copyright on 100-year old, out-of-copyright text, not even somebody who photocopies it.


There are some choice words to describe blowing smoke out your ass this way, in an attempt to scare people into paying twice what they otherwise would have paid. I'm feeling fairly charitable this morning, so I'll simply stick to "stupid".

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