UPDATE – 10 Oct 2014
We had great attendance at our vendor table at the HOPE conference this weekend, where the BookLiberator prototypes attracted a tremendous amount of interest (even getting an excellent writeup on Forbes.com).
The BookLiberator is an affordable personal book digitizer. Working with Ian Sullivan and James Vasile, who came up with the design, we’ve just finalized the hardware setup and are now proceeding to manufacturing. We want to have them for sale at our online store as soon as possible; we’re aiming for a price of appx $120 for the kit plus around $200 for the pair of cameras (many customers will already have consumer-grade digital cameras, so we’ll offer the BookLiberator with and without).
What does the BookLiberator have to do with reframing copyright?
Everything — but not because people might use it for illegal copying. We don’t encourage that and it is not our goal. The reason the BookLiberator fits into our mission is precisely that it exposes more people to the direct experience of copyright restrictions. When people feel, in their daily lives, how much they are restricted by copyright, then we’ll start to have a mandate for change. All the pro-monopoly lobbyists in the world can’t prevail if people know the issues from their own personal experience. The BookLiberator is a way of giving people that experience.
So no, please don’t illegally share the contents of books. But remember every time you stop yourself from sharing why you’re stopping yourself: not because of any technological constraint, and not because sharing harms authors (it helps them far more), but because we’re imprisoning ourselves in the vestiges of an eighteenth-century printing industry regulation wholly unsuited to the Internet age.
We do encourage the many legal uses of the BookLiberator — as James Vasile noted in the Forbes.com article, it’s useful for archiving, annotation, and remixing, and is “no less legal than a photocopier or VCR”. Since monopoly-based publishing has proven ill-equipped to make these sorts of functionality accessible to its customers, we need to enable people to do these things for themselves, and that too is part of QuestionCopyright.org’s mission: a culture of text that is fully participatory and amenable to modern digital processing techniques.
Watch this space for more — we’ll post with updates as the BookLiberator approaches release.