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    Maybe you
    saw the "NBC Evening News" segment on Tuesday night
    on the animated political
    cartoon, "This Land."
    It’s a spoof on Bush and Kerry.
    The cartoon is a riot. It takes a long time to download if you
    don’t have broadband. It’s worth it. Hook up your speakers or
    earphones. Don’t miss Kerry’s use of a hand grenade.

    My techie
    son knew about jibjab. They are brothers who have been doing political
    satire on-line for years. After segments on "The Today Show"
    and Tom Brokaw (who ended the segment and the show by calling
    himself "Tom Brokaw dot com"), jibjab’s traffic must
    be immense.

    This leads
    me to today’s topic. . . .

    The technological
    breakthroughs on the Web keep coming. No one can keep up. It’s
    wonderful.

    Maybe you
    aren’t interested in gaining a presence on the Web, but maybe
    your teenage child or grandchild is. Maybe creating a Website
    could be a high school project. It would not look bad on a college
    application.

    What if you
    could put up a site like one of these?

    • A
      history of your family
    • A
      history of your company
    • A
      history of your local church
    • A
      history of some event in your town
    • A
      history of some great discovery
    • A
      history of some misunderstood event
    • A
      collection of old cookbooks
    • A
      collection of old books in any field
    • A
      collection of old magazines, issue by issue
    • A
      collection of diaries of local VFW members

    This is now
    easy to do because of a new edition of a familiar product, Adobe
    Acrobat Pro Version 6.0. It sells at discount at budget software
    sites for about $150. It has a feature that I have been awaiting
    for almost a decade. With it, you can convert a scanned-in page
    to a PDF file. The PDF file looks exactly like the original page.
    Now you can scan in a book or magazine and post it on-line.

    Google’s
    roaming "spider" automatically converts PDF files into
    HTML, which is then searchable by Google’s search engine. So,
    your on-line PDF document will become searchable in a few weeks
    after it is posted. People who are searching for a phrase in a
    book or document that you have posted on-line will come across
    it if the phrase appears in few other documents.

    Your site
    could make you an expert in whatever it is that the site deals
    with. When looking for a promotion, you would be wise to have
    public evidence that you are an expert.

    You can rent
    space for a site for as little as $5/month.

    WHAT’S
    LEGAL, WHAT’S NOT, AND WHERE

    In some nations,
    the cut-off date is later than 1923. So, if a Website’s hosting
    company is located in such a country, and the site’s domain name
    is registered to a person or institution in that country, then
    the Webmaster of the site, no matter where he personally resides,
    can legally post materials published later than 1923.

    Which nations?
    Be aware of the document, "USTR
    Special 301 Review of Intellectual Property
    ." Here, we
    read the following:

    Ambassador
    Barshefsky also announced placement of 16 trading partners on
    the "Priority Watch List": Israel, Ukraine, Macau,
    Argentina, Peru, Egypt, the European Union, Greece, India, Indonesia,
    Russia, Turkey, Italy, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and Kuwait.
    She also placed 37 trading partners on the "Watch List."

    But how can
    you make money? Here is one way. There are magazine publishers
    out there that would like a CD-ROM of all of their back issues.
    If you have access to the complete files of a magazine like "The
    Atlantic Monthly," you could scan in the complete set through
    1922. You could either post these issues on-line or else put them
    on a CD-ROM, which includes a copy of the free Acrobat Reader.
    Then go to the present publisher of "Atlantic" and offer
    to sell the CD-ROM to the subscribers for a 75-25 split (in favor
    of "Atlantic") if they run an ad for your CD-ROM. Price
    it at $79.95. Or sell them the CD-ROM master outright for (say)
    $10,000. (Price your CD-creation time at whatever you think you’re
    worth.) Offer to do the same thing for their issues published
    after 1922 for another $10,000.

    They could
    do this themselves, but why? They would have to pay someone else
    to do it. They can buy a finished product from you. This is easier,
    safer, and faster.

    Alternative:
    produce a CD-ROM of your entire site and sell it to people who
    find your site. People don’t like to spend hours downloading lots
    of documents from a site. True believers want all of a site in
    one place.

    The next
    step is to get your site searchable. This can be done with Google,
    which allows sites to use its search program for site-only searches.
    Take a look at how this works on Lew
    Rockwell’s site
    . Scroll to the bottom of the LRC home page.
    Google offer this code for free: http://www.google.com/searchcode.html.

    There are
    no doubt other convenient ways of making your CD-ROM searchable.
    If there aren’t today, there will be soon.

    People can
    legally use a free, downloadable program such as WinHTTrack Website
    Copier to download your site to their hard disk drive, and then
    use it legally as if it were a CD-ROM, but most people don’t know
    this. Legally, they can’t sell your site, but of course people
    do sell other people’s digital property, and it is almost impossible
    to stop this.

    Here is reality.
    A law that cannot be enforced is merely a suggestion. If it costs
    more to enforce a law than the returns generated by the law, authorities
    are not interested in enforcing it unless pressured by the hierarchy
    to do so. Think "lawsuits," "lawyers’ fees,"
    "foreign jurisdiction," "foreign corporation,"
    "tax haven," and "penalties." Also think "too
    small to matter."

    The point
    at which this franchise was imposed was that moment when the
    "word became flesh" by departing the mind of its originator
    and entering some physical object, whether book or widget. The
    subsequent arrival of other commercial media besides books didn’t
    alter the legal importance of this moment. Law protected expression
    and, with few (and recent) exceptions, to express was to make
    physical.

    Mental-to-physical
    conversion was even more central to patent. A patent, until
    recently, was either a description of the form into which materials
    were to be rendered in the service of some purpose, or a description
    of the process by which rendition occurred. In either case,
    the conceptual heart of patent was the material result. If no
    purposeful object could be rendered because of some material
    limitation, the patent was rejected. Neither a Klein bottle
    nor a shovel made of silk could be patented. It had to be a
    thing, and the thing had to work.

    Thus, the
    rights of invention and authorship adhered to activities in
    the physical world. One didn’t get paid for ideas, but for the
    ability to deliver them into reality. For all practical purposes,
    the value was in the conveyance and not in the thought conveyed.

    In other
    words, the bottle was protected, not the wine.

    Hollywood
    has now seen the digital handwriting on the screen. A
    recent Motion Picture Association of America survey
    found
    that 24% of everyone who has a broadband Web connection —
    43% of Americans do — have downloaded a movie. Of those who
    have yet to download a movie, 17% said they planned to do so in
    the next 12 months.

    The first
    producer to accept this new reality is Michael Moore. His political
    film "Fahrenheit 9/11" is the only documentary ever
    to pull in $100 million at the box office. It is still filling
    theaters. It is now on-line. Pirate copies are all over the Web.
    Moore, a political version of Luther, has applauded this. On July
    4, the Sunday Herald
    ran this story
    : "Moore: pirate my film, no problem."

    Controversial
    film-maker Michael Moore has welcomed the appearance on the
    internet of pirated copies of his anti-Bush documentary Fahrenheit
    9/11 and claimed he is happy for anybody to download it free
    of charge.

    The activist
    author and director told the Sunday Herald that, as long as
    pirated copies of his film were not being sold, he had no problem
    with it being downloaded.

    "I
    do well enough already and I made this film because I want the
    world to change. The more people who see it the better, so I’m
    happy this is happening." . . .

    Distributed
    via websites such as suprnova.org, which lays claim to having
    served more than 17 million downloads, Moore’s documentary critique
    of the Bush administration’s red, white and blue rush into war
    with Iraq is among the web’s hottest properties.

    Thousands
    of copies of Fahrenheit 9/11 have already been downloaded, each
    taking about 3.5 hours over a broadband connection.

    Ironically,
    the burgeoning underground market for Moore’s much-debated documentary
    has been championed by both sides of the political divide. While
    left-wing sites promote the film’s message, opponents of the
    high-profile polemicist are urging people to "steal"
    their copy, thus denying its director his cut of the profits.
    . . .

    Moore said:
    "Is it wrong for someone who’s bought a film on DVD to
    let a friend watch it for free? Of course it’s not. It never
    has been and never will be. I think information, art and ideas
    should be shared."

    GOLD
    MINES IN DUSTY ARCHIVES

    Magazine
    publishers are sitting on top of gold mines. National Geographic
    understood this early and put all of its old issues in a boxed
    set of CD-ROMs. This set originally retailed for $350. I bought
    a set at Sam’s Club for about $180 in 2000. The publisher made
    millions of dollars. (The box’s photo of an Afghan teenage girl
    with the huge eyes was worth a fortune as a sales device. A reporter
    tracked her down a couple of years ago. He showed her the NG cover.
    That was the only photo she ever had taken. She had not seen it.
    I wonder if she knows about signed release forms and royalties.
    Probably not.)

    Right wing,
    left wing, it doesn’t matter. A magazine publisher can now put
    all of the back issues on-line or in a CD-ROM. Maybe he will hire
    you to do this on a contract basis if you present him with a free
    CD-ROM of one year of issues.

    With Adobe
    Acrobat Pro, magazine publishers now have a bonanza available.
    They can convert long-dead inventory into money. They can offer
    a CD-ROM set of a complete 60-year set of the magazine for, say,
    $149.95, or for only $19.95 if someone subscribes or renews his
    subscription for three years.

    I told my
    friend Arthur Robinson about Adobe Acrobat Pro. He is the publisher
    of Access to Energy, a highly readable scientific newsletter
    that exposes myths and lies of anti-growth, anti-free market ecology
    activists regarding the nuclear energy industry, global warming,
    and related themes. The newsletter used to be published by the
    late Petr Beckman. Robinson’s organization owns the publishing
    rights to all of the back issues.

    I told him
    to post all of the back issues on-line, one by one, as separate
    documents. On each issue’s front page, he should have a Web page
    address listed where the reader can buy a CD-ROM set of all of
    the issues through last year. So, anyone surfing the Web who comes
    across an issue, reads it, and likes it can go to a Web page where
    he can read about the entire set and then order it.

    This way,
    the information in each newsletter can get out to thousands of
    Web surfers, and a few of them will buy the CD-ROM. There are
    no inventory costs for the CD-ROM, meaning no state inventory
    taxes to pay — a major reason why publishers take books out
    of print.

    When publishers
    figure this out and respond to the market, historians will be
    able to follow the development of any magazine’s ideas. Consider
    the little-known two-volume book by James J. Martin, American
    Liberalism and World Politics, 1931-1941 (Devin Adair, 1964).
    It is a study of the shift in opinion by American liberals regarding
    foreign policy. In 1931, The Nation and The New Republic
    were revisionist and anti-war. They regarded America’s entry into
    World War I as a colossal mistake. By 1941, they were calling
    for America’s intervention into the European war on the side of
    Great Britain. This kind of study would be so much easier to write
    if magazine publishers made available CD-ROMs of their back issues.

    THE
    ULTIMATE LIBRARY

    Anything
    ever written for the public for which there is an existing copy
    can and should be put on the Internet at some point.

    Every back
    issue of every magazine and newspaper should eventually be on-line.

    Every collection
    of private papers in every research library should be posted on-line.
    Historians should not have to fly to distant cities, pay $100+
    a day for lodging and food, in order to spend months going through
    archives.

    The problem
    has been labor time. Scanning is usually labor intensive: one
    page at a time, 15—30 seconds/page. But new technologies
    are speeding up the scanning process. Costs per scanned page are
    coming down. This will continue.

    With Adobe
    Acrobat Pro and Google, it is now possible to create a searchable
    on-line library of the world’s total output. This library can
    be accessed in seconds by anyone with access to the Web. Item
    by item, collection by collection, this decentralized library
    can be created. The so-called technological imperative will continue
    to assert itself on the Internet. "If it can be done, it
    will be done."

    Lots of hidden
    facts will come to light. Lots of official lies will be exposed.
    Lots of revisionist histories will be written. The time period
    of Establishment historians’ familiar three-part declaration will
    shorten.

    1. It
      isn’t true.
    2. It’s
      true, but so what?
    3. We
      always knew it was true.

    CONCLUSION

    What is your
    main interest? What out-of-print books do you wish were available
    to everyone, free of charge? What government documents (automatically
    public domain) should be on-line?

    I created
    a site, www.freebooks.com
    , where readers can download 90 books and hundreds of newsletters
    free of charge. The site used an old version of Acrobat, which
    did not reproduce documents faithfully. The site’s PDF and HTML
    files have many errors. The site used an expensive propprietary
    program, DjVu, to create perfect image files for the books. Today,
    Adobe does what DjVu does, and at a fraction of the cost.

    My goal for
    the site is to get wider distribution, which is why I have opened
    to any electronic publisher or Web site builder the right to reprint
    digitally, royalty-free, all of the books on the Freebooks site
    that I wrote.

    Creating
    a Website like my http://www.freebooks.com
    site is a labor of love. You must scan in lots of pages. But if
    a book is long out of print, and the author is dead, who is hurt
    if you post his book on-line?

    Because authors
    write books in order to be read, and because out-of-print books
    are not widely read, and because publishers lose their legal control
    over any book 12 months after they allow it to go out of print,
    who is being harmed by posting on-line a PDF file of a book?

    Start thinking
    about that collection of forgotten documents which ought to be
    remembered. Start thinking about how you can get them on-line,
    available for free or for a fee. Start thinking about where the
    domain name should be registered and where the Web host should
    be located.

    I will write
    more on this later. I’m just trying to get you thinking about
    this. There are opportunities out there that you may have overlooked.
    Start looking over what you have overlooked.

    July
    27, 2004

    Gary
    North [send him mail]
    is the author of Mises
    on Money
    . Visit http://www.freebooks.com.
    For a free subscription to Gary North’s newsletter on gold, click
    here
    .

    Gary
    North Archives

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