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[ba-unrev-talk] NYTimes.com Article: Steal This Book? A Publisher Is Making It Easy


This article from NYTimes.com 
has been sent to you by garyrichmond@rcn.com.    (01)


from the article:
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 All the books  a total of six are planned for this year  will be published not under a traditional copyright but under the Open Publication License, which was created in 1999 by David Wiley, an assistant professor at Utah State University. The license allows people to copy, modify and redistribute works. It is modeled after the General Public License for software, which sets the rules for information-sharing and reuse of code for the GNU Linux operating system (www.opencontent.org).    (02)

garyrichmond@rcn.com    (03)


Steal This Book? A Publisher Is Making It Easy    (04)

January 13, 2003
By STEVE LOHR     (05)






The counterculture rules of the open-source software
community are edging into mainstream book publishing,
thanks to Bruce Perens.     (06)

Prentice Hall is publishing a line of computer books, the
"Bruce Perens' Open Source Series." The first titles have
already arrived for sale in bookstores like Barnes & Noble,
and the electronic versions are expected to be available
online soon afterward - and to be free.     (07)

All the books - a total of six are planned for this year -
will be published not under a traditional copyright but
under the Open Publication License, which was created in
1999 by David Wiley, an assistant professor at Utah State
University. The license allows people to copy, modify and
redistribute works. It is modeled after the General Public
License for software, which sets the rules for
information-sharing and reuse of code for the GNU Linux
operating system (www.opencontent.org).     (08)

"If you want to take one these books, put it on a photocopy
machine and make copies, that's cool," said Mr. Perens, a
leading open-source advocate.     (09)

Such practices make most publishers cringe and call their
lawyers. But Prentice Hall, acknowledging the risk of lost
sales, says the experiment is a worthwhile attempt to earn
good will and gain readers among the growing ranks of
programmers who work with open-source software like Linux
and the Apache Web server. The front-runner among
publishers of books for open-source programmers is O'Reilly
& Associates, which publishes most of its books under
traditional copyright.     (010)

In open-source projects, groups of programmers voluntarily
develop, debug and modify the code. The software is free.
But Linux companies like Red Hat and SuSE Linux charge
their customers, who buy the software in boxes that include
the code on CD-ROM's along with explanatory manuals.     (011)

Similarly, Prentice Hall, a unit of Pearson, is charging
for the books, printed on paper with CD's attached. The
first two titles, "The Linux Development Platform" and
"Embedded Software Development with eCos," are priced at
$49.99 each. (ECos is an open-source operating system
developed for wireless devices like cellphones and remote
controls.)     (012)

The free electronic versions of the books will be available
in a couple of months - a delay intended to ensure that
another publisher does not just make copies and beat
Prentice Hall to stores at, say, half the price.     (013)

For Mr. Perens, the book series is a way to encourage the
spread of open-source software by supplying better written
instruction for programmers - who generally do not get
their kicks from documenting their labors. "We've been
saying we've got great software, but we don't actually have
very good documentation," he said.     (014)

The electronic versions of the books, Mr. Perens added, can
be frequently updated, and the authors can edit readers'
contributions. He considers the series - in which his role
is mainly selecting books and setting policy - to be a step
toward broadening the application of open-source
principles. "We are expanding the scope of collaborative
works beyond software," Mr. Perens said.     (015)

In the past, individual books have been published under the
Open Publication License at the insistence of individual
authors like Mr. Perens. But Mark L. Taub, an editor in
Prentice Hall's professional and technical book division,
termed the Perens series a "strategic commitment" to a
continuing line of books with the open license.     (016)

There is nothing to prevent programmers from waiting a
couple of months to download copies of the books free
rather than buying them. But Mr. Perens, a member of the
digital avant-garde, predicts that serious programmers will
buy the books for $50 each. Why? "People like paper," he
said.     (017)

Even though photocopying the entire book or making a
printout of the electronic version would violate no
copyright law, Prentice Hall is betting that most people
will not bother, preferring to pay for the convenience of
the book itself.     (018)

Anthony J. Massa, a programmer and author of "Embedded
Software Development with eCos," agrees. "I personally like
having the printed version of a bound book in front of me,"
he said.     (019)


http://www.nytimes.com/2003/01/13/business/media/13FREE.html?ex=1043557335&ei=1&en=4b22d7f6f39b2b7e    (020)



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