It is possible that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald will bring indictments against senior Bush administration officials this week, alleging criminal activity in the outing of CIA covert operative Valerie Plame, in the ensuing investigation, or in both.
Please understand very clearly that this is a horrible day for the United States of America. It was horrible that anyone leaked Ms. Plame's name for any reason whatsoever. It was horrible that it was done for political reasons, as reported more than two years ago. It is horrible that any administration officials involved did not honor their oath of office. It is horrible that those people put the country through an investigation rather than resign.
It is horrible that career Justice Department officials were almost not able to get hopelessly compromised Attorney General John Ashcroft to recuse himself in an investigation that targeted his long-time supporter, Karl Rove. It is good that the process did work as it should, but not that it came so close to falling apart.
If indictments are brought, it is even more horrible that there is enough evidence to indict anyone for something that never should have happened in the first place.
It is not a gift of any kind.
I don't care how much you oppose the corruption of the Bush administration, or their lying the nation into war, their attempts to dismantle safety for all but the richest people in the nation, their rape of the planet and their uncurable megalomania. Indictments of senior government officials for compromising our own national security are horrible for this country.
Not to mention that the more you pretend this is some kind of "fun" or "gift," the more the supporters of treason will simply say this is all "politics as usual." This is not politics as usual, and you're smart enough not to act like it is.
This is the continuation of a horrible time for the United States of America. Even if you feel personal glee that it just might be nearing an end, please refrain from expressing it in public. The only joy for any of this is that the system may still be working. That's not a "Fitzmas" gift - that's a treasure we've nearly lost and must fight to protect at all costs.
Stop celebrating - there is no festival involved. It's good that our country can peacefully remove even the most odious and treasonous of high officers, but it's tragic that we're being forced to consider it because of the low character of those who hold such high positions of trust. Every celebration you mark over this helps make this "politics as usual" - now and in the future.
Shape up or shut up.
Kevin Drum picks up on Washington Post contrasting pro and con op-ed pieces about Google Print Library, the project where Google plans to scan copyrighted works and make the results available as part of a massive search engine. I pissed on this third rail last month and, in general, think that people still don't get it.
Drum adds to that perception by trying to summarize the problem as being one of "fair use" yet again:
Conversely, Nick Taylor, president of the Authors Guild, opposes Google's project as an infringement of copyright, suggesting that when Google made a unilateral decision about what counts as fair use and what doesn't, it set itself up as "the arbiter of a legal concept it has no right to interpret."
[…] Google's restriction of search results to small snippets demonstrates considerable sensitivity to the rights of the original authors. As a matter of public policy, it seems like a no-brainer that something like this should not only be legal, but positively encouraged.
On the other hand, it's true that this isn't a use that authors had in mind when they originally published their books. And as with other database-driven collections, there's a big difference between an author excerpting one book for the purpose of illustration or criticism and a huge corporation excerpting millions — and making money off it.
This is so off the mark that I literally can't understand why people are wasting time debating it on Political Animal. Fair use allows me to use snippets from another book in my own work, whether my work is for profit or not. The courts apply a four-part test when determining fair use, but even if I published an entire book composed of nothing but three-sentence snippets from other copyrighted works, it would probably still be fair use - it would not be a substantial portion of the excerpted work, and it would likely not affect the market at all for the copyrighted work.
In fact, that fourth test - "the effect of the [allegedly fair] use upon the potential market for or value of the [excerpted] copyrighted work" - would likely make any results returned by Google Print expressly fair work. Everyone seems to be admitting that having these search results available would drive demand for the actual books. I tend to agree, unless we're talking about a book of quotations or something like that, but the Web may make those obsolete soon anyway.
So, once again, for the slow-witted out there, let's review:
The problem is not that Google wants to return three-sentence excerpts from copyrighted works.
The problem is that Google is demanding the right to have a free (unpaid and unlicensed) and full copy of every copyrighted book so it can return those results.
Legal use of an illegally copied book does not make the copy legal, any more than legal use of a stolen car (or even good use, like rushing a wounded person to a hospital) excuses the fact that you stole the damn car.
Any author or publisher who wants to send Google Print a free copy of their books so they can be included in Google Print, I say, "Good for you." More power to them. It's a smart move, IMHO. If they choose not to do that, and Google chooses not to purchase or license the books, then the books can't go into the database. Period.
This is the only copyright issue involved, as far as I'm concerned. "Copyright" is the right to determine who copies your work, and no one - not Google, not the President, not the UN, not the Pope himself - gets a free copy of your work without your permission. The librarian at the University of Michigan doesn't get to change that, any more than the president of the Author's Guild gets to change "fair use."
And yet, somehow I think the Googlemaniacs are going to try to make my life miserable again for daring to suggest that people who create words for a living have, oh, I dunno, the right to make Google pay the same price for a copy of it as anyone else. So here we go again.
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