“Did We Do Anything Wrong?”
“As we lobbed books back and forth ...”
Nick Bilton writes the English language for a living. When he uses a word, he knows precisely what it means:
verb (lobs, lobbing, lobbed)
- to hit or kick a ball high into the air and usually over the head of another player ...
- to throw something so that it goes high into the air ...
- to throw something ...
In essence, what Bilton and his wife did was to take shiny new merchandise, and turn it into used books, which they then put back on the shelves and skipped out.
Nick Bilton’s Rationale
It's not as if we had destroyed anything: We didn't rip out any pages.
No, Nick, you and your wife did not “rip out any pages.” But you lobbed books around, opened them wide in order to take photographs, and generally mistreated them.
This is the same lack up upbringing and common decency you find in a catalog bandit—the woman that orders three party dresses from a catalog, chooses one to wear to the party and then returns all three the next day for a full refund.
To the Biltons, it’s cool—a way to game the system and then brag about how clever they are to the 1.04 million readers of The New York Times.
I read this and seethed. I am seething as I write this.
It Gets Truly Surreal
The entire balance of the story was how Bilton solicited the opinions of three academics:
- Julie A. Ahrens, associate director of the Fair Use Project at the Stanford Law School.
- Stan Liebowitz, a professor of economics at the University of Texas at Dallas and the director of its Center for the Analysis of Property Rights and Innovation.
- Charles Nesson, the Weld professor of law at Harvard Law School and founder of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society.
Bilton’s question: “[H]ad we broken any laws by photographing those pages?”