My Bitcoin Price Model

Network economics

By definition Network economics is business economics that benefit from the network effect (Metcalfe Law), also known as Netromix and basically is when the value of a good or service increases when others buy the same good or service. Examples are website such as EBay where the community comes together and shares thoughts to help the website become a better business organization.

Since 2010 bitcoin has been depicted as silly, a permanent bubble, denigrated by major economists, financial institutions etc…, everyone thinking that the true value of bitcoin is unknown and not knowable or zero as modern currencies have no intrinsic value because they lack scarcity or durability advantage like commodities.

The value of a currency is the use and acceptance of that currency and so they still have some value despite the fact that there are zero intrinsic value. Looking Bitcoin i can say that its value is determined by the great functions it has that are considered valuable from the user base.

MetCalfe’S Law

The problem of extrapolating future values of Bitcoin is difficult because the number of users does not grow forever, at some point you reach a saturation level as the internet, if you look historical data you can see that since 2013-2014 the internet reached maximum capacity in terms of  number of worlwide hosts.

Metcalfe’s formula is:
and determines the value of a network for a given n. Without entering too much in details this law says that a 5% increase in number of users should correspond to a 10% increase in the overall value of the system.

This law has already been successfully used to model the value of Facebook stock because it is strongly linked to its users, the same for bitcoin although is unclear how to estimate bitcoin number of users. A good estimation might be the number of bitcoin active addresses but all the traders providing liquidity to the system don’t do much bitcoin transactions and so they are not included in the count.

Stock To Flow Model

Recently this model is gaining popularity, i consider this model a bit optimistic in forecasting future values of bitcoin, regardless of my opinion here is the original article of the creator of this model.

My Approach

Bitcoin Market Cap (Log Scale)

My Idea is to don’t use the Metcalfe’s Law because i can’t estimate the number of worldwide bitcoin users fairly well, i prefer to model the size of the system just looking the Market Cap instead of Price, Why? Because in the first years the Bitcoin Supply greatly changed from few btcs to some millions and this is a big distorsion not included in the price chart.
Thanks to the software i already use for my conventional trading activity i perfectly know how to derive a formula to approximate the expansion of the bitcoin system using Market Cap as metric.
Looking the above chart it appears clear that there is a line holding bitcoin min values over time. Let’s find it!
I can’t use all the data values to find this line but i’ve to select ideal points, specifically thse are the points used:

Date Price
17-Jul-10  $        0.05
8-Oct-10  $        0.06
7-Dec-10  $        0.17
4-Apr-11  $        0.56
23-Nov-11  $        1.99
2-Jun-12  $        5.21
8-Jan-13  $      13.20
26-Aug-15  $     198.19
22-Sep-15  $     224.08
17-Apr-16  $     414.61
25-May-16  $     444.63
23-Oct-16  $     650.32
25-Mar-17  $     889.08
8-Feb-19  $  3,350.49
25-Mar-19  $  3,855.21
Bottom Points considered and converted to market cap.

The Formula i’m going to use is this:


The lats part of the formula is to give more credit to recent values because i’m interested to perfectly fit last data over old data that has more noise.
The best result i’ve obtained to compute the different constants is:
Log(Market Cap)~=7.775+time^0.352+(0.1*exp(-time/0.1))

From this to obtain price you have to exponentiate everything and divide by the bitcoin supply for that particulare date, time is intended in number of days since July 17, 2010

Bitcoin Bottom Line

Now that i’ve a formula i can easily forecast it to see the corresponding Price for a particular date.
Next step is to do the same job to derive a formula for the Tops.
Points considered (only 4):

Date Price 
8-Jun-11  $      31.91
30-Nov-13  $  1,163.00
4-Dec-13  $  1,153.27
19-Dec-17  $19,245.59

Skipping now to the final result:
Bitcoin Top Line = Exp(12.1929+time^(0.337559)-1.74202*Exp(-time/2.35151))/Bitcoin Supply

Bitcoin Top Line

A careful observer has probably noticed that the coefficient for time is lower when calculating Tops instead of Bottoms (0.337 instead of 0.352) and there is an easy explanation for this: as long as bitcoin market cap grows in size there is more inertia and it is more difficult to manipulate the price far away from the bottom line, therefore I expect with the passage of time to have the next important Tops closer and closer to the reference line or bottom line or if you prefer the “Fair Price Line”, call it as you want.

4 Years in to the Future

Once you have a model to define the boundaries where bitcoin price moves is easy to do a forecast and have a look where bitcoin might go in the next years. Here i propose a four years look in to the future.
Before let’see very quickly a third line very important: the MIDLINE. I computed it using all available data points since July 2010. Here the result plus the 4 years forecast:

Midline and 4 Years Forecast

I really like the result achieved with this model, apart the perfect fitting of all bottom and top points even the Mid Line is very important to understand where is the boundary between Fair Price and Overprice.
Furthermore bitcoin spends not much time above the Mid Line and very few days near the Top Line. Moreover the time spent below the Mid Line is equal to 62% and 38% of the time bitcoin price is above the Mid Line, I don’t know if Fibonacci is involved or not but the coincidence is odd.
Looking the above chart 4 years from now the forecasted price is impressive, i highly doubt the Top Line will work but i’d be already satisfied if Bitcoin will stay above the Bottom Line or Fair Price line, for your curiosity next September 2023 bottom line is at 47000$.

Timing the next All Time High, is it possible or not?

Well, looking the chart out careful observer probably noticed that there is a progression in time between all the Tops. Have a look:

Time Price Forecast
  1. First top happened after 327 days since July 17, 2010.
  2. Second top after around 1235 days.
  3. Third top after 2713 days.

Using the same approach used to derive previous formulas the formula for this numerical progression is:


Topnumber is the # of top considered, 4 for the next one and we obtain 4733 days since July 17, 2010 that is due on July 2, 2023. Knowing the time, just look for the price in the TopLine using my formula and the corresponding price is around 367000$.

I recognize that it is very ambitious to predict in advance of 4 years the next Top but I have extrapolated to the future what i observe today on the historical data.

I know that many of you are already asking “why is required so much time for the next top?” I think the answer is that due to the big growth of the bitcoin ecosystem this growth process is slowing down with the pass of time and therefore more and more time is needed for each new bubble to develop.

This will not mean that bitcoin price will stay all the time below my MidLine, some mini bubble might occurs in the next years and I’ll work on this subject to identify Intermediate Levels to accurately predict where these mini-bubble will end.
For example the recent June 26 Top at 13880$ happened outside the MidLine indicating that Bitcoin price was a bit overpriced. At that time the Midline was at 9050$ and Bitcoin at 13880$ was overpriced by 53%.
This month of September the Midline will move from 10150$ to 10650$ and bitcoin these days is rising to recover that line after a quick drop to 9320$.

Next Thing To Do

As i said i’m satisfied with the result obtained also in terms of R2 of my regression of Tops/Bottoms points, R2 is around 0.99 or basically a perfect FIT of the data points. Of course academically speaking my model doesn’t pass the infamous Durbin-Watson test because the residual of my model has some autocorrelation (as it has also the stock to flow model proposed by PlanB). By the way an academic invalidated model doesn’t mean it will not work but we must play by the rules.
Said this i’ve to found a way to model the distance between my Fair Price Line or Bottom Line and Bitcoin Price trying to have residual without autocorrelation and i’ll probably fail. Why? Because it is difficult to model price behaviour if there is fraudolent activity going on as it could have happened during 2013 with the famous bot “Willy” pumping prices at MtGox or recent manipulation by hedge funds that pushed the price from the fair value of 800$ (January 2017) up to 19800$.

Final Considerations and Gompertz

Benjamin Gompertz is the author of a sigmoid function which describes growth as being slowest at the start and end of a given time period and the future value asymptote of the function is approached more gradually by the curve than the left-hand or lower valued asymptote. I started this article talking about the importance of the user base as a way to simulate saturation because there is a limited number of users that limit the growth of a system, and now i conclude this article trying to model bitcoin price using the formula provided by Mr.Gompertz.
The formula is:


Time as usual is counted in days since July 17 , 2010.
In the below chart there is a comparison between the above formula and the formula for the Bottom Line or Fair Price Line.

My First Model and Gompertz

As you can see simulating saturation lower the Fair Price of Btc in a significative way. The saturation point is around 26000$, instead working with tops the saturation point is 72000$, here is the chart:

TopLine saturated using Gompertz Formula

There is a big consideration to do about this attempt to simulate the saturation of the bitcoin system, the quality of the user base.
I can’t know if in the upcoming years the user base wealth distribution will remain the same or not, if there will be a new influx of user with more money because attracted by the “digital gold” aspect of bitcoin this will surely push bitcoin prices above the forecasted range of 26-72 k$ of this model.

Another consideration looking the last chart is that the starting point is well in the past, 4000 days before July 2010 or December 1999, it is a date close where everything started, the publication of “BitGold” by Nick Szabo, a direct precursor to the Bitcoin architecture.

For now i stay stick with my first model that doesn’t include saturation but i’ll keep an eye on my second model.

Thank you for your attention and I hope to have been quite clear and detailed, as always if you have any questions do not hesitate to leave a comment or write to me on Twitter.

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How To Live A Better Life – 33 Simple Things You Can Do

Are you stuck?

Fed up with being fed up?

Sick and tired of being sick and tired?

Tired of talking about change that never happens?

How To Live A Better Life

You weren’t born to just pay bills and die.

You deserve a better life.

How To Live A Better Life – 33 Simple Things You Can Do

1. Set an intention to live with kindness and awareness

Kindness, compassion and love makes a better society.

You cannot expect to understand everyone, we are not all on the same journey.

But some people are unkind or even downright evil, I hear you say.

They are of course best avoided. But that is not the point here.

Surround yourself with positive people. Get rid of the toxic ones in your life. You become whom you associate with.

My dear friend Craig Ballantyne has some wise words about conflict which I often share:

I do not engage in confrontations with anyone, in-person or online. This is a waste of time and energy. If I have caused harm, I apologize and fix the situation. And then I take a deep breath, relax, breathe out, and re-focus my efforts back on my work and goals.

Follow the Golden Rule, be kind, be courteous

A better life can be yours.

You can live the life of your dreams.

2. Live A Better Life – Drink one more glass of water.

Our bodies are composed of about 60% water. Drinking water helps our body to maintain a healthy balance of body fluids.

These fluids can play an important role for the vital activities like digestion and absorption of foods, blood circulation, salvia production, transportation of nutrients, and to maintain our body temperature.

Drink 8 glasses or more water every day.

Many people are chronically dehydrated without even knowing it.

Don’t be one of them.

3. Don’t lose hope

As Daniel Kahneman said…

‘Nothing in life is as important as you think it is when you are thinking about it.’

Don’t lose hope, you never know what tomorrow might bring.

Those things you worry about are rarely as bad as you imagine they will be.

Sometimes you must hurt in order to know, fall in order to grow, lose in order to gain, because most of life’s greatest lessons are learned through pain.

How To Live A Better Life

4. Nurture your mind with great thoughts.

Where your thoughts go, your life follows.

Choose your thoughts wisely, because your life will always move in the direction of your thoughts.

And stop whining about the things that go wrong in your life.

You will never go higher than you think.

You will never go higher than you think.

5. Stop Comparing Yourself To Others

Live A Better Life

There is always someone faster, better or smarter than us.

Everyone is different, with different levels of intelligence and skills.

If you compare yourself to others you will be miserable most of your life.

You compete with yourself only… even if society tries to make you think the opposite.

Enjoy your own life without comparing it with that of another.

~ Marquis de Condorcet

Image credit: CHIBIRD

How to change your life for the better

6. Scroll less. Watch less TV

Switch of the TV, Netflix, etc

Set internet controls. Ration the amount of News Watching you do or eliminate it all together.

It’s hard to put down the cell phone and pick up a book when technology dominates your life.

There is no need to quit technology altogether, but it is smart to reduce the time you invest in unproductive activities and increase the time you put on to reach your goals.

Limit social media use, since it is one of the biggest time wasters.

7. Do one small thing that progresses a major life goal

Having a major life goal and not progressing it is an ENERGY DRAIN.

If you want to write a book or start a blog – write one paragraph.

If you want to run a marathon – run one mile.

Do a financial health check.

Map out your monthly income and expenditure.

Save more.

What one thing should you be doing right now, that you are not?

Do it now!

8. Stop being afraid

Stop being afraid of what could go wrong and start thinking what could go right.

One day I will write a book about this.

We generate fear while we sit. We overcome them by action.

We generate fears while we sit. We overcome them by action.

9. Choose comfort for your future self over comfort right now.

Imagine you are living forward, 10 years from now and looking back.

What would your future self wish you had been doing today?

One of my favorite quotes about entrepreneurship is…

Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can‘t

This quote can be applied to everyone, no matter their profession.

Get started NOW.

One day you’ll be older and wiser, what would this person say to you today

~ Kamal Ravikant

start creating a better way of life

10. To Live A Better Life – Let Go of Regrets

Own it.

Learn from it.

The past should be a learning experience not an everlasting punishment.

What’s done is done.

Whatever has happened to you in your past has no power over this present moment, because life is now.

Oprah Winfrey

Address the choices you’ve made in the past and change the choices you’ll make in the future.

Make room for the new…

Some changes look negative on the surface but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge.

– Eckhart Tolle

how to live a better life

11: Work for a cause, not for applause

you can live a better life

Work for a cause, not for applause.

Live life to express, not to impress.

Don’t strive to make your presence noticed, just make your absence felt.

12. For a better life – Stop Complaining!

Appreciate how lucky you are every day.

Oh, and stop judging people…

Judging a Person Does Not Define Who They Are… It Defines Who You Are.

Judging = Complaining!

Next time you feel like complaining, ask yourself…

What is good about this situation?

What can I learn from this situation?

Recommended Reading: 21 Key Principles For Success

13. Enjoy the simple things in life.

Simplifying your life is about having more, not less of the good things…

If you think simplifying your life will mean making less money or enjoying less success, think again. Simplifying your life is about having more, not less of the good things. More passion. More meaningful work and relationships. And you can have more of those things by having fewer of the bad things – unsatisfying rituals, self-destructive habits, energy-draining feelings, and so on.

Mark Ford

Live in the moment – appreciate the sounds, smells and sights that you take for granted everyday.

Remind yourself every waking hour to do this.

Happiness is a matter of choice.

You chose it rather than it choosing you.

14.Where focus goes, energy flows

What you focus on is what you get!

No matter how bad you may think things are, there are at least a few things you could be grateful for.

Most people set their goals, and commit only a short period of time.

People who succeed in life have true commitment and laser-sharp focus on the things they want to achieve.

The man who chases two rabbits, catches neither.

– Confucius

People who say “No” are more likely to be focused on their goals rather than those who say “Yes” to every new shiny object.

15. Recognize that everything worthwhile has a cost – be willing to pay it

Every activity has an opportunity cost.

Ask, ‘Is this activity worth what I am sacrificing for it?’

Clarity of purpose must come first. Be absolutely ruthless in refusing to spend time where it simply cannot give you optimal results.

~ Steve Pavlina

A successful life requires a series of trade-offs. You give up one thing to achieve another.

If you are an entrepreneur, you will work long hours to make your business a success. If you are also a parent, that may mean missing our on some of your children special occasions.

There is no judgement here, these are just facts.

Likewise if you fail to save now or invest now the chances are high that in latter years you will not be able to afford the lifestyle you hoped for.

Again, no judgement. This is how life is. Recognize it and choose wisely.

16. Focus on Fewer Things (and Get Really, Really Good at Them)

You can’t do it all and you don’t have to.

As we discussed above, everything has an opportunity cost.

If your hourly rate is $1000 per hour, there is no point in doing $20 an hour tasks.

But let us look at the bigger picture…

What are you best at?

(I would also ask what do you enjoy doing as invariably you will end up being good at it)

What 3 things are you best at?

If you can find a business or a career that incorporates the three things you are best at it is almost guaranteed you will become world class at them.

Or at the very least, better than the average.

17. To Live A Better Life – Talk to yourself kindly

Take some time to notice your self-talk.

To notice how you speak to yourself.

Use kind words.

Don’t judge yourself harshly – rather observe.

Judgement is different from observation.

Judgement is when you attach value to something that’s happened or happening.

Observation is looking at what happened and not attaching value.

You will learn from observation. Observations lead to improvements.

Observation is positive – judgement is negative.

18. Notice what your body is feeling.

Scan down your body, notice how your body is feeling right now.

Is there anything that needs attention?

During a body scan meditation you bring attention to your body, noticing different sensations, as you mentally scan down, from head to toe.

19. Declutter Your Life & Your Surroundings

33 Things You Can Do To Create A Better Life

To focus on the things that matter, you need to de-clutter your space by removing unnecessary items. Living a simple life by owning less stuff is a great idea. We need much less stuff than we think we need.

But, if you still want to keep everything you have, use a system that allows you to be organized. If you have too many things that are not organized, you will feel overwhelmed, anxious and not focused.

If you receive a lot of paperwork sort through it often. Set up a filing system and shred the rest.

Set a system up so that you only “touch” that paperwork once, rather than shuffling it around your desk.

The same applies to important online communications. Have a system for  responding to important emails, etc.

20. To Live A Better Life – Say NO more often!

Say no and own it!

Set your life priorities.

Be firm in saying no to the things that are not important to you…

Those things that do not align with your goals!

Warren Buffett says “Really Successful People Say No To Almost Everything”

When you understand that you will be inclined to say No more often.

21. Stretch!

Stretch out your body by stretching your various muscle groups for five or 10 minutes.

A writing coach I know, recommends writing straight for 33 minutes and then exercising for 6 minutes.

His recommended form of exercise is stretching [Body balance, Yoga, Pilates]

If you’re in need of a five-minute full body stretch, then this video is for you!

This routine has 14 stretches, held for 20 second each, that will loosen your major muscle groups from head to toe.

22. Say goodbye to people who don’t bring positive energy into your life.

Most of us have heard this, or a variation of it…

‘You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.’

Tony Robbins, Eben Pagan and Tim Ferris have all said it, but I believe the originator was the late great Jim Rohn.

Join a Mastermind – or create your own mastermind of like-minded positive people.

Don’t be the smartest person in the room.

Hangout with, and learn from, people smarter than yourself.

Respectfully decline the company of negative people.

23. Embrace Your Flaws

Flaws are what brings individualization to every one of us. Without them we would all be looking, behaving and sounding the same. Life would be without color, rhyme, or meaning.

Whenever you feel your shortcomings hold you back, think of Marilyn Monroe. Her blemish is regarded as one of the most famous beauty icons of all time.

It is not a flaw – it is a trademark!

24. Keep showing up

Show up. Keep showing up.

Somebody successful said: 99% of success is just showing up.

I write a lot about entrepreneurship and success. I have interviewed lots of successful people.

Interestingly, most of them are humble individuals.

Some play down their success and suggest they were lucky.

But the common theme I discovered was that the harder they worked, the more luck they had.

Or, the more they showed up, the more “luck” and success they had!

25. Do more than is expected of you

Years ago, a mentor said to me – “Barry – do the job before you get paid for the job.”

This is a tip I have passed on to many young people over the years, including my children.

It easier to progress in a career than most people imagine by applying this principle.

Sure, some people will say you shouldn’t perform work that you are not getting paid to do.

I respectfully disagree.

26. Be Enthusiastic = A Better Life

I can’t remember who first said this to me, but it is something I have always remembered.

Being enthusiastic is worth 25 IQ points.

When life forces your hand, embrace the new chapter.

Blogging, Entrepreneurship, Life doesn’t always go to plan. Accept it!

There will be good days and there will be not so-good days.

Being enthusiastic helps you to bounce back in the face of adversity.


=> Life happens for you, not to you.

=> This too shall pass.

=> Be with what is.

Successful people think differently about fear and failure.

27. To Live A Better Life – Live below your means.

Spend less than you earn.

This means trading immediate pleasure for the sake of long-term gain.

You are placing a higher priority on saving than you do on spending.

This takes self-discipline and sacrifice. But it is worth it.

Don’t buy the “next big thing” just because you can.

Be grateful for what you have rather than craving what you don’t have.

Invest in your education instead of materialistic goods.

28. To Live A Better Life – Go to the gym, Save money, Limit alcohol

OK, that is three things!

Go to the gym, Save money, Limit alcohol.

Do I need to expand on that?

We all know this makes sense.

These are 3 things you will not regret doing!

29. No problems, no progress

When crisis and disaster strike, don’t waste them.

There is always something to learn, even if it is “what not to do”

No problems, no progress.

30. Don’t take it personally

Don’t take it personally when someone turns you down.

Assume they are like you: busy, occupied, distracted.

Ask again later.

It’s amazing how often a second or third ASK works.

31. To Live A Better Life – Develop the habit of creating good habits!

Success is not accidental!

There are success habits you can adopt that will enhance your life in ways you never imagined.

The purpose of a habit is to remove that action from self-negotiation.

You no longer spend energy deciding whether to do something.

If it aligns with your goals and values just do it.

Good habits can range from always telling the truth, not swearing, to getting up early.

32. Get Outside – Go for a walk in the woods, park, beach…

better life

Did you notice I didn’t say “go for a run” or “go to the gym”.

You should do those anyway, but my point is different.

Go outside, walk around, sit in the park, or leisurely ride your bike. Just spending time outdoors is good for you. It will improve your creativity, help you age better, feel happier and can make you want to work out more.

I rarely, if ever, have my best ideas in the office!

33. Practice Being Grateful

This is No 33 in our list, but it could easily be No 1 on our list.

If there was a secret to a better life, this would be it.

Be Grateful!

Those who pay attention to what is good in their life instead of what is bad are more likely to feel good about their life.

Gratitude improves self-esteem.

Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression.

Celebrate minor accomplishments.

Being grateful helps you to feel happier; it increases the feel-good neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin and helps you deflect negative thoughts.

Research shows that an “attitude of gratitude” can measurably improve your overall well-being.

Watch this video to find out more…

Recommended Reading:

Change Your Life For The Better.

33 Quotes About Life, Purpose, and Success

28 Benefits of Gratitude | Significant Research Findings

How To Create A Better Life – 33 Simple Things YOU Can Do To Change Your Life For The better

This is the foundation for a better life – These 33 steps, compounded, will create a better life.

This time will be different.

live a better life


Your feedback is always welcome. You can email us using this form.

Author Bio:
“BarryBarry Dunlop is a lifelong Entrepreneur, Business Coach and Sales Turnaround Expert who is passionate about helping business owners grow their businesses and enjoy a better life while doing it. You can contact Barry HERE or connect with Barry on LinkedIn

The post How To Live A Better Life – 33 Simple Things You Can Do appeared first on How To Make Money Online.

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Coronavirus ebook news roundup

Here are a few coronavirus-related ebook news stories I ran across today.

Library ebook lending service ProQuest has announced that its Ebook Central program has partnered with over 150 publishers to provide unlimited library lending access to their titles for the duration of the virus epidemic.

ProQuest Ebook Central customers impacted by COVID-19 get unlimited access to all owned titles from these publishers through mid-June. This means that all licenses – including single-user and three-user models – have automatically converted to unlimited access for that period, helping librarians bridge the gap for their patrons in this rapidly changing environment. The unlimited access also applies to additional titles purchased through mid-June.

Image-1.jpgUK paper The Sun reports that Apple is providing free ebooks and audiobooks to US and UK residents via the bookstore of Apple’s own Apple Books app. I checked it out myself, and there are indeed a lot of free titles there. I’m sure that many of them were already free as promotions even before the coronavirus epidemic, much the same way that Baen’s Free Library is, but still, any good source of free reading material can only help people who need to find more things to do to fill up their time.

South Korean ebook startup Millie’s Library is offering free access to its 50,000 titles for two months, as a way of giving back to society. The service normally costs $8 per month. It is also working with South Korea’s government to provide access to its service through the government’s smartphone app for residents under quarantine.

Meanwhile, just as crisis situations bring out the best in some, they can bring out the worst in others. Independent reports that Amazon has seen a huge uptick in plagiarized self-published works about the coronavirus epidemic, as unscrupulous operators copy and paste online news stories or make ebooks of short articles on corona-related subjects in order to make a quick buck (or pound) from worried readers.

Not all the new corona-related ebooks are for profiteering. The UK paper Express & Star reports that Cornish mother and children’s book author Ellie Jackson was so worried about the impact of the virus on children that she was moved to write a children’s ebook about it. The book, The Little Corona King, seems to be available on Apple Books and Google Play Books but I don’t see it anywhere else at the moment. (I wonder if any preventative measures Amazon might have imposed to try to stop coronavirus profiteering are keeping it off Amazon.)

Photo by Anna Shvets on

If you found this post worth reading and want to kick in a buck or two to the author, click here.

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The Internet Archive’s ‘National Emergency Library’ expands on Open Library’s copyright violations

A few days ago, the Internet Archive announced a change to its Open Library ebook lending program. Until the announcement, this program had worked by treating treating ebooks as substitutes for the paper books the Archive held, and only lending out one electronic copy for each paper copy it had on hand—a practice called Controlled Digital Lending.

During the coronavirus epidemic crisis, however, the Archive announced it would suspend this limitation. Under the new terms, each user can check out up to ten ebooks at a time, but there is no limitation on how many copies of each ebook can be checked out at once by different users. Calling this the “National Emergency Library,” the Archive explained it was meant to benefit students and the general public during this time of crisis.

This announcement came in for a good amount of uncritical news coverage from sources like Forbes and NPR. However, is this really as praiseworthy as it seems? Ars Technica pays a little more attention to the issues in its own story, pointing out much the same thing that I did several years ago: this “ebook lending library” is cheerfully violating copyrights left and right.

Some publishers and authors are encouraging greater fair use of their works during the corona crisis, but the Internet Archive’s actions here are considerably more extreme. While it might have given a nod to the idea of fair use by only lending one ebook at a time for each paper copy it owns, there is no precedent for fair use rights to permit controlled digital lending of copyrighted content—and the Archive has now discarded even that fig leaf with its new temporary “borrow as much as you want” regime.

Just over two years ago, the Authors Guild finally noticed what was going on and issued warnings and complaints, but didn’t take any further legal action. It has now issued another announcement, viewing this new development with alarm.

IA is using a global crisis to advance a copyright ideology that violates current federal law and hurts most authors. It has misrepresented the nature and legality of the project through a deceptive publicity campaign. Despite giving off the impression that it is expanding access to older and public domain books, a large proportion of the books on Open Library are in fact recent in-copyright books that publishers and authors rely on for critical revenue. Acting as a piracy site—of which there already are too many—the Internet Archive tramples on authors’ rights by giving away their books to the world.

In its National Emergency Library FAQ list, the Archive provides a contact email for authors or publishers to request that their books be removed. It does not address the question of legality. As I noted in my previous piece, Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle is a long-time copyright reform advocate, and one of the ways such people push for reform is by staking out a position just outside what the law permits and trying to push as far forward as they can.

The odd thing is that in all this time, nobody has yet filed any copyright lawsuits over it. Even the Authors Guild hasn’t gone to court despite knowing about what the IA was doing for at least two years now—and this is the same organization that was so incensed over Google daring to scan copyrighted books for search indexing purposes that it took Google and its partner university all the way to the Supreme Court (and ultimately lost both cases).

But lawsuits do cost a lot of money, and the Authors Guild’s legal fees in the Google dispute couldn’t have been cheap. Is the Authors Guild still stinging over those defeats? Does it think that if it lost a fair use case against a commercial entity like Google, it would have even less hope of prevailing over a nonprofit like the Internet Archive? Or maybe it’s just that there are more pressing matters for the courts right now than copyright lawsuits.

In any case, as The Digital Reader points out, plenty of authors aren’t happy that the Internet Archive is providing access to their works for free when they are being hit hard by the epidemic right along with everybody else. There are many other legitimate methods of obtaining ebooks for free, via library-related services like Overdrive and Hoopla Digital, that will earn the authors and publishers money.

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