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Publishers Protest Google Library Project
systematic infringement of copyright on a massive scale

 7:24 am on May 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

Publishers Protest Google Library Project


The Association of American University Presses said in a letter that was to be sent to Google on Monday that the online search engine's library project "appears to involve systematic infringement of copyright on a massive scale."



 12:45 am on May 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

I honestly thought they were just going to scan those in public domain. It sucks to be a publisher in this case


 2:19 am on May 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

walkman, in public domain?
if Google$ goes through with this, they will no longer have a need to pay webmasters for Adsense - they can just put their "public" (or should I say "owned") content first in SERPs.

This is besides all the cultural and political ramifications of the issue.


 2:57 am on May 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

I don't understand the problem. If Google publishes copyrighed material, sure, sue them.
But if they 'publish' The Last Days of Socrates or whatever (that has been outside of copyright for thousands of years) and students can read it for free instead of paying Penguin $8+ then what's the problem?


 3:08 am on May 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

That is not the problem, this is good. But don't switch the point, students can take it from a library and read it for FREE.

The problem is with all the keywords that will be in texts, and Google$ putting AdSense on these texts.

Now, imagine you have website on Greek philosophy, that earns money with Adsense. It will immediately become a no-earner, 'cause everyone will link to Google$ and obviously Google$'s text will be on top of SERPs as authority - here you go, less traffic to you, a LOT more traffic to keep on Google.com.

Extrapolate that to more money-earning keywords - and I am sure there will be plenty of books with related names.

[edited by: aleksl at 3:12 am (utc) on May 25, 2005]


 3:10 am on May 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

I haven't looked into this Google Library thing fully, but the problem may lie not in the content, but in the physical publication of that content that is being scanned.

For example, "The Last Days of Socrates" may very well be out of copyright and so available for publication by anyone. However, the physical publication of "The Last Days of Socrates" by Roadrunner and Coyote Publications (hoping they don't actually exist) is in itself copyright, and scanning that physical book without permission would be a violation.

The same would apply to a recording of a centuries old folk song, or a photograph of pre-historic cave paintings. In both these cases the original work is certainly out of copyright, but the modern recording or photo thereof is in itself subject to intellectual property laws.

That is where the sticking point may lie.



 3:16 am on May 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

I already mentioned this, a company owned by Billy-Bob Gates already did it to famous paintings - and it isn't pretty, you basically have to pay them if you want a reprint. These paintings were in PUBLIC domain, why do I have to pay Billy-Bob? As it turns out, I can't just go and make a picture of these either.


 3:28 am on May 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

You miss the point. A work (literary/musical/artistic/whatever) may be in public domain, but a publication/recording/photo/duplication of that work may not.

In your example, you are free to view the original painting, or perhaps even make your own copy of the painting, but to view Joe's copy of the painting may or may not incur a charge which is entirely up to Joe. Additionaly, if you copy Joe's reproduction without his premission, then that would be a violation of intelectuall property law.



 4:02 am on May 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

Well, who's intellectual property it is was not my point. But yes, I can argue that either - which country's intellectual property law we are talking about? Because that makes a HUGE difference. Especially for libraries with books in PUBLIC domain that were created all over the world.

Number 2, the US copyright law of digital content is such a tricky stuff....so one can make a digital copy, I can make my own copy of original, but a copy of their digital copy (essentially identical) is a violation of copyright? Interesting.


 4:31 am on May 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

Beethoven's Choral Symphony is in the public domain.

A recent recording of that symphony, by say, the Berlin Philharmonic, would retain copyright protection throughout the term mandated by laws of various nations.

You can whistle the Ode to Joy all you want. You can record yourself playing it on a kazoo. You could rerelease a recording of the work made before, say, 1923.

But you can't use the recent recording by the Berlin Philharmonic without permission.

And that's the name of that tune.

And no, I'm not a lawyer -- the dates may be off a hair or there may be international treaties barring the playing of lovely, lovely Ludwig Von on an instrument made of plastic and celophane, but you get the general idear...


 4:38 am on May 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

Thank you Atticus, a simple and clear example.



 1:56 pm on May 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

Atticus, not even close.

With music we are talking about one close "interpretation" - (Berlin Philarmonic) to another - say me playing a xylophone. Unfortunately, with books we are talking AN EXACT DIGITAL COPY. Because no matter who scans Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, on a website it will look EXACTLY the same - web page design notwistanding.

So for the physical product (CD, book, etc.) there are fairyly clear laws (albeit again US copyright layers went too far IMHO), it is a mess for digital content, and I personally would be against a private corporation "owning" a copy of it.


 2:04 pm on May 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

It is an opportunity for a new revenue stream for publishers.

Google is not going to "publish" the books. they will provide excerpts. Which, would in turn lead the searcher to potentially buy the book.

So... what is wrong with this? If Google hooks up with Amazon, that comission check is going to need a truck to deliver! I am salivating just thinking about it.

Maybe then a Google Library search can be added to my web site, and point it through MY account to Amazon! Woohoo!

Half full.


 2:09 pm on May 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

Tapolyai, good points, unfortunately with corporations it is not the case - they are "for profit" in the first place, and their intentions are always "for profit". So they will benefit greatly. Whether they will provide something back to you - I doubt it, you can't use their search results, can you? So a BS should be called what it is - a BS.

<edit>Again, maybe you guys missed the point, a Public Domain means available to EVERYONE, IN FULL and for FREE.


 2:20 pm on May 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

Here's one more - if Google$ is such a "do good" with the idea, why don't they form and sponsor a non-profit, governed by representatives from at least several countries to do this project? And it will own digital copies.

Want to be a "Do Good-nik" - be it, don't just pretend.


 2:37 pm on May 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

There are always opportunities when a large corporation makes any significant move.

As long as you are not a direct competition to the behemoth, you can always eat off of the crumbs, and get seriously fat!

I do not give a hoot about altruistic ideals. I want to make money so I can make the donations to the charities I deem worthy.

I see opportunities. Where there is one, usually there are more that are not discovered. So why spend time about how the company is going to take over the world? Let's find venues to profit from this.

Ferengi Rule #92 of Acquisition: There are many paths to profit.


 4:08 pm on May 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

Folks, keep in mind that there are some different Google Print projects going on.

On the one hand, they want to work with some major libraries to digitize many classic 19th century works, clearly in the public domain, even in the edition they will be using.

On the other hand, they want to digitize many in-print, in-copyright books, and that's the project that has publishers up in arms. This may take years to play out--Google is asserting it can do more under "fair use" than the publishers accept. I wouldn't be surprised to see this end up in court.


 4:19 pm on May 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

For a consumer, Google's library project would be a way to figure out which book to buy for their specific needs. How does that translate to a "troubling financial threat" to the publishers selling those books?

Are the paper guys now falling for the same stupidity that fuels the RIAA?


 5:09 pm on May 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

You miss the point. A work (literary/musical/artistic/whatever) may be in public domain, but a publication/recording/photo/duplication of that work may not.

As far as I know, there is no copyright on fonts in the united states, and there is no typographical copyright in the united states.

The only protection you would receive would be on a derivative work, and I would be surprised if you could even get away with that when publishing reprints of public domain materials.

Recordings of songs are specifically covered in copyright law. In fact, an audio recording of the reading of a book would also be covered. But you have to go to europe to get that typographical copyright (25 year duration).

If anyone knows of any caselaw that disagrees with this, please post it.


 5:22 pm on May 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

From [copyright.gov...]


Several categories of material are generally not eligible for federal copyright protection. These include among others:
* Titles, names, short phrases, and slogans; familiar symbols or designs; mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, or coloring; mere listings of ingredients or contents

If they are scanning books of works that are in the public domain, then I don't see where the problem is.

Like I have said before, I would not bet against Google on a copyright issue. I have no doubt that they run through all the possible issues with real experts long before we ever hear about a product.


 5:40 pm on May 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

"Like I have said before, I would not bet against Google on a copyright issue. I have no doubt that they run through all the possible issues with real experts long before we ever hear about a product. "

I agree on that. They are not stupid so if they do somethign, they're pretty sure that they'll win. However, you never know; that's why we have judges, trials and appeal courts.


 5:50 pm on May 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

No doubt on that one. They certainly dance on the not-quite-infringing line a lot.

I would not hesitate to sue them if I really thought they were infringing on one of my works. There is a lot of talk (mostly by people that don't quite grasp what copyright really protects) about how google is infringing by doing this or that. But what seems to be lacking is anyone taking them to court.

If it was really as clear cut as some people think, the lawyers would be knocking on our doors to go after those incredibly deep pockets.


 8:38 pm on May 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

FWIW, Google has made some statements in response to the AAUP complaint, the most notable being that any publisher can remove any in-copyright book--or all their books--from the program.

Then the question for publishers becomes how much material Google displays for searchers. If it's a limited amount, as in Amazon's Search Inside the Book program, most publishers will be happy. Amazon claims their program increases sales and publishers seem to agree.


 10:17 pm on May 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

Falks, you really don't grasp the depth of it, or am I imagining things?

The books they are after are in public domain. Google$ would like to scan them. Even if Google$ Inc. agrees to play by the rules - i.e. copyrights, there's so easy to setup a Shelter-Inc and WhoGivesA-Inc and with some legal mumbo-jumbo transfer the right so that whoever owns them can do anything they want. And THAT would be illegal.

As I said in msg#15 here, if they want to do it legally, I would force them to set up a non-profit organization.

Otherwise whoever owns WhoGivesA-Inc will basically be having themselves a largest publishing company in the world without paying a dime (well, technically with Gooogle$ money)


 10:22 pm on May 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

Enter the Google Wide Web.


 11:22 pm on May 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

If I remember public domain correctly, once a work is in the public domain, it's in it, much like once code is released under the GPL it can't be unreleased. If a new edition comes out, say of an old translation of some greek book, which includes a new preface and comments etc, those parts will be copywrited but the original public domain material won't be.

Dover press, for example, publishes almost only public domain works, and their books are themselves simply copies of those works, and have no copywrite on them.

However, this is just google being google, like most of the stuff they are doing, all they are doing is taking an already existing idea, project gutenberg in this case, and adding their brand to it. Pardon me while I stifle a yawn. This idea had some enthusiasm behind it about 10 years ago, but stopped being of any particular interest to the market as a whole a long time ago, primarily because of the highly restrictive copywrite laws the publishing and music industry got passed a few years ago, which made the whole thing with public domain pretty much dead in the water for any book published after 1970 or so, which then makes any idea of digitizing the world's literature fairly useless except for the old stuff already in the public domain.

Of course, if they feel that they can put true, non-public domain works online, which I doubt they do, they will soon learn a lot about lawsuits.


 11:46 pm on May 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

Okay, I've looked into it and they are not talking about only public domain works. They are talking about being able to search in copyrighted books as well, showing snippets as they do with web searches.

From the FAQ at [print.google.com...]

What does a book scanned from a library look like?

Public domain books will look very similar to publisher-submitted books except you will be able to click through all the pages of the book. For library books still in copyright, you'll be able to find the book in your search result, but we will only display bibliographic information and a few short snippets of the book. All library books will have the Find this in a library link which allows you to find that book in a nearby library. Take a tour through a few screenshots to see what books from a library look like and the features available on each type of Google Print Screenshots page.

Personally, I don't see a problem with what they are doing.


 12:06 am on May 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

The letter from the Association of American University Presses to Google is available in PDF [aaupnet.org] (256K file).

The points it raises are very substantial, in my opinion.


 2:58 am on May 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

Their points might be substantial, but many of them do not match the reality of a search index.

While there is certainly potential for abuse, we do not know exactly how it will operate just yet.

If at any point it becomes actual infringement, that is the time to file the suits. right now, that letter was just a bunch of questions (often technically uninformed) being asked by a lawyer.

They certainly have every right to raise these questions, but that does not mean that they necessarily have the right to stop google if google and the libraries are within their rights.


 8:03 am on May 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

Some of those questions were not trivial. The idea of digitizing entire libraries of material, besides being a massive chore to do, is not going to wash, if I read that right, Google first went to publishers, with the plan for publisher approved digitizing of their books, then dropped this googlebomb, which bypasses the rights of publishers and will simply digitize the library as a whole. This is a pretty big mistake, except for the 'google can do no wrong' crowd, who I guess really think that the cute name really means that google can do no wrong. Note to google, stop hiring so many over educated people who seem unable to think, aka phds.

The reason it won't wash was contained in some of the questions, namely: what is to keep google at some future point from doing something else with these digitized works? A promise? I've seen ebay do something similar when they sold their email list to marketers, after all users had been promised this wouldn't happen.

To me though this really just seems like google really doesn't have any real solid ideas of where to go next, but do have some cash to burn, same old dotcom nonsense.

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