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Authors Sue Google For Alleged 'Massive Copyright Infringement'

     
7:31 am on Sep 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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"An organization of more than 8,000 authors accused Google Inc. Tuesday of "massive copyright infringement," saying the powerful Internet search engine cannot put its books in the public domain for commercial use without permission."

[abcnews.go.com...]

I'm sure most of us saw this one coming. Google insists that they will direct readers who want more to booksellers and libraries. (For a nice profit, no doubt.)

9:05 pm on Sept 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

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As a member from the UK I don't know if this is relevent to the USA but I understood that copyright was covered by an international convention (the Berne Convention) that says what is and what is not allowable.

If this is the case surely authors from around the world could sue Google in their own countries - could prove very expensive for Google as a ruling in one country would not necessarily apply to all.

Mind you, I'm not a lawyer, just a humble webmaster trying to make a living......

9:23 pm on Sept 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

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If this is the case surely authors from around the world could sue Google in their own countries

Only if the actual copyright infringement happens in that country.

Copyright law is still a country by country affair. The Berne convention is just an agreement to standardize the laws to a limited extent, and to have the country's laws apply to residents of other Berne Convention countries.

If Google violates US copyright law in relation to your work produced in the UK, the Berne Convention gives you the right to sue Google in the US.

In fact, if they violate my copyright here in the US, no matter if I file in my local District Court, it would almost certainly be moved to their local district court because that is where the infringment happened.

Where you might be able to have a local copyright infringement suit is over Google serving up results from a UK datacenter. But that part of the case is not as strong as the case against the scanning of the entire work, which I understand is not happening in the UK.

10:02 pm on Sept 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I wonder if the Authors Guild or the writers who are suing Google understand what Google is actually doing. Probably not. I'm a published author, a former editor and literary agent, and a lapsed Guild member, and I fail to understand why offering full-text search of published works is a threat to writers. Google Print benefits authors and serves the "public good."

What's next? An Authors Guild suit against the READER'S GUIDE TO PERIODICAL LITERATURE?

11:18 pm on Sept 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I wonder if the Authors Guild or the writers who are suing Google understand what Google is actually doing. Probably not. I'm a published author, a former editor and literary agent, and a lapsed Guild member, and I fail to understand why offering full-text search of published works is a threat to writers. Google Print benefits authors and serves the "public good."

Who it benefits is not the issue. Intellectual property owners have the right to say how their property will be used. I don't think it's Google's place to decide what's good or not for authors and publishers.

Using the web site analogy ... A web site can hide behind robots.txt files or password protection to avoid indexing. Just about every book Google plans to digitize includes a statement to the effect that the book cannot be legally copied. Therefore, it's not just an opt-in vs. opt-out issue. It's more like Google completely ignoring robots.txt directives.

-- Roger

12:04 am on Sept 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Who it benefits is not the issue. Intellectual property owners have the right to say how their property will be used. I don't think it's Google's place to decide what's good or not for authors and publishers.

Copyright laws are subject to a court's interpretation, especially where "Fair Use" is concerned (since the definition of "Fair Use" is written so broadly). I suspect that Google's attorneys will be able to make a convincing argument that its use of snippets, etc. constitutes "Fair Use," and that the digitizing of the books doesn't harm authors and is for the public good.

1:19 am on Sept 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

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It all boils down to they should have asked first. Now, crazy lawsuits will pop up like weeds and it will take years and millions of dollars of the author's, publisher's, google's and ultimately the US tax payer's money.

Winner here: Lawyers.

All I know is if I put a lock on my front door (copyright notice), you'd better not traipse in and have a look around whenever you feel like it just to catalog what I have, cause somebody would end up with a boot in their ass.

Property is property is property. Even if it's greed, hoarding or whatever, they have been granted the copyRIGHTS that allow them to do what they choose with their property. If they only want their books printed in 4pt italic letters on the back of a pigs ass, I say if they can find a publisher willing to wrestle one down and print it, so be it and more power to 'em.

3:14 am on Sept 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

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The copyright holder should be able to decide when to digitalize their own works, or when to assign these rights to another party. In my own printed book contract with a publisher, we addressed assignment of print rights, as well as digital rights. I don't recall Google being mentioned anywhere in the contract.

Once again, I think Google is making a huge mistake.

11:03 pm on Sept 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I agree with the argument about "rights". But physicial world publishers are being very reactive and seem to be in the dark about the the long tail they could leverage for their works.

The issue today is much more one of finding your audience than it is about losing rights to your IP.

4:17 pm on Sept 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I agree with the argument about "rights". But physicial world publishers are being very reactive and seem to be in the dark about the the long tail they could leverage for their works.

Whether it's dumb to close off a potential audience stream, it's still their right to close it off, or what should have been, not have opened it at all.

It's theirs so it should be their responsibility to find their audiences to best make use of their works. If Google, or anybody else for that matter, had an idea which would potentially open their works up to a vastly larger audience with a greater potential revenue stream, they should have presented the idea to them before just saying "I took your hard work and plan to make it avaiable to millions, don't complain, it's for your own good."

"Do no evil"

7:53 pm on Sept 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Whether it's dumb to close off a potential audience stream, it's still their right to close it off, or what should have been, not have opened it at all.

Maybe it is, and maybe it isn't. The answer depends on what the courts come up with when they weigh the IP owner's rights (and economic damages, if any) against the public good.

10:06 am on Sept 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

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hey should have presented the idea to them

I agree with this very much. Google culture was more than a bit provincial and ivery-tower on this, having little sense of how the general off-line culture would perceive things.

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