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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.)

4:15 pm on Sept 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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It said authors and publishers can exclude books from the program if they don't want their material included.

Google has said it offers protections to copyright holders by limiting users of books covered by copyrights to bibliographic information and a few sentences of text.

Copyright protection is not "opt-out" and just how is Google going to determine which books are covered by copyrights? Their core competency is search and the indexing of pages and they cant even accurately distinguish between a url and an actual page, yet they think they can adequately guard the copyrights of 3rd parties. Sure thing.

If nothing else, this suit will push Google to develop a standard to live up to with regard to the "protections to copyright holders".

4:28 pm on Sept 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Well, it seems like there are two essential questions-

Will Google redirect people who want to get copyrighted books to websites where they can order them, or will Google Print have a pay service where you can download the entire book directly from Google? The first option is sound provided that only small portions of the actual text are used, while the second option seems like a risk for piracy and copyright infringement if improperly implemented.

The second question is how will the royalties filter down? If the first option is the one that Google will be using for Google Print, then it's a moot question, since publishers and agents usually negotiate royalty percentages for online book stores that Google would probably direct the potential customer to.

If Google opts for the second choice, then does a royalty fee go directly from Google to the author? Or does it go from Google to the publisher to the author? Because if it's the second option, that would reduce royalties for authors even further. Maybe the conerns on the end of the author's guild stems fromt the fact that they think Google might not pay royalties to either the publisher or the author, allowing Google to make pure profit off of someone else's work.

Either way, with the advent of Google Print (IF it goes active), many publishers would need to renegotiate contracts with their authors, if the authors or publishers can even maintain control over their copyrighted works.

4:46 pm on Sept 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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google is going to lose:
1. They scan the entire book as it is and store in their servers (mp3.com anyone? "Simply put, it is not legal to compile a vast database of our members' sound recordings with no permission and no license," [news.com.com...]

2. They might just show a snippet for word match, but see this from Google's own Blog.http://#*$!.blogspot.com/uploaded_images/LibraryProject_screenshot-745613.JPG. That's a lot of snipets IMO, especially since Google doesn't add anything to it (no commentary, agree or disagree).

5:22 pm on Sept 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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<opinion>
Google certainly SHOULD lose. The issue isn't how much of the copyrighted works they show, or for what purpose. It's that they are copying copyrighted works-without permission.
</opinion>

<edit reason- didn't want to dilute thread>

[edited by: akmac at 5:36 pm (utc) on Sep. 21, 2005]

5:29 pm on Sept 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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google is going to lose:
1. They scan the entire book as it is and store in their servers (mp3.com anyone? "Simply put, it is not legal to compile a vast database of our members' sound recordings with no permission and no license," [news.com.com...]

This is no different than a library. Or if you make the argument that a library is a non-commercial entity, how about a bookstore (or a used bookstore). A library indexes books too, just not as well.


2. They might just show a snippet for word match, but see this from Google's own Blog.http://#*$!.blogspot.com/uploaded_images/LibraryProject_screenshot-745613.JPG. That's a lot of snipets IMO, especially since Google doesn't add anything to it (no commentary, agree or disagree).

The same argument here. You can look at the book in the bookstore (or read the whole thing) without buying it.

Personally as a student who has had to do tons of research on medical topics and things of that nature, things like book search, and scholar search are an enormous resource - not for violating any copyright (real or in spirit), but for finding useful information.

5:31 pm on Sept 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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It seems to me that Google is always trying to make money tampering with other people’s copyrights. I wouldn’t think the copyright protections for this book project are any better than with Adsense. How many DMCA complaints have been filed with Google regarding that program, a million. How many webmasters are having to do unpaid policing for Google now as a result of Adsense. Does Google surrender the proceeds to the author when they find infringement in Adsense? Google protecting copyrights is like having the proverbial fox guarding the chicken coop.
5:31 pm on Sept 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Copyright protection is not "opt-out"

This statement says it all. You can't just break copyright rules and say you have the opportunity to "opt-out". That would be like me putting up new movies on a server and saying the movie companies can request to "opt-out".

5:32 pm on Sept 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Google certainly SHOULD lose. The issue isn't how much of the copyrighted works they show, or for what purpose. It's that they are copying copyrighted works-without permission.

The same argument goes for a search engine that makes a private copy of the web and stores it on their servers. As long as they don't make that copy directly public (ask google if they'll send you a cd with a copy of your favorite web site), its not only legal but very welcome from both sides of the fence (users and content owners)

5:53 pm on Sept 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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The issue isn't how much of the copyrighted works they show, or for what purpose.

On the contrary: Those are factors that go into determining "fair use."

6:24 pm on Sept 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I think the authors legally might win a bit on the short term, on the opt-out as default, and technically probably rightly so.

Then, slowly the publishers will be pushing the authors back into the Google Print system.
In many countries, after a certain (rather short) term, unsold books go into a heavy discount selling system. Maybe now, it will be worthwhile for the publishers to hold on to their unsold copies..or in future sell pdf copies of it.

I get quite a few requests from people wanting to buy out-of-print, in copyright, books that are discussed on my site, I can only imagine the impact if I kept a full indexable, restricted viewable version.

7:13 pm on Sept 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Well, publishers can be bypassed if Google Print keeps full copies of copyrighted books on its databases.

Previously the chain would work something like this-

book store>publisher>author

The book is sold at the book store, the book store pays a cut to the publisher, the publisher gives a royalty check to the author.

Depending on your online source, the process gets changed around a little bit, but it's still the same...

Site>book store>publisher>author

The order from the site is filled by the local book store who pays the publisher who pays the author.

The advent of Google Print can possibly do this...

Site>Author

Someone buys a book from Google Print, and Google sends a check to the author, since the author has an account with Google Print. Publishers either shut down or have to drastically reduce their percentages to keep up with Google Print, who remove the middle man, so to speak.

While a lot of authors will/are boycotting Google Print, and others will continue to use their publishers even when using Google Print, and things like that, this is probably the first in a chain of lawsuits from various organizations against Google over Google Print.

But someone just pointed out an interesting fact- scanning the amount that they say they will, at the rate they say they will, in 24 hour shifts, it'll still take 75 years for the Google Print database to be complete. And that's without interruptions from litigation.

[edited by: submitawebsite at 7:26 pm (utc) on Sep. 21, 2005]

7:14 pm on Sept 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Doesn't this have a very limited scope?

It sounds like just a bunch of authors who wanted to restrict who saw their material.

7:17 pm on Sept 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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About the analogy between what Google is doing and a library... I don't get it. Doesn't a library purchase the books legally? A library doesn't make copies and distribute the copies electronically or by any other means.
7:26 pm on Sept 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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You can't make the comparison between a used bookstore as an "indexing library" and a digital medium, like Google's Print Service as the same, but larger "indexing library".

Why? The idea (which is what holds value in the physical item being sold) in a bookstore is attached to a physical entity (bound together paper). Physical items like books cannot be reproduced and sold without some heavy costs (and infrastructure - bookstores, delivery trucks, printing presses, large quantities of paper, etc). In other words, it costs money.

Not to mention, in a used bookstore the books are USED, which means someone had to purchase them new at some point, which means the authors did receive royalties for that copy of the book once already.

Digital mediums, on the other hand, can be reproduced and distributed once or a million times with nothing more than a computer, an internet connection, and the click of a mouse.

As has been shown with the music industry and mp3's, copyright laws were written when the physical medium was the only way to distribute an idea, and that medium has built-in limitations which the digital medium simply does not have.

Copyright laws need to be redefined for the digital age if we expect to apply them to digital mediums with any success.

7:29 pm on Sept 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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This is no different than a library

Philippe Kahn, founder of Borland International, came up with a great software license agreement in 1982 when he released Turbo Pascal. It went something like; "treat it like a book, only one person can use it at a time".

Fast-forward to 2005 and someone has created the ability to allowed thousands to read a single purchased book at once.

7:33 pm on Sept 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Most books I own have something along this lines printed on one of the first pages..

... No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical ... or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

I've checked a few books, and none of them say, "unless you're Google"

7:35 pm on Sept 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I still find it interesting that webmasters can make definitive statements that Google will lose, yet the actual copyright attorneys out there tend to be posting things like "it's not a slam dunk for google" or better.

There are a few that seem to think that google has a very good chance of winning, but I have yet to find any IP lawyers that are convinced that google has no chance.

What surprised me was that many seemed to think that the opt-out offer will work in google's favor when it comes to getting a Fair Use ruling.

<added>I found one that seems to think that it is a slam dunk for the publishers, William Patry.

Like I said before, this will be interesting to see how it plays out</added>

[edited by: BigDave at 7:53 pm (utc) on Sep. 21, 2005]

7:41 pm on Sept 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Most books I own have something along this lines printed on one of the first pages..

It doesn't matter what the publishers claim. What matters is the law, and the law allows for certain types of copying.

It is simply a question of whether the courts find the copying by google to be the illegal sort.

7:52 pm on Sept 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I see someone saying google print goes from store>author. Any author can do this now if they want, even seen the 5 million crap ebooks on clickbank?
8:10 pm on Sept 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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The copying of entire works isn't allowed under fair use CURRENTLY.

The laws for electronic media are still being written...

8:23 pm on Sept 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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The copying of entire works isn't allowed under fair use CURRENTLY.

Actually, in the right circumstances you can copy an entire work under fair use. It happens with photographs all the time. The same with news reporting and commentary.

8:24 pm on Sept 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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What matters is the law, and the law allows for certain types of copying

Opinion, or do you know what type is allowed?

8:30 pm on Sept 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Opinion, or do you know what type is allowed?

The type of copying that is allowed without permission is simply any copying that is not a part of the exclusive grant that copyright covers. Fair Use, personal use, deminimis, archival copies, are all area that provide some defense against a claim of infringement.

8:35 pm on Sept 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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"Actually, in the right circumstances you can copy an entire work under fair use. It happens with photographs all the time. The same with news reporting and commentary. "

Clarification: The copying of entire TEXTUAL works isn't allowed under fair use CURRENTLY.

8:36 pm on Sept 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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The same argument here. You can look at the book in the bookstore (or read the whole thing) without buying it.

Big difference. You go into a library or a book store and you are lookimg at the "real" book in exactly the way the author intended it to be viewed.

A true comparison would be going into a book store and reading the latest best seller fresh from a photocopier.

I just see this as an example of Google thinking they have outgrown the laws. We are Google we can do what we want.

Google are one very forward thnkign company. A lot of what they are pushing out is very cutting edge and in many ways is more realted to a Project than a public offering. Imagine someone studying computer science wrote a book search for a campus library. That would be a winner. But making it public would be a no no!

Same applies.

I think Google books would be a very good tool, if it where opt-in. In this case opt-out simply doesnt work.

Mack.

8:45 pm on Sept 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Clarification: The copying of entire TEXTUAL works isn't allowed under fair use CURRENTLY.

Yes it is. As mentioned, it happens with news coverage all the time. You know those "leaked memos" that appear in newspapers? those are copyrighted TEXTUAL works.

Go look at wat the lawyers are saying about it.

8:54 pm on Sept 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Fair Use, personal use, de minimis, archival copies,

Do you think that a complete copy of a book may rise to the level of a "counterfeit mark" and may be covered by a currently defined statute.

9:31 pm on Sept 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I wonder why Google is copying the entire text, if they are just going to display a small portion?

The think they probably intend to index the entire text and make it searchable. Perhaps they will display the paragragh that the text appears in or maybe even the entire page? If that is the case then it crosses the line, in my opinion.

Also, there the question of how useful this tool could be if you only get to see a small portion of the book. I think the idea is not so much to create a useful tool but to become the world's largest affiliate marketer.

And who gets all those great leads? I'm guessing Amazon and the little guys might not even get a chance at those sales. Especially if this thing gets intergrated into Google normal SERPS, this is going to be big blow to online book stores that aren't involved with Google.

9:32 pm on Sept 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Suppose I should've said "books". In any case, I can see the outcome of this issue setting a pretty far reaching precedent-regardless of which way it goes, as it's a mixture of standard copyright infringement and Napster type copyright infringement. I'm no lawyer though-what are they saying?

For information on fair use:

[fairuse.stanford.edu...]

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