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Authors Guild Sues Google Over Print Program 598

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the calling-evil-down-on-do-no-evil dept.
heavy snowfall writes to tell us that The Authors Guild has filed a class action lawsuit against Google. The lawsuit claims that Google's scanning and digitizing of library books as a part of the Google Print Project constitutes "massive copyright infringement". In addition to the lawsuit The Authors Guild has also issued a press release to explain its actions.
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Authors Guild Sues Google Over Print Program

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  • ... i just want to remind you that Google is a for-profit company
    • yes, it is.

      But what has that got to do with anything?
      • what has that got to do with anything?

        Well, it raises the ethical and moral issue that they are making money off the back of work they're not paying for. I don't think it has any legal bearing, at least not much in the US and none at all in the UK.

        TWW

        • Actually, the penalty for making a profit on copyright infringement is more severe then not makign a profit on copyright infringement.

          For example: Sell bootleg CD's and you will pay a harder fee (and jail time) then if you were just handing out bootleg CD's.
    • Now really, thanks for stating the obvious.

      However, google being a bussiness neither means that they are automatically right, nor that they are automatically wrong, so what exactly is your point here?
      • This is Slashdot.

        Last i checked the fashionable posture du jour was "Google is good".

        I just wanted to shake (some) people out of the pre-defined position that "Google are the good ones so they must be right"

        Hopefully this will make for a fairer and more rational discussion.

        I was also aiming at first post but a troll beat me to it ;)
      • Right or wrong, The Authors' Guild is saying that Google are acting illegally.

        Just because Google (and some of it's supporters) think this is a good idea does not make it legal.
        We can all have our opinions about what "should" happen, but whether Google is allowed to do this is down to the Courts, now that the copyright owners have asked that it be looked into.

        I think the OP's point is that Google are not doing this because of the wonderful, freeing effect it will have on literature, rather that they are doing it to make money.

        I wonder what would happen if Google started to charge for access to this library?
        • Google will not charge for access to this library because it will be yet another (and possibly their biggest and most concentrated) content base on which they can tack their ad programs.

          I wouldn't mind this at all if the Google "reference" venture turns out to be what it says it will be - but perhaps they should "reign in" on the timeline of what they choose to publish. I know of an already-existing example of an online library, http://gallica.bnf.fr/ [gallica.bnf.fr], that is a result of an exhaustive effort to scan and
        • Lets keep in mind a few things.
          Google is being sued for a service that is not available to the public (or anyone).
          Google has not yet even provided details about what the service actually is.
          If they were not actually making copies of the text but, instead were building search trees, then they would be doing nothing illegal. Just this would have a great potential.

          Hell, they could be building a modern library of Alexandria for safe keeping, or maybe they are brute force training language interpretation softwar
    • What's the root of this conflict? Money!

      Google will probably get a lot of financial revenue from the selling ads on their pages offering book content. The copyright holders of the books (authors, publishers, ...) get bigger exposure of their books. This might lead to the financial advantage that book sales will increase. Probably, for a lot of them this potential benefit is not enough and hard to predict on long term.

      Maybe Google should treat books in the same way as websites in the adsense program. This wo
      • by budgenator (254554) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @08:33AM (#13612533) Journal
        So sayth Google [google.com]
        Sign up for the Google Print publisher program to attract new readers and boost book sales, earn new revenue from Google contextual ads, and interact more closely with your customers through direct 'Buy this Book' links back to your website.

        Just send us a list of your books
        Once you sign up for a Google Print publisher account, just send us a list of the books that you want to be included in the program. Then you can either send us the books, upload them as PDF files, or we'll add them to your account when we scan them at a library. Learn more about the Google Print Library Project.
        When someone enters search terms that are relevant to the words and phrases in your book, the book appears highlighted on the search results. Clicking on one of your titles in the Google search results will lead users to the page from the book on which the search terms appear. For an example, see our screenshots.

        further into the google says
        When a user views one of your book's scanned pages, our technology "reads" that page and adds text ads for related products and services. And when people click on these ads, Google pays you.


        Contextual ads complement your book and can earn you more money.


        So basicaly google is
        • scanning the book for free
        • inserting them into the search base for free
        • giving them a link to the publisher ecomerce site for free
        • if I read an excerp from their book and click a competitor's ad on the excerp page, they get a commission on the competitors ad!for free

        The bottom line is this is basicaly a whole prepackaged bussiness plan preimplimented for you! These publishers and authors would complain if they were hung with a new rope. The people using adsense should be pissed that publishers are being treated so much better than they are.
  • Copyrighted books (Score:3, Insightful)

    by October_30th (531777) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @04:40AM (#13611814) Homepage Journal
    Uh. Are the books that Google's service provides copyrighted or has their copyright already expired (as is the case in the project Gutenberg)?

    If they are still under a copyright, I don't see how Google could provide such a service. AFAIK, I am not allowed to borrow a book from a library and make a complete photocopy of it even for private use.

    • Re:Copyrighted books (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Knome_fan (898727)
      Afaik they are still copyrighted (at least most of them).

      However, google does seem to have contracts with certain libraries to scan their books, so they are not just randomly grabbing copyrighted material and scanning it.
      If this is enough to make what they are doing legal is a question I simply can't answer, but suits like the one at hand should clear this situation up.

      Finally, I can understand that some people find what google is doing problematic, on the other hand I really think that it is extremely usef
      • by amodm (876842)
        However, google does seem to have contracts with certain libraries to scan their books, so they are not just randomly grabbing copyrighted material and scanning it.

        IANAL, but do the libraries have the right to transfer the copyright to another entity ? I guess the absence of this right is the main reason why photocopies of books are not allwed by libraries.
        • Re:Copyrighted books (Score:5, Informative)

          by Itchy Rich (818896) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @05:23AM (#13611925)

          IANAL, but do the libraries have the right to transfer the copyright to another entity ?

          The Libraries don't have the copyright themselves, so they couldn't transfer it to someone else. The libraries have licence from the actual copyright owners to have the book on their shelves, but other rights are reserved.

          • by jcr (53032)
            The libraries have licence

            No, the libraries have printed copies of the books, which they own. There's no "license" held by the library, and the library doesn't gain the copyright because they own a copy of the book.

            -jcr
            • Re:Copyrighted books (Score:4, Informative)

              by Itchy Rich (818896) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @06:37AM (#13612114)

              No, the libraries have printed copies of the books, which they own. There's no "license" held by the library...

              Please re-read my post. I didn't say the libraries had a licence, I said they had licence.. it means they have permission.

              ... and the library doesn't gain the copyright because they own a copy of the book.

              That's what I just said. Thanks for your time.

              • by cgenman (325138) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @09:21AM (#13612823) Homepage
                Grandparent's point was that libraries don't need permission from the copyright owners to have the books on their shelves. Loaning a book to people is not a question of IP law, it's a simple question of owning the book.

                It's one of those creeping IP things. If you own a DVD, you have every right to lend it to whomever you want, no permission or end user license agreement required. Same thing with CD's, printer cartridges, and steak knives.

                Many companies are pushing to have IP-style EULA's and rules extended to physical objects. Others are attempting to convince consumers that the companies retain "ownership" over the objects that people purchase. Neither of these is correct. It is our job to be careful walking through this minefield, and to push back on the encroachment of this not just unjust but also legally incorrect way of looking at the world.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        If they are still under a copyright, I don't see how Google could provide such a service.

        Then in my opinion the problem is with copyright law, not with what Google is doing. A library has a copy of a book, which they are allowed to let as many people as they want read, without restriction-- but aren't allowed to display a copy of the front page of that book to anyone over telephone lines. Why? Why is one of these things unrestricted and the other one so terrible?

        Last I checked copyright laws in the united
        • by SQL Error (16383) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @05:08AM (#13611889)
          A library has a copy of a book, which they are allowed to let as many people as they want read, without restriction-- but aren't allowed to display a copy of the front page of that book to anyone over telephone lines.

          That's the "copy" part of "copyright". A library may lend a book to as many people as they like - one at a time. They may not copy it. The right to produce copies of a book is reserved to the author. Copy. Right.

          Got it?

          Whether such an act is terrible or not is an unanswered question, but it is a breach of copyright law.
          • by Knome_fan (898727)
            Whether such an act is terrible or not is an unanswered question, but it is a breach of copyright law.

            I agree with everything else you've said, but whether it really is a breach of copyright still isn't clear imho, hence the lawsuit.

          • Re:Copyrighted books (Score:2, Informative)

            by Itchy Rich (818896)

            That's the "copy" part of "copyright". A library may lend a book to as many people as they like - one at a time. They may not copy it. The right to produce copies of a book is reserved to the author. Copy. Right.

            I agree with the sentiment, but just want to point out that "copyright" doesn't mean the "right to make copies". Not logically and not etymologically.

          • Re:Copyrighted books (Score:3, Interesting)

            by bigpat (158134)
            That's the "copy" part of "copyright". A library may lend a book to as many people as they like - one at a time. They may not copy it. The right to produce copies of a book is reserved to the author. Copy. Right.

            Got it?


            A library specifically may make a copy, according to copyright law [copyright.gov]

            Also, there are a number of criteria that are to be used to determine fair use. Copyright is not nearly as absolute as Holywood would lead you to believe.

            As for Google, they are not providing whole books in readable form excep
      • Re:Copyrighted books (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ajs (35943)
        I'm not a lawyer, and I don't know the impact that this will have. I've also been around Slashdot long enough to assume that I don't have all of the facts. However, insofar as I have read to date, I'm thrilled that Google is making this effort, and while I know they're a massive corporation with far more resources than I will ever have — if they make it possible — I will do more research into the topic and consider donating to their legal defense.

        Copyright is a sticky issue, and I want to see au
  • by AccUser (191555) <mhgNO@SPAMtaose.co.uk> on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @04:41AM (#13611815) Homepage
    Google Print Program allows me to search the text of books in print, I can see each hit as a book and also the search in context (i.e. browse a sample chapter that contains the search), and Google provides links so that I can purchase the book online.

    Don't these authors want to sell their books? It is not like I can download the whole text (unless I actually knew a set of unique searches that would mean I could access each chapter as a sample), so where is the copyright infringement?
    • Don't these authors want to sell their books?
      The authors want to be consulted on how their copyrighted text is used. And that is absolutely their right. And if Google use their texts to generate ad revenue, they deserve a cut of that revenue, or at least the right to refuse to allow Google to exploit them in that way.
      • by jmv (93421) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @06:06AM (#13612034) Homepage
        The authors want to be consulted on how their copyrighted text is used. And that is absolutely their right.

        No. They have to be consulted only for some uses specified by the law. If I want to distribute an author's book I need to ask permission. If I want to quote a sentence from his book, I don't need permission. If I want to burn his book, I don't need permission either. I'm not a lawyer so I don't know in what category Google Print falls, but it's certainly not obvious.
        • If I want to burn his book, I don't need permission either

          Well, burning a book doesn't involve copying it, so that's irrelevant to copyright. And copyright law is fairly explicit in its exceptions. (See sections 107-122 of Title 17, circ 92)

          the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction ... for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

          I don't see "F

        • "If I want to burn his book, I don't need permission either."

          Well you do need permission from the person that owns the copy of the book you wish to burn!
      • bullshit (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Ender Ryan (79406)
        The authors want to be consulted on how their copyrighted text is used. And that is absolutely their right.

        No, it's not. There are a myriad of things a person can do with a book without the permission of the copyright holder. Reading it being first and foremost among said things. The *only* thing copyright gives them *any* control over is, well, copying. But it certainly doesn't give them complete control. Fair use can be stretched pretty far in some cases.

        What Google is doing is rather unique. Th

  • by MaskedSlacker (911878) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @04:42AM (#13611818)
    This kind of crap just irritates me. Copyright laws are painfully outdated in the digital age, and yet time and time again those who sell information (in whatever format, music, movie, now books) are constantly standing in the way of progress. What we need is the free and unrestricted flow of information. I've looked over Google Print, and i see nothing for these authors to object over. If anything, its a massive windfall for them, its the perfect resource for finding a relevant book on a given topic. Need a book on differential forms and tensor calculus? Thousands and thousands of results. Its essentially free and unlimited advertising. If Google combined this with pblishing on demand, they could put every publisher in existence not only out of business, but do it while offering far better deals for the authors.
    • by mashade (912744) <{gro.edahsm} {ta} {edahsm}> on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @04:54AM (#13611859) Homepage
      I'll admit, I didn't read TFA, but this seems like the cornerstone of the argument.

      "If Google combined this with publishing on demand, they could put every publisher in existence not only out of business, but do it while offering far better deals for the authors."

      This is what authors are afriad of -- change from the status quo. I think it's a change for the better, but when you're talking about your livelihood, it's a scary thought to imagine -- the way you make your money is about to change drastically.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @06:22AM (#13612067)
        The so-called authors' guild is an organization which considers publishers to be at-large members over the regular membership given to authors. Want to know which group is more important to the guild?

        The point being, don't assume the authors are the ones fearing the change.
      • by zootm (850416) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @06:44AM (#13612132)

        To be fair, the problem is that one company controlling an entire market is never a good thing, even if it is Google.

        My personal thought is that systems like this are beneficial to society as a whole, and so long as Google don't use the technology in the way you describe, they should be allowed, whether or not that's what the law says. Copyright law needs radical reform.

        • How could they control this market? There are few if any barriers to prevent others from participating. If this is validated as legal then I guarantee that there will be more participants.
  • by MountainMan101 (714389) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @04:42AM (#13611819)
    but here in Oxford I thought google was only scanning really old stuff that is too fragile to be read. The Bod (our library) has some very old stuff.

    And before anyone from the US replies, old in Oxford means pre 1600 ie before anyone went to your country from Europe and killed the natives.
  • by GauteL (29207) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @04:45AM (#13611826)
    While they might legally have a point about Google having to ask for permission (IANAL), Google Print is just one huge f***** advertisement for their books.

    Google is providing a useful service that allows you to find the books you want, so that you can purchase them legally from bookshops.

    They are showing a little bit of content in order to let people make up their minds, analogous to be able to browse a book at a bookstore to find out if you want it or not.

    This is simply taking common fair use in a bookstore (browsing) and moving it onto the digital domain.

    While I agree Google should probably have asked the publishers for permission, a lawsuit is just far beyond common decency.

    It is time copyright gets a huge makeover to make it more edible for consumers and work better in the new "digital reality", and I am not talking about stronger measurements and DRM.
    • google should just refuse to index any book by any author's guild author.

      there's plenty of other authors who would be falling all over themselves for the free advertising they would get from google.
    • by Achromatic1978 (916097) <robert AT chromablue DOT net> on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @05:26AM (#13611934)
      Google Print is just one huge f***** advertisement for their books.

      And Google is getting one huge f***** free ride for the "service" they're providing, including ad revenue from the Google ads associated, and the valuable customer data associated with 'what people want to read' - you know, the kind of stuff Amazon spends millions researching and tracking?

  • by Manip (656104) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @04:46AM (#13611832)
    What happens when these books degrade and nothing is left but a memory of what they were?

    Welcome to the digital generation people of the authors guild. This is a big battle between old value people and the new digital wave that google is riding.

    I am not saying that it is google's responsibility to be the sole holder of books and other information, that is why MSN, Yahoo and other organisations should start a similar program. Or even the government to archive part of our society for future generations.

    I found it very revealing that in their press release they say that google is uploading "Public Domain Works" -- and then goes on to say that this is wrong and is against copyright law? Maybe it is just badly written (>sniggle) but they should be careful with their words; a public domain piece of text is, by definition something anyone can use.
    • Hello,

      The text of some work might very well be public-domain, however a particular instance of a copy of that work, i.e. in a book, might not be. In other words publishers can argue that their printing of a novel by Jane Austen cannot be put on the web without permission (i.e if you scan it and put the images up).

      Whether this makes sense or not, this is exactly what is happening in music sheet printing all the time. Even if the music is by Mozart, the printing is copyrighted and cannot be redistributed.
  • by Coryoth (254751) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @04:47AM (#13611836) Homepage Journal
    It will be interesting to see how this pans out because it will have a lot to say about how copyright and intellectual property are being interpreted in the courts.

    On the one had the authors do have a point: regardless of how little of the copyrighted works Google exposes to people searching, the fact is that Google itself is copying and making use of the whole work. Google is a for profit enterprise, and making books available for searching is part of that endeavour, so having a copy of the text is worth something to Google, yet they haven't sought any agreement with the authors to do so.

    On the other hand, this is just stupid! What the fuck are they thinking? Google is effectively providing free advertising for them. Moreover such a service is obviously invaluable to the wider public, making it much easier for them to find (and then buy) the information they want.

    Jedidiah.
  • by martijnd (148684) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @04:48AM (#13611838)
    Let us hope that they lose this one big time. It seems Google already has plenty of safeguards in place.

    Sure, with the convuleted interest ridden mess the copyright system is the Writer Guild might actually win this.

    Because, why would Google be allowed to copy all these books to their hard disks, and then make a mint from advertising by showing peeks of it to searchers.

    They sure aren't paying anyone for the priviledge.

    In university they have pretty big posters against wholesale copying of library books above the photocopiers, with all the usual heavy handed copyright warnings.

    It seems technology, is as per usual, ahead of the law. Google would have to establish some kind of copyright free zone (bit like a tax free export zone) where they can safely process search actions on this huge Alexandria library.

    Better beat around some congress critters to support this as the potential benefit to mankind ( access to all written knowlegde current and past, no matter how insightful or inane) would probably be worthy of "World Wonder" status, and give the society that has it a serious scientific advantage.
  • cnet and google (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @04:50AM (#13611844) Journal
    Perhaps cnet wasn't the best place to obtain news about this lawsuit. From the article:

    Google did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the lawsuit. (Google representatives have instituted a policy of not talking with CNET News.com reporters until July 2006 in response to privacy issues raised by a previous story.)


    Google did talk to the associated press [businessweek.com], however.

    Google, based in Mountain View, Calif., said in a statement that it respects copyright.

    "We regret that this group has chosen litigation to try to stop a program that will make books and the information within them more discoverable to the world," the company said.

    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.

    The company also has said it will direct readers who want more to booksellers and libraries.
    • It said authors and publishers can exclude books from the program if they don't want their material included.

      How generous. "We'll stop infringing your copyright if you tell us. We knew it at the time, but we were hoping you wouldn't mind too much."

      The onus is on Google, as a "do no evil" company, to not break the law, perhaps?

      Hell, we're always talking about how corporations can buy changes to the law. Maybe Google could use their $6B cash warchest and buy a couple of senators? (he says in jest, but wit

      • Re:cnet and google (Score:5, Informative)

        by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @06:04AM (#13612024) Journal
        Google is thinking like a search engine company. Every day, it copies the material of millions of copyrighted web pages into its servers and uses that material to respond to search queries. generally, the web is grateful for this service, though the jealous type can used robots.txt to reassert his or her exclusive rights. Similarly, the distributers of dead trees can opt out of the program...
  • by Uukrul (835197) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @04:50AM (#13611846)
    A sues B. B sues C. C sues everybody.
    I think China (that comunist country) is going to be the next Big Fish, because enterprises are more interested in get easy money suing [google.es] everybody than in make new products or offer new services. And they make consumer electronic that sux because you are a potentia Pirate so the devices decides what you can do and what you can't do.

    I for one welcom or new chinese overlords.
  • by Anubis333 (103791) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @04:57AM (#13611868) Homepage
    I can go to my local library and get any CD or book, for a limited time. If google wants to be the online library of the future, I could see them implementing some kind of thing where you are tagged by state, and they have like 10 books that you can check out per state (10 google branches). I mean, if the argument is that 'you could copy the text and have a local copy'.. well christ, any real library book I check out I could photocopy or OCR, it sounds to me like they have a fundamental issue with the entire library system to begin with.
    • There are no states where I live, you insensitive clod ...

      If you think about it, cutting the numbers of avalible copies is an astonishing stupid idea. The idea behind GooglePrint is to access printed information anytime, anywhere.

      If an system that cuts the number of page views, copies or similar is implemented, it destroys the advantages of an open netwide library - being there any time, all volumes avalible.
  • by GauteL (29207) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @05:02AM (#13611877)
    I've owned several web pages which Google has copied onto their servers via indexing and Google cache.

    They never asked me for permission, and I'm pretty sure they all contained the footer (c) Me, All Rights Reserved.

    In fact, the entire web is copyrighted by numerous authors and corporations, and I'm pretty sure Google has never asked anyone for permission.

    Google can't even hide behind the mantra of not being able to micromanage automatic indexing, because the ENTIRE WEB is copyrighted in some form or another.

    I'm going to completely disregard that my web pages increased in value by Google announcing their presence to the world, and rather sue them for copyright infringement. I'm also suing Microsoft, Yahoo and Altavista.

    Anyone for a class action lawsuit?
    • NOARCHIVE (Score:2, Informative)

      by Asztal_ (914605)
      You can use the NOARCHIVE [google.com] meta tag if you don't like Google caching your pages. You can also ask for your pages to be removed.
      • Re:NOARCHIVE (Score:3, Insightful)

        by GauteL (29207)
        To play the devil's advocate:
        Why should I as a copyright owner have to OPT OUT of Google violating my copyright?

        The Authors Guild also have this opt out possibility, but they are still suing.

        Shouldn't Google ask me for permission before copying my content?
  • by sprocketonline (787811) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @05:05AM (#13611884)

    It is with some shock that I read about your latest decision to take legal action against Google, which could, and should, be interpreted as a direct attack against a more progressive and free society.

    Whether or not you approve of Google, the company's "libarary" program has made a bold move towards an age where information is searchable to everyone. The ability to see inside a book, albeit only an excerpt at a time, which is stored deep within a vault on the otherside of the globe has to be a great thing. This assists everyone from casual browsers of the internet to academic reseachers, such as myself. Upon utilising the search engine and associated search algorithms we can look and search within every title and work for relevant information, and disregard the irrelevancies, with no more hassle than a couple of clicks on a browser. This is a far greater model than the overburdening and cumbersome system currently in operation, where books have to be physically sought after, a greatly innefficient, resource consuming and wasteful affair.

    Surely Google's system represents an electronic library bookshelf of infinite size, where the user can browse at will until the relevant material is found. To sue Google is equivalent to taking legal action against the British library for allowing users to flick through books. Libraries also allows users to read the entire text of a book, not merely small excerpts, so surely there is a greater case for taking legal action against the library services of every nation, university and school in the entire world. No such action has been taken, and indeed I pray it would never be.

    Indeed I agree that it is a gray area that Google is a profit making company and will be generating revenue indirectly through advertising, and possibly the sale of hard and electronic copies of the full text. Yet, had the traditional organisations of the book publishing and writing world such as yourselves, the Authors Guild, taken steps to create an electronic source back when the internet was growing the need for Google, a corporation, to do this would have been neglible. Your legal action is not a reaction against copyright infingement but an indicator of failure on your, and your peers, behalf. To prevent access to a searchable library to the entire populous of the world is to hide information and create a teired society, those who have access to the information and those that do not. This is backward and unjust.

    You have failed to provide or encourage authors, your clients, to present their work in a relevant medium, electronic, to the masses, their customers, and as such have stifled your industry, the fallout and backlash is obvious to see when observing the blogging phenomena that has grown in the last few years. The Authors guild has failed to keep up with current technology and culture trends and as such has resorted to hiding behind the somewhat dated copyright laws of your country.

    Whatever your views on the Google corporation it is unjust to take legal action against such a noble scheme and I urge you to revoke your action and change your policies.

  • Writers, Myopic (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Phibius (914288)
    Have these people really thought this through? Apparently, the writers thinking on this has gotten as far as "Google are going to make a fortune off our backs" and "we can sue them for millions", but stopped short of "this might really help potential readers to find my book". A bit shortsighted?
  • A Guild? (Score:4, Funny)

    by tchernobog (752560) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @05:26AM (#13611933)
    America has still an Authors' Guild? Cool!

    Now, I just wonder why they asked the Lawyers Guild to sort things out with the Clacks Guild, "Vetinari's method" being that of letting Guild to enforce law by themselves by using, at option, a pointy stick or a big club.

    But perhaps it's just a --ing polite way to say they don't --ing want the books to be read by everybody. Just from those willing to pay some good dollars the right people.

    Anyway, I'll just believe that Google will bring the Authors' Guild kicking and screaming out of the Century of the Fruitbat.

    (Sorry for the useless Discworld parallel, but I couldn't resist anyway.)

    -- "The Truth shall make ye fret'"
        Mr. Goodmountain doing one of the first movable typo.
  • by krunk4ever (856261) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @05:30AM (#13611946) Homepage
    Many of you are claiming it's free advertisement, but consider the following variation where I made a complete photocopy of a book without the author's or publisher's permission, but in return advertised it to people.

    By showing only a portion or sample of the work may sound fine and dandy, but if anyone can do this without permission, I can easily see this being abused. Google's setting a very risky precedent.

    If I make a service called "Krunk4Ever Print", does that entitle me to the right to take any copyrighted text and digitize it into my library without permission? Though I may not be as big as Google, what gives Google the right to do it and not any small company or individual?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @05:30AM (#13611947)
    It's worth bearing in mind that copyright is a protective measure given by a government in return for obliging the publisher to make the work publicly available.

    The ultimate aim is to increase the education of the public through availability of information - not to bestow some inalienable commercial right.
  • dead horse (Score:2, Funny)

    by mattite (526549)
    Must resist ... beating the dead horse...

    1. Google received billions from their IPO.
    2. Sue Google for infringement.
    3. Profit!!!

    It felt good to that out of my system.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @05:37AM (#13611966)
    There's not much difference, really. Both intend for you to view the contents of the book, and claim to provide a free advert. It took me 30 seconds to find a flaw in Amazon that lets me download the entirety of the book for free. So the sale is lost, and it's not advertising. Google'll be the same.

    The difference is whether the publisher agrees to it. (The author has no say in this.) If you read the license agreement (yes - there is one!) when you buy the book it says "not stored in electronic retrieval format". Browsing in a bookshop doesn't break this... storing in Google Print does. This trumps all other laws of "freedom" unless a precedence is set in court.

    Disclaimer: I am a writer with my books on Amazon.
  • by Chris Snook (872473) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @06:03AM (#13612022)
    The US Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld the right to format-shift, and scanning certainly qualifies for this. The very limited browsing capability sure looks like fair use to me. Where this gets sticky is the matter of posession. If Google is hosting this on behalf of the libraries, the literal fact that the bits are on disks in Google's data centers just makes them nice people. If Google is doing something with the work as a whole that's not covered under fair use, and they're not doing it on behalf of the owners of the original published copies from which the images were scanned, then they've infringed copyright, unless they actually have legal copies on their own shelves somewhere. I could see the argument going either way on this, and ultimately it may hinge on the role the libraries have in this.

    That said, at worst, Google is making (and offering to remove on request) at most single copy that would be unauthorized under a strict reading of copyright law, assuming the context they're showing is indeed held to be fair use. So, the authors want to sue over a single easy opt-out copy of each work that will drive far greater sales. Why are they doing this?

    It's about control. It's always about control. Read the press release. "...the authors, the rightful owners of these copyrights..." But the authors (almost always) aren't actually the legal holders of those copyrights! Authors have been getting screwed by publishers for centuries, but at least things have settled down into a predictable pattern of getting screwed. They don't know what changes are coming next, but they can hardly be blamed for suspecting that as individuals they're less equipped to adapt to whatever changes are coming than the centralized publishing houses, and that they'll end up even worse off.

    Ultimately, the decoupling of data and media and obsolescence of traditional publishing will benefit authors, but it may take a very long time to happen.
  • Trial Balloon? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ingolfke (515826) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @07:08AM (#13612213) Journal
    Google is not a company lacking in intelligence or money. I wonder if their using the library product to actually draw out a suit. The rationale being that copyright law and digital media has created a vast space of uncertainty around what can and can't be done with copies of a work. Google's interest in clearing out that uncertainty is that if they can legally gain the ability to selectively duplicate copyrighted content they can extend their search capabilities far beyond public content published to the web or other fora and also pull in a hefty payback from booksellers and other advertisers. They've started w/ books, but imagine if they legally could index songs, movies, and less television/radio/other media? They wouldn't allow you to have a copy of the work, but could index it, show you a clip, and point you to the correct source to purchase the rights to the media. Massive speculation on my part.
  • Google's Response (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jamesl (106902) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @07:21AM (#13612259)
    http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2005/09/google-prin t-and-authors-guild.html [blogspot.com]
    Let's be clear: Google doesn't show even a single page to users who find copyrighted books through this program (unless the copyright holder gives us permission to show more).

    Not wanting Google to scan your book is like not wanting Google to crawl your website. Pretty silly but authors can completely opt out.

    ... any copyright holder can exclude their books from the program.
  • by timmarhy (659436) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @07:43AM (#13612329)
    it seems every fuckwit out there thinks they can sue and go for the settlment jackpot. does the authors guild own these copyrights? "massive infringment"? sounds a lot like the vage claims SCO made. besides, i'm no expert but i do believe partal reproduction IS legal. or am i infringing on something just by using "a" i mean surely it's part of some copyrighted work! while we are at it, if amazon DARE to show a picture of a book they are selling, LETS SUE THEM ITS INFRINGMENT!!!
  • Capitalism... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NeedleSurfer (768029) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @07:59AM (#13612390)
    It just suck, but of course we'll say its great cause the USA want us too but I think its about time we realize the very nasty nature of capitalism: consenting slow self-destruction. Our society, freedoms and aspirations are just all going down the drain but it good for the economy so...
  • by emj (15659) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @08:47AM (#13612603) Homepage Journal
    I wonder why the AG hasn't done what Google is doing, to being able to search in books is one of the most sought after features among report writers I work with, it's the holy grail. there seems to have been no steps at all to acheive this during the 10 years of "internet revolution".

    Google press (or something simmilar), is one of the biggest steps we have made for a long while. I really hate that you can be so narrow mind to protest against it, are they afraid of having their scripts up for the whole world to search in?

    Sure they can protest against copyright infringment, it's their right. But the question is what's the best solution, just to protest or offer a real solution to a real problem?

    Best whishes /Erik
  • by LihTox (754597) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @09:02AM (#13612692)
    Suppose someone started a service where, if you sent them a phrase, they would look through the books they own, and report back to you the sentences containing that phrase. The provider owns the books, and is only quoting little bits of them, so this is clearly fair use. (This may seem absurd, but such exchanges do occur in a limited way; for instance in genealogy, someone might offer to do lookups of a particular person's name.)

    Google Print is providing the same service, except it is automated, so I don't think the service violates copyright. What might violate copyright is that they've converted printed material into electronically accessible material. If they actually own the books, then this is the same format-conversion question we've been running into with audio: can someone who buys a DVD transfer it onto videotape for their own use? Same question.

    Now if Google doesn't own the books then that is a problem, because they are taking a copy from a library and then both of them own the copy. Either Google should buy a copy of the books it sells (or just pay for it; they certainly don't want a warehouse of physical books somewhere which they don't use), or they should set up the databases with the libraries themselves, so that it's the libraries who own the scans.

    Someone mentioned whether it was legitimate for Google to use these books to make money without giving the authors a cut of the profits. As an academic, I use a lot of books in my business and I don't pay the authors anything but the cost of the book.

    That all being said, Google might consider not providing the books of the publishers who object; if this is really a boon for the publishers, then they will eventually see the error of their ways.
     
  • by fygment (444210) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @09:57AM (#13613193)
    This doesn't seem likely to go anywhere. It seems reasonable that:

    a) Google and the libraries had considered copyright issues very carefully before doing this; and

    b) that the offended authors had already tried negotiating with Google.

    So, there are probably a battery of high paid Google lawyers who have already determined that Google's actions are legal. Following which Google evidently felt it did not have to negotiate and likely expected a lawsuit to follow. To think otherwise is to assume that Google is run by a bunch of idiots which is very clearly not the case.

    The Guild and authors are blowing smoke in that time-honoured American tradition of suing as the last possible recourse when all other avenues for a blatant money grab have failed.
  • by KFury (19522) * on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @10:49AM (#13613683) Homepage
    There's a compelling response [blogspot.com] to the lawsuit posted on the official Google Weblog.

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