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Google Books The Courts Your Rights Online

Google To Seek Dismissal of Suit Against Google Books 240

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the can't-let-the-children-read dept.
angry tapir writes with an update on the drawn out legal battle between Google and everyone else over their Books service. From the article: "After a so-far fruitless three-year effort to settle the case, Google and the plaintiffs suing it for alleged book-related copyright infringement apparently are moving away from seeking a friendly solution. Google has notified the court that it intends to file a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed against it by authors and publishers in 2005, in which they allege copyright infringement stemming from Google's wholesale scanning of millions of library books without the permission of copyright owners. Google Books has been at the center of copyright-related controversy since 2005 when the Authors Guild of America and Association of American Publishers sued the search giant. This has been followed by other legal wrangles, including a 2010 suit by the American Society of Media Photographers, lawsuits in France and Germany and conflict with Chinese authors over the book-scanning project."
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Google To Seek Dismissal of Suit Against Google Books

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  • Defense? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geminidomino (614729) on Monday December 05, 2011 @07:43PM (#38274696) Journal

    Regardless of my own opinions on the state of copyright/IP law in the US (I can't speak for the other countries listed in TFS), it is what it is. So I have to ask... What is Google's defense? It can't be the "public good" or "cultural preservation" play, because those have already been stabbed, short, burned, poisoned, beheaded, then drawn and quartered.

    So what the hell are they claiming that's had the lawsuits lasting six frigging years?

    While I think it's a good thing they're trying to do (though maybe not their motivations), I really thought they would have been bitchslapped down a long, long time ago. What cards are they holding here?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Stormy Dragon (800799)

      Their reasoning is probably a more fancy version of: it's only copyright violation when little people do it to a big corporation. When a big corporation wants to do it to an unknown author, that should be perfectly legal.

    • by Ichijo (607641)

      What is Google's defense?

      Fair use. The same way a person can reproduce short snippets of a copyrighted work without violating the copyright, Google Books allows you to search scanned books and view short sections of text at a time.

      • Fair use is not solely determined on length of the copied passage -- in fact, that's not a determining factor in the law at all, it's merely the convention.

      • And how do you think they facilitate this searching and viewing of short sections? They copied the books. Without permission. That's copyright violation.

      • Re:Defense? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by msauve (701917) on Monday December 05, 2011 @08:30PM (#38275116)
        But Google themselves doesn't copy "short snippets," they copy everything. If they had license to copy everything, then making short snippets available might fall under fair use. But, those are two separate instances.

        I fail to see how making snippets available makes the original copying fall under fair use.
      • What is Google's defense?

        Fair use. The same way a person can reproduce short snippets of a copyrighted work without violating the copyright, Google Books allows you to search scanned books and view short sections of text at a time.

        However, they reproduced (for profit-making purposes) and are storing the entire content of books from which the snippets are displayed.

        I've been called out by a librarian when she felt I was copying "too much" from a book. Why does Google get carte blanche to copy

        • Re:Defense? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Ichijo (607641) on Monday December 05, 2011 @08:53PM (#38275300) Homepage Journal
          Libraries are allowed [cornell.edu] to copy the entire content of books. Why should Google be prohibited from doing the same? There seems to be a double standard here.
          • by Holi (250190)

            Because libraries are not for profit institutions.

            • by icebike (68054)

              And Google also provides these snippits for free.
              They do not sell them.
              They have competitors in this field as well.

              One might as well claim that libraries making copies (as allowed by the above reference) are trying for a competitive advantage
              by having a complete collection to attract patronage, and funding.

              • And Google also provides these snippits for free. They do not sell them.

                So do pirates. Are you arguing that libraries, Google, and pirates should *all* be able to copy anything they like, and make it available as snippets? Pirates use bittorrent. The nature of the bittorrent protocol is to cut up a file into tiny snippets, and distribute each of the snippets separately, not necessarily to the same destination.

                • by Ichijo (607641)

                  Pirates use bittorrent. The nature of the bittorrent protocol is to cut up a file into tiny snippets, and distribute each of the snippets separately, not necessarily to the same destination.

                  That would make an interesting defense, if you could prove that you aren't making more of the file available than would be protected by Fair Use.

              • And Google also provides these snippits for free.
                They do not sell them.

                That's ridiculous naive. Google is absolutely not doing this out of the goodness of their hearts. They are doing it because tracking what books people read from helps build a better "consumer profile" which they do sell for vast profits through adsense and other means (don't forget - they bought doubleclick).

          • Libraries are allowed to copy the entire content of books. Why should Google be prohibited from doing the same? There seems to be a double standard here.

            Because the library owns the books and Google does not. I can make a backup copy of a CD that I own. I cannot (legally) make a copy of a friend's CD and take it home with me.

        • by icebike (68054)

          I've been called out by a librarian when she felt I was
          copying "too much" from a book. Why does Google
          get carte blanche to copy millions of books in their entirety? At a minimum, shouldn't
          Google at least have to purchase each book that they copied?

          On October 28, 2008 the Authors Guild, the Association of American Publishers, and Google announced that they had settled Authors Guild v. Google. Google agreed to a $125 million payout, $45 million of that to be paid to rightsholders whose books were scanned without permission.

          cite [wikipedia.org]

          Note that these authors were not aggrieved, they were simply complainants. Not one of them alleged that google copied THEIR book fro the universities that partnered with google.

        • by nbauman (624611)

          If I have a CD, I have a right to make a backup.

          If a library owns a book, they have a right to scan it (or even to make a photocopy of a rare book for archival purposes). They have a right to use that scan within their building, or campus, to transmit to one other computer terminal at a time.

          Google made a deal with the libraries. That's how they scanned the books. The libraries agreed to let Google distribute snippits. You can go into a library and photocopy several pages from a book.

      • by Roogna (9643)

        So it's fair use if I go to the library and scan every book there. As long as I only share snippets it's somehow legal? Why do I feel like that would somehow not be how the courts would see it with an individual...

    • Re:Defense? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bfields (66644) on Monday December 05, 2011 @08:58PM (#38275340) Homepage

      "What is Google's defense?"

      They're not distributing copies of books--they're doing searches and returning small snippets. The books are scanned, with the permission of their owners, only in order to allow those searches.

      I would have thought first-sale rights would permit the owners of books to have their own copies scanned, and that fair use would permit Google to search them and return snippets.

      None of this cuts into the publisher's traditional source of profits at all, as the publisher is still who a member of the public goes to to get a copy of the book.

      If we really think copyright holders should have complete control over how every copy of their work is *used*, not only distributed, then they should have cut off the problem at the source and forbidden libraries....

      • "What is Google's defense?"

        They're not distributing copies of books--they're doing searches and returning small snippets. The books are scanned, with the permission of their owners, only in order to allow those searches.

        Except... They're not returning snippets, they're often returning as much as half or more of the book. And they're not doing it without the authors or right's holders permission. So, you're pretty much wrong on both counts - and so is Google. They've kept the suits alive with a variety of

      • by codegen (103601)

        I would have thought first-sale rights would permit the owners of books to have their own copies scanned, and that fair use would permit Google to search them and return snippets.

        First sale rights means that I am allowed to sell the copy of a book that I bought. First sale rights does not allow me to let you scan my copy of the book. If Google had bought the books to scan, then you might have a point, but they are scanning books that they do not own.

    • Re:Defense? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by initialE (758110) on Monday December 05, 2011 @09:54PM (#38275736)

      I compare what Google is doing to archaeology. In many cases, the rights holders of the books that they are copying do not give consent in the way that King Tut did not give consent to have his tomb opened and his treasures taken and displayed for profit.

  • What Google is doing is exactly the sort of thing copyright law is supposed to prevent. They are copying massive amounts of copyrighted works and using them for their own profit without permission from the copyright holders.

    Sure, I love the idea of a computer search engine for books. And I can see how it could be very advantageous for an author to have their work on Google books. And I think that the term on copyright is far too long. Having said that, the courts should have put a stop to what Google is
    • by icebike (68054)

      They do not provide entire works. Simply short excepts.
      If you want the entire work that is still under copyright they will show you an except and then direct you to where you can buy the book.

      You can read a few pages, but you invariably hit a page that says:

      you have either reached a page that is unavailable for viewing or reached your viewing limit for this book

      Then there will be links on the side for places to buy the book, one of which MAY be google books, or maybe not.

      Try it out on this book [google.com].

      Any author, or his estate can opt out. None but a tiny minority do, because it sells books.

      This is old news, and you

      • by shentino (1139071)

        here's an idea.

        Make it opt-in if the author is known, opt out if the author is unknown.

        • by icebike (68054)

          Why?

          What they do now is legal. The Authors like it that way. It sells books.

          • by msauve (701917)
            It doesn't matter what The Authors think. It does matter what the copyright holders think. If they like it, as you claim, why are they suing?
            • by shentino (1139071)

              Indeed.

              I'm curious what even gives the plaintiffs in this case standing to sue in the first place.

            • by khipu (2511498) on Monday December 05, 2011 @09:41PM (#38275632)

              The people behind the lawsuits are publishers and "authors guilds", organizations made obsolete by Google and electronic publishing. And they aren't suing over their own books (they could just have them removed), they are suing over the vast quantity of orphan works that they don't own but that would provide unwelcome free competition to their content.

              • by msauve (701917)
                They must be representing copyright holders en masse, or they would have no standing for a copyright suit, and the case would have been thrown out long ago.
            • by arose (644256)
              Are the author's guilds the copyright holders? You claim they are...
      • by Holi (250190)

        They may only provide short excerpts, but they do copy the entire work without permission and they use the fact that you can search the entire work for their own profit. They are not trying to sell the authors books they are trying to use that database to entice more users for Google. Google has no right to profit off the authors works and the fact that Google is doing this strictly for profit pretty much negates fair-use. Opt-out is a poor excuse for getting permission.

    • by khipu (2511498) on Monday December 05, 2011 @09:39PM (#38275612)

      What Google is doing is exactly the sort of thing copyright law is supposed to prevent. They are copying massive amounts of copyrighted works and using them for their own profit without permission from the copyright holders.

      Copyright law isn't intended to prevent people from profiting from copyrighted works. If you publish a cookbook, I can use it to prepare meals and charge for them, for example. Copyright law gives copyright holders specific, limited rights in order to encourage them to publish and produce, nothing more. What Google is doing is no different from establishing a privately run reference service with a large staff that can look things up for you. They don't redistribute the works (unless the copyright holder gives them explicit permission).

      With something this clear cut,

      With something this clearcut, the court really should have kicked out authors and publishers as having no standing and no damages: any author or publisher who doesn't want to be on Google can just ask to be removed. What authors and publishers really want is to force Google to pay them no matter what. It's the usual rip-off of these groups of trying to get paid no matter what crap they produce.

      • by Dan667 (564390)
        you really mean the publishers. They often screw the authors who get nothing.
  • by adoarns (718596) on Monday December 05, 2011 @08:57PM (#38275334) Homepage Journal

    All I want--far, far more than Netflix or Rhapsody--is to be able to give somebody money on a monthly basis to have access to nearly every book in every library in the world. Just somebody make this easy. I don't want to have to think, "Is reading a chapter of this obscure work on Russian formalism worth $0.50?" I just want to fucking click on a link, and read it.

  • I personally only right stuff that I am guaranteed to benefit from. Once I benefit from it, it is hard to argue that I wouldn't have done it in the first place if copyright did not exist. The only authors that have trouble are the ones that have been sold a song about how they can write a book and people will automatically buy it on its merits. Piracy has become the running cliche like lawyers. No one in jail is guilty it is just that their lawyer screwed them.
  • by amoeba1911 (978485) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @08:39AM (#38278832) Homepage

    by indexing my website and listing it in their search engine!

    Seriously, people are working tooth and nail trying to get their content indexed on the world's biggest search engines so they can enjoy the extra visitors, but these idiot ass-backward authors can't wrap around their head that getting indexed is a good thing.

    Google is fighting an uphill battle to make the authors richer in the long run? How idiotic. Someone slap some sense into these authors please.

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