Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Google Your Rights Online

Court Rules Book Scanning Is Fair Use, Suggesting Google Books Victory 54

Posted by samzenpus
from the keep-on-scanning dept.
concealment writes "A judge has ruled that the libraries who have provided Google with their books to scan are protected by copyright's fair use doctrine. While the decision doesn't guarantee that Google will win—that's still to be decided in a separate lawsuit—the reasoning of this week's decision bodes well for Google's case. Most of the books Google scans for its book program come from libraries. After Google scans each book, it provides a digital image and a text version of the book to the library that owns the original. The libraries then contribute the digital files to a repository called the Hathitrust Digital Library, which uses them for three purposes: preservation, a full-text search engine, and electronic access for disabled patrons who cannot read the print copies of the books."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Court Rules Book Scanning Is Fair Use, Suggesting Google Books Victory

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 11, 2012 @07:05PM (#41625013)

    I haven't been able to make up my mind on this one.

    On one hand, it's deplorable that Google isn't paying tribute to authors.

    On the other hand, they're using books from libraries, books intended to be shared.

    I think Google just accidentally broke the system. Perhaps it was not Google, but the digital age itself, that did the actual breaking.

    Either way, a hole has been found in current fair use theory / ways libraries operate. Now it's either going to get plugged or become a gaping chasm.

    It's a tough nut to crack.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 11, 2012 @07:17PM (#41625147)

      it's deplorable that Google isn't paying tribute to authors

      What? By most accounts (by actual authors), being in the DB gets your books sold. Only the BS Authors Guild thinks this is a problem.

      The interesting thing is that there's a massive, consistent and complete, collaborative digital archive of library print books and journals somewhere. If an Anon group wanted to do something really crazy, they'd pilfer that massive cache and release it unto the world.

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        What? By most accounts (by actual authors), being in the DB gets your books sold. Only the BS Authors Guild thinks this is a problem.

        True, I suppose, but would it really have killed Google to just go out and buy a single copy of each book they scan? I think that would be more fair, and negligible in terms of cost to the almighty Google.

        The interesting thing is that there's a massive, consistent and complete, collaborative digital archive of library print books and journals somewhere. If an Anon group wanted to do something really crazy, they'd pilfer that massive cache and release it unto the world.

        That would be interesting..

        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 11, 2012 @07:30PM (#41625249)

          True, I suppose, but would it really have killed Google to just go out and buy a single copy of each book they scan? I think that would be more fair, and negligible in terms of cost to the almighty Google.

          These are old books that you can't get anywhere else. At what store do you believe Google can buy them, Barnes and Noble? Do you think they're getting them from libraries to be cheap?

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Do you think they're getting them from libraries to be cheap?

            Did they buy a copy of each book that was available retail?

            No - they were being cheap.

            Look, if you or I did this and ran a similar website we'd be shutdown and imprisoned.

        • by Namarrgon (105036) on Thursday October 11, 2012 @08:35PM (#41625787) Homepage

          A major aim of the project was to digitally preserve books that are out of print. Most of these can't be bought, by anyone.

          Also, the authors of a significant fraction of these books cannot be located. So while many of these books are still covered by copyright, there's nobody available to pay anything to, or to get consent from (well, the Authors Guild might nominate themselves as "default" copyright holders somehow). For these books, proceeds from sales are held separately in trust, against future claims if the authors are eventually located. For the rest, identified authors naturally get the lion's share of sales. Google also profits from advertising, but authors are entitled to a 63% share of this too. And under various versions of the settlement, authors could even claim $60 per book, while Google does the all work of making their books more available to the public.

          Money is not the issue; it's control - the Guild (and some actual authors) are mostly objecting that Google didn't ask first.

          • by sphealey (2855)

            - - - - Also, the authors of a significant fraction of these books cannot be located.

            Hmmm... incentives tend to matter. Under the Google archive plan, who has the incentive to go out and search diligently for the legal holders of copyright and publishing rights? 80 year old author starving in a garret, never received his last royalties due from his publishing house, who is going to work their butts off to find and pay him before they start selling his work from the archive?

            The key point that much be br

            • by Namarrgon (105036) on Thursday October 11, 2012 @10:17PM (#41626451) Homepage

              The one with the most incentive is the one receiving the money; i.e. the author, the author's publisher, and possible any guilds to which the author may pay dues. As with most fields of business, if you want to collect money owed to you, you occasionally need to chase it up yourself (as your example demonstrates, if the putative author is having difficulty getting royalties from his existing publisher; maybe he'll have more luck if he contacts Google).

              And I think quite a few Googlers might take exception to your characterising Google as "a money-making machine, period"; particularly Larry and Sergey. They've sunk a fair bit of cash into risky, public-benefit projects with no guaranteed return.

              • by sphealey (2855)

                - - - - As with most fields of business, if you want to collect money owed to you, you occasionally need to chase it up yourself (as your example demonstrates, if the putative author is having difficulty getting royalties from his existing publisher; maybe he'll have more luck if he contacts Google). - - - -

                Many authors characterize that as "stealing from the helpless". Isaac Asimov wrote quite a bit about the difficulties he had extracting his royalties from various publishing houses, and that was at a

            • by nbauman (624611)

              Google is a money-making machine. Period. It exists to make metric tons of money for its owners and officers. Period.

              Google exists for at least 2 reasons: (1) To make money (2) To do cool things.

              There are other companies that exist only to make money, by selling penis enlargement pills or leveraged mortgages, etc.

              But it's clear that Brinn and Page are in business for other reasons too.

              Besides, after the first $100 million, you really don't need any more money.

            • by mwvdlee (775178)

              I think there's something called "due dilligence". You could expect Google to try and track down the publisher or author. You might even expect them to go through available public records to track down the author if the publisher is no longer in business. You cannot reasonably expect them to go beyond that, hire private detectives, research archives or genealogy and invest large sums of money in order to search for somebody they will likely not find. Did Google do due dilligence or not?

            • by pantaril (1624521)

              The key point that much be brought up in these discussions is this: Google is a money-making machine. Period. It exists to make metric tons of money for its owners and officers. Period. It might do some interesting things, even some nice things, along the way - but it exists to make money. Who is making the money on this scheme, how, and what are the incentives to pay whom? Be helpful to get some straight answers to those questions.

              Why do money matter? Copyright is not there to provide money to people. It's there to promote creation of new culture and science. What google does (making an archive of existing works) is very much in spirit of copyright as it enables authors to easily access and build upon existing knowledge.

              Btw why are you spelling 'period' literally?

      • by sphealey (2855)

        What is the legal definition of a "snippet"? Can you please point to the language in the US Copyright Act or the various international copyright treaties where "snippet" is defined? Thanks.

        sPh

        • by nbauman (624611)

          "Snippit -- an extract small enough to qualify as fair use under the copyright laws."

          • by sphealey (2855)

            In other words, there is no legal definition - it means whatever Google wants it to mean. Which was exactly Ursula K. LeGuin's point.

            sPh

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 11, 2012 @07:28PM (#41625229)

      On one hand, it's deplorable that Google isn't paying tribute to authors.

      You need to get more info on this - Google is doing authors a favor here. They're taking tons of out of print and generally unavailable books, making them available online, and allowing authors who claim them to get most of the proceeds from their sales.

      • I think I finally see why the Author's guild is protesting. They don't care about authors who aren't under their umbrella, and the existence of more publically available work not under their umbrella cuts them out of the pie. Its analogous to how Big Media negotiates with radio/etc for exclusivity, and they're only allowed to play their music.

    • by RocketRabbit (830691) on Thursday October 11, 2012 @09:33PM (#41626235)

      "On one hand, it's deplorable that Google isn't paying tribute to authors."

      Most of them are dead, and their works are in the public domain. For those that aren't you just get a tiny snippet view which encourages you to buy the very expensive out of print books, or buy the books from a publisher.

      This is all about Google's ability to sell books, and the publishers don't like that. They sell books because you can search and bam, there's the book you need. No need to get it from a publisher.

      Authors win here too, especially ones who will not typically be joined with a publisher.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by sh00z (206503)

        Most of them are dead, and their works are in the public domain. For those that aren't you just get a tiny snippet view which encourages you to buy the very expensive out of print books, or buy the books from a publisher.

        OK, I'm giving up moderator rights to post this, so you can tell I'm serious. The statement above is absolutely incorrect. This is NOT about public domain. There's no question that Google (or anybody else) can redistribute PD works. This is about Google scanning and then re-selling out-of-

    • by jamstar7 (694492)

      I think Google just accidentally broke the system. Perhaps it was not Google, but the digital age itself, that did the actual breaking.

      Google's been scanning old books & magazines, stuff that's been out of print for ages and probably by rights already should be public domain, depending on the copyright date.

      • by sphealey (2855)

        - - - - Google's been scanning old books & magazines, stuff that's been out of print for ages and probably by rights already should be public domain, depending on the copyright date. - - - -

        Uh, no. That may be the basis of the scanning project, but Google has been putting a lot more stuff than just "old" scanned books into Google Books. And by the way, many works whose authors have died are still under copyright according to the various laws that were in effect at the time of their publication.

        sPh

  • by 1800maxim (702377) on Thursday October 11, 2012 @07:12PM (#41625081)
    rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/leotg9DJN_g/court-finds-in-favor-of-libraries-in-google-books-affair
    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      This isn't just a dupe, both articles appear on the front page at the same time!

    • by NoKaOi (1415755)

      It's not just a dupe, it's less accurate. The previous story at least has a title that makes it clear that they ruled in favor of libraries, not Google. There's a big difference, since it's Google doing the actual copying, not the libraries. If I rent a movie from Redbox, rip it and bittorrent, who's going to get in trouble - me or Redbox? Whether or not Google will get in trouble hasn't been decided yet.

  • I would feign surprise and outrage but this isn't the first same-page dupe I've seen on Slashdot. This site must be edited by goldfish. *golf clap*
  • If it is OK to scan documents for fair use and it is OK to break DRM then linking to GPL'ed code without having to be GPL'ed should be legal as well under interoperability terms.

    Your rights end where mine begin. If you expose an API in your library then I have a right to link to it. As long as I do not copy the code into my codebase then you should have no say in how my code is licensed.

  • Yes! (Score:5, Funny)

    by chill (34294) on Thursday October 11, 2012 @07:26PM (#41625217) Journal

    That is the Slashdot I know and love! A dupe while the original article is still on the front page!

    I feel like having a bowl of hot grits and watching a movie with Natalie Portman in it.

  • This sounds cool and all and may somehow affect my life but the Yankees are playing like crap and that has me worried

  • Honestly, do the editors even bother to read... oh, never mind.

    • by Desler (1608317)

      You think samzenpus can read?

      • To respond to all you 'perfect' people who've been piling on here...

        Have any of you had a miscommunication, never made a mistake while trying to do your job? It was a screwup, yeah, so what? I swear, some of you guys who post are real jerks. Shit happens, get over it already. Go to your mirrors, all of you, and if you see someone who's never made a mistake, on the job and in private, then you're either a frickin' computer or a liar. F#@*ing whiny a#%$@#es!

        • by Desler (1608317)

          Except that samzenpus has years of history of duping stories on the same day that another editor has posted them.

          • Oh, see I don't know the /. history in many areas, been on/off reader for 3 years, just began to post a few months ago. I'd just went off a little bit there, I apologize if my 'rant' was uncalled for. I will try to keep refining my behavior on /. .
  • Back when.home.computing was stillyoung, years before there was a google, there was.Project Gutenberg http://www.gutenberg.org/ [gutenberg.org] , where volunteers donated their time and typed in and proofread books. They are still a prescence on the web, though they've had to take down.books due to.copyright restrictions. It was and still is a noble cause.
    • by sphealey (2855)

      - - - - Back when.home.computing was stillyoung, years before there was a google, there was.Project Gutenberg http://www.gutenberg.org/ [gutenberg.org] [gutenberg.org] , where volunteers donated their time and typed in and proofread books. - - - -

      Last I checked, however, Project Gutenberg only captured text of books that were clearly in the public domain under the various copyright acts in force in the US and Europe since 1800. The complaint of many authors about Google and its proposed "settlements" is that Google is

Nothing is rich but the inexhaustible wealth of nature. She shows us only surfaces, but she is a million fathoms deep. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Working...