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Google Books The Courts Your Rights Online

Google To Seek Dismissal of Suit Against Google Books 240

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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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 05, 2011 @08:43PM (#38274708)

    Where, in any of the legitimate arguments against Google, is there the suggestion that Google wishes to withhold money from or steal content from authors with a claim to profits generated from the sale of their content?

    Additionally, where is the claim that Google plans on making available copyrighted material for which an author is known and interested in claiming their legitimate profit?

  • by icebike ( 68054 ) on Monday December 05, 2011 @09:00PM (#38274830)

    Where, in any of the legitimate arguments against Google, is there the suggestion that Google wishes to withhold money from or steal content from authors with a claim to profits generated from the sale of their content?

    Additionally, where is the claim that Google plans on making available copyrighted material for which an author is known and interested in claiming their legitimate profit?


    However, I doubt you will make any headway with these people who are convinced that this is blatant copyright violation on a grand scale. Their mind is closed on the subject.

    At issue is a tiny TINY number of Unknown Authors who in most cases are dead, leaving no known heirs, who published something after 1923, but which is now out of print. Abandoned works by and large. Google does not violate copyrights, and uses the power of their own search engine to find these authors.

    But every time this story comes up, the same google haters jump up and scream copyright infringement.

  • by Caerdwyn ( 829058 ) on Monday December 05, 2011 @09:39PM (#38275192) Journal

    Wrong. The entire book is scanned. The filtration is done at presentation time; the entire work is digitized. I know this because Google tried to do this with my book. They also lied about trying to contact me for permission; I received no such contact even though my contact information had not changed in years, and the publisher is still in business at the same contact points listed in the book itself. Needless to say, when I found out about this I cease-and-desisted Google. My work is not theirs to give away.

    The lawsuit notes they they are scanning the entire work, without permission, with intent to provide the entire work to libraries in addition to presenting excerpts to anyone. The lawsuit also asserts that the usage is NOT "fair use". Kinko's Copies used to photocopy portions of textbooks selected by professors, assemble those chapters into custom textbooks per the professor's specifications, and sell them; they too claimed "fair use". Kinko's had their heads handed to them in court, which forced them to greatly diminish their campus income and started a slide into non-profitability that led to the FedEx buyout. (I managed a campus-facing Kinko's in the late 80's; I saw it all firsthand) The only differences are that with Kinko's, the copied material was presented in physical form, and that the financial benefit for the infringement was immediate (a retail sale) as opposed to diffuse (advertising data collection and presentation). The Kinko's case [] is being cited by the plaintiffs as precedent.

    The lawsuit also states that Google is exposing the authors to the risk of having all of their works compromised at once. If someone breaks into Google's storage system, they can get every book Google has ever come into contact with. The pirates won't have to do the scanning and OCR work; Google will have already removed that hurdle. This is a risk which Google has imposed upon authors without consent; it's another example of Google not giving a damn about what authors want, and assuming rights and powers which they have no legal or ethical claim to.

    Check your own facts.

  • by RobotRunAmok ( 595286 ) on Monday December 05, 2011 @09:41PM (#38275204)

    Authors have nothing to do with this.

    Authors have EVERYTHING to do with this, fool. The Author's Guild has been fighting this since day one.

    Sorry, but you can't cry and whine that it's the E-E-E-E-E-VILLLL *IAA's/licensed distributors (who only rip-off the poor artists anyway) who are leading the fight against piracy this time. The authors are on the front line -- have been since the day Harlan Ellison first sued AOL [] back in the 90's

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

    by Ichijo ( 607641 ) on Monday December 05, 2011 @09:53PM (#38275300) Journal
    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.
  • by shentino ( 1139071 ) <> on Monday December 05, 2011 @10:31PM (#38275546)

    I'd say that the snippet things easily count as fair use.

  • by bhcompy ( 1877290 ) on Monday December 05, 2011 @10:36PM (#38275598)
    You have no right to full-text searches of books. Yea, it's great. Awesome, really. It helps a ton with research of all kinds, or just finding that quote in a particular book or set of books, but this is something that should most likely be part of a licensed database. People pay good money for access to databases to search published journals. This is of the same class.
  • by khipu ( 2511498 ) on Monday December 05, 2011 @10:41PM (#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 viperidaenz ( 2515578 ) on Monday December 05, 2011 @10:43PM (#38275650)
    Scanning a book is no different than reading a book.

    If I read a bunch of books that I own about a certain topic and someone later asks me question relating to that topic, is it illegal for me to answer that question by citing information I have read?

    If a company scans a bunch of books it has legal access to about a certain topic and a user asks the company a question relating to that topic, is it illegal for the company to answer that qustion by citing information from the book?

    If the answer to those two questions is different, something is wrong. If the answer to the first question is yes, I'd better stop reading books because telling anyone about anything I've read is illegal.

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

    by initialE ( 758110 ) on Monday December 05, 2011 @10:54PM (#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.

  • by decora ( 1710862 ) on Monday December 05, 2011 @11:36PM (#38276006) Journal

    What we have to admit here is that Google is a massively wealthy company, and that authors are, in general, poor as shit.

    How anyone can call this 'fair' is bizarre. Authors own their property, just like you own your toothbrush or your socks. Google comes in and makes money off of this property, without asking, in violation of the rule of law and the custom of law.

    If it were Fair, google and all its highly payed, perks-out-the-ass employees would be giving a little sumpin sumpin to the Philip K Dicks of the world, and the obscure research book writers who have found their employment in journalism to have been so destroyed as of recent years by consolidation, and the internet.

    There are countless scandals and corruption episodes going on right now that we will never know about because there are no journalists being payed to report on them. That is not magic, that is the fault of the internet. Google has decided that it doesnt care, and it is not picking up the slack by giving some tiny sliver of its vast billions away to people who actually create content. Instead, it hires masseuses and black-belt baristas to staff its incredibly opulent cube farms.

    The publishers are often horrible, but Google is just another publisher - the funny thing is that it doesnt really pay anyone to write anything, and there is only one of it (i.e. its a monopoly).

  • by nbauman ( 624611 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @03:08AM (#38277054) Homepage Journal

    I spoke to a couple of copyright lawyers about this and I asked them to define "fair use." How much can you copy? How many pages?

    The answer is, nobody knows. There are a few cases that the court decided but outside of those very narrow conditions, no lawyer can tell you for sure.

    Incidentally, those same authors who are complaining about their books being copied without their permission usually copy entire reviews of their books to give away in the press kits of their books.

    What's obvious to you isn't obvious to somebody else.

  • by nbauman ( 624611 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @03:37AM (#38277152) Homepage Journal

    The other issue is that libraries want to scan their collections for use within their own building, so they can send disintegrating books to cold storage or throw them out. It's sort of like making a backup. But the Author's Guild doesn't want to let them do that either.

    The libraries want to be able to send images of the pages of their books to their patrons, rather than bringing up the physical book.

    That seems reasonable.

    Here's a real problem: I was at the New York Public Library's performing arts library in Lincoln Center. The librarian explained that they have collections of folders of clippings about all kinds of theater topics, such as theaters. These clippings contain information that's available noplace else. They don't have a good index, and the only way to find out what's in the folders is to get them from the stacks. The newspaper clippings are printed on newsprint, which is disintegrating.

    They want to image the whole collection, so patrons of the library can sit at a terminal and view images of the folders, rather than have to send them up from the stacks in elevators and read through the disintegrating clippings. They're waiting for the resolution of the Google suit before they can go ahead. If the Authors' Guild wins, they won't be able to image their own collection, and they'll have to watch it turn to dust.

    A lot of this stuff has the problem of orphan works. It would be almost impossible to digitize it if you needed permission from the copyright holder (which is not necessarily the author).

    A folder might contain articles, such as reviews, from a dozen different publications. Some of them might not be in existence any more. If the reviewer was an employee of the publication, the copyright belongs to the publication. If the reviewer was a freelancer, it probably belongs to the freelancer or his estate -- but that depends on long-lost contracts. There are people who track these copyrights down when publishers want to reprint things in textbooks -- it might cost $10 or $100 per article to track down the current owner, and sometimes you can't find them at all. Sometimes it's still in copyright, but they can't figure out, without a lawsuit, exactly who owns the rights (like that Philip K. Dick story, The Adjustment Bureau).

    I think it's a social good to have these disintegrating files imaged. I think it's fair use. The Author's Guild doesn't think so, and if they get their way, these folders will turn to dust.

    BTW, I also make my living as a published author. But I've spent days searching through paper copies of old books and microfilm, and I've always dreamed of being about to search for it by computer.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger