Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Authors Guild sues Google

The American Authors Guild is suing Google, claiming that its plan to digitise books and put them online (Google Library) is a "massive copyright infringement at the expense of the rights of individual writers."
"“This is a plain and brazen violation of copyright law,"” said Authors Guild president Nick Taylor. "“It's not up to Google or anyone other than the authors, the rightful owners of these copyrights, to decide whether and how their works will be copied."
There seems to be some confusion here.Google's policy, as set out on its website is that:
If the book has no copyright restrictions and is considered public domain, then you can browse through the entire book. For library books still under copyright, you'll only be able to see a few sentences. Books that are from publishers will allow you to view a limited number of pages. In general, Google Print is designed to help you discover books, not read them from start to finish. It's like going to a bookstore and browsing -– only with a Google twist.
Has this changed?

Update 22/09/05: The Guardian Online blog has some more on this, including a statement from Google:
"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 statement said. "Google Print directly benefits authors and publishers by increasing awareness of and sales of the books in the program. And, if they choose, authors and publishers can exclude books from the program if they don't want their material included. Copyrighted books are indexed to create an electronic card catalog and only small portions of the books are shown unless the content owner gives permission to show more."
And more from Wired, which seems to get to the heart of the matter:
Google argues that it strictly limits how much of any given book it will show to consumers and thus meets copying exemptions provided under the fair-use doctrine, among others.

But Google is copying entire works without permission in order to place books in its database in the first place. And it plans to make money by selling ads. That combination that could get Google in trouble.

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