September 20, 2005 3:12 PM PDT

Authors Guild sues Google over library project

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Google pauses library project

August 12, 2005

Publishers balk at Google book copy plan

May 24, 2005
The Authors Guild on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against search engine Google, alleging that its scanning and digitizing of library books constitutes a "massive" copyright infringement.

As part of its Google Print Library Project, the company is working to scan all or parts of the book collections of the University of Michigan, Harvard University, Stanford University, the New York Public Library and Oxford University. It intends to make those texts searchable on Google and to sell advertisements on the Web pages.

"This is a plain and brazen violation of copyright law," Nick Taylor, president of the New York-based Authors Guild, said in a statement about the lawsuit, which is seeking class action status. "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."

In response, Google defended the program in a company blog posting.

"We regret that this group chose to sue us over a program that will make millions of books more discoverable to the world--especially since any copyright holder can exclude their books from the program," wrote Susan Wojcicki, vice president of product management. "Google respects copyright. The use we make of all the books we scan through the Library Project is fully consistent with both the fair use doctrine under U.S. copyright law and the principles underlying copyright law itself, which allow everything from parodies to excerpts in book reviews."

This Authors Guild lawsuit doesn't mark the first objection to the Google program. Other groups, including the Association of American University Presses, have also criticized it.

Last month, Google said it would temporarily halt its book scanning in the project in response to the criticisms. It said at the time that it also was making changes to its Google Print Publisher Program, in which books are scanned at the request of the publisher so people can view excerpts.

The individual plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which seeks damages and an injunction to stop the digitizing, are former New York Times editorial writer Herbert Mitgang, children's author Betty Miles and Daniel Hoffman, the 1973-1974 Poet Laureate of the United States.

The Authors Guild represents more than 8,000 authors and is the largest society of published writers in the United States.

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.)

40 comments

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What am I missing?
I'm not quite sure what the problem is: Google is making it easier for people to find/discover works that otherwise would be buried on a shelf in a library somewhere. It would seem that an author would be thrilled to gain exposure to their works, so long as Google did not allow an on-line user to view/read the entire work.

Apparently, I've missed something.
Posted by GTOfan (33 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Google--The next Microsoft.. in every way
Lawsuit Magnet.

Fair or not. They're a marked target, just like all the frivilous lawsuits by people "harmed" by any large companies supposed actions.
Posted by Anon-Y-mous (124 comments )
Link Flag
What you're missing...
Look at the word itself - copyright, as in the right to make a copy. If you don't own the copyright, you have no right to make copies.

Yes, certain exceptions do exist. However, in NO case is it allowed to make total and complete copies without permission. Even if you're doing it for free, it's still infringement.

==========

Irrelevant to this issue, but related: If the original copyrighted work is in digital form, the "fair use" loophole that has been widely used for so many years has been closed by the DMCA.
Posted by Jim Harmon (329 comments )
Link Flag
What am I missing?
I'm not quite sure what the problem is: Google is making it easier for people to find/discover works that otherwise would be buried on a shelf in a library somewhere. It would seem that an author would be thrilled to gain exposure to their works, so long as Google did not allow an on-line user to view/read the entire work.

Apparently, I've missed something.
Posted by GTOfan (33 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Google--The next Microsoft.. in every way
Lawsuit Magnet.

Fair or not. They're a marked target, just like all the frivilous lawsuits by people "harmed" by any large companies supposed actions.
Posted by Anon-Y-mous (124 comments )
Link Flag
What you're missing...
Look at the word itself - copyright, as in the right to make a copy. If you don't own the copyright, you have no right to make copies.

Yes, certain exceptions do exist. However, in NO case is it allowed to make total and complete copies without permission. Even if you're doing it for free, it's still infringement.

==========

Irrelevant to this issue, but related: If the original copyrighted work is in digital form, the "fair use" loophole that has been widely used for so many years has been closed by the DMCA.
Posted by Jim Harmon (329 comments )
Link Flag
Okay!
(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.)

We Know - Shut Up!!
Posted by advs89 (68 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Okay!
(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.)

We Know - Shut Up!!
Posted by advs89 (68 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What you missed
The authors want to get paid, that is what you missed. They want it so that you have to buy the book instead of searching it up. If you could get an entire book by searching Google, would you pay for it? I would not. Remember we live and work in a capital country. Everyone wants their slice of the pie and piece of the dream.
Posted by VI Joker (231 comments )
Reply Link Flag
you can't read the whole book
When I use Google Print, I get to look at 5 pages, tops. Beyond that, there's a page-limit wall. Sometimes, like in the case of cookbooks where the usable pieces of information are smaller, the page limit is much smaller. For some books, you can't view any pages at all, just the bibliographic information. If your use of the book is so trivial that you're only going to need one page (for example, to check a citation), you wouldn't be buying that book anyhow, so there's no loss of sales or income to authors.

You can do as I did and search Google Print for the phrase "hispanic police officers" and find out what books I might want to buy or borrow from a library that cover this subject well. If I want to borrow a particular book from my local library, I might request that the library purchase that book.
Posted by (10 comments )
Link Flag
What you missed
The authors want to get paid, that is what you missed. They want it so that you have to buy the book instead of searching it up. If you could get an entire book by searching Google, would you pay for it? I would not. Remember we live and work in a capital country. Everyone wants their slice of the pie and piece of the dream.
Posted by VI Joker (231 comments )
Reply Link Flag
you can't read the whole book
When I use Google Print, I get to look at 5 pages, tops. Beyond that, there's a page-limit wall. Sometimes, like in the case of cookbooks where the usable pieces of information are smaller, the page limit is much smaller. For some books, you can't view any pages at all, just the bibliographic information. If your use of the book is so trivial that you're only going to need one page (for example, to check a citation), you wouldn't be buying that book anyhow, so there's no loss of sales or income to authors.

You can do as I did and search Google Print for the phrase "hispanic police officers" and find out what books I might want to buy or borrow from a library that cover this subject well. If I want to borrow a particular book from my local library, I might request that the library purchase that book.
Posted by (10 comments )
Link Flag
What about the Gutenberg Project?
The buzz on this topic caused me to double take. The Gutenberg Project has been doing this exact thing since 1971. Thats right & 1971. They are a non-profit organization that has been around since before the Internet went commercial.

I have not seen a single mention of Gutenberg in any news article I have read on the issue. What is the deal? Am I missing something? When I think of public domain books, I always think of the Gutenberg Project (and have for years). This non-profit organization has put in an unbelievable amount of volunteer time and effort over the years to do exactly what Google is talking about doing now. But it seems that many journalists dont even know who you are.
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Gutenberg uses works in public domain
As far as I know, the Gutenberg project makes available only works on which the copyright has expired.

From <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.gutenberg.org/:" target="_newWindow">http://www.gutenberg.org/:</a> A huge archive of free etexts of works that are in the public domain in the USA....

Of course, if the U.S. Congress continues to grovel before its corporate masters and extend copyright law, this project may fizzle out.
Posted by (2 comments )
Link Flag
What about the Gutenberg Project?
The buzz on this topic caused me to double take. The Gutenberg Project has been doing this exact thing since 1971. Thats right & 1971. They are a non-profit organization that has been around since before the Internet went commercial.

I have not seen a single mention of Gutenberg in any news article I have read on the issue. What is the deal? Am I missing something? When I think of public domain books, I always think of the Gutenberg Project (and have for years). This non-profit organization has put in an unbelievable amount of volunteer time and effort over the years to do exactly what Google is talking about doing now. But it seems that many journalists dont even know who you are.
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Gutenberg uses works in public domain
As far as I know, the Gutenberg project makes available only works on which the copyright has expired.

From <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.gutenberg.org/:" target="_newWindow">http://www.gutenberg.org/:</a> A huge archive of free etexts of works that are in the public domain in the USA....

Of course, if the U.S. Congress continues to grovel before its corporate masters and extend copyright law, this project may fizzle out.
Posted by (2 comments )
Link Flag
Who need those 8000 auth (let them out)
is a new world a new com way, they dont want to be part of it, let them die as pictures in a cave who knows what the auth wanted to say who cares
is not important today those 8000 will not be important.
is like those AH that kill napster, i don have music from them nd i dont recomend to listem to them
Posted by cgamboak (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Who need those 8000 auth (let them out)
is a new world a new com way, they dont want to be part of it, let them die as pictures in a cave who knows what the auth wanted to say who cares
is not important today those 8000 will not be important.
is like those AH that kill napster, i don have music from them nd i dont recomend to listem to them
Posted by cgamboak (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Copyright holders have no right to prevent infringement
"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."

That is correct, but the way they are allowed to do it is to sue if copyright has been infringed. Copying a copyrighted work is an infringement ONLY IF the copyright holder does not agree to the use of the work. As long as the copyright holder does not object to the copying, Google can copy. Now what this authors guild is trying to do is to prevent Google from indexing not just the works whose authors want them not to index, but also all works whose author has not objected to copying. They are just trying to avoid competition by those multitude of authors who do not object to their works being indexed. They have no right under copyright law to prevent Google from copying. Their only right is to sue Google based on individual infringements after the fact. But of course they realize that they don't stand a chance in that case, because what Google serves are only snippets, and their use of the material for searching falls perfectly under "research" in fair use.
Posted by hadaso (468 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The flaw in your logic...
It's like saying murder is a crime only if you get caught.

You own the copyright? You have the right to make copies. Don't own it, don't have the right. Simple.
Posted by Jim Harmon (329 comments )
Link Flag
You got it backwards
You got it backwards. It's Google's obligation to ask for permission before copying, not the author's obligation to object. If Google doesn't ask for (or buy) a license first, it infringes.

Copyright law creates property interests in creative works similar to any other property interests. So what you're saying is akin to saying I can take your car and drive it around town and its all good and legal until you speak up, or I can come into your house when you're not there and watch your tv and its not trespassing unitl you say "get out." That's not the way copyright law, or property law in general, works.

I'm a Goog shareholder, but as a lawyer I see no way defense here. The "fair use" doctrine is a non-starter since Google plans to profit off this copying by selling advertising.
Posted by Hotcheez (12 comments )
Link Flag
Copyright holders have no right to prevent infringement
"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."

That is correct, but the way they are allowed to do it is to sue if copyright has been infringed. Copying a copyrighted work is an infringement ONLY IF the copyright holder does not agree to the use of the work. As long as the copyright holder does not object to the copying, Google can copy. Now what this authors guild is trying to do is to prevent Google from indexing not just the works whose authors want them not to index, but also all works whose author has not objected to copying. They are just trying to avoid competition by those multitude of authors who do not object to their works being indexed. They have no right under copyright law to prevent Google from copying. Their only right is to sue Google based on individual infringements after the fact. But of course they realize that they don't stand a chance in that case, because what Google serves are only snippets, and their use of the material for searching falls perfectly under "research" in fair use.
Posted by hadaso (468 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The flaw in your logic...
It's like saying murder is a crime only if you get caught.

You own the copyright? You have the right to make copies. Don't own it, don't have the right. Simple.
Posted by Jim Harmon (329 comments )
Link Flag
You got it backwards
You got it backwards. It's Google's obligation to ask for permission before copying, not the author's obligation to object. If Google doesn't ask for (or buy) a license first, it infringes.

Copyright law creates property interests in creative works similar to any other property interests. So what you're saying is akin to saying I can take your car and drive it around town and its all good and legal until you speak up, or I can come into your house when you're not there and watch your tv and its not trespassing unitl you say "get out." That's not the way copyright law, or property law in general, works.

I'm a Goog shareholder, but as a lawyer I see no way defense here. The "fair use" doctrine is a non-starter since Google plans to profit off this copying by selling advertising.
Posted by Hotcheez (12 comments )
Link Flag
I infringe on copyrighted works on a regular basis
I infringe on copyrighted works on a regular basis by optically scanning them using scanning devices called "eyes" and then storing a copy in a device called "brain".
Posted by hadaso (468 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Scanning
Yeah... but you're only caching them in dynamic memory. Once you shut off the power, the copy disappears.
Posted by Jim Harmon (329 comments )
Link Flag
I infringe on copyrighted works on a regular basis
I infringe on copyrighted works on a regular basis by optically scanning them using scanning devices called "eyes" and then storing a copy in a device called "brain".
Posted by hadaso (468 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Scanning
Yeah... but you're only caching them in dynamic memory. Once you shut off the power, the copy disappears.
Posted by Jim Harmon (329 comments )
Link Flag
Gone too far.
I think all industries seem to be on a copyright binge and have got to the point where they don't care if the things they are shutting down increase their sales. How can google giving basic information without giving any of the actual text from the book be a bad thing. People have to buy the book still to read it, and it gives them something to get the reader interested. Plus these small things have a similar effect in increasing the range of books people will read because they can search through a large number and become more interested. The complainers are probably a similar part of the book industry as Hollywood are in the film industry. The part that are scared that it might actually take something decent that someone actually likes to sell. In a tacky commercially driven world like this, the last things some companies want is people to know how bad the product is before they buy it. It sort of counteracts all the hype they produce about what are really some of the most ordinary, unflattering attempts at creativy I've seen.
Posted by (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
right
That's what I was trying to say in the first post. Those idiot authors don't seem to care that their sales might actually increase! But their childish "you didn't ask permission first" attitude gets in the way.

Hell, if the authors had thought of it first, they probably would have paid Google to do this.
Posted by GTOfan (33 comments )
Link Flag
Google intends to profit
Google is copying these books with the intent of profiting from the use of those copies. As a legal matter, I'm afraid its open and shut.

As a business matter, you have a point. This may help sales for many authors. The problem is, Google should have first made that case to the authors and negotiated licenses before copying the material. Maybe they could have convinced them to let them do it for free. Or Google would project their advertising revenue, and the authors would say give us a small percentage. But Google chose not to do it the legal way presumably because they were in too big a rush.

You just can't infringe on another person's property rights without permission and say, "don't worry, you'll be better off for it." Not if you don't want to get sued anyway.
Posted by Hotcheez (12 comments )
Link Flag
Gone too far.
I think all industries seem to be on a copyright binge and have got to the point where they don't care if the things they are shutting down increase their sales. How can google giving basic information without giving any of the actual text from the book be a bad thing. People have to buy the book still to read it, and it gives them something to get the reader interested. Plus these small things have a similar effect in increasing the range of books people will read because they can search through a large number and become more interested. The complainers are probably a similar part of the book industry as Hollywood are in the film industry. The part that are scared that it might actually take something decent that someone actually likes to sell. In a tacky commercially driven world like this, the last things some companies want is people to know how bad the product is before they buy it. It sort of counteracts all the hype they produce about what are really some of the most ordinary, unflattering attempts at creativy I've seen.
Posted by (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
right
That's what I was trying to say in the first post. Those idiot authors don't seem to care that their sales might actually increase! But their childish "you didn't ask permission first" attitude gets in the way.

Hell, if the authors had thought of it first, they probably would have paid Google to do this.
Posted by GTOfan (33 comments )
Link Flag
Google intends to profit
Google is copying these books with the intent of profiting from the use of those copies. As a legal matter, I'm afraid its open and shut.

As a business matter, you have a point. This may help sales for many authors. The problem is, Google should have first made that case to the authors and negotiated licenses before copying the material. Maybe they could have convinced them to let them do it for free. Or Google would project their advertising revenue, and the authors would say give us a small percentage. But Google chose not to do it the legal way presumably because they were in too big a rush.

You just can't infringe on another person's property rights without permission and say, "don't worry, you'll be better off for it." Not if you don't want to get sued anyway.
Posted by Hotcheez (12 comments )
Link Flag
State of art
Is it just me or do other people notice that no one seems to create for the sake of art anymore. Could imagine Monne saying why should I paint these stupid plants if I am not going to make millions to buy that 25 carot gold chain. Or De Vinci saying I don't think I'll design that aeroplane thing, no one will patent that. I actually wouldn't mind seeing a few people fight back, maybe boycott sales, or do something to keep the industries on their feet. Not that I pirate anything, but I believe it is in the artists interest to have a large amount of exposure and the fact the industries shut this down is wrong. Scientists have already shown that there is a wider range of genres of music listened to by the average listener than ever before. This doesn't mean they lost out. This means the one person will now buy their sales in many genres rather than one. If anything it has made music something important and central again. It is definitely not bad for the music industry, and what google has done is definitely not bad for the book industry, the only thing that might be damaged that is there to care about is $$$.
Posted by (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The artists' right
Yes, artists have the right to work "ars gratia artis." And, as you mention, it is the public's right to choose not to patronize artists who decide to charge for their works. That's the way the system works.

We don't have the right to say "I'm not going to pay for it because I don't want to and I don't have to."
Posted by Jim Harmon (329 comments )
Link Flag
State of art
Is it just me or do other people notice that no one seems to create for the sake of art anymore. Could imagine Monne saying why should I paint these stupid plants if I am not going to make millions to buy that 25 carot gold chain. Or De Vinci saying I don't think I'll design that aeroplane thing, no one will patent that. I actually wouldn't mind seeing a few people fight back, maybe boycott sales, or do something to keep the industries on their feet. Not that I pirate anything, but I believe it is in the artists interest to have a large amount of exposure and the fact the industries shut this down is wrong. Scientists have already shown that there is a wider range of genres of music listened to by the average listener than ever before. This doesn't mean they lost out. This means the one person will now buy their sales in many genres rather than one. If anything it has made music something important and central again. It is definitely not bad for the music industry, and what google has done is definitely not bad for the book industry, the only thing that might be damaged that is there to care about is $$$.
Posted by (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The artists' right
Yes, artists have the right to work "ars gratia artis." And, as you mention, it is the public's right to choose not to patronize artists who decide to charge for their works. That's the way the system works.

We don't have the right to say "I'm not going to pay for it because I don't want to and I don't have to."
Posted by Jim Harmon (329 comments )
Link Flag
Does the world think Google is violating copyright laws?
See if most people think Google violating the law by scanning
and indexing copyrighted printed material? <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://vizu.com/" target="_newWindow">http://vizu.com/</a>
vote_poll/Current+Events/Business/Domestic+US/Companies/
Legal/google/copyright/copyrighted/.jsp?n=2698&#38;cId=45
Interesting results.
Posted by theevilgecko (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Does the world think Google is violating copyright laws?
See if most people think Google violating the law by scanning
and indexing copyrighted printed material? <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://vizu.com/" target="_newWindow">http://vizu.com/</a>
vote_poll/Current+Events/Business/Domestic+US/Companies/
Legal/google/copyright/copyrighted/.jsp?n=2698&#38;cId=45
Interesting results.
Posted by theevilgecko (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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