April 4, 2009 10:26 AM PDT

Google's plan for out-of-print books is challenged

Google's plan for out-of-print books is challenged

The exclusivity of a legal settlement giving Google online rights to out-of-print "orphan" books is being challenged in court.
(From The New York Times)

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The orphan works should just fall into the public domain and allow people and businesses to use ANY part of those works without having to pay anyone anything.
That was how copyright law was supposed to work: when the person who had the copyright died, the rights to PUBLISH died along with them and ANYONE could publish their works and distribute them, if they so wished.
Posted by Lerianis3 (1130 comments )
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Sorry but you don't know what you're talking about. Copyright doesn't end when the author dies; the right to publish remains with the author's estate (e.g., his/her family.) In most jurisdictions -- including the US and the European Union -- the copyright generally remains valid for 70 years after the author's death.

Orphan works just means the copyright holder for some reason can't be determined or located, due to poor record keeping, etc. It doesn't mean the author has died or has given up the copyright, and a piece of work may become orphaned through no fault of its author or his estate.

Just placing orphaned works to the public domain is blatantly unfair to the authors of such work. People will just falsely claim they can't locate the author to avoid paying any money, which is ridiculous. Placing orphaned works in public domain would encourage cheaters to conveniently destroy records of ownership (at stock agencies, private collections, etc.) so they can use these works without paying royalties.

Rather than simplistically place orphaned works in the public domain, there has to be legislation such that: a) users of orphaned works must demonstrate they searched for the authors in good faith through generally accepted available means; b) there has to be some way to fairly compensate the author should he/she surfaces in the future.
Posted by mbenedict (1001 comments )
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I agree with your assessment, however its not a simple issue that can be solved with a 'good faith' attempt at a search. You can treat 'orphaned' books as part of the public domain.
However, Google's actions are tantamount to digital piracy.

It would be one thing for a government to digitize its national library, and make the works available online. Its another for someone to claim ownership over the digital rights of those works.

I mean, suppose there's an out of date/print version of 'Moby Dick' that I carefully scanned and used OCR. Suppose that Google did the same thing. Does this mean that Google can tell me that I can't put my personal copy online because they claimed the digital rights?

Maybe 'Moby Dick' isn't a good example since someone probably owns the copyright to the work. How about some obscure 17th century poet who's sonnets are now in the public eye? Can Google claim ownership over an electronic version of the poems?

I think not.

It is very similar to the issue of someone buying the rights to make digital copies of famous paintings available on the 'net.

Somewhere governments need to step forward and protect our written and visual treasures from corporate greed, no?
Posted by dargon19888 (412 comments )
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Government is in bed with large corporations through our currupt legislature. Google is again showing their corporate terrorism through bullying and blatantly illegal acts. Want to hurt Google? Stop using their search facility and abstain from visting any websites that use Google ads.
Posted by honorable1 (157 comments )
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