Feeds

back to article Photogs sue Google over Book Search culture grab

The American Society of Media Photographers has sued Mountain View over Google Book Search, the library-scanning project that's already the subject of an unusually controversial lawsuit from American authors and publishers. In a class action suit filed in a New York-based federal court on Wednesday, the photographers' trade …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

This is so difficult

On one hand as an obsessive archiver myself, I applaud google for scanning books which otherwise can only be obtained by hunting down second hand copies, and of course, a purchase of a second hand book delivers no royalties to the copyright owner.

On the other hand, google is making a massive land grab. The exclusivity they got from the American authors and publishers is monopolistic.

If a publisher has decided to never print a particular book again then google are doing our culture a favour, as often the author of the book is tied in to a contract which means they cannot publish elsewhere.

An author who has a book made popular because of google may actually find the increased exposure helpful.

I can't decide, is google being evil?

3
0
Silver badge

@Mr Templedene

>I can't decide, is google being evil?

It seems that you are falling on the side of the moral fence in so much as you argue the plus side is the possibility to view out of print works or works that are otherwise difficult to obtain and I fully agree with this point of view.

However you can answer the question you pose yourself by considering this question.

Are google doing this for the benefit of mankind or to make a profit?

0
0
Alert

benefit vs. profit

> Are google doing this for the benefit of mankind or to make a profit?

These are not mutually exclusive. Through technological advances (in particular), mankind is reaping enormous benefit from profit-making companies and individuals all the time.

0
0
Gold badge

It gets worse.

When trying to answer that one it muddies the waters when you consider that, whatever the outcome, a legal precedent will be set. Such a precedent would apply also to anyone else doing similar work (e.g. the Internet Archive mentioned).

Here's a tip: Try considering how you would judge the merits of this case were the organisation being sued: a) Microsoft b) Google c) Apple d) Battersea Dog's Home e) .........insert name of your favourite bunch of do-gooders of impeccable moral credentials*.

If it makes a difference to your answer, you don't understand the problem.

*Yes, it pains me that I can't think of a name to put in as "e" off the top of my head. Maybe I am getting too cynical.

0
0
Bronze badge
Thumb Down

The lawyers have perverted copyright law to death

The idea of copyright law was to ENCOURAGE the creation of new literature, not to maximize the profits for every fool with a camera. That's how this latest lawsuit comes across.

The idea of EVERY lawyer is to maximize conflict. Congratulations. I suppose there was some pretense of negotiation before trying to join in the lawsuit, but a quickly negotiated agreement would have been so sad--from the lawyers point of view.

Yeah, in some ways Google is going evil, but the Google Books project is NOT part of that. At least in this case Google is clearly maximizing the public good, which was supposed to be the entire point of copyright law. Now the primary goal of modern copyright law is to prevent derivative works and the creation of any new work of art that can be linked to any existing work of copyrighted art--essentially forever.

2
5
Paris Hilton

Not necessarily

As someone who is both a photographer, and studying Law in his spare time, I can say that you are wrong.

The idea is to reach a settlement that best benefits your client, sure there will be some who drag it out to inflate their fees but that's not every lawyer. I'm an IT techy, yet I don't live in my mothers basement, playing WoW instead of showering. I wouldn't expect that many people on El Reg fit that stereotype, but it is a pervasive stereotype nonetheless.

You seem to be under the impression that Google Books is about doing the public some massive favour. It's not, it's about advertising revenue. Yes it's very useful to be able to find out of print works online, but they need to respect the legal rights of the copyright holders.

You're right in that copyright law has gone too far, 14 years was a good period. Some of us create because we enjoy it, and if it makes us a little bit of money then that's even better, some push things too far and try to extort money out of you. You talk about 'every fool with a camera', think about how much work actually goes into creating a professional quality image. There's more than just the shutter release involved, there's taking the time to properly compose the image, re-touching etc.

If you put that much work into something, and then decided to sell copies of it, would you not be just a _little_ bit pissed if someone started distributing it for free? Worse than that, distributing it for free whilst making money from advertising to visitors that *your* work attracted?

I'm all for copyright reform, but if you genuinely think you wouldn't be more than a little aggravated in that situation, you clearly don't value your time and your work highly enough.

For now, I'll assume that you just haven't thought about it properly, which just makes you a numpty. So how about you think before you type?

Paris, because many men have put hours of work into her!

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: maximize the profits for every fool with a camera

Surely the fools are not the one holding the cameras but the publishers who publish their work and the consumers who buy them.

0
0
FAIL

Oh dear.

"The idea of copyright law was to ENCOURAGE the creation of new literature, not to maximize the profits for every fool with a camera."

You'll be claiming video-games are made by "idiots with a computer" and musicians are "morons with a piano" next.

Copyright law was enacted to encourage creation of new *WORKS*. Not just literature. Why should photographers be treated differently from authors and other creators? Good photography is *hard* and, last time I looked, good DSLR camera don't come free in packets of breakfast cereal.

If you think it's so easy to create good content, why don't you give it a go? If "any fool with a camera" can make a living at it, what's stopping you from quitting the day-job and jumping onto this alleged gravy train?

Contrary to popular belief, it is NOT easy to become a zillionaire from writing novels, taking photos, writing or performing music or making video-games. THAT is why copyright exists. Success stories like J. K. Rowling, Enya and Peter Molyneaux are the *exception*—they're edge cases. If this kind of success was normal, *everyone* would be doing it.

0
0
Badgers

Yes, but ...

Yes, the idea of an archive is a good thing. Google, however, are using other people's work for profit and market domination. They wish to set the market value, too.

It's not like there isn't an alternative, the article mentions another book archiver with loftier goals and better integrity.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

A dangerous path to tread

"At least in this case Google is clearly maximizing the public good..."

Hmmm, let me think.... Err... The world is currently overpopulated by about 2 billion people. I know! Let's serve the global public good and get rid of those 2,000,000,000 people. Now whilst that would serve the 'public good' too, I would very much imagine that those effected would have some pretty strong objections, and on fair grounds I would say.

The probem with this whole episode is that yet again we have a major corporation, with seemingly infinately deep pockets, deciding to do what they want, when they want, how they want. Whether or not a greater public good is being served here is wholly irrelevant. What is relevant is that Google will knowingly be proactive on the wrong side of copyright law.

It matters not a single iota what their motivations may. Wrong is wrong is wrong.

It's a bad day for the world when we keep hearing commentators say, 'It's in our interests. Who cares if it's totally legal?' That's a dangerous path to tread.

In many ways Google are the new Microsoft, whether we like it or not ;)

0
0
Troll

Hmmmm

Good photography is *hard*

I consider myself a good photographer and have had may of my works published. I don’t find it hard at all !!

I have a booming trade in selling limited editions of my works. I produce only 10 of each piece of work and sell the first one for £5. Each additional print I double the price. I have sold a couple that have gone up to £2560 but not many, most reach up to the £160 to £320 mark. I sell in quantities enough to make a comfortable living.

The thing is, I don’t find it hard. I just consider myself talented. I go out with my camera and point at a scene and click. or if i feel arty farty i get the studio lighting out and take over a room for a few days...

A friend of mine who seen how easy it was for me went out and spent thousands of pounds on camera kit to try to get in on the money i am making. he came along with me on a few photo-shoots... guess what... epic fail. even when he stood in the same spot and set his camera up the same as mine and pointed in the same object as me... guess what...fail...

you ether have a talent or you don’t, no mater what your art is. You cant learn to be an artist, but you need to learn how to protect your work.

I found one person who made a copy of one of my photographs and was trying to sell it. I knew it was a copy because I had already seen him sell one copy, which I assumed was the original. One quick letter from my solicitors and a claim for £1280 in damages settled out of court, or i would go for the full sale price of £2560 in damages (plus legal costs). He actually paid up....

You have to protect your works, but there were already laws in place. Why we need more i don’t know. Its just over-complicating things...

no links to work and AC because I am no free-loader looking for free adds from el reg !!

0
0
Thumb Up

Fantastic!!

The numpties at Google fail to apprehend that a single photograph is itself a complete work, and that their use of it is infringing. ASMP have my d support on this issue. I just wonder why they waited so long to file

5
4
Bronze badge
Megaphone

Let them shoot porn

Actually, even the commercial porn market is collapsing under the onslaught of cheap digital photography. Can you understand that there is NO there there? The photographers involved in this lawsuit clearly don't understand.

I do feel some sympathy. Quality really does matter, and it really is hard work and it requires great skill to take a good picture. However, there are times when quality is overwhelmed by quantity, and this is one of them.

Think of it as a function of time. At first (about 150 years ago), photography was incredibly difficult. Anyone who could figure out how to make a Daguerreotype could become a professional photographer with some degree of success. Over time, cameras became more and more available. For a while there were also increasing numbers of professional photographers, too, but the increase in the number of cameras was always far greater than the growth in the number of photographers. I'm not sure when we passed the cusp, but I'm sure that the vast majority of photos these days are taken by amateurs--and I think we have already crossed the line where that is true of published photos and even videos.

Don't believe me? Take a quick look at YouTube.

This lawsuit is an attempt to revive a really dead horse. You can hang a number on it and call it a cash cow, but you're still going to lose the derby.

The market has spoken, and the professional photographers have lost. The number of professional photographers is now declining. I don't think they will ever disappear, but most photographers are just doing it for love--which seems to have taken us back to the starting point of this post?

0
2
FAIL

Title

There's so much wrong with this post I really can't even be arsed to start correcting it. I'll just say that I'm looking forward to your vision of the future where all photographs used in graphic design, the fashion world, advertising, portraiture and glossy magazines are shot on a grainy camera-phone by some bloke off the street.

0
0
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Well maybe

I would kinda of agree with you AC, but the presence of this website:

http://photoshopdisasters.blogspot.com/

...does kinda prove his point.

0
0
Bronze badge

the isue

The issue that this latest group has is this . lets say a publish decides not publish a book, but this book contains copy righted art work from some else . Do they have a right to reproduce that copy righted art work. What if that person is still alive and publishing that artwork ?

0
0
Stop

The copyright owner has the rights to make copies.

Hence the term.

"Copyright".

From "Right to Copy".

It really *IS* that simple. Whoever has the right to make (i.e. publish) copies of the copyrighted work can do so. Book contracts usually have a time-out clause specifically to avoid the issue of a publisher not publishing, or deleting a published work from their catalogue.

I know this, because I recently had copyright revert back to me on two articles I wrote for a book on game development about nine years ago. The book is out-of-print. The publisher gains nothing from keeping the copyright, and the contract says I can have the article's copyright back in such situations.

Not only *can* it happen, it *does* happen.

Perhaps people should ask those who actually *know* how an industry works before leaping to unfounded conclusions.

Google are trying to pull a fast one—and getting away with it, thanks to the ignorance of the general population. A far better solution would be to handle this kind of thing through the national public libraries. It'll give them more relevance in an increasingly online society. Most importantly, it means the scanned works would belong to the public and not some private corporation, while the databases can still be accessed through suitable APIs by search engines if desired.

1
0
Bronze badge

Road to hell?

My view on the whole Google books concept is that it is the usual good idea gone bad syndrome. Scanning books which were out of copyright or for which they could obtain permission was a brilliant idea for so many reasons but something went wrong and someone decided to cut a corner.

Rather than restrict it to those two categories they decided to just scan them all and sort it out later (sounds like the old US adage of 'shoot them all and let God sort it out'). Having had it made clear that large parts of the world didn't like this (again a common US failing, the world outside the US is actually larger than the world inside the US) they simply pointed to the money already spent as though it was only for our benefit and would not result in a rather large commercial benefit to them.

It has now reached the point where no-one can possibly win and the copyright waters have been so muddied they may never clear.

So sad and so avoidable.

0
0
Silver badge
Unhappy

Old books

Google say that they only show snippets for books that are still in copyright, but they also only show snippets for books that are years outside copyright (even under the American 'Mickey Mouse' continuously extending copyright periods) - and there's no apparent method to appeal and to point out to them that a book published in 1880 by an author who died in 1903 is NOT in copyright! This makes me very, very irritated!

0
0
Paris Hilton

Adverts

Let's not pretend though Google are being altruistic in their attempts to digitise all the books known to man. They simply want more content to place advertising next to.

I would agree to some extent that archiving all these books is a good idea. What I don't agree with is Google making money off other peoples property. That is theft pure and simple.

In some respects it's the same as the newspaper industry who are only now realising that Google were never in news to promote their content. They were always in it to make money from their unique content.That's why NI are now looking to paywalls to protect their property and make money from the content they own.

Paris - she wouldn't give it away for free...

0
0
Go

Google Book Publishing

Why doesn't google set itself up as a publisher of books if this is what it believes is 'for the good of mankind'. By setting out on 'a massive land grab' mission, it is trampling all over the hard work others have had to put in to get to where they are today. By setting up as a book publisher, it allows those who would otherwise get their book published to do so for free on google books... surely this is a win-win for all involved?

I agree Google should not be allowed to copy copyrighted works, unless they can tell whether or not those works are indeed orphan works first. its akin to a coder creating a game then having google give it away for free so long as you only play the game on their site... utter outrageousness.

0
0
Bronze badge

One Law for All

What part of "No part of this publication may be copied, transmitted, or stored in an information retrieval system in any way without the prior written permission of the publisher" didn't Google understand?

1
0
This topic is closed for new posts.