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back to article Why are scribes crying just 'cos Google copied their books? asks judge

A US Appeals Court has suggested that authors suing Google should be pleased that the advertising giant is scanning millions of books and putting them online for all. A lawsuit to halt the tome digitising effort, brought by the Authors Guild and groups representing photographers and graphic artists, is up before the lofty court …

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Seems counterproductive...

....to be suing someone who is trying to draw attention to your works and could be bringing you additional revenue. I could understand if the entire book was being put online and thus sales were hurting on books that an author may complain a bit. But to sue that much money from someone who is taking PART of your book and putting it online so as to help people find you? Uhhhhh did I miss something here?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Seems counterproductive...

.. but surely the point is that it's the authors/rights-holders decision to make, not Google's (even if it is counterproductive)

If it were some big cultural, academic, or state institution, e.g. the British Library or similar, then maybe all the "benefit to wider society/culture" arguments might hold; but Google is not in that business at all. I believe it mostly makes money by selling advertising space.

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Boffin

Re: Seems counterproductive...

robots.txt is your friend.

Last time I checked, Google's crawler honored this little bugger.

Don't want your book indexed? Fine, restrict it with robots.txt.

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Facepalm

Re: Seems counterproductive...

Last time I checked, Google's crawler honored this little bugger. Don't want your book indexed? Fine, restrict it with robots.txt.

Where do I put that in the printed publication sold at a bookseller?

Please tell me this was a joke, this is about books, not web sites (the clue on this was the fact we where using the word "book" not the phrase "web page").

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Re: Seems counterproductive...

No, authors and publishers don't get to decide what is fair use. That is for society to judge.

That's exactly the problem these days and what is going to be changed and clarified. We're sick and tired of that control freak attitude. It's not even to their benefit... it's cutting off their noses to spite their faces.

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Re: Seems counterproductive...

USC 17 Ch. 1 Sec 107 (my comments are in italics):

Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism no, comment no, news reporting no, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use) no, scholarship no, or research no, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include—

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; Google is a for-profit entity using this to drive advertisement sales. No commentary is being made on the work itself, nor is the work being used to make a point of some kind. Fail on that point

(2) the nature of the copyrighted work; I assume most of these are non-fiction works, which I would expect to work in Google's favor on this point

(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and Are we talking about a full duplication of the work, or just a section? While google only SHOWs a small section, they did have to make a full unauthorized copy for searching purposes. Fail on this point

(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. This is subjective, but If being able to read a section of a technical work online means I dont have to get the book itself, the argument could be made that it damages the market for the work. Others would say it grows the market by increasing exposure. Neither statement can be proven before the damage is done, but if it really does grow the market then Google should just be able to explain this to the authors and they'll jump on board (doing so would avoid wasting the courts time)!

The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.

----

It is interesting that Google wants hundrads of little suits, rather then keeping it all together in one class action suit. One would almost think that Google thinks that by making the authors each come after them individually they can increase the costs to the individual author to the point that it's cost-prohibitive to come after them.

That doesn't sound evil at all.

Whatever the outcome of the fair use defense, I think it is obvious that is is appropriate for this to be a class action suit.

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WTF?

Re: Seems counterproductive...

Doh!! you seem to be assuming that the book is already published on a website. Did you miss the bit where it said that Google was digitising print books. Not sure where you'd stick a robots.txt file in a print book.

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Re: Seems counterproductive...

I think the biggest problem is with the definition of part. Assuming I scan in your book and then remove the title page, the frontispiece, and perhaps the author's acknowledgements both I post the remainder on my web-site. The main content of the book is still complete but I have only published part of the book. So am I covered by the law? Perhaps not in the spirit of it.

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Re: Seems counterproductive...

There are so many books I bought / borrowed from the library at uni which I never would have known about had google not indexed them.

On the one hand I can understand the whole "Wah they copied us" mentality, as far as these entities are concerned any digital media they don't make profit from must be hurting profits, rather than driving people to buy something the never normally would.

Honestly if I were the author / publisher of the book, rather than being greedy and trying to bag $750 per book, I'd instead try to coerce google into sorting out a deal whereby their book is put into a google book store, and is purchasable, with a prominent "Buy digital edition" link somewhere on the page. And I say this simply because a lot of the books I'd have liked to buy are no longer in print, which is another reason why I get annoyed when these people complain.

"Wah they're cutting into our profits"

"You don't sell this book anymore..."

"... so? You're still sharing it in a way that doesn't make us money!"

"You aren't making money anyway!"

"... could if we wanted to"

*facepalm*

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Boffin

Re: Seems counterproductive...

I think that the argument of 'fair use' doesn't pass the sniff test.

As to Google wanting to fight many smaller suits is that without class action status, many of the authors couldn't afford to fight Google. Google has that deep of a pocket that even if found guilty of copyright infringement in all cases.. it would put a dent only in 1 qtr's earnings.

Google is on the hook potentially for 3Billion USD. If they can win some of the cases, it would come out ahead in terms of dollars and cents.

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Re: Seems counterproductive...

"There are so many books I bought / borrowed from the library at uni which I never would have known about had google not indexed them."

Or you could just have asked your subject librarian...

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Re: Seems counterproductive...

what part of "reSEARCH" is not search? Just because the search part is automated doesn't make it not research, in fact it opens up new avenues of research on texts.

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Re: Seems counterproductive...

You know, there are only two human problems; we rid ourselves of these and we will survive:

the concept of a perceived value difference between things - let's call that MONEY

- and OWNERSHIP.

Rid the planet of those irrational, psychotic notions and your biggest problem will be what to do with all that inner happiness.

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Re: Seems counterproductive...

not some, not many, but all authors, every single one could not, by themselves face down Google. No. If Google wins everyone looses. If Google loses, then still - how does anyone win?

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Re: robots.txt is your friend.

Scanners, that is those things that make whiring noises as the bright light goes across the page on the glass, don't give a rat's tail end about any 'robot.txt' file.

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Re: Seems counterproductive...

Except they aren't simply serving snippets they are scanning and indexing the whole book, and the fact that they actively have to engage in scanning, then using ocr to convert the book to the machine readable files moves them well outside 'fair use' coverage. In fact, it pretty much moves them into Napster territory. Well, actually beyond Napster territory because Napster at least had the fig leaf that they weren't the one uploading the unauthorized music, while Google are actively doing it.

Once you understand the legal implications of that, you understand why Google's lawyers want the class action status resolved first. Resolve the copyright issue first and it's a slam dunk for the authors. Once that's established, class action makes perfect sense. If on the other hand you can split out all the suits into a mouse versus Goliath, the mouse is probably gonna lose, repeatedly.

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Re: Seems counterproductive...

In the specific instance you have provided you would fail on several counts, not the least of which is there is no criticism or commentary on the part copied. Even were that present, because so much of the book continues intact, you would still be guilty of infringement.

In order to get to fair use, you need to be in the sentences or paragraphs area, not pages and pages. This is well established in case law.

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Re: many smaller suits

Hell, at that level it's likely many of the suits couldn't even afford the court filing fees let alone the cost of lawyers prior to that.

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Re: Seems counterproductive...

Go Google :-)

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Re: Seems counterproductive...

"but surely the point is that it's the authors/rights-holders decision to make"

Authors/holders only have rights the rest of us choose to give them.

Those rights are given for the benefit of the rest of us not them.

Consideration of how the application and extent of those rights might provide the maximum benefit to the rest of us are reasonable and welcome.

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Facepalm

Re: Seems counterproductive...

Well, they are complaining about Google. Is there another presence of Google than the Internet one?

Where would Google show a book (whole or part of) that wouldn't be the web?

Well, there's Android. But last time i checked it wasn't showing books others than returned by a Google search...

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Re: Seems counterproductive...

I remember this. But, at the time, I got the idea they were doing it WITH the consent of the authors - or with books on public domain. Is it not the case?

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Stop

Do these guys not understand copyright?

The state grants authors the right to decide who has the right to copy their works. They can licence that right to publishers and make money. Google is copying their works without permission. They MAY get more exposure on the web, but where's the extra income comming from and who gave Google the license?

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Unhappy

Re: Do these guys not understand copyright?

No, they don't.

Or, yes they do but, hey, they have beeeelions of dollars, they don't need to care either way.

They can and do just do as they wish.

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Re: Do these guys not understand copyright?

> The state grants authors the right to decide who has the right to copy their works.

Unless of course, it decides to revoke that right. Copyright is an artificial assignment of control. It may be a good one, but if you ask for state intervention to allow you to make money, the state is in control.

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Childcatcher

Re: Do these guys not understand copyright?

And it is not up to the judges to decide as to whether to revoke the right, at least not until it hits the SCoTUS. So the authors have the rights, Google is doing as it will and making money with it on the way, hoping that it will all pan out in the end. Unlike YouTube (seems like a good analogy with similar legal issues surrounding it), they are going out and grabbing content themselves, not directly paying content owners, and not providing an easy method for those owners to have their content taken down if they want.

They have already established that they understand these issues and are not acting in the same manner in the two instances. This might make for interesting play in court.

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Re: at least not until it hits the SCoTUS.

Not even Scotus has the power to revoke the property right involved in copyright. It's power is limited to determining whether the legal rules have been followed, including the legal rules of what is constitutional.

Invalidating the protection ought to require an act of Congress with approval from Potus.

Where Scotus has issued a warning about copyrights is that the Constitution clearly states copyrights and patents should be for a "limited time." Recent Congressional actions have technically kept limits on the time, but that as we were rapidly approaching the point at which everyone who read/saw/heard such a work when it was first copyrighted is long dead, we might be exceeding the practical meaning of "limited time."

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But Circuit Judge Pierre Leval said he thought the authors would be overjoyed to have their books digitised, particularly when the works were obscure and Google led readers to where to buy them, Reuters reported.

couldn't you say the same thing about movies, video games, and other content too?

By his logic the movie, and music industry should be happy places like TPB bother advertising most of the crap they churn out.

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@Kevin 6

"By his logic the movie, and music industry should be happy places like TPB bother advertising most of the crap they churn out."

The main differences are :

1- I'm pretty sure TPB doesn't link to where you can actually buy the stuff and

2- TPB makes available the work in full

I'm no writer myself and knows none to speak of, but I believe they aren't against exerpts of their books on Amazon/B&N and the likes... Google makes their work searchable so I would think it brings more customers than less...

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@Syldra

Amazon has to get approval to post even the first couple of pages. I've passed up buying multiple books because there was no preview, since I've been burned too many times by terrible authors that sounded great in the short summary.

Publishers and authors need to get their asses in gear before they get left completely in the dust, especially when it comes to out of print books that should be getting new life thanks to the digital long tail. Book piracy is rampant and incredibly easy online, and has been for two decades, and if they don't heed the wakeup call soon they're going to end up where the music and movie industries were a few short years ago. You can't stop piracy, but you can make it more convenient to purchase. The small and shrinking literate population is only going to move to where they are more appreciated.

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Re: @Kevin 6

"Google makes their work searchable so I would think it brings more customers than less..."

I'd say not, in my experience as a reader. I've never bought a book that Google threw up as a result of a search. I *have* read a bit I was interested in and moved on a few times.

Bottom line is that Google is making the real money out of this, which is why they did it. It's standard working practice for big Internet companies - get someone else to make the content for free and then sell it.

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Absolutely accurate - that judge is a twit, and it is a VERY SCARY thing to hear judges expressing the ability to read the minds of others!

I'm shocked that isn't the focus of this - that judge needs to institutionalized; he's psychotic - he thinks he can read minds! OMG!

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Re: @Syldra

"small and shrinking literate population" that is the looming tragedy, and it has little to do with Google. You made an excellent point.

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Re: 2- TPB makes available the work in full

So are Google, only you'll have to work at it a bit. Different search terms in subsequent searches, but you can pull the whole thing out given enough time. Or maybe an automated program.

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Socialists!

Hmm, the "enormous value" for culture trumps the rights of the individual?

Thought I'd never live to hear that as a mainstream American view.

Though, replace "culture" with "corporations" and I'd be less surprised.

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Re: Socialists!

As a resident, I can tell you "democracy" cannot be found here anymore; the list of lost rights grows almost daily; we even have the hubris to call the first legislation to take away our rights to privacy a "Patriot's" act - OMG - we now force our population to strip to underwear before flying; patted down in a search to talk to our representatives; we murder our own citizens without a trial by remote drones and don't give a shit if we take out a few "soft targets ( read "children") we tax the poor, hold down the underclass, redistribute the wealth so that the super rich stay that way - 2008, anyone? - and we have something referred to as a "Congress" who can only pass pay raises for themselves, bills to make their backers and themselves richer, and acts to further limit our freedoms. Don't come here thinking you'll find a democracy, and bring plenty of cash you are willing to leave with us, and a lot of paperwork to prove who you are, and I don't care who you are, take off your shoes and stand here! Insanity rules your lost colony; be glad we left.

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Re: Socialists!

That's what I expect statists such as yourself to say. Socialism in the US has advance precisely because we've allowed too many socialist twits to impose their views on society from the bench.

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Re: Socialists!

"Hmm, the "enormous value" for culture trumps the rights of the individual?"

Sometimes, yes. I don't think this is one of them, though.

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Salaries

I think Appeal Court judges should be overjoyed to be able to add to the great store of universal justice and to be able preserve law and justice for the future simply by having the honour of sitting on the Bench. Why should they expect salaries when the fame and respect of the centuries to come, not to mention the added value for today's society, is payment enogh?

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Big Brother

Google is more interested

In adding to the body of case law that makes people unable to take class action lawsuits against companies.

This is to go along with the "You cant take out a class-action lawsuit" and "You agree to arbitration with the independent Googlearbs corporation, which can only happen in a small office in remotest Alaska on the first Thursday after a full blue moon , before trying to sue us." which have been added to every contract ever recently. Pretty sure in the UK those terms would be entirely unenforceable.

Its then just easier to swamp the little guys with paperwork and legal stuff, so they can no longer afford to hire a lawyer, and if one does take it on a no-win-no-fee basis they will only be able to handle a small subset of cases. Exactly the situation a class action was intended to avoid, except these days the only people who win in class actions are the lawyers, who pay themselves huge wedges of cash while passing those who "win" a small itunes voucher or whatever.

Any right thinking Judge would not rule against a class action, as these are designed to minimize the load on the courts from cases such as these.

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Re: Google is more interested

Class-action, like plea-bargaining, is an administrative tool to make things run more easily, but it stinks to high heaven.

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In Alexandria I seem to remember..

"One story holds that the Library was seeded with Aristotle's own private collection, through one of his students, Demetrius Phalereus. Another story concerns how its collection grew so large: By decree of Ptolemy III of Egypt, all visitors to the city were required to surrender all books and scrolls in their possession; these writings were then swiftly copied by official scribes. The originals were put into the Library, and the copies were delivered to the previous owners. While encroaching on the rights of the traveler or merchant, the process also helped to create a reservoir of books in the relatively new city."

This is from http://www.thelivingmoon.com/43ancients/02files/Library_Alexandria.html

Google is doing a service.

Cory Doctorow, a SF writer here in the States claims his problem as an author is not his books being stolen, but getting them in front of peoples eyes..

Just download any of his free ebooks and read his preface at the front (which includes copyright information):

http://craphound.com/

I especially recommend "Little Brother".

The really interesting thing about Google is that I found in a National Geographic TV show on Google (available on YouTube) is that the founders had the idea of digitizing all the worlds information and making it available to anyone.

They figured it will take them 300 years..

That's thinking big!

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Re: In Alexandria I seem to remember..

How exactly did that turn out again?

Oh right the library was a central depository for all the world's information, meaning noone felt the need to independently keep track of it, and when it burned it set humanity back a century.

Remind me to thank the Egyptians for that one.

If our favorite caped ballon-riding blogger wants to give away his original works, that's great for him, but that is and should be HIS CHOICE. He has the copyright (which is to say, the right to make copies). Neither you nor google should be able to make copies without his permission. That he grants it is irrelevant to the fact that granting is is his sole right.

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Mushroom

Re: In Alexandria I seem to remember..

"How exactly did that turn out again?

Oh right the library was a central depository for all the world's information, meaning noone felt the need to independently keep track of it, and when it burned it set humanity back a century."

Sort of like Napster?

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Re: In Alexandria I seem to remember..

In Alexandria I seem to remember.. it burnt to the ground and every one of those stolen volumes were lost!

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Re: Cory Doctorow is full of shit

There once was a relatively unknown sf writer who couldn't get a book published in the US because he mostly wrote short stories and was a relatively new writer. He did manage to get some stuff published in the UK where short story collections weren't so out of vogue. But he was willing to go to SF conventions. And there was this smallish but somewhat old convention held near Baltimore, MD every year. And it had some folks at it who thought he was a good author. So a few of them formed a new company. I believe they contacted one of the British publishers and contracted the right to use their proofs to publish a small press run of his works to sell at a convention the author was attending. (They might have actually had to set and proof this one, but I think they got the proofs.) Shortly thereafter the author had a contract with a major US publisher and is now reasonably well known for his works. His name is Allen Steele and that first book was Rude Astronauts published by Rare Earth Books. I know because I knew all the people involve with the creation of Rare Earth Books and had the good fortune to meet Mr. Steele at that convention and have him sign a book from one of those small print runs.

Bottom line, if you write good stuff in SF and work on selling it, you will make it. Maybe not big, but certainly enough to support you in middle class fashion.

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WTF?

My Preciousssss...

Holy crap the copyright maximalist shills are out in force today! To paraphrase, do you guys not understand US copyright law?

Newsflash: In the US (where this legal action is, note) copyright is explicitly (if perhaps, all too often merely nominally) a quid pro quo arrangement for the betterment of society, not a "human right" like it is in Europe. And fair use explicitly trumps copyright on that basis. Thus it is perfectly germane to be arguing about the bounds of author control versus the right of society to discover -> study -> learn from -> build upon any works in question, as that is the exact balance copyright law intends to strike.

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Holmes

Re: My Preciousssss...

Thank fuck you Yanks only **think** you rule the world then :-)

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S/B class action, but authors should lose

There is no reasonable theory whereby Google cannot digitize those books like they do. Rest assured that people objecting to this are either deluded authors who do not understand they are patsies or big rent seekers holding as much of our culture hostage as they can get their mitts on.

There is no question that digitizing those works is to the benefit of the majority of the authors involved. A very tiny number might be adversely affected in a material way. I do not think that the (alleged) rights of this vanishingly small handful of people trump the rights of the rest of society. Google's actions in this regard have made the world a better place.

The rent-seekers are mostly objecting to the fact that they can't act as the gatekeeper and charge rent for something that Google is doing for free. I do not think that we should be paying someone for the 'service' of blocking access to our cultural artifacts.

If the rent-seekers claiming to be representing the poor hard done by authors of the world continue with this nonsense, I think that the rest of us who spent their entire lives contributing to the wealth of the world should insist that we also get royalties on our work. I am pretty sure that stuff written by me is in a lot more places than the average author that they are claiming to represent here. The discussion itself is taking place in a cyberspace built by people like me. The roads, buildings, bridges, power grids, factories, parks, etc, etc were built by somebody. Why don't the people who put their blood, sweat and tears into the rest of the world's wealth get a piece of the action?

The fairest most reasonable course with respect to copyrights is to abolish them. They have no legitimate purpose in a time when, save artificial barriers put up by rent-seekers who contribute less than nothing, the entirety of the cultural artifacts of humanity is a mouse click away.

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