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back to article Google SO CAN scan ALL BOOKS onto its sites - judge

Google has defeated writers who alleged the web giant broke the law when it put extracts from millions of books online for free. The Authors Guild and groups representing photographers and graphic artists sued the advertising goliath, claiming the Google Books website was a massive breach of copyright. The service has scanned 30 …

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Anonymous Coward

Excerpts only

What part of "excerpts" do you not understand? Did you think you were ever going to go your local library and search through all 129,000,000 volumes yourself? You can't buy it, if you can't find it. Brilliant decision for readers everywhere.

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Re: Excerpts only

Google gets to decide what's an excerpt since they scan the entire book.

In theory they can provide the entire book less one word.

Of course since they do no evil nothing to worry about

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Re: Excerpts only

I find an unexplained absurdity in some older Google 'Books': stuff that's been out of print for 200 years that is only allowed snippet views, and sometimes nothing at all, just the fact that it's there.

It is my suspicion that every time one of these books is quoted by a modern author and a citation given, Google stores the quote as though it were the modern author's writing and refuses any further data from the thus cross-indexed original as well.

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Re: Google gets to decide what's an excerpt

No. Established copyright laws decide the point at which an excerpt becomes a copyright breach.

Google does enough evil in the world without making up more of it for them.

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Re: Excerpts only

So . . . this means Pirate Bay - and any other sites which "Archive", "Extract", "Summarize", "Test & Evaluate" software, movies, music and the like are all covered by the "Fair Use" doctrine. After all, if they leave off any one part, no matter how small, of the original (say album covers, software manuals, etc, etc), then they are just proving extracts and the like.

Thanks, judge! Maybe you aren't so ignorant after all.

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Holmes

Only eight years and millions of dollars

To decide something that was immediately obvious.

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Paris Hilton

Wait wait wait...

Does this mean that an individual author can't write Google and tell them to pretty please remove the excerpts from his book?

Or does it just mean that an individual author can do that, it just cannot (and should not) be done by default?

Also individual author is my term of choice here, because I couldn't care less about "the publishing industry"

And Paris - cause like her, I am in need of guidance

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Anonymous Coward

they can write all right

and they can ask. But the law says (actually, in many countries) that you may copy up to an x % of a book and the author, or copyright holder, can not prevent it. Which is, kind of, fair.

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The publishers can, they made an agreement with Google.

The authors can't because hey they didn't make an agreement with Google and loss. Once all the appeals have been process and presuming Google keeps winning then it likely the authors and Google will be able to come to some sort of arrangement.

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Just a question. Why is a federal district court judge the FINAL say in the matter? Has the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit already ruled on this case? Even so, cannot the decision be appealed to them and from there possibly to the SCOTUS?

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Of cause they can appeal, but each level it get less and less likely they will win

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The court of appeals

The court of appeals, which this judge now sits on, was the court that sent the case back down to this judge to settle the "fair use" question before ruling on a different issue, certifying the class action. In doing so they strongly suggested this was the result they were looking for. It can't be a class action if it was legal in the first place.

The Guild can appeal to that court of course. It should not take them long to rule, and then it's on to the Supremes to see if they will weigh in on the matter. They usually don't.

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Wrong on so many levels

If google only copied an "extract" that would fair use. Every book I have in my bookcase has words to the effect this book may not copied by any electronic means. I am sure that if I scanned a book chapter & put on my schools moodle, I am sure I would have my a**e sued off !

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Re: Wrong on so many levels

You would, but an entire chapter isn't an 'extract'. And 'contracts' don't over-ride actual law. Ever. If the law says you can, all the warnings in the front of all books mean naught but a weak attempt at denying the audience their clearly-legally-defined rights.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wrong on so many levels

Indeed. This falls under the heading of unalienable rights, things for which you cannot sign away your rights, and rights that other people cannot arbitrarily deny to you.

In any case it would be hard to prove that you had read the publisher's copyright land grab before buying the book (the shrink wrap software problem again). Perhaps in future the few people still going to physical bookshops will be faced at the checkout with a minion from the publisher equipped with a contract which you have to sign before buying the book, at which point the publisher will discover the meaning of "discretionary purchase".

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Re: Wrong on so many levels

Ah, but surely copying an extract is fair use - not copying the whole damned book and then just making an extract available.

In my example I could scan a 500 page textbook, and every day of term put up a different 5 pages , being careful to remove the previous day's pages. No one can honestly tell me THAT is the intent of fair use.

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Devil

Re: Wrong on so many levels

An interesting analogy here - by the 'fair use' criteria I could play the (legally-bought) DVD of the latest Hollywood movie on my TV, video it with a high-quality camera* and post an 'excerpt'-sized bit on Youtube. Equally legally, a thousand other users could do the same. And a thousand-and-1st user could create a playlist stitching all of those together.

I'm pretty sure that the MPAA would not consider that to be 'fair use', but according to the judgement above, the 'excerpting + posting' bit SHOULD definitely be legal. However my suspicion is that Youtube would obey any takedown notice in this regard. Or, in other words, I think this judgement in favour of Google is correct but I suspect such judgement was only awarded because Google is a giant company that can afford to pay gajillions to many clever lawyers, and would not have gone the same way had a small independent organisation been doing said scanning+excerpt-publishing

*I'm aware that I could also rip the DVD but AFAIK technically ripping the DVD in itself breaks the DMCA's "breaking technical protections" provisions, which filming the video playing does not.

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Re: Wrong on so many levels

Quite - I am also looking forward to a senior US judge telling the RIAA and MPAA that any reasonable person would see that unauthorised copies have the potential to increase sales through increased exposure, so stop whining.

I am not holding my breath though. You can tell who's spent a fortune on lobbying over the past century when it comes to copyright law, and it's not authors.

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Re: Wrong on so many levels

In my example I could scan a 500 page textbook, and every day of term put up a different 5 pages , being careful to remove the previous day's pages. No one can honestly tell me THAT is the intent of fair use.

You could, but that's not what Google's doing.

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A sensible decision perhaps

but nonetheless a dangerous one. Deciding that copying entire books is now fair use because it's in the public good looks like legal sleight of hand. If anyone is to be given an exemption from existing copyright restrictions which is, in reality, what this decisions does, that should be decided by the lawmakers not the courts.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: A sensible decision perhaps

@Francis Boyle

Why is it so hard for people to understand that copyright (in the USA) is a temporary right to control distribution - NOT a right to restrict every use. It is intended to enhance public good (the reason for ALL law and civilization) by temporarily impeding free distribution and access in order to provide incentive for content creators and inventors to actually create and invent.

The physical act of copying a work is not illegal (except for movies in the cinema - thanks MPAssA) until the USE of the work (e.g. distribution, etc.) falls outside of fair use. Google's USE of the work is fair use (displaying an excerpt based on search criteria).

This judgement simply clarifies (correctly) that publisher restrictions are not law and allows a valuable service to proceed.

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Re: A sensible decision perhaps

Now that the precedent has been set for texts, Google can then make the same argument for movies and music. Could mean an end to all those DMCA claims that get bandied about.

Damn shame Groklaw isnt about any more to break this ruling down to show how it can also apply to the MPAA.

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Re: Why is it so hard for people to understand that copyright

Not difficult at all.

What seems to be impossible however is communicating to freetards what the difference between "excerpt" and "wholesale copying" is. Google engaged in wholesale copying. And they are engaged in wholesale distribution, even if they only serve it up one excerpt at at time.

This decision will be appealed and will be overturned.

Look, I don't particularly like US copyright law as it exists at the moment. The Mouse has made a mockery of the concept of a time limited monopoly. I'd like it moved back to the old standard: life plus 25 years if the entity holding the copyright is a fleshie, 50-65 years if it is a corporation. That doesn't mean we should allow one US judge to substitute his prejudices for the law of the land.

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Re: A sensible decision perhaps

Um, this is already available. Go to amazon or google play and buy a song. You can hear excerpts before purchase. Google would only need to create a catalog of movie trailers to do the same for movies.

This us not a big deal, all of you negative nellies. and Google is not evil.

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Re: A sensible decision perhaps

>The physical act of copying a work is not illegal

I don't think you've quite grasped the concept. Copyright == the right to copy. From the beginning, it was an attempt to control (and impede) any use not approved by the copyright holder.

"Fair use" made quite a late arrival to the argument - basically when it started to become possible for an ordinary chap to photocopy a page or two of a text book. Then the courts invented the concept of 'fair use' to normalise an existing state of affairs (teachers had always re-printed pages of textbooks).

But copyright has long been a 'stretchy' concept. Publishers worked hard to extend the terms of copyright, to the current life+70 years. Now Google are stretching it in their favour. The rest of us don't get much say in it.

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Re: A sensible decision perhaps

Fair use automagically excludes COMMERCIAL use. It doesn't matter that they don't make money directly by charging you to read the excerpts, Google uses the information commercially to make money by targeting ads at you, the reader. It's just another example of how big business runs Ameerka. Google has virtually unlimited funds and so simply ignores the law by paying off sorry convincing stupid Yank judges that "it's for the good of the humanity." Bollox. It's to further line the pockets of Google shareholders. End of.

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@AC 03:17

"...copyright (in the USA) is a temporary right..."

The way copyright keeps getting extended and renewed (esp. by the likes of Disney), there is nothing temporary about it.

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Re: Fair use automagically excludes COMMERCIAL use.

Codswallop and Bollocks!

The obvious counterexample is that in a book review printed for commercial purposes I am permitted to quote a section of the book before lauding or evicerating the author.

It has to do with the extent of the copying and the extent of the offered copies.

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30M Down, 100M to Go

Try Ngram..ming IP,Fair Use,fair use, from 1998 to 2008 in English fiction.

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Re: 30M Down, 100M to Go

Huh?

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Re: 30M Down, 100M to Go @jnffarrell1

Could you try that again, AFTER your first coffee of the day, please?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 30M Down, 100M to Go @jnffarrell1

But before your first spliff

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Re: 30M Down, 100M to Go @jnffarrell1

How would that work? The coffee and the spliff go together before posting on the reg.

It's the half pint of whiskey and half a gram of meth before posting on the daily mail that you've got to do in the right order :)

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"District court"

This is going to be appealed, so calling it decided is silly until the Supreme Court agrees with this ruling or refuses to hear a case and lets a lower court ruling that agrees with this stand.

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Re: "District court"

From what I've been told, the US Court of Appeals ALREADY ruled on the case, sending the case BACK for a point of law ruling. If appealed, even before the full court, they are likely to uphold the ruling they already made. That would leave only the SCOTUS, and they won't agree to hear it unless it raises a significant legal or constitutional question.

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Absolute power corrupts absolutely

Not saying this power is absolute, but the google is already far down the path of EVIL, especially in censorship, and I don't see how this new power is going to make things better. Guess who is going to decide what is included in the excerpts and what gets censored.

Hint: Guck foogle and the horse it rode in on.

(My theory is that much of the censorship targeted against me is due to my emotional and sincere use of profanity, but I learned it when I was supposedly serving my country. Well, most of it, and certainly the frequency was increased.)

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Happy

Re: Absolute power corrupts absolutely

"(My theory is that much of the censorship targeted against me is due to my emotional and sincere use of profanity, but I learned it when I was supposedly serving my country. Well, most of it, and certainly the frequency was increased.)"

I did not know this.

I though you'd just spent a lot of time in a telemarketing office.

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Re: Absolute power corrupts absolutely

In this case Google had the balls to take on the authors and publishers and deserve the power and the head start it gives them by winning the case. Microsoft was going to launched a similar project but lack the balls to take on the publishers and authors in the court rooms.

A case of He Who Dares, Wins.

Once all the appeals go through and presuming Google win them, they will have open up the way for Microsoft and anyone else with a few hundred million dollars spare to build themselves an electronic library.

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Wait...

So scanning ENTIRE books you don't own and providing chosen excerpts to the public is "fair use"?

Isn't this a bit like downloading songs you don't own and then using short (say, 20 second) clips in YouTube videos?

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Re: Wait...

More like two seconds, I would think. A paragraph here or there is only a very tiny percentage of an entire book.

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Unhappy

@poopypants

"More like two seconds, I would think. A paragraph here or there is only a very tiny percentage of an entire book."

But who sets the limits of what is a fair sized excerpt?

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Anonymous Coward

Eh

Not sure on this, on the one hand if I were an author I wouldn't be happy that somebody was copying and distributing my work (or parts thereof) for free. On the other hand as a consumer I know that I've used google books a few times at uni. Search for certain things, find google books, read several different texts to find the ones I prefer (writing style, easy to follow etc) then go to the library for the full text (or amazon since libraries rarely have everything... or anything relevant)

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Re: Eh

But as an author you would know that under copyright laws extracts of your book can be quoted.

I would imagine it would be more like Amazon's Look Inside but to a lesser extent as, from what I gather, this Look Inside contains more text than an extract would so special permission would have been sought.

So, there you are. A budding author. Your book is up there with a link from Google to your blog along with the tens of thousands of books from other first time novelists. Wouldn't it be good if the public, who found your blog, could find a paragraph or two of your purple prose within the search engine?

This law has been present for as long as I can remember. Somone is finally using it properly. I would imagine there are a lot of authors who wouldn't be happy with this; those would be the ones with a deserved one star rating from me on Amazon who took, under false pretences, money for literature.

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Re: Eh

If I were an author and someone was distributing extracts of my book with pointers about who wrote it and how it can be obtained, I'd be very happy. There's no such thing as bad publicity if it results in more sales.

It's not as if public libraries provide royalties based on lending rates and there are even fewer published authors who end up making money over their career than there are musicians. The Publishing Cartels are even more firmly entrenched than the Music or Movie ones.

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Re: Eh

>If I were an author and someone was distributing extracts of my book with pointers about who wrote it and how it can be obtained, I'd be very happy.

If you were an author, with a long-pulped title you never wanted to see again - you might not be so happy.

Nor would you be happy if a long, closely-argued tome, had a quotable quote extracted from it - which didn't reflect the greater argument.

I hold no brief for the copyright "holders" (publishers, record companies etc) but the writer deserves some say in the distribution of his words.

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Re: Eh

If I were an author and someone was distributing extracts of my book with pointers about who wrote it and how it can be obtained, I'd be very happy.

While we're dealing in hypotheticals, may I suggest that if you were an author, you might understand that not all authors are motivated solely by financial gain? Indeed, some might - for whatever reason - wish to see Fair Use exemptions restricted to use by actual people, and not by an automated system.

My own publications to date are all non-fiction, and I don't have any specific reservations about Google excerpting them willy-nilly. But if I published a novel, I'd much prefer the excerpts online to be the ones I chose (and reviewers and critics, etc, chose), not the ones the Great Googly Overlords decided were appropriate.

Personally, I think Chin's interpretation of the fair-use provisions of USC 17 are rather a stretch from what Congress intended. Well, whatever; interpretation is part of the role of the judiciary, and I'm certainly no intentionalist. But this interpretation is far from "obvious", regardless of what various Reg commentators claim. (Of course, people are fond of labeling their opinion as obvious when they aren't capable of constructing a real argument, or are too lazy to do so.)

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Big Brother

It's the thin end of the wedge. And don't be surprised where that wedge is going to end up.

The questions remain.

What is an "excerpt" ?

Who decides how much of the book is allowed to be excerpted?

At which point should Google start paying for this content (which is what it is)?

Actually I think the biggest use of this tool has been been to find out textbooks that do not do what they say on the cover and are in fact not worth buying to find out the rest.

Make no mistake. The end game is "We are Google. All your copyright belong to us."

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's the thin end of the wedge. And don't be surprised where that wedge is going to end up.

Ah, the rational "thin end of the wedge" argument. Well played, such a great debating point, used by cheap tabloids everywhere.

Further marks must go to the liberal use of bold text. Really makes the argument persuasive!

"Make no mistake. The end game is ..." - an informed commentator as well. Maximum marks.

Who's giving out these gold badges? Geez

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Trollface

@AC

When you can put your name on your post then we can have a discussion.

Otherwise don't you have a bridge to be hiding under?

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Re: @AC

Why are we using bold text in this day and age surely italics should be the de facto standard.

Also I now have a hatred of the word excerpted I know it's correct, but it just doesn't sound right... Like eated.

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