back to article Google book scan plan raises European hackles

Google's ongoing effort to create a vast digital library is set to come under fire at the EU from countries who fear it will violate copyright and stymie competition. German diplomats plan to raise the issues in Brussels today, EUobserver reports, with support from France, Austria and the Netherlands. Google controversially …


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  1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Thumb Down


    Making knowledge more widely available by holding exclusive rights to publishing. ROTFL.

    I'd personally have fewer objections to what Google are doing if ...

    * They did not demand exclusive rights.

    * They did not publish or witdrew publication where a copyright holder objects.

    * They did not have a deadline for opting out.

    It's a two-part issue - when is it right to 'breach copyright' for the greater good, and the commercialisation of the way it's done.

    There are some "greater good" issues in Google's favour, and I don't begrudge them commercial reward for providing for that, but this stinks of information grab and control; all your book belong to us.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As usual...

    As usual the biggest issue here is the use of "opt out" rather then "opt in".

    Any such scheme should be opt in. Of course the Googmeisters are worried that if the scheme was run on an opt in basis only a tiny proportion of copyright holders would opt in so the service would be (a) effectively useless and (b) make no money for them.

    Another thought just came to me (that's two in one morning!) how long before Google try to do this with all other published media? For example, how long will it be before Google decide that archiving all broadcast TV and radio is in the public interest?

  3. The Dorset Rambler


    "because it grants Google exclusive rights to republish "orphan" (out of copyright) books online"

    So what would happen to the most excellent Gutenberg project ( which has been scanning and proof-reading out of copyright works for some time.

    Free to access, free to download and read.

    Just brilliant.

    (Can you guess I'm a fan?)

  4. Roger Pearse

    Trust the Germans to screw it all up

    Good for ElReg to highlight this one.

    I don't see any concern for the interests of German (or any other) consumers, in all this. While the corrupt and unelected eurocrats connive with greedy big business to charge all of us for material that is free in the US, who speaks for us?

    Already the publishing lobby have succeeded in ensuring that we in the UK cannot even see most of the content of Google books. Why? So that the little darlings can sell it to us, of course. Not that they bother to keep it in print, natch!

    It would be the Germans, of course, trying to screw it up. The German bible society is currently sending threatening emails to open-source projects, claiming that the Greek New Testament is not the property of Matthew, Mark, Luke, etc, but of themselves and demanding money.

    When do the people of Europe get asked?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Should be Opt in only

    It's like me saying I'm starting a new service where I take your property and sell it on, if you don't want to be a part of the new scheme then you are free to opt out.

    I'd still be operating illegally if I started taking your property. I bet Google's lawyers will be having kittens at the prospect of this starting up.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Has anyone actually TRIED...

    ... to find the procedure to opt-out. I'm an author and I just can't find any mechanism to do this and no help subjects about it.

    Can El-Reg give us a hand please, as Google doesn't seem to bother to respond to people outside it's tall gates that haven't got a golden ticket.

  7. SImon Hobson Silver badge

    @ Roger Pearse

    Why do you think it is reasonable for someone to a very significant amount of time, effort, and expense creating something - in this case a book - and then for someone else to come along and say "we're going to stuff any chance for you to actually sell the fruits of your labour, but we're going to make money from it ourselves".

    Can I ask where yo get your cash from in order to put a roof over your head, food on your table, etc ? I assume you go to work, and in return for your labours, your employer gives you money. Well the same applies to good writing - the author & publisher do creative work, and their "employers" (the people who buy the books) give them money in return for using/reading that work.

    That doesn't mean the current system doesn't have room for improvement, but if you do away with the means to profit from your work, then you largely do away with the incentive to do it in the first place.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Please explain

    Could somebody explain to me how this would be any different to people scanning in books and then sharing them across Torrents? Something which would never be accepted as legal?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Copyright different for books, music and films?

    So if I'm sharing a shitload of music and films on some P2P network. all I have to do is say I'll give a percentage of my profits from this exercise (i.e. zero) to the copyright holders if they can be arsed to show up and prove that they own the copyright. No? I didn't think so - so why should Google be able to share other people's stuff and make a profit from it ? Are Google going to get the "three strikes and you're out" treatment in France then?

  10. John


    "For its part, Google maintains its line on copyright issues that it merely wants to make knowledge more widely available."

    They maintain an exclusive right also to books who's author can't be traced..... By who's approval do they get to do that and noone else can ?

    Isn't "make knowledge more widely available." what Pirate Bay is in trouble for doing, and PB at least don't have the audacity to try and claim an exclusive right to the shared torrent...

    Pirate Bay do no evil </tongueincheek>

  11. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit


    "I bet Google's lawyers will be having kittens at the prospect of this starting up."

    Don't be daft, Google's lawyers are praying this will blow up into a shit storm. They get paid to defend Google in court and again to take it to appeal and again to take it to the grand jury etc etc. Rubbing their hands with glee rather than having kittens I'd say.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    @Has anyone actually TRIED...

    > ... to find the procedure to opt-out

    Its here:

    Warning: Insanely complex legal documents, I suggest you pay $$$ to get the opinion of a US lawyer.

  13. Dave
    Thumb Down

    The new Microsoft

    That's all.

  14. RW

    Those orphaned books with discursive remarks

    Something does not compute. If the rights holders cannot be traced, then how can anyone make any agreement of any kind about the orphaned works?

    Note that there is a difference between an orphan work (still in copyright, rights holder untraceable) and a public domain work (no longer in copyright). Project Gutenberg digitizes the latter.

    The books that really ought to be digitized (and carefully!) are mass market paperbacks of the twentieth century. These invaluable historic documents casting an oblique light on the century of technology (for so they will be called in 500 years) were printed on the cheapest wood pulp paper and simply won't last. They are the despair of librarians and last time I saw any news on the subject, no one had yet figured out an effective way to de-acidify the paper to preserve it.

    The same problem affects preservation of newspapers and "pulp" magazines. Back in the 1960s, I owned one or two of the science fiction original pulps from ca. 1930, printed on something resembling blotting paper, and already at that time badly browned and crumbling around the edges.

    Of course, no one is interested in crap fiction and magazines, yet in the long run they are just as deserving as best sellers, if not moreso. For those el Reg readers who don't read much, a little tip: nothing is so sad, so outdated, so unloved, as a best seller past its moment of fame and glory. They can actually be hard to find second hand because most booksellers won't touch them with a ten-foot pole.

    Tux because I am a happy Linux user these days and no longer feel the oppressive thumb on Microsoft on me.

  15. Pete Dixon

    People will look back at this time as weird

    There are millions of books and magazines out there. Billions I suppose if you add comic books.

    There is no technical reason why people shouldn't be able to access all of it at any time from anywhere. How about we make that happen for the good of the species and work out the details later.

    Kudos for Google for having the vision so early and working so hard to make it happen.

  16. WhatWasThat?

    Other countries in my backyard...

    "The German government also plans to offer its opinion to a New York court which is set to consider Google's US books deal. "It is not about participating as a party in the legal dispute but making the court aware of certain legal aspects," the country's justice minister said."

    It is grim testimonial that the US (my home town, eh?) is getting its own practice of "friendly advice" into other countries' legal systems pushed back on itself. Just like it was more important that Hillary Rosen (with US assistance) "help" Iraq incorporate "modern" copyright compliance issues into its constitution, BEFORE THE FIRES HAD DIED, than such trivial matters as ensuring food, water, and sanitation for its populace.

    And, since **AA has ensured that copyright "concerns" are a "global issue", we find ourselves, again, at the mercy of lobbied politicos, regardless of the borders involved.

    I don't like ANY country (mine included) shoving its nose up anyone else's posterior, but it is even worse when the corportacracy (YOU TTO, GOOGLE!) decide to "help us out."

    Isn't this the sort of thing that the Library of Congress was created for? From

    "The mission of Library Services is to develop qualitatively the Library's universal collections, ... which record and contribute to the advancement of civilization and knowledge * throughout the world, * and to acquire, organize, provide access to, maintain, secure, and preserve these collections." [* Emphasis added]

    I do agree (hence the icon), that if PB was "in the wrong," then Google has indeed set sail for yon uncharted waters, eh?

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Orphan works?

    Seems to me that I've got as much right to them as Google.

  18. Lou Gosselin

    Google doesn't own the copyright

    Neither do the writers guilds which google paid off (but are in the best position to bring a suite against google).

    What is the legal argument for preventing any Joe from simply copying these "orphaned" works from google once they are scanned?

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