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 …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. midcapwarrior

      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

      1. LaeMing Silver badge

        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.

    2. danR2

      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.

    3. shovelDriver

      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.

  2. Mikel
    Holmes

    Only eight years and millions of dollars

    To decide something that was immediately obvious.

  3. Eguro
    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

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

    2. David 164 Bronze badge

      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.

  4. Charles 9 Silver badge

    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?

    1. David 164 Bronze badge

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

    2. Mikel

      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.

  5. Diogenes

    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 !

    1. LaeMing Silver badge

      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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".

        1. Diogenes

          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.

          1. James Micallef Silver badge
            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.

            1. Ian 55

              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.

          2. sisk Silver badge

            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.

  6. Francis Boyle Silver badge

    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. MrDamage

        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.

        1. Indio

          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.

      2. Tom 13

        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.

      3. strum Silver badge

        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.

      4. Stephen Gray

        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.

        1. Tom 13

          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.

      5. Tromos

        @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.

  7. jnffarrell1

    30M Down, 100M to Go

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

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 30M Down, 100M to Go

      Huh?

    2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

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

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

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

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

        But before your first spliff

        1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

          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 :)

  8. DougS Silver badge

    "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.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      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.

  9. Shannon Jacobs

    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.)

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      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.

    2. David 164 Bronze badge

      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.

  10. heyrick Silver badge

    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?

    1. poopypants

      Re: Wait...

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

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        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?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    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)

    1. BongoJoe

      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.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      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.

      1. strum Silver badge

        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.

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        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.)

  12. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    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."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        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?

        1. wowfood

          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.

    2. Justicesays

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

      The next step is getting to decide what the "Orphan Works" are, the defacto ownership and use basically going to Google due to its pre-existing electronic copies and distribution mechanisms.

      Some mechanism where Google don't have to pay fines, but just set aside a small amount of money in case the missing owner "reappears", and a opt-in , check for my books and mark as "don't use" or "Pay me a pittance" mechanism complete the journey.

    3. Mikel

      It takes a Google to win the "fair use" fight

      Who else would have the deep pockets to fight the Author's guild for eight years and many millions of dollars? The commitment to index all the world's books and build the modern Library of Alexandria? The resources and skill to actually get it done?

    4. Cardinal
      WTF?

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

      Google giving the world a wedgie again eh?

      We all know where THAT ends up.

  13. Whitter
    Thumb Down

    Small and juicy

    An excerpt from a book of poetry or photographs can easily stand as a complete work in its own right. Its a shoddy affair.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    sauce for the goose

    Didn't Napster get shut down for 'sharing' copyrighted music? Anyone would think that law making is completely arbitrary and devoid of rationale.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Way to completely miss the point.

      Napster was sharing whole "songs". Google is publishing a tiny portion of a book on demand.

      There really is no comparison.

      1. Tom 13

        @Pascal

        You say "whole songs".

        I say "excerpts from albums" legally bought and legally scanned under the Google precedent. And like Google excerpts you had to search for each excerpt separately.

        At least if we accept your theory.

        If on the other hand we accept the Napster theory, that it is the act of wholesale distribution of excerpts/songs for profit or other corporate benefit that is illegal, then things still work.

  15. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    How many extracts make a book?

    The principle of publishing extracts under fair use is fine, and there are definitions of 'extract', but what is the cumulative effect of multiple extracts? If I include some extracts from a copyright work in a new work or a review, then that's one thing, but if every reader of my book saw a different extract what happens then? Because that is what Google do. They don't scan the whole book and then publish a few selected extracts - different searchers will see different extracts based on their search term. Do enough searc hes and you can see a fair proportion of the book. Okay, pretty pointless for a novel, but for non-fiction/reference that may be all that is needed. A student writing an essay can get plenty of quotes without even going to look at a copy in the Library, let alone buying the book.

    It's all very complicated...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How many extracts make a book?

      "Do enough searches and you can see a fair proportion of the book. Okay, pretty pointless for a novel, but for non-fiction/reference that may be all that is needed. A student writing an essay can get plenty of quotes without even going to look at a copy in the Library, let alone buying the book."

      You seem to be coming down on the side of the publishers? Are you saying that a student as part of their course should have to buy every text-book that they wish to cite as they should not be allowed any extract of that text to be searched for?

      If they go to the Library should they spend three weeks reading every relevant text book just to try to find one that discussed a subject they are trying to critically review?

      If libraries had a fully searchable database of every book so that you could choose the book by the text rather than the title and synopsis then great. If all those libraries then combined so you could see the texts from any local libraries, great. They don't have the resources to do this so why not let a third party do it.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        FAIL

        Funny how all the Google support is AC, is it not?

        Guess you don't want to burn a good sock puppet without cause, eh?

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: without even going to look at a copy in the Library

      What, you want to ban libraries too ?

  16. Kall

    Historical Google Books

    As a historian I have found Google books invaluable. Without it I would not have had access to books which are only available in the Cornell Library in the USA.

    What I found was extraordinary, a person from Farnborough Hants England played an important role in the formation of the USA during the Stamp Act and the 'War of Independence' and also was considered important enough to sit on the council in New York.

    I have also found evidence of him supplying help to George Washington. There was no way that I or anyone would have been able to find the relevant documentary evidence to confirm this amazing twist on history without Google scanning these rare books.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Meh

      Re: Historical Google Books

      "What I found was extraordinary, a person from Farnborough Hants England played an important role in the formation of the USA during the Stamp Act and the 'War of Independence' and also was considered important enough to sit on the council in New York."

      How fascinating!

      What was the title of of the book you found that in?

    2. Tom 13

      Re: Historical Google Books

      A historian eh?

      Odd then that you've not heard of inter-library loans. I recall getting several books sent to my high school library from out of state libraries when I was in the 10th grade. Of course this was back before the Internet was a gleam in Al Gore's eye.

      1. Eguro

        Re: Historical Google Books

        "without Google scanning these rare books."

        Except if perhaps the library had scanned its books?

    3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Historical Google Books

      And these rare books were still under copyright, were they?

  17. N2 Silver badge

    US Judge?

    says it all.

  18. Ian 55

    Running out of hands

    On one, being able to search any book ever written would be wonderful.

    On the other, as the author of several, including one on something with a significant anniversary coming up, I am less keen.

    Looking at the US 'fair use' rules:

    "The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes" - are Google showing ads when they show my work? If so, I want a substantial cut of the money, datafucker!

    "The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole" and "The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work" - as has been said, for novels, having numerous chunks available may not be such a big deal. For those of us who write about real facts rather than making up our own artistic reality, 10% of the whole can represent 90% of the value (as with programs!)

    "The nature of the copyrighted work" - sadly, the nature of authors' and publishers' work is that of something that has not had billions spent on lobbying for increases in protection over the past century.

    Looking at the examples of activities that courts have regarded as fair use: “quotation of excerpts in a review or criticism for purposes of illustration or comment; quotation of short passages in a scholarly or technical work, for illustration or clarification of the author’s observations; use in a parody of some of the content of the work parodied; summary of an address or article, with brief quotations, in a news report; reproduction by a library of a portion of a work to replace part of a damaged copy; reproduction by a teacher or student of a small part of a work to illustrate a lesson; reproduction of a work in legislative or judicial proceedings or reports; incidental and fortuitous reproduction, in a newsreel or broadcast, of a work located in the scene of an event being reported” - none of that is what Google have done: automatically reproduce verbatim, without permission or payment, as much as their secret algorithms want, to anyone, for any purpose. There is no review or criticism, no scholarly analysis, no summary, etc etc.

    But, as I say, being able to search any book ever written would be wonderful. But not if it's controlled by a company seeking a monopoly.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Running out of hands

      I'd be interested in the titles of your books?

      Have you seen a large revenue loss since they were scanned in by Google? Have you had any orders because users searched for something that your book covered and decided to buy it?

      Just interested in the real harm or value that this service gives authors.

      1. sisk Silver badge

        Re: Running out of hands

        Full disclosure: I've never even tried to have something published, though a poem I wrote was copied and published by someone else under their own name. I never pursued the matter since the lawyer would cost me far more than I could ever hope to get in royalties from it. Besides, its not like I was ever going to publish it myself. (In case you're wondering, yes I was angry, no I haven't talked to that 'friend' since, and no the poem wasn't any good. Quite how they got someone to publish it is beyond me).

        Anyway, it would seem to me that net sales are probably higher as a result of this service. I would imagine it would be similar to how music sales when up when Napster was in its infancy. Most people were still on dial-up internet then, so downloading more than a few megabytes worth of music was impractical. They'd get one or two songs and then go buy the album because they liked them and didn't want to tie up their phone line all day to get the rest of it. It's the same sort of thing with what Google's doing. You read a chapter and want to read the next one so you go buy the book.

      2. Ian 55

        Re: Running out of hands

        The situation is slightly complicated by the way they are ghost written. It is, for a change, a good deal for the one who did the actual writing (me) in that I get all the money and the person whose name is on the cover gets all the credit (I don't even get a thanks, let alone a 'with' in the author credits, but I've been paid for that and I'm happy with it).

        If I stick the subject of the anniversary into Amazon, that particular book what I wrote is on the first page of results, nearly twenty years after it was written. It is not difficult to find or to buy for anyone even vaguely interested in the subject.

        If despite that Google are going to publish, without asking, enough of it that it does damage sales, it is going to be very tempting to stick the lot on a website ourselves. The deal with the publisher allows that and it means that we (me) will be profiting from any ads shown alongside it.

        I do think we deserve a say in whether Google is allowed to do it though. If we wanted it on a website, we'd have done it ages ago. If we wanted it on a website and for Google not to index it, it would be a simple matter of Torying the robots.txt file to stop them. But because it's deliberately not on a web site at the moment, and because Google have decided that there's no equivalent of robots.txt for print work even if the book hadn't predated the web, they have decided they can do so whenever they can find a copy in a library prepared to let them.

        The others include works about multiple people or things. You could, if you were Google, claim that showing someone everything about one of those was 'fair use', even though that would be everything about them in the book. Again, I think we deserve a say in that.

        (It's not just Google taking other people's work without asking and profiting from it, of course. So just in case, hello Daily Mail et al. You do not have permission to reprint this unless you ask and pay what I require for that to happen. No love, me.)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Running out of hands

          So you won't name the book, didn't publish the book, aren't the author, don't seem to know if Google are even hosting the book, don't know of any impact that having the book on Google would cause. Are you even getting royalties for the book?

          And your publisher doesn't care if you give the book away for free if you want? Seriously?

          By publishing the whole book you would be giving it away whereas Google gives away a small extract to put you search terms into contact.

          Sounds to me like many of the publishers... We want Google to give us loads of money because although they aren't in any way breaking the law, they are providing a useful service and probably increasing book revenues just because they have lots of cash.

          1. Ian 55

            Re: Running out of hands

            Meow. I wrote the words (and in the case of the best one, did the design as well). It's just not my name on the cover.

            Why should I name any of them? You probably haven't heard of them. But it's not LJ Rowling who will be hurt by this, it's the people who write 99% of the books that don't sell millions, just enough to stay in print for twenty years..

            Google is, without asking or even offering payment, seeking to profit from my work. The person who's got the kudos of being seen as a published author paid for my work. The publishers paid (and yes, when the the contract was done, various rights were retained - I'm not stupid, and what they got was the exclusive UK rights to print copies until they let the book go out of print). In one case, a TV company paid. If we "gave away" the content, we could still make money from it, via ads etc.

  19. sisk Silver badge

    If a university were doing the exact same thing that Google is no one would bat an eye at it. The only reason this case exists at all, as with a couple others over the past couple years. Remember how people whined when Google bought Motorola and didn't change their licensing policy? No one said a word when Motorola was using the exact same policy, but everyone lost their minds when it was Google.

    Not that they don't commit their fair share of corporate sins, but they seem to have become sue-bait.

  20. John Robson Silver badge

    Plenty of

    'out of copyright' content available to scan....

    And more arriving each year as well...

  21. Nym

    Writers can use this

    or complain about it.

    And if they don't get on Google's little map they're unlikely to be seen/read/heard (word of choice).

    1. Eguro
      Joke

      Re: Writers can use this

      So you're saying Google is getting a monopoly on the book marketing market?

  22. jnffarrell1

    The Opinion is Easy Reading

    It describes what Google does and does not do. Many of the above comments spread lies. That is what they are. Rumor mongers can inform them selves, cease lieing or be accurately described as liars. No insult intended.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I am glad I found this site

    I am glad I found this site as my brain is hungry to debate intelligently.

    I'll come back when I can add to the discussion.

    Thank You all for being here.

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