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Frustrated Judge Pushes For Solution In Google Books Case 134

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-time-for-you-slackers dept.
SpuriousLogic writes with this excerpt from a Reuters report: "A Manhattan federal judge set a Sept. 15 deadline for Google, authors and publishers to come up with a legal plan to create the world's largest digital library, expressing frustration that the six-year-old dispute has not been resolved. At a hearing on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Denny Chin said if the dispute is not 'resolved or close to resolved in principle' by mid-September, he will set a 'relatively tight schedule' for the parties to prepare for a possible trial. ... Citing antitrust and copyright concerns, Chin had on March 22 rejected a $125 million settlement. He said it went 'too far' in allowing Google to exploit digitized copyrighted works by selling subscriptions to them online and engaging in 'wholesale copying of copyrighted works without permission.'"
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Frustrated Judge Pushes For Solution In Google Books Case

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  • I'm glad brick and mortar libraries were set up before the modern era, because it would never happen today. I simply don't understand how an online library would be so horrible, when even small towns have libraries where you can read any book you'd want to.
    • by CRCulver (715279)
      In some places, public libraries must pay an annual fee to the copyright holder to compensate for potential lost sales, so what the industry is asking from Google isn't terribly unusual.
      • by icebike (68054)

        The argument is about books out of copyright, not books in copyright.

      • by Hatta (162192)

        That corruption occurs elsewhere doesn't make it any more palatable here.

    • by icebike (68054)

      Read any book you'd want to?

      Seriously, you did NOT just post that!!

    • by trout007 (975317)

      If it weren't for public libraries where would homeless perverts go to watch porn and jerk off?

    • by westlake (615356)

      I'm glad brick and mortar libraries were set up before the modern era, because it would never happen today. I simply don't understand how an online library would be so horrible, when even small towns have libraries where you can read any book you'd want to.

      Andrew Carnagie was willing to donate a building of approriate size ---

      but only if you could convince him that you wanted a public library badly enough to see to it that it woulld be locally staffed and funded. Not permanently dependent on the charitable -- but often capricious and self-serving -- impulses of a single fabulously wealthy benefactor three thousand miles distant.

    • by vegiVamp (518171)

      Why because "on teh intertubes" makes it magically different, of course.

  • I'm not sure I understand how the judge thinks this is going to be "resolved" by the involved parties on their own. They appear to have diametrically opposed goals and philosophies: Google wants to make everything available on the internet, and the publishers want nothing on the internet, only on printed paper that they control. How can you resolve a conflict like that without some third party to mediate?

    • by Animats (122034)

      I'm not sure I understand how the judge thinks this is going to be "resolved" by the involved parties on their own. They appear to have diametrically opposed goals and philosophies:

      No, that's not what it is about. The parties agreed on a settlement. But it's a class action, and the judge decided that the settlement went way beyond settling the disputes between the parties. The proposed settlement essentially rewrote copyright law as an "opt-out" system, with a special deal for Google for orphaned works. That went way too far, binding parties who were never involved in the suit.

      There's probably going to be orphaned works legislation, but it will not give Google exclusive rights.

      • by icebike (68054)

        Question: Who opts in (or out) for orphaned works?

        For public domain books long out of copyright, there is no argument from either side.

        This debate is all about books in a very narrow range if years, where the authors are dead, but (perhaps) not the copyright, and there exists no known copyright holder.

        Nothing carrying a clear copyright statement with a date that has not legally expired is covered here.

        • Who opts in (or out) for orphaned works?

          The correct answer is one that Google won't like, but it is the only one that truly respects the rigths that we as a society have decided to give an author. Google (or whoever wants to do this) needs to locate the person who controls the copyright and get permission. If they cannot locate the copyright holder, they cannot use the work. Of course, if copyright were reduced to a reasonable length of time, this wouldn't be a problem. They could just wait the few years until it entered public domain.

      • by Namarrgon (105036)

        Not that this settlement gives Google any exclusive rights either. The settlement explicitly says all granted rights are non-exclusive, and copyright holders are still free to authorise any other party to do the same thing.

        • by Rockoon (1252108)

          The settlement explicitly says all granted rights are non-exclusive, and copyright holders are still free to authorise any other party to do the same thing.

          Only Google would get to do it without authorization. That is the definition of exclusive, is it not?

          • by Namarrgon (105036)

            The whole point of the settlement IS the authorisation for Google to proceed. Do you mean specific, per-rightsholder authorisation (which is obviously impractical for orphaned works)?

            Nothing in the Settlement precludes a similar blanket agreement for other parties, or have I missed something? In fact it should be easier, with Google's precedent, and with the Registry that this sets up.

            • by Rockoon (1252108)

              The whole point of the settlement IS the authorisation for Google to proceed.

              Not the copyright owners authorization.

              Nothing in the Settlement precludes a similar blanket agreement for other parties

              The orphaned works part of the settlement is legal hoc-us-pocus slipped in to trick the government into signing off on rights that no member of the bargain have the rights to give away. You are honestly claiming that nothing precludes you from landing the same agreement? THE LAW FUCKING PRECLUDES YOU.

              This isnt the supreme court deciding that orphaned works are different... this is a fucking tort court allowing A and B to negotiate over works that neither party owns

    • A third party *has* mediated, and made it clear that if the two parties don't come up with a solution then the issue will go to trial, and nobody wants that.

      Personally, I don't find it at all clear why Google owes a single penny for scanning books and making them searchable, *without* allowing non-public-domain books to be seen in their entirety. They might wish to make some kind of deal to allow more access to non-public-domain books, but that has nothing to do with fair use of existing books, and if snip

      • Re:Resolved? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Tuesday July 19, 2011 @07:16PM (#36817332)
        The problem is that Google wants to both include books that are still under copyright and charge a fee for access to them. Further, Google wants to include books that are still under copyright where the holder of copyright is either unknown, or no one knows where to find them. Just because Google does not know how to find an author does not give them the right to make copies of the author's work without permission.
        Of course, this problem would go away if copyright only lasted for a reasonable amount of time (say something on the order of 10-30 years).
        • by aztektum (170569)

          30 years is still much too long.

          The media companies should be treated like everyone else. If you can't create and sell something for a profit in a 2-3 year span, you're in the wrong business.

          • by aztektum (170569)

            Shit, didn't mean to lump create in there. Take however long you want with that.

            If you're not making money off something within 2-3 years of putting it out there, tough luck. Have fun flipping burgers.

            • by williamhb (758070)

              Shit, didn't mean to lump create in there. Take however long you want with that.

              If you're not making money off something within 2-3 years of putting it out there, tough luck. Have fun flipping burgers.

              You might want to look up how many years it was before YouTube turned a profit. They were loss-making all the way up to being acquired for $1.65 billion, and remained loss-making for some years after that too. If that's flipping burgers, man those are some gold-plated burgers!

          • I would tend to agree that 30 years is too long, but it is in the vicinity of the correct length. Two-three years is not long enough. I am not sure why, but for some reason, I go for some multiple of 7 years.
        • by trout007 (975317)

          Why have copyrights at all? The authors can still sell the manuscript to a publisher or sell it online these days for a buck or two.

        • by JimFive (1064958)

          Just because Google does not know how to find an author does not give them the right to make copies of the author's work without permission.

          In law that is true. But in fact, if the copyright holder cannot be found then no one has standing to sue. If Google did sufficient due diligence to attempt to find out who owns an orphaned work and then went ahead and scanned it I think they would be pretty safe from a damages perspective. The important thing would be to not skimp on the research.

          Of course, this problem would go away if copyright only lasted for a reasonable amount of time (say something on the order of 10-30 years).

          Even 50 would be fine as long as it was a fixed term (not life+years). A fixed term would make it very easy to know when the copyright has expired just by loo

          • Just because the copyright holder cannot be found does not mean that no one has standing to sue. It only means that they cannot be found. There are two possible ways that I can imagine that it would be unreasonably hard for Google to locate the copyright holder. The first is that the person may have intentionally dropped off of the grid for a period of time. This one is fairly safe for Google to publish, since if they have intentionally dropped off of the grid, they probably will never discover that Google
      • by icebike (68054)

        Well if google maintained one snippet of a book that might be a good argument.
        But because they scan the entire book, and have a complete collection of snippets, and you can contrive to obtain and read the entire book via the snippets there is a problem.

        Still for most of what is in Google Books, this is not the issue.
        What seems to be the case is a consortium of authors backed by publishers who wish to lay claim to recently out of copyright works. Essentially a literary RIAA.

        In no case where the copyright ho

      • by Raenex (947668)

        Personally, I don't find it at all clear why Google owes a single penny for scanning books and making them searchable, *without* allowing non-public-domain books to be seen in their entirety.

        For the same reason why I'm not legally allowed to go to a library and scan a whole book. If Google actually paid for every book they scanned and presented, they'd have a better argument. Instead, they copied a bunch of books whole from libraries.

    • As the copyright holders, it's the publisher's right to determine how they want it distributed, whether they're being smart about it or complete retards. It's their right!

      Google's "altruistic" motives, on the other hand, are rather self-serving in this case, and they're telling the publishers that they're wrong, and Google is right. That's rather arrogant of Google.

      Oh, you don't want me to rip off your stuff and give it away? Well, I think it's cool stuff and a lot of people would like it, so I'm gonna fli

      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        There's a couple slight problems with your assertions about publisher's rights and Google's motives:
        1) Fair Use
        2) Libraries

        Fair Use says you can copy limited portions of copyrighted material, as long as you don't claim it as your own. This means that Google should be well within its rights to index books, and to show limited excerpts. Now of course, this doesn't extend to making the whole book available for free, but many times people aren't reading entire books with Google, they just want to search for t

  • Pretty soon there will be consumer level "taxes" or "fees" applied to everyone. We'll pay X amount per month for unlimited music, unlimited books. If you want a book in the first 3 months of release, you pay extra. Perhaps you subscribe to the audio-book where you can have GlaDOS read you the book (or perhaps Wheatley, the hyper British bot):

    It was the best of time, it was the worst of times. Well, what's that really? Wholly contradictory, doesn't make a LICK of sense. Not saying it isn't profound in

  • "You kids don't make me come back there!"
  • There's a fundamental problem with orphan works and "opt in".

    By definition an orphan work is one whose copyright owner cannot be located. Demanding that they opt in defeats the whole purpose, since as soon as you find them they cease to be orphan works.

    My personal opinion:

    If someone in good faith looks diligently and attempts to find a copyright holder for a particular work, should be entitled to publish his intent to use the work as public domain, thus establishing constructive notice to the world. If th

    • You have misunderstood the problem. If copyright was not excessively long, by the time something became an "orphan" work, it would be out of copyright (or at worst, only a few years away from being out of copyright). The problem here is that copyright lasts too long.
      • by JimFive (1064958)

        If copyright was not excessively long, by the time something became an "orphan" work, it would be out of copyright (or at worst, only a few years away from being out of copyright).

        Not necessarily, the problem isn't that authors forget that they wrote a book. The problem is that someone unknowingly acquires the copyright during e.g. a bankruptcy or probate court action. This could easily happen shortly after a book was published and create an orphaned work that has nearly its entire copyright term ahead of it.

        The GPs solution seems the best one overall. However, even without legislative action, it seems to me that Google could perform a diligent search for the copyright holder and

        • Well, since I think a reasonable copyright term is less than 30 years (and more like somewhere around 10 years), if copyright was only for a reasonable length of time, even if an "orphan" work had essentially its entire copyright term remaining, it would be not be that odious to wait until the copyright expired in order to archive it.
          • by jp10558 (748604)

            It seems to me that if we went back to copyright requiring registration and donation of the copy of the work to the Library of Congress, and just added a rule that the only person you have to check with is the person named in the registration with the LoC - this would be solved. The person named in the LoC is dead? Public Domain.

            Just have the executor of the will have the responsibility to update the registration at the LoC.

            Specifically, make the onus on the copyright holder - the recipient of special socia

            • What you propose is a bandaid on the problem that stems from the fact that copyright lasts too long. Rather than put a bandaid on a broken system, why don't we try to fix the system?
              While I don't have a problem with going back to making copyright require registration and donation of a copy of the work to the Library of Congress, the current problem results from copyright lasting too long.
            • That would totally screw with the web. The web is based on automatic copyrights. Your talking millions of blogs registering the content of their blogs everyday. With a likely 5 day to 2 year waiting period for approval.
              • by jp10558 (748604)

                Why do blogs need to be copyrighted? I mean, they're copied and pasted all over anyway. And I still think that it's fine to make it the burden of the person who wants special government protection rather than the burden of everyone else.

                If you don't care (as I'll posit many don't), don't register. If you do care, register.

                Maybe a blog post doesn't need the same level of protection a book or movie does?

                And hey, the registration could be automatic - person lists their URL, copies their post, puts in the credi

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