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After 7 Years In Court, Google Settles With Publishers On Book Scanning 127

Posted by timothy
from the you've-been-organized-as-part-fo-the-world's-data dept.
redletterdave writes "After seven long years of litigation, Google Inc. and the Association of American Publishers have reached an agreement to settle over the search giant's book-scanning project, which will allow publishers to choose whether or not they want their books, journals and publications digitized by Google and accessed via its Google Library Project. The agreement, according to the two companies, acknowledges the rights and interests of copyright holders, so U.S. publishers can choose to remove their books and journals digitized by Google for its Library Project, or choose to keep their publications available. For those that keep their works online with Google, those publishers will be able to keep a digital copy for their own use and sell their publications via the Google Play marketplace." Also reported by Reuters, as carried by the Chicago Tribune, and the BBC.
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After 7 Years In Court, Google Settles With Publishers On Book Scanning

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  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @02:11PM (#41551487) Homepage

    Remember what happened here. Google tried to rewrite copyright law through litigation so that Google would have the exclusive right to digitize and resell works in copyright, subject to paying fees through some clearinghouse. The judge didn't go for that. The agreement now just affects material controlled by members of the Association of American Publishers.

  • Re:Intensely idiotic (Score:5, Informative)

    by icebike (68054) * on Thursday October 04, 2012 @02:17PM (#41551543)

    I'm more concerned about orphaned works and the length of copyright causing a work to be completely destroyed before it can be preserved

    Actually, (according to the first link) the Orphaned Works issue is still pending, with the Author's Guild still fighting on the behalf of dead or unknown authors and asserting that they, (the author's guild) have standing to represent these dead or unknown authors, and force Google to remove their works.

  • by icebike (68054) * on Thursday October 04, 2012 @02:22PM (#41551593)

    Pretty much, yes.

    Although from the beginning Google would scan books from the affected publishers, it would only put fair use amounts (often only a couple pages) on the web. Essentially what you could photocopy in a public library.

    Now they can put up to 20% online, far more than most libraries would photocopy for you, and any publisher can ask the book to be pulled, which I predict none will do.

  • Re:Intensely idiotic (Score:5, Informative)

    by Todd Knarr (15451) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @02:33PM (#41551705) Homepage

    Well, for one thing Google isn't putting the works up on their website. They're making a copy of the work to store in their database to be searched, but what appears on the search results page is an excerpt from the book (the same sort you see in Google's search results for web pages) and a link to where the book's available (eg. Amazon). So my question is, why should Google need permission from the copyright holder to index things for search? I classify the objections here the same way I classify objections to freely watching DVDs I've purchased copies of because technically watching it involves making an additional copy into the player's memory.

    And as far as I can tell, in the cases where Google's making the work itself available it's in cases where the work isn't in print (ie. you can't buy it anywhere else) and the copyright holder can't be contacted or isn't known (ie. you can't contact them to get permission). In those cases I can't find anything wrong with Google's actions, the publisher obviously doesn't care about profiting from the work or it wouldn't be out of print and the copyright holder isn't profiting because the work isn't being sold and nobody has any way of getting the money to them if it were.

  • Re:Intensely idiotic (Score:5, Informative)

    by tilante (2547392) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @02:53PM (#41551889)

    Actually, no - I don't agree to anything. Back in the late 1800s and early 1900s, publishers tried exactly what you're talking about - they put a notice in the front of their books stating that you were only licensed this copy of the book, not sold it, and that you were not allowed to resell it. (In some cases, simply that you were not allowed to sell it below a certain price). The Supreme Court held this to be illegal, leading to what's called "The Doctrine of First Sale".

    The reason that you're not allowed to copy a book has nothing to do with agreeing with terms - it's because copyright law makes it illegal. It doesn't matter whether the book has a notice saying that you can't copy it, simply has a bare copyright notice, or has no copyright notice at all - it's equally illegal either way.

    Now, from a technical point of view, Google is allowing the making copies of copyright material. So that's copyright infringement, right? Well, maybe and maybe not. There are fair use exemptions, and there are precedents in things like libraries having photocopiers so that people can copy portions of books. If Google is making a good effort to set up things in such a way that people can't just copy whole books and make off with them, then there's a good chance that a court might hold that what they're doing is no more illegal than, say, the New York Public Library having lots of book and having photocopiers that people can take them to.

    That's what the publishers are afraid of, and that was Google's leverage to negotiate with them.

  • Re:Intensely idiotic (Score:4, Informative)

    by icebike (68054) * on Thursday October 04, 2012 @04:03PM (#41552593)

    It doesn't matter is google was making them available online in whole, in part, or not at all.
    They violated copyright when they copied them in the first place. And they copied books they didn't even own! They waltzed into public librarians, took over a room, some tables, and a library employee for a couple of weeks, and photographed every book they could find. "It's ok, we're allowed to do this because we're Google!"

    No they didn't.

    Copyright allows you to copy your own copy of a book, AND It allows you to give Fair Use Excerpts to your friends for free.

    In most cases for current production books, they just bought them off the shelf.

    They didn't waltz in to libraries, they asked, and they paid big grant money, and had the consent of the librarians who were all
    on board with the project.

    Don't confuse the ancient out of print book effort with the scanning of current books in your haste to post the hate.

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