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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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  • Intensely idiotic (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @01:54PM (#41551315) Homepage Journal

    Like every copyright case initiated by one of the big names, like the *AAs or big corporate publishing houses, this case is INTENSELY idiotic.

    Google got the good end of this. Basically the corporate assholes can shoot themselves in the foot and pull their material... and lose money in the long run. Google can provide a free publicity service or you can take your ball and go home.

    What a difficult choice....

    • by ThatsMyNick (2004126) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @01:59PM (#41551351)

      I though the publishers are on the right here. What gives google the right to scan and put up copyrighted work on their website, without the permissions of the copyright holder?

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

        by Lord Bitman (95493) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @02:10PM (#41551473) Homepage

        Is this a trick question? How is "fair use" not applicable?
        This is absolutely no different from the "scanning" and "putting up" that google does of every other part of the internet. Why should the fact that it started out in a grossly inefficient medium be any distinction whatsoever?

        • by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @02:24PM (#41551611)

          Is this a trick question? How is "fair use" not applicable?

          Depends on how much of the book is being digitally published without the express consent of the copyright holder. A portion of the cover art, the table of contents, and very small number of sample paragraphs seem like a reasonable amount for "fair use". Entire chapters or a large portion of most chapters of a book seems like an unreasonable amount for "fair use".

          This is absolutely no different from the "scanning" and "putting up" that google does of every other part of the internet.

          Actually the websites that are being scanned are freely available on the internet and Google only provides enough of the website to give the user information on wether or not to visit that website. Also the website can attempt to opt-out preemptively by placing a file in their URL space that informs the web crawler of the author not wanting any of the pages scanned.

          Why should the fact that it started out in a grossly inefficient medium be any distinction whatsoever?

          You are correct. The copyright holder should have his rights respected regardless of the medium being used.

          • 1) To the best of my knowledge, the results that Google intended to display consisted of a few lines from any particular book. They had to have an entire copy scanned in because the lines that matched one search would of course be different from the lines that match another. But the users wouldn't see the whole thing in one go. Also, fair use can encompass the entirety of a work. Whether a use is fair will depend on the circumstances involved; there are no bright line rules in fair use.

            2) It's irrelevant th

            • Before we go further, I'd like to point out that I don't have a vested interested for or against Google books. Regardless of any possible benefits to the book author, I do think that Google pushed the envelope on what should be appropriate fair use. My impression of the situation is that Google abused its resources to accomplish something that it thought would make it money regardless of the wishes of the owners of the copyrighted material.

              (For others who may be reading this comment: If the idea of someone

              • I also have no vested interest in Google Book Search, though I think it sounds useful, and I'd probably use it as a research tool if it were available, regardless of whatever legal wrangling had to go on behind the scenes to enable it to work. To me it's basically just an improved card catalog; rather than searching by subject, we can now search for strings or even just individual words. Whether or not Google can profit from it is irrelevant to me. Certainly it is okay to profit from a fair use, such as in

        • by Cinder6 (894572)

          Google "scans" and "puts up" pages that are publicly viewable. They don't put up pages that are behind a pay wall (unless, of course, the web server is poorly configured, or the dev makes it possible for Googlebot to view the pages--such as experts-exchange). Scanning non-free books and making them searchable is akin to putting up pages behind a paywall when they haven't actually been given permission to do so.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        Cultures? society? Human instinct to share?

        Copyright is an anathema to human behavior. One that would be worth having it copyright was returned to a sane amount of time.
        Copyright holders want to lock up culture, and that's going to far.

      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by s0nicfreak (615390)
        What gives copyright holders the right to hoard knowledge? If I borrow a book from the library and read it to my children, when they themselves did not borrow the book, is that not doing the same thing Google is doing?
        • What gives copyright holders the right to hoard knowledge?

          Draconian laws and bribery.

          If I borrow a book from the library and read it to my children, when they themselves did not borrow the book, is that not doing the same thing Google is doing?

          It's on an entirely different scale.

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

        by icebike (68054) * on Thursday October 04, 2012 @02:29PM (#41551667)

        I though the publishers are on the right here. What gives google the right to scan and put up copyrighted work on their website, without the permissions of the copyright holder?

        You have to sort of pay attention to what was really happening all along....

        Previously, you could only get a fair use sample of a book, a few pages at best, in response to a search. You couldn't get the whole book. You got less than what a public library would allow you to photocopy in house.

        At no time was google providing entire books still in copyright from known publishers and authors.

        Now you get up to 20% on line. (The publishers finally figured out that if you read 20%, you are more likely to buy the book to get the rest).

        • I though the publishers are on the right here. What gives google the right to scan and put up copyrighted work on their website, without the permissions of the copyright holder?

          You have to sort of pay attention to what was really happening all along....

          Previously, you could only get a fair use sample of a book, a few pages at best, in response to a search. You couldn't get the whole book. You got less than what a public library would allow you to photocopy in house.

          At no time was google providing entire books still in copyright from known publishers and authors.

          Now you get up to 20% on line. (The publishers finally figured out that if you read 20%, you are more likely to buy the book to get the rest).

          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!"

          • 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.

      • 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.

      • I though the publishers are on the right here. What gives google the right to scan and put up copyrighted work on their website, without the permissions of the copyright holder?

        Absolutely nothing. If any individual had done the same thing, or even just scanned books to index them for personal use, they'd be a rotting corpse by now.

      • by alexgieg (948359)

        What gives google the right to scan and put up copyrighted work on their website, without the permissions of the copyright holder?

        The common good.

      • by morgauxo (974071)
        When they are only publishing a few pages of a large book/document... Fair Use gives them the right.

        It's not like they were putting whole books online or anything like that. It was just a little bit, usually the table of contents plus a few pages. All that ever would have done is make people aware of the book who might then want to buy it!

        The publishers, who ultimately end up benefiting from this exposure made a big fuss about it. How is that not 'Intensely Idiotic'?
      • I don't think google makes any advertising money off the scanned books, and they are also within fair use laws. I think what Google did was legal but angered publishers because they thought they were missing out on royalty money.
    • by preaction (1526109) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @02:02PM (#41551387)

      I'm more concerned about orphaned works and the length of copyright causing a work to be completely destroyed before it can be preserved. I understand the desire to keep copyright, and I understand the idea that Google is infringing by creating these digital copies and then providing excerpts for users, but the wealth of knowledge that gets lost because of copyrights that last essentially forever is a real problem that needs a real solution.

      Perhaps it's stupid to entrust that burden to a corporation, and it should be the job of a public or non-profit institution, but this knowledge must be preserved.

      • by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @02:09PM (#41551469)

        Perhaps it's stupid to entrust that burden to a corporation, and it should be the job of a public or non-profit institution, but this knowledge must be preserved.

        If only the Library of Congress in the US, national library of China, library of Russian academy of science, National library and Archives Canada, and the German National Library existed.

        • by s0nicfreak (615390) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @02:19PM (#41551567) Homepage Journal
          If only there weren't many books that all of those refuse to archive.
        • The library of Congress specializes in certain things.In many areas, they're no better than a college library

          Instructional Support level: A collection that in a university is adequate to support undergraduate and most graduate instruction, or sustained independent study; that is, adequate to maintain knowledge of a subject required for limited or generalized purposes, of less than research intensity

          In some areas, they are truly awesome:

          Comprehensive Level: A collection which, so far as is reasonably possible, includes all significant works of recorded knowledge (publications, manuscripts, and other forms), in all applicable languages, for a necessarily defined and limited field. This level of collecting intensity is one that maintains a " special collection." The aim, if not achievement, is exhaustiveness.

          Their areas of interests are defined here [loc.gov]

          • And then there is their hard on for microfilm.

            http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_Fold [wikipedia.org]

            In ancient times all people who came into the city of Alexandria were searched for books. Any books that were brought into the city which were of interest were copied in order to add to the collection of the great and famous Library of Alexandria, the biggest and best archive in the classical world.

            But only a few works of antiquity which would've been found there have survived to the present day. Most were lost to decay,

      • 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 Roger W Moore (538166) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @02:04PM (#41551419) Journal

    so U.S. publishers can choose...

    What about the rest of the world? If the US publisher of a particular book says 'no' and the British publisher says 'yes' does the book get scanned or not? Does it get scanned but censored in the US? What about books with no US publisher?

    • What about the rest of the world?

      Hey, that's what the legal system and copyright law get you. 196 different settlements required.

      Oh, another bulllet point for the "IP is damaging" list.

      • The last thing we want is a uniform global copyright law; it would inevitably be terrible for most of the countries involved.

        Better to have each country write their own copyright laws (or not) from scratch, with the one core principle being that it should best serve the people of that country -- not authors, not publishers, not people elsewhere in the world. The only things I'd want to see done globally are 1) national treatment so that anyone who seeks a copyright in a given jurisdiction isn't discriminate

  • 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: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      They never wanted an exclusive license. They just wanted a license. People painting it as "exclusive" just weren't willing to go through all the trouble to scan the stuff on their own.

  • by realsilly (186931) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @02:25PM (#41551621)

    That's ashamed it took 7 years to agree to something that summed up sounds so reasonably easy to agree to.

    *sigh* sounds like the lawyers milked both sides for all they were both worth.

  • by nurb432 (527695) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @02:33PM (#41551697) Homepage Journal

    And the citizens lose, as free access to knowledge takes another step backwards.

  • by DickBreath (207180) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @02:33PM (#41551707) Homepage
    Don't be evil.

    I hope Google does the right thing and publishes a list of all publishers who opt out of Google's book scanning project. The list should be public and searchable.

    That makes it clear to authors which publishers are clueless. if an author publishes his book with one of these publishers, the author just made sure his book is not searchable by the best search tool on the planet.

    As a consumer, not only will I not happen to find any books from these clueless publishers, I would like such a list so that I can actively avoid buying from such clueless publishers.

    Let evolution take its course. Dinosaur publishers who don't want Google searching their books. Etc.
  • Were they the ones who made buggy whips?

  • Great job on the correct link attributions in summary. Gold star.

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