Google Print continues to excite comment. Damien Mulley came out against Google Print today quoting Dave Winer’s argument that it should be opt-in, not opt-out. I disagree. If Google had taken that approach to websites, they would never have become the useful resource they are now. This also misses the point that for the majority of out-of-print books, no-one is sure who owns the copyright, so who would opt the book in?
Google themselves wrote an article about Google Print today demonstrating just useful a site Google Print will be for the preservation of public domain books. More than that, Google Print will revolutionise historical research as researchers will now be able to search books, long since out of print, held in libraries on other continents.
Google are not a charity, they will obviously profit from doing this, but so will the rest of us.
Here’s an example date limited search: Heliocentric to give you an idea of the kinds of texts currently available – many hundreds of thousands more are to be added.
10 thoughts on “More on Google Print”
The web by its very nature is meant to be open. Tim Berners Lee says this a lot. It was built to share information. The publishing industry is a business not a hippy commune where everything is shared. Printing books has been a business for the past 500 years. To foist the web model on to books and give two fingers to the publishing industry is both arrogant and plain stupid. Even with a company with PhDs stacked from floor to ceiling Google has proven to be very stupid at times. And they’re constantly arrogant.
Robots.txt existed before Google. It was a convention that search engines adhered to. Just because publishers have not stated “please don’t scan in our content and add it to your search database” on every book, does not mean there was a convention in place. The underlying Copyright law stated this, though wordered differently. The book form of robots.txt exists and Google are ignoring it and instead expecting people to come to them and request they remove content, even when the Law is on the side of the content owner.
Out of print books are legally protected. Just because they are not available to the public doesn’t give Google any right to scan them in and offer them up. There is a Law and Google is disrespecting it. Just because the law is unfair does not mean they have a right to break it. We live in a democracy, why not vote in people who will change the copyright laws, why not educate and lobby the people so this change can be brought about? Why not? Because that would cost Google money.
I’d also disagree with the idea that the vast majority of out of print books have copyrights which are unclear on whether they have expired or not.
While the Open Commons proponent Larry Lessig says this out-of-print book protection is stupid, he doesn’t go around encouraging rampant piracy. We’re talking about the worlds most powerful search engine and advertising company stealing from someone else so they can make a quick buck.
Public domain books have already been available via the web with Project Gutenberg. There is nothing wrong with using public domain content. Google are spinning it like public domain books are a new thing that they are bring to us.
Google is taking the moral high ground by talking about out of print books and public domain books. Bull. They are after the current popular publications. They are after relevant content. They are after the zeigiests in print. Sure out of print books and public domain content will be useful too, but the big money and the big ad payers want the current stuff.
At the expense of others who invested a lot of resources into having a book created and published.
Making public domain books available is good. Making out of print books available after the rights owner gives permission is good. Making research papers available is good.
Making the content of a copyrighted protected book available soley to profit from it and doing it without the rights holder’s permission is immoral and criminal. Perhaps Google needs to get slaughtered in Court before they realise they can’t walk in and do what they want with anyones content.
Damien, it is not piracy, it is not stealing, it is not breach of copyright – it falls under fair use. Don’t take my word for – check out what Lawrence Lessig has to say about it:
First quoted on this blog back in September – do try to keep up Damien 😉
But it isn’t fair use. Making a digital copy of an entire book is not fair use in the eyes of current copyright laws. A line, a paragraph or a few paragraphs is fair use though. The MP3.com case which was lost by MP3.com proved this. They copied CDs and put them on the server as MP3 files. Then after people validated they had those CDs, they were allowed to access the MP3 versions. The judge ruled that what MP3.com was doing was not legal and so they stopped and I think had to pay a large settlement to the record companies.
While I’m a fan of Lessig he is wrong here. Wanting the copyright laws to be changed is fine but right now where they stand is that Google are doing evil. 🙂 I’m surprised he compared what they are doing with indexing books to what they are doing on websites. Taking his argument, he could only be right if the publishers scanned in their books and put them online to be found. Or opted in to the book scanning programme.
The web was built to for sharing. Search engines have always been a core part of the web and so anyone coming online should be aware of this. The existing world of publishing is completely different.
Saying that the Judiciary in the states has enough power to reinterpret the law and make the changes though I doubt this will happen with the current batch of conservative judges.
Funny how I support Winer on one post and say he is clueless on another!
Damien, Lawrence Lessig is Professor of Law at Stanford and prior to joining the Stanford faculty, he was the Berkman Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, and a Professor at the University of Chicago. He clerked for Judge Richard Posner on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and Justice Antonin Scalia on the United States Supreme Court.
If you feel qualified to tell him he is wrong on a matter of law, fair dues to you – me, I’m going with the Professor of Law’s interpretation!
I know who Larry is, I have his books and I even bought the T-Shirt! But you don’t need to be qualified to tell a Professor of Law that he is wrong. In the end the Courts decide on the arguments presented and the publishers have a very strong case and have a few good precedents to use, some of them very recent.
True, but in my case, as someone who has not studied American law, I’m inclined to go along with the opinion of someone who is recognised as an expert in the field!
Damien, you’re wrong in your analogy – MP3.com lost its case because it was making the entire copyrighted work available online without the permission of the copyright holder. Google is only making a small portion of the work available. The issue at stake in MP3.com was whether ownership of the music transcended the medium. The issue in the Google case is whether one should be allowed to quote a small portion of a book.
Prowsej is wrong about the mp3.com decision. Many of the works copied by MP3.com were never ever released to the Internet. The case didn’t even touch the subject of distribution. The courts looked at this very simply as a commercial enterprise making copies without permission. In settlement with the various plaintiffs, damages were calculated based on distribution, but the case was decided simply upon whether the work had been copied to a server or not. If Google makes copies of works without permission they’re in the same boat regardless of whether they publish any single bit of the copyrighted work.
Thanks for correcting me and educating me on the MP3.com decision.
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