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The AAP/Google Lawsuit: Much More At Stake

By - October 20, 2005

Book Open-1I spent some time yesterday and this morning speaking with Allan Alder, counsel for the AAP (see my initial post on this here). I came away convinced of what I initially suspected but so far had not stated: this is a far bigger issue than simply book publishers wanting to protect their business models (though there’s plenty of that in here as well.)

Today David Drummond, counsel at Google, posted another missive in the ongoing communications battle over this issue. In it he positions Google as the innovator which is making incumbents nervous, a position that certainly has a long history (he quotes the Sony Betamax/VCR case) as well as plenty of support amongst the technology elite.

We think you should be able to search through every word of every book ever written, and come away with a list of relevant books to buy or find at your local library. We aim to make that happen, but to do so we’ll need to build and maintain an index containing all this information.

It’s no surprise that this idea makes some publishers nervous, even though they can easily remove their books from the program at any time. The history of technology is replete with advances that first met wide opposition, later found wide acceptance, and finally were widely regarded as having been inevitable all along.

But there are a few larger issues percolating here that bear discussion. First, who is making the money? Second, who owns the rights to leverage this new innovation – the public, the publisher, or … Google? Will Google make the books it scans available for all comers to crawl and index? Certainly the answer seems to be no. Google is doing this so as to make its own index superior, and to gain competitive advantage over others. That leaves a bad taste in the publisher’s mouths – they sense they are being disintermediated, and further, that Google is reinterpreting copyright law as they do it.

And this is not just about books. If Google – and by extension, anyone else – can scan and index books without permission, why can’t they also scan and index video? Look at who owns the book companies that are suing – ahhh, it’s Newscorp (Harper Collins), Viacom (Simon&Schuster), Time Warner (Little Brown).

As I said, I plan more posts/pieces on this, as the issues raised – of innovation, of intellectual property rights, of business models, of more perfect search – are fascinating. But they are also nuanced in that they reflect some of our most treacherous technology/policy debates: the tension between DRM and innovation, between a creator’s rights and the public good, between open and closed (the Craigslist/Oodle debate, for example, is very much related to this).

After staring at this for a day or so, it’s clear to me that this case will go to court. No one wants to settle. Google is digging in, and so is the media world. Folks, we have a real battle on our hands.

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34 thoughts on “The AAP/Google Lawsuit: Much More At Stake

  1. From the non-profit university press perspective, what Google is proposing to do could be very damaging to the future production of scholarship.

    It’s my belief that Google is robbing Peter to index Paul. Google is making at least two digital copies of our books using one to index and giving one to the library. Those copies are payment by Google to those libraries for access to the books. Google is claiming that their use of this content falls within the guidelines of fair use because they won’t show users the whole book. While displaying only a snippet of content may qualify as fair use, using an unauthorized full copy as a payment is clearly a copyright infringement.

    My primary objection is that we will lose the opportunity to sell those digital files of our content ourselves. These libraries are among our best customers. Each of the libraries in question probably has 70 – 90% of what we’ve published over the past 50 years. The files of just our content that Google is giving each library are conservatively worth tens of thousands of dollars, if we had been allowed to sell them those files. The libraries involved have all bought or subscribed to our digital content in the past. Now they won’t need to anymore. That loss of income means many new books won’t get published.

    When we want to use someone else’s work in one of our publications, we ask for permission and sometimes pay for it. Google should do the same. The onus is on Google, not us. What Google is proposing is an admirable goal, but they need to do it with their own time and on their own dime, not by illegally exploiting the work of others, and not at the expense of tomorrow’s scholarship.

    Tony Sanfilippo, Marketing and Sales Director, Penn State University Press

  2. Adam says:

    > That loss of income means many new books won’t get published.

    Can you explain to me how you arrive at this conclusion?

    And also, while I can understand your concerns about Google providing a service for free that you charge for, how is this any different than the library scanning their books themselves?

  3. Anna Martelli Ravenscroft says:

    I’m a little confused Tony. You say:
    Google is making at least two digital copies of our books using one to index and giving one to the library. Those copies are payment by Google to those libraries for access to the books.

    So – you’re charging the universities for a copy of the book and then also charging them for a digital copy? A digital copy they could have scanned for themselves if they had the time and resources? Why you’re charging in the first place for this is beyond me… you have to have an electronic copy in order to publish… sounds like you’ve got a great little scam going there.

    The books Google are scanning have been *purchased* from you – legally. The library wants a digital copy for reference and this way, they’ll get one for free instead of having to do the work themselves (which costs money) or paying for one. This leaves more money to buy more books (including from you)! AND in the meantime, scholars and researchers will be able to FIND your books so they can buy more too. Sounds like a win-win situation to me.

    Am I missing something?

  4. Keith says:

    I reached for the first book I could find (turns out to be a children’s book published in 2001) and this is what is says on the copyright page:

    “All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronically or mechanically, photo-copying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of the copyright owner.”

    Seems pretty clear to me that Google is violating this language.

  5. notcraig says:

    This is a seminal issue, as you rightly point out. Arguably, Google’s entry postion of candied innocence combined with their technical prowess gave them the pole position. This is arguably now being overshadowed (or exposed, depending on your leaning) by the derivative financial machine that comes from their ability to combine brilliant technology with “other people’s content”.

    The middle man is a lot more than a channel in the new game, they are the controller. Like the shift from hard coded telephony to “soft switching” in the early progression of telephony decades ago, the controller of content mining, aggregation and (dare i say) the various forms of re-publishing and access control will drive more fundamental value and information control shift than any historical engine of change has ever enabled.

    It’s the right debate, as a result. Innovation aside, the societal, ethical and business impact is mind boggling.

  6. Keith says:

    Oh, and John’s book “The Search” has similar language on its copyright page, with this added:

    “The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law.”

    (emphasis added)

    It’s published by Penguin Group, one of the parties in the AAP suing Google.

  7. Damian says:

    It is the height of arrogance on Google’s part to make its program opt-out on the part of the publishers. Google claims it is impossible to contact all the publishers – I have a hard time believing that that is any tougher than figuring out how to scan all the volumes. I also have trouble with any argument that Google doesn’t have the resources to reach out – they simply have tons of money.

    Google Print continues the arrogance we’ve already heard about with regard to their video business.

    Then, to justify these claims, Google cloaks itself in the cloth of “public good” – this just an absurb argument to be made from a public company that will own all those scans.

    I’m frankly shocked by all the people on the web that seem to think that this is in any way legal or justified by any public good argument. If it was Microsoft doing this, the collective web would likely be against the project.

  8. Adam: We have a mandate from our University. Be sustainable. Make less money, then publish fewer books. When we sell a book, it assumes only one person at a time will read that book. It is then priced accordingly. With a digital copy, an infinite number of people can read the same book simultaneously. If we knew that was how the book was going to be used, the price of that first book would include all the costs it took to make that book. On average, a university press book costs about $60,000 to produce. I would have charged one library that amount and then I wouldn’t care. But instead we charged an average of $40 per book and hoped to sell multiple copies. A library can have one or the other, but they can’t have one, and then take the other from Google at the cost of future publications.

    Amy: To the non-profit publishing sector, keeping down the cost of our publications is one of our primary missions. What Google is proposing to do undermines that. Google didn’t buy those books, the libraries did. There are provisions in copyright law that allows libraries restricted rights to make copies, for archival purposes, for example. Those same provisions do not apply to profit-making search engines.

  9. Doug Lay says:

    I have a hard time believing that the real sticking point for the publishers is that Google won’t be sharing its scans with all comers. But…if Google wanted to really play hardball with the publishers and maybe win back some of the doubters on their left flank, maybe they could offer to contribute their in-copyright scans to the Open Content Alliance. It would be interesting to see how Yahoo would respond to that one.

  10. Andi says:

    I’m not so sure this will go to court. There is still plenty of time for a settlement to shake out, but certainly both sides are playing hardball now.

    The sweeping vision that Google presents for its organization of all human knowledge is breathtaking for everyone who doesn’t have an axe to grind.

    I personally have found Google to be arrogant at times but they are on a self-righteous mission and have the zeal, the momentum, and OMG a ton of cash. I’ll bet on the plaintiffs caving before jury selection. Google will make some concessions to be sure, but they’ll get their index.

    David Drummond’s reference to Jack Valenti’s “Boston Strangler” remark was brilliant and on point. It would carry the day with a jury of non-academics, and perhaps even a few enlightented academics.

  11. Ralph Haygood says:

    John: Please address the following issue. Web pages themselves are copyrighted; for example, immediately below the box into which I’m typing this comment, I see “All contents copyright © 2003-2005 John Battelle.” Google and other search engines make copies of web pages, of which they present snippets on search results pages. Within the limits of Google et al.’s abilities to cope with dynamically generated or password-protected pages, any page on the web is liable to be copied, but page owners can opt out using robots.txt files. Legally speaking, how is Google’s treatment of web pages distinct from its treatment of books under Google Print? (Is it merely that no enterprising lawyer has yet organized a class action lawsuit on behalf of web page owners whose copyrights are being violated?) Of course, books are paper, and web pages aren’t, but does this distinction have any force in law? If not, wouldn’t a victory for the book publishers suing Google establish a precedent that would greatly complicate the entire business of web searching? I’d appreciate your considered opinion.

  12. Tom Olgin says:

    Brewster Kahle, Raj Reddy, and others have been talking about scanning the world’s books for years now and actually doing it withing the bounds of the law. Go figure…

    Check out the CMU’s Million Book Project.

    A big old “good grief” to the folks who continue to think Google invents everything. Enough is enough.

    The vision is fine, nobody disagrees that searching the world’s books would be a good thing. The method the Google is inacting though is illegal and immoral. Until a court rules, Google should not be scanning books without explicit consent.

  13. Tom Olgin says:

    Ralph, read Dave Winer’s view on why web pages are not books. Additionally, on the web, you can specify what you want indexed and what you do not with the robots.txt file, which I view as equal in status to a copyright notice in a book.

  14. Andi says:

    Ralph, you asked John and John may have a better answer and I should defer, it’s his blog. But this is just too simple. Slap my hand if I’m out of line. :)

    >>>Legally speaking, how is Google’s treatment of web pages distinct from its treatment of books under Google Print?

    Only one difference that matters: 99%+ of all web site owners want to be in the Google index. Some have even sued for inclusion. If web site owners felt as book publishers do there would be no Google.

  15. Andi says:

    >>>Google should not be scanning books without explicit consent.

    Probably true, but like I said they are arrogant zealots; doing it and then dealing with the consequenses is more expedient than getting permission.

    Negotiating permissions first would be prohibitive, I think they believe that their mission is more important to the advance of civilization than the letter of this particular law. I think I agree with them and I think in the end they will prevail.

  16. Capastorm says:

    This is quite a historical moment. It’s part of the bigger picture (old)Business vs (new)People.
    We’re moving away from paper-books to ebooks and the need for a publisher will become less, because distribution costs are of the past.
    The debate is about publishers “back-catalogue”.
    Maybe they all should talk to Steve Jobs and learn the iTunes lesson?

    Capastorm

  17. Michael Bell says:

    It is interesting to read to Google’s arguments. They aren’t offering many specifics about the legality of what they are doing. Rather, they present a vision about how this is good for humanity. While they are probably right, will that argument get the job done in a court of law?

    Google seems intent to move forward, damn the nasty details. Can you imagine a director putting a song into a movie without first securing the rights?

    Meanwhile, the publishers, as the holders of the legal rights on the books in question, would seem to have the upper hand. However, they probably are fighting the inevitable march of progress. Nevertheless, you can’t blame them for wanting to assert their legal rights and have more of a say in the process.

  18. notcraig says:

    one important related argument centers on derivative use and the innocence of not seeing the risk of collapsing commercial models. The value of published materials have a perceived value for its author. The argument being made is that visibility derives value (simple enough), which implies value growth to the author. Authors are often the innocents here. This is an “industry” that has – for better or worse – grown up with publishers “protecting them” from their business skill gaps.

    Insert the thin edge of the wedge that we’re just starting to see in “derivative revenues”. An engaging narrative snippit about the charm of downtown medieval York can readily be used to drive travel reservation fees and ad dollars, to no shared benefit of the author. Contemporary examples of revenue models collapsing into ad placement fees abound, but I doubt the average author is web 2.0 savvy enough to see this coming. The pockets getting lined are the aggregators, and while the model works well some commercial scenarios, I question positioning this as a universal proxy for all information.

    Bottom line, visibility is good, visibility with control over packaging, derivative rights and ranking is a position that merits serious examination.

  19. Fredric Alan Maxwell says:

    Good to read that Mr. B has come around. After all, Google’s attitude is akin to one saying that they are going to steal your car, since you didn’t tell them not to.

  20. Andi says:

    Well, if Fredric Alan Maxwell is going to characterize Google as an auto thief I will counter from a higher plane.

    Knowledge belongs to the ages and posterity is calling. We have despoiled the planet and it is urgent that we prepare tools for future generations to save themselves. Petty concerns over your pocketbook are selfish and shortsighted. Oh God, are you going to force me to say “do it for the children…”

  21. Capastorm says:

    Google Print is the Napster of books. Centralized but only with snippets instead of the whole book (say first 10 sec of a song).

    FAST FORWARD Napster got killed by the Music Industry – what happened was the distribution and cataloging of music became Decentralized. Eventually iTunes sort of saved the day for most parties.

    Now what if i placed all my book titles (and music titles) on my website or blog with a remark: “let me know if you want to borrow mine”. Or worse what if someone made a P2P program for books; if everyone scanned their own books it would work…

    It seems music is leading the way for books…

    Capastorm

  22. Michael Bee says:

    Google lawyers, publishers and Professor Joe Janes chatted for an hour about this topic yesterday on KUOW’s The Conversation. Audio available http://www.kuow.org/theconversation.asp?Archive=10-20

  23. Nick P says:

    > Can you imagine a director putting a song into a movie without first securing the rights?

    Yep, sure can! Have you seen Fantasia recently? Not the same you say? I don’t think this analogy is either. Beethoven’s descendants (or the descendants of wealthy nobles who funded the music) are not being paid yet nobody complains, because those works, which may have faded into obscurity, instead passed into the public domain and can now benefit all of us.

    We should be mindful that despite their convenience, ‘real world’ analogies are often very inaccuracte and do not provide the kind of clarity to the situation they intend to. Auto theft, which involves the taking of one’s physical property to benefit another while leaving the owner without anything, is *not* the same as copying. The digital age works differently, there are different consequences and different issues at stake. As for the song, a) the entire song is not being used, b) the actual permission is not clearly defined by law, and c) the benefit to society that the movie provides is probably not meaningful.

    The issue here is about the specific implementation involved – that the entire book (the car, the song, etc) is NOT available to the public, but only snippets. The consequences of this specific implementation cannot just be weighed against how businesses currently operate and who benefits / who doesn’t, instead the considerations of the whole of society must be the top priority. The larger issue here is whether enough has changed that the application of laws within the current context accurately reflects the intent of their authors when they were made. Has the entire notion of publishing changed? Most would say yes. Legally there is also the notion of fair use (i.e. yes, you can copy that book for your own backup despite what the copyright says) in addition to the understanding of the spirit of the law, so I wouldn’t say this is illegal (and immoral? I think different people have different opinions on morality) until word is out from the judges.

    As for comments about how google is making money off this… I just want to point out that companies are not just profit-making entities that extract wealth from the world. Many provide goods and services (in addition to employment) that are vital to the sustainability and well being of society. Their treatment by the law should reflect this inherent value. In the information age, finding information is a great need that society has, and we would be much poorer (in both the monetary and non-monetary sense) without it. No non-profit is in a position to do what Google can do, and would run into the same hurdles but would have less capability/energy to run with it to deal with every individual roadblock that stands in the way. The private sector provides the incentives to stand up to these challenges, and ultimately we can all benefit from their energy toward the matter. I hope people take this into consideration when forming their opinions on the matter.

    In the long run I think Google should probably convert certain information to the public sector for everyone to access, and this might be one more type of data to release (say, once publishers agreed or copyrights expired). The others might be old web information (like how archive.org works), and other information the public could be served by. Doug – I think publishers might just be saying that because they know google won’t go along with it due to business reasons. After all, don’t you think that if the ruling was in googles favor, and other search companies saw the value in what google did (they would), they would then just go and spend their own money scanning and indexing books?

    Tom – Thank you for providing the non-profit university perspective, it is important to the debate. I would argue that tomorrow’s scholarship, from today’s perspective, would benefit in immesurable ways from indexing and providing greater accessibility to more information, but that the nature of scholarship and the incentive structure that supports it would change in ways that some may not appreciate. Given some research I’ve seen recently in data mining and applications to scholarship, I really feel that scholarship in general is about to see an explosion of opportunity (and greater quality) as data mining methods allow us to extract untold amounts of hidden gems of insight – but only provided there are datasets to look through. The fact that what stands in the way of these datasets are laws that are no longer in alignment with the current reality seems precisely against the spirit of scholarship as a pursuit of knowledge. At some point alternative incentive structures must be built to support this pursuit of knowledge, because the current incentive structures of scarcity and tangibility of information, while correlated with possibility for incentive through publishing in the past, seem to be incompatible with our new reality. Further, scarcity of information seems to be incompatible with the spirit of scholarship. This is completely aside from the fact that in the short run (i.e. before we all have ebook readers), book sales will likely increase with a better way to access information from them. And in the long run? We’re likely to be buying the ebooks anyways from an iTunes-like system, and obscure books that weren’t transferred to the system wouldn’t be bought anyways.

    Disclaimer: not a google employee

  24. bowerbird says:

    google should announce that they will be *charging*
    (an arm and a leg) publishers to be included in this program,
    starting in 2007, but letting them sign up until then for free,
    and see how many of these publishers are stupid enough to
    “opt out”.

    -bowerbird

  25. I just read Eric Schmidt’s WSJ piece. I for one am deeply touched that a billionaire like Mr. Schmidt is sufficiently concerned with the plight of a hungry-to-learn student in Bangladesh that he wants to make sure valuable knowledge is available to her, legal niceties be damned.

    Let me also add that – - from my teaching days – - I personally know many intellectually hungry CS students in other parts of the world who share the conviction that computer technology is their route to a prosperous future. Their personal benefit will be incalculable once they are able to learn directly from the best CS minds in the world by being allowed to read and review Google’s Pagerank algorithm and other application source code. I eagerly await Mr. Schmidt’s announcement of its publication online (incremental chunks are fine)

    Or… wait. Is this just another case like the news.com incident where Google’s principled stand only applies to other people’s data?

    Feh. Rank hypocrisy is fast replacing PageRank as Google’s defining feature.

    Probable objections to my statement:

    • “That’s apples and oranges

  26. Nick P says:

    > Their personal benefit will be incalculable once they are able to learn directly from the best CS minds in the world by being allowed to read and review Google’s Pagerank algorithm and other application source code. I eagerly await Mr. Schmidt’s announcement of its publication online (incremental chunks are fine)

    Analogy alert! First, the PageRank algorithm itself IS public and has been since 1998 when it was published by Page & Brin, and countless intellectually hungry CS students have poured over it since. But as for application code / trade secrets, they are *not* the same as books – the content of trade secrets ideally is meant to be kept *secret* to maintain competitive advantage to generate income, while the content of books is ideally meant to be seen by as many people as possible in order to generates income. Hypothetically if G wanted to make public the private writings and notes of authors (e.g. their ‘trade secrets’) that they used to then go and write books, then sure G’s trade secrets are up for grabs, but really what you’re saying is totally different so the analogy doesn’t work. You’re right – apples to oranges – and in the case of ‘fair use’ not all IP is created equal, because some IP such as trade secrets are not covered by fair use.

    Two things I’ve seen mentioned in discussions about G’s indexing:
    1. Once they have the books indexed they can change their TOS and give out the books and anything goes!, and
    2. the slippery slope of how much to give out (your 20, 50, 100 pages example – a valid point).

    If this goes to court and is held in G’s favor, that doesn’t give them the right to do anything but what is the specific implementation they’re proposing, supported by a nice amount of reasoning by the judges which could be used to guide future cases. The legality of both of these scenarios (esp 1) is in doubt and copyright holders can challenge any changes in court. The slippery slope is an example of where copyright law is not hard and fast, and where careful consideration of intentions and outcomes must take place. Outcomes are important in this case, because that means the courts would have to look at how incentives would change and whether the spirit of the copyright law as a means to incentivize people for their work is being upheld. Hence, yes, you need to recognize the ‘they’ll make money from it’ argument.

    As for the burden of copyright holders to enforce – I don’t see the difference between search companies now versus anybody else. Copyright holders have always had to enforce their copyrights throughout history, and new technologies have always brought some new challenges to this (xerox copiers anyone?). To answer your question about authors: What if an author wanted to release a book into the world, but didn’t want libraries to stock the books, or people to quote their books? Where’s the opt-out or opt-in there? The fact is there is no legal requirement for an ‘opt-out’ policy – it’s there for politeness but not for any legal reason. Part of the nature of copyright is that in exchange for protection by the law (for the kind of wholesale copying that does not incentivize the author for their work), authors give up certain control over their content since it has entered the public sphere. The amount of that control is what is being debated, but not the existence or absence of it as I think the ‘opt-in’ argument stems from.

    I think it’s a mischaracterization to say that Google is just saying ‘we’re doing whatever we want with other peoples property and we think we can get away with it’. Google is doing what any forward thinking company should be doing – creating new ideas and with them, pushing boundaries and continuing to be a driver of change. There really are no ‘legal niceties’ here, the fact is there’s only the spirit of the law and a mishmash of laws regarding fair use that don’t point to anything specific that says they can’t pursue these ideas.

    O’reilly’s wrote a very good op-ed article from NYT on this which is worth a read:
    http://radar.oreilly.com/archives/2005/09/ny_times_op_ed_on_authors_guil.html

  27. Fredric Alan Maxwell says:

    Andi countered my Google-as-car-theives argument by saying, in part, that “petty concerns over {my} pocketbook are selfish and shortsighted.” Gee whiz, Andi. Petty concerns? I mean, gosh darn it. Send me a copy of your last book, okay. I apologize for actually wanting to get paid for 18 months worth of work on my last book — which included being investigated by not only Microsoft but the Secret Service (which, as the NYTimes reported, cleared me but which cost me $8,000 out of my pocket, not the publisher’s). I should just give my creations away, for the betterment of humankind, for the greater good, after we all hold hands and sing,”Kumbaya.” Sorry, Andi, I thought Pollyana was children’s fiction, not your reality.

  28. Dogz says:

    Google Print requires a full copy of the book for it to display snippets matching your search query.

    Isn’t that just plain infringement? They are storing and reproducing the text for the entire world. Just because a single user only gets to see a portion of the book, doesn’t mean they’re not reproducing the entire thing.

    I don’t know of any fair use that allows both public dissemination and full reproduction; you can do one but not the other (eg, you can make full backups for personal use, or you can publically disseminate small portions of a work).

    IANAL, but I can’t see how they have any case at all.

  29. Nick P says:

    Lets get our facts straight – they’re not reproducing/disseminating the entire thing. If you use google print right now you’ll see that some pages are blocked entirely and are never reproduced (e.g. yes that quote is available on page 753 of book X but we won’t show it to you). I’m not sure exactly how much their implementation for these texts will show, but some amount of showing of snippets is currently allowed under fair use, e.g. quotes in published articles (for instance, by for-profit media companies), which as you can imagine are also searchable online.

    I also don’t know of any clause in fair use that stipulates an either-or situation of copying/disseminating like you’re describing – I think that’s a logical leap and the law isn’t that precise in defining those (IANAL as well though). Certainly copy ALL disseminate ALL isn’t allowed, but copy ALL disseminate NONE is allowed, as is copy SOME disseminate SOME (depending on how much). In the case of copy ALL disseminate SOME, which is Gprint, I don’t think there’s precident, other than the above similar cases which are allowed. That’s why it comes down to implementation. Here’s a hypothetical – say you were writing a research report, and you went to the library and copied an article and took it home (allowed under fair use). Does that act of copying the entire article mean that you can’t then quote the article (dissemenating a piece of it) in your research report? I would imagine this is still under fair use.

    Frederic – you should totally be entitled to compensation for your work, provided that people want it. This debate about Gprint involves a debate about ensuring that the system of copyright maintains (or restores, or whatever) its place as a system to encourage the creation of new ideas – encouragement in the form of monetary compensation for valuable ideas. I disagree with the notion that you shouldn’t worry about getting paid and that the world should be one big happy place where you write for free – we’ve seen in history that without the possibility for proper compensation from creating new ideas, no new ideas flow.

    As an outside observer not in either industry, I can only see it from the perspective of ‘things are changing fast, but the spirit of the law is maintained with these changes’. I do however think that O’Reilly’s really got a good understanding of what is happening, and as someone who is both a forward-thinker who understand the technology AND a publisher who profits from content sales, his insights are especially important in this debate.

  30. Google Print has proved itself to me as an incredibly valuable bibliographic resource. My concern is that the underlying concept of full text indexing is being vilified along with Google’s questionable execution.

    I research very old technical handbooks. These works–and their authors—have been largely ignored by scholars. Terms like “theatrum machinarum,

  31. TunaSashimi says:

    The irony of this whole endeavour is, that, say it became a government-funded project, and searchable archives were kept or split into several locations, the possibility of piracy would increase.

    What I think the legal outcome must boil down to is the format in which the data is stored and how strictly access to it is controlled.

    The problem is, that, no matter how copyrighted material is stored, it is not impossible to engineer a protocol to reassemble the original work in its entirety, given that search results are available in the first place…

    Unless the search interface is designed very, very cleverly.

    But these mechanics are beyond the comprehension of most of the players in the legal scene, I would guess. It is scary on how little knowledge some people base their convictions and claims.

  32. Dogz says:

    Nick P: “Copy ALL, disseminate ALL” is exactly what google is doing. The only limitation (as far as I am aware) on the content they show is on a per-user basis. But I have never been barred from seeing a page in a book in response to a particular query. Maybe they exclude a few pages, but it doesn’t seem like nearly enough to avoid copyright violation.

    I am sure plenty of people do as I do: register a bunch of gmail accounts and when you reach your viewing limit of a particular book, switch to another account and continue. I used all my gmail invites for myself for this reason.

    But even if an individual user doesn’t circumvent the restrictions this way, google is still copying ALL the content and disseminating (nearly) all the content – they’re just disseminating to different users in different sessions.

    You might argue that google is just doing what libraries already do, but the point is publishers already have a working relationship with the libraries, and they often charge more for libraries precisely because they are disseminating to all (eg, journal publishers charge a lot more for library subscriptions than they do for individual subscriptions).

    All google need to do to avoid this whole storm is just ask the publishers for permission. That is exactly what Amazon did for search-inside-the-book. Google’s bleating “it’s too hard” just doesn’t wash: if you can index the library of congress you can get on the phone to a few thousand publishers, Given their reluctance to do this, one can only assume that they know most publishers will say no. So they carry on regardless, even though it is not their content.

    I find it remarkable how far google apologists are prepared to go to defend google’s arrogant “what’s good for google is good for everyone” attitude, and how they overlook the way google treats the public like we’re morons. Very redolent of another famous software company, only everyone loves to hate them.

  33. (1) Whether it is good or bad for the author is irrelevant, it is an issue of ownership.
    (2) Robots.txt is a non legally binding agreement between publishers and search engines, hardly a copyright equivalent.

    Google already acts as a publisher of tons of copyrighted information without expressed author consent (just click on the “cache” button). I believe, tin-foil hat applies, that the current method of implied-consent of indexing is not sustainable. The time will come, perhaps sooner than expected, that search engines will be legally forced to transition to opt-in technologies. Why not use robots.txt to explicitly allow, rather than disallow? It is a remarkably easy concept.

  34. Andy Crow says:

    Dear Sirs: I am writing a book abour Ida Rolf’s work Rolfing. I have been a teacher and practitioner for 36 years. This will be a very limited edition of about 50 to 100 book each year. The book will be instructural for students learning to become practitioners. I am asking permission to use your illustration of the
    open book on your web-page. This was found in Google images. I shall be most glad to put your web-site and whatever you wish in the illustration source pages. I am doing this myself with no finincial assistance and your help would be appreciated.
    Thank you, Andy Crow

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