Shocking: Making All The Google Print Facts Clear Really Does Make a Difference

So many people (including, unfortunately, myself
at times) have misreported precisely what Google Print does with books
not in the Publisher Program.  When people know what the Authors
Guild is really claiming, I’d bet many of the most sincere copyright
maximalists/neoclassicists/physical-property-equivalence-makers would
agree that Google’s in the right.

Case in point: James Delong.

“To show only the limited info described by Google would, IMHO, pretty
clearly be a fair use. So the authors must be objecting to the fact
that an entire book is being copied without permission, even if it is
then hidden in an electronic vault. But what is the objection, if only
snippets are shown? Is it a fear of Napsterization — that once the
digital copy is made it could escape into the world? Or is it simply a
naked assertion of right — “copyright law says no copying, so you must
pay me to do it, even if it would actually be in my interest to have
snippets made available.”” (emphasis added)

Well put, James.  He ultimately believes that “Google might well
win a decision” because their intermediate copying reduces transaction
costs. I’m not sure I agree on that narrow view of the fair use
interest, but I think I share his basic sentiment.  This isn’t
about Napsterization, this isn’t about “copyright nihilism” – it’s a case of copyright holders’ overreaching in ways that go against the public’s interests.

See also, EFF’s press release today, pointing to Jonathan Band’s informative legal analysis.

5 Responses to “Shocking: Making All The Google Print Facts Clear Really Does Make a Difference”

  1. Seth Finkelstein
    September 22nd, 2005 | 8:41 pm

    Oh boy … talk about strange alliance. But, regarding:

    “Or is it simply a naked assertion of right — “copyright law says no copying, so you must pay me to do it, even if it would actually be in my interest to have snippets made available.”” (emphasis added)”

    Almost. Copyright law says THE COPYRIGHT OWNER gets to decide what would serve its business interest. So, even if other people say Google’s project would be in the publisher’s interest, even if it’s a dumb, wrong-headed, anti-innovation view of their interest, it is their decision to make, according to the law.

    Google is using the libraries in order to leverage itself into book world. It’s not an entirely irrational reaction, in a strictly business sense, for publishers to deploy monopoly rights against it.

  2. Steve Karmazenuk
    September 23rd, 2005 | 3:52 pm
  3. Seth Hall
    September 23rd, 2005 | 9:14 pm

    Funny, I just used Google Print today, browsed around at random, and ended up buying 12 books from Amazon that I hadn’t even known existed before.

    Publishers should be happy about this, once they take a moment to understand it.

  4. Ravi Krishna
    September 27th, 2005 | 5:26 pm

    The issue here isn’t as much as whether google is doing good or not, but about the burden of copyright ownership. Google wants authors to opt out rather than asking them whether google should opt in – this is ridiculous. So what google says to everyone around the world is, that its fine for you to copy my work unless I explicitly find you out and tell you NOT to. Today google starts the trend, tomorrow hundreds of others will start the trend – who will really protect copyright then?

    Google knows how to create controversies very easily and use it to their advantage for publicity. If instead of asking authors to opt out, had they simply advertized that they would only scan those books for which authors sent their consent to, well, by now they did have more books to scan then they could handle.

    Anyone worth his money will know that getting listed in google is a big thing – it amuses me that instead of having a friendly approach, google wants to bully its views around.

  5. Stanford
    September 28th, 2005 | 6:35 pm

    Anyway,Google is quietly staging a real cultural revolution,in a very hidden,tricky and possibly highly unpredictable way!