Authors sue Google over Google Print
By Nancy Gohring, PC World.com
The Authors Guild and three other writers filed a class action suit
on Tuesday against Google Inc. over the Google Print program. The
lawsuit charges Google with massive copyright infringement.
Google Print is a beta, or test, project that allows Internet users
to search for content in books. Google is in the process of scanning
books from several libraries into the searchable database.
The Authors Guild, a society of published writers representing over
8,000 U.S. authors, charges that Google has not sought the approval
of authors to include their works in the program.
Google does allow copyright holders to exclude their books from the
program. However, traditionally, content users must have affirmative
authorization from a copyright owner to use the copyrighted material,
said Terence Ross, a partner and copyright law specialist at Gibson,
Dunn & Crutcher, a Washington, D.C., law office. "Merely saying that
if we don’t hear from you we assume it’s okay has never been accepted
by any court and I doubt it would ever be accepted," he said.
Google said in a statement responding to the lawsuit that its
activities are consistent with the fair use doctrine under U.S.
copyright law and the principles underlying copyright law. Fair use
is a concept within U.S. copyright law that allows copyright material
to be used in limited circumstances, such as quoting parts of a novel
for a book review, without the permission of the author.
When users search the Google Print database, they find a "brief
snippet of text where their search term appears," not the entire
text, Google explained in the statement.
Still, Google is copying entire works into its database. "It’s not
what’s delivered to the PC user that’s the copyright issue, it’s the
fact that they have copied the entire work in the first place," said
Ross. "I don’t see fair use."
Google also points to a paper issued by Jonathan Band, an
intellectual property lawyer, who cites potentially relevant cases.
In one, a company was allowed to make copies of images on Web sites
and offer them in smaller, lower quality form because such a format
doesn’t alleviate the need for the higher-quality originals.
Similarly, rather than erode the potential for authors to sell books,
Google argues the program will encourage sales. "This ability to
introduce millions of users to millions of titles can only expand the
market for authors’ books, which is precisely what copyright law is
intended to foster," the statement said.
Google is working with University of Michigan, Harvard University,
Stanford University, The New York Public Library and Oxford
University to scan all or part of their books into the Google Print
The lawsuit was filed in a New York federal court. The three writers
named in the suit in addition to the Authors Guild are Herbert
Mitgang, a former New York Times writer and book author, Betty Miles,
a children’s book author and Daniel Hoffman, a poet and author.http://www.macworld.com/news/2005/09/21/googleprint/index.php=
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