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Explaining the Google Print Library Project
Friday, November 04 2005 @ 10:44 AM EST

You may be aware of the firestorm of protest from authors and publishers, including two lawsuits, over Google's new Print Library Project. Here are some allegations in "Reining in Google" by Pat Schroeder and Bob Barr:
Internet behemoth Google, plans to launch their Library project in November. It plans to scan the entire contents of the Stanford, Harvard and University of Michigan libraries and make what it calls "snippets" of the works available online, for free.

The creators and owners of these copyrighted works will not be compensated, nor has Google defined what a "snippet" is: a paragraph? A page? A chapter? A whole book? Meanwhile Google will gain a huge new revenue stream by selling ad space on library search results. Selling ads on its search engine is how Google makes 99 percent of its billions.

Not only is Google trying to rewrite copyright law, it is also crushing creativity. If publishers and authors have to spend all their time policing Google for works they have already written, it is hard to create more. Our laws say if you wish to copy someone's work, you must get their permission. Google wants to trash that.

Because I wrote an article for LWN in September about this project and the Author's Guild lawsuit against Google, I know that those accusations are not factually true. For that reason, I decided to republish the information here, because it explains how this project really works and what the legal arguments are on both sides. Google Print Library does not work at all the way it is described by Ms. Schroeder and Mr. Barr, as you will see. While there are arguments to be made on both sides, it is vital in any discussion to be accurate on the facts. So with that goal in mind, here is the result of my research on how Google Print Library really works.


The Author's Guild Sues Google
Lawyers, like the rest of us, are reacting with great interest and some passion to the Author's Guild's copyright infringement lawsuit against Google over its new Google Print Library Project, by which Google plans to scan books from the libraries of Harvard, Stanford, Oxford, the University of Michigan, and the New York Public Library and make them searchable by keyword. Google describes the project's goals like this:

The Library Project's aim is simple: make it easier to find relevant books. We hope to guide users to books — specifically books they might not be able to find any other way — all while carefully respecting authors' and publishers' copyrights. Our ultimate goal is to work with publishers and libraries to create a comprehensive, searchable, next-generation card catalog of all books in all languages that helps users discover new books and publishers find new readers.

The Author's Guild describes it differently. To them, it's massive copyright infringement, pure and simple. The lawyers are trying to figure out who is right and which side is more likely to prevail, to the extent anyone can predict a fair use case, but there are bigger issues raised by this litigation. Here's the complaint [PDF] and Google's public statement in response. If you'd like to follow the lawyers' discussions, here are some places where you can do so: Susan Crawford's blog, William Patry's The Patry Copyright Blog, and Eric Goldman's Technology and Marketing Law Blog, and here's Andrew Raff's excellent collection of attorney reactions on IPTAblog. You might enjoy reading Tim Bray's thoughtful take on the lawsuit, looking at it from a publisher's point of view.

How Google Print Library Works

What exactly is Google doing with Google Print? First, what *isn't* it doing? It isn't making copyrighted books available cover to cover against anyone's will. There are three parts to Google Print. One, Google makes books available in their entirety only when the books are in the public domain, like Project Gutenberg has done for years. Second, when publishers or authors agree, it makes sections available, the page the keyword appears on and a few pages on either side, but that is a separate facet of the project, the Google Print Publisher Program. The one the Author's Guild is fighting over is the third part, Google's Print Library Program, and for that Google will show only a few sentences on both sides of the keyword searched for, and not necessarily complete sentences. You never see a full page, let alone an entire book. You will also find bibliographic information and where you can find related information on the web. In all cases, you will also be directed to nearby libraries and bookstores where the book is available for purchase or loan, including second-hand bookstores for out-of-print books.

Screenshots of the three different offerings can be viewed here. And Google's Common Questions about the Google Print Library Project says that Google Print is "designed to help you discover books, not read them from start to finish. It's like going to a bookstore and browsing – only with a Google twist."

Google's Side

The legal arguments basically go like this. On the Google side, the clearest arguments are presented by EFF's Jason Schultz, who explains the four fair use tests, Jonathan Band's paper, "The Google Print Library Project: A Copyright Analysis" [PDF], and Susan Crawford on her blog, all of whom essentially say that copying entire books in order to make a digital keyword-based catalogue is transformative and is fair use. Google isn't copying more than is necessary, they argue, because you can't search for keywords unless you have the whole book available. And anyway, where's the harm to the market? They cite the Kelly v. Arriba Soft case [PDF], in which the defendant made thumbnails of other people's photos available online in response to search requests, with links to the original works, if anyone wanted to purchase them. Arriba's use was ruled fair use, despite the fact that not only was an entire copy of the original made, a smaller version of it, in its entirety, was made available to the public. Google is only showing a sentence or two, not the entire book, for works where the author hasn't given approval to show more. If Arriba is fair use, why isn't Google Print's Library Project also?

If you wrote an article for a magazine and quoted a sentence or two, likely no one would complain, because it's so obviously fair use, so why is it a problem for Google to do the same thing with books? And what is the difference between Google collecting the world's content made available on the Internet so as to make it searchable and collecting keywords from the world's books? Copyright holders can opt out. If Google Print violates copyright law, why doesn't Google, period?

A common theme on both sides of the argument goes like this: Google has had a fantastic idea, one that can benefit the human race, and almost everyone hopes there is a way for them to do this. It's just a question of how to do it right. Google is shouldering the expense and effort of making a library card catalogue, so to speak, of the world's knowledge and offering it free to the world. Can anyone *not* want that to happen?

Authors should want to be included so they can be found. The world does its research now predominantly online, and authors, particularly authors whose works aren't selling like hot cakes, have everything to gain from being included in Google Print.

Author's Guild's Side

On the Author's Guild side is the argument that authors have the right to decide when others may or may not copy their works. It's different with Google making the web's content available, because a license can be inferred when someone puts content on the web and doesn't take steps to ban Google and other search engines with a robots.txt file. There is no equivalent implied permission from the authors of these books.

Copyright law gives copyright holders the right to make copies, period, and no one else can do so without permission. Libraries don't own the copyrights to these works, so they can't give permission, it is argued. Google will violate copyright law, no matter how little it shows the world, because it will make copies and store them on its servers. The onus is on Google to contact all the authors and publishers and get permissions, one by one, they say. If that is so onerous and costly that Google Print Library can't happen, so be it. The law is the law. This side cites the MP3 decision [PDF].

We might wish it could happen, some on that side say, but copyright law is what it is, so it can't. Some even predict that this litigation will shut down search engines like Google's. A few hope that happens. Some of the complaints about Google Print seem more emotional than based on fact. One comment on Boing Boing by a publisher is particularly interesting:

Google Print for Libraries has two pretty major flaws. One being giving a digital copy of all of our works to the participating libraries where they will then most likely be used in e-course reserves without any compensation to either author or publisher. University Libraries have an awful track record at compensating for e-course reserves and post our content frequently without any restrictions or security.

The second being Google will be profiting (through GoogleAds) on this content again without compensating the authors or publishers. Fair use should exclude commercial use. Even Creative Commons licenses (which I grant to my flikr account) gives you that option.

If we expect the production of good scholarship to be a viable, it has to be paid for somehow.

A little more accurate information may help calm these fears. First, fair use doesn't exclude commercial use. I can write a parody, for example, of your book, even if you don't want me to, and I can sell my parody. Second, take a look at the terms of the Google-University of Michigan agreement [PDF], which is available on the university's website, and you will see that Google has bound the University, and any of its partners, to limitations on access and use. Further, should there ever be a dispute between an author and Google about including a work, the work can be removed by Google, and the University must then follow suit. Authors can always opt out.

What about the allegation that Google will make money from this project from ads? Google says there won't be any ads on the books scanned from a library. This is important, because the Complaint specifically alleges that Google will be profiting by ads: "4. Google has announced plans to reproduce the Works for use on its website in order to attract visitors to its web site and generate advertising revenue thereby." As for the links to bookstores, Google says that the links they will provide will not be "paid for by those sites, nor does Google or any library benefit if you buy something from one of these retailers." Clause 4.3 of the agreement says that the service will be provided "at no direct cost to end users".

While the Author's Guild makes much of Google allegedly profiting off of their work, a strong argument can be made that it's the other way around, since Google is providing a new way for readers to discover their members' books, even those on the deep, deep backlist, as you can see in this example.

Are There Problems with the Complaint?

Then there are some attorneys already pointing out flaws, procedural defects, they believe they see in the Author's Guild complaint. It is supposedly a class action, but some see a problem with class certification. The complaint defines the class as all persons or entities that hold the copyright to a literary work that is contained in the library of the University of Michigan. Class action lawsuits are supposed to represent the group the few who are named allegedly represent, but Lawrence Solum, who is an author, a member of the plaintiff class in the sense that he has several works in the University of Michigan's library, opposes the lawsuit and says he will be harmed if the Author's Guild prevails:

I have a very strong objective interest in Google Print succeeding -- because as a scholar, I benefit from the dissemination of my works and because reaching agreement with Google will be costly to me and Google, essentially killing the project. A substantial intraclass conflict of interest destroys "adequacy of representation," making class certification inappropriate, both under the federal rules of civil procedure and under the due process clause of the fifth amendment of the U.S. Constitution. . . . Pro-bono representation for intervenors opposing certification, anyone?"

Is it Copying That Causes Harm, or Distribution?

Think about brick and mortar libraries. Suppose I were a librarian. I want to catalogue every book in my library and do it by keyword, so readers can come to the library and look up information by keywords on index cards that I laboriously file alphabetically in file cabinets. Each keyword will show you where in that library you can find a book that uses that keyword, with the page given, and additionally tells you where, in nearby bookstores, you can buy the book.

Would my painstaking work be a copyright offense? It's laughable to even think of it. Now, suppose I take all my index cards, and I laboriously hand type them into a computer. I have a computer database now, listing every keyword. Now have I violated copyright? Again, it doesn't pass the laugh test, does it?

But what if I realize that instead of the hand method, all I have to do is scan in the whole book and then pick out keywords by algorithm. Now am I a copyright infringer? If so, why? On the technicality that I had to scan in the whole book, thus making a copy, in order to break it down into keywords for my card catalogue of my library's contents? Purists for the law will say, Yes. You are an infringer, because you made a copy.

And they are right. You did. But exactly who is harmed by this scenario? The end result is exactly the same, whether I do the work by hand or by computer, except that Google deliberately limits how much I can see, whereas in the library, the keyword would lead me to the entire book, which presumably I could borrow, take home and scan or Xerox myself, if I don't care about copyright. If the copy merely stays on Google's servers, used only for making a digital card catalogue, in what way is the author or the publisher harmed? Have they lost any sales? Google isn't displaying the works in their entirety on its website, as the Author's Guild seems to imagine. It isn't selling the books or offering them for download. It is offering a tool to search books. Where is the harm to the market? Libraries have special rights under Copyright Law. Why shouldn't this project?

The Big Picture Questions

For those of us who are not lawyers, our dominant reaction to this lawsuit is probably that if Google Print Library violates copyright law, somebody needs to change the law. This litigation raises some important questions: What is a library in the digital age? What is a book? Is Google Print going to do away with books as containers of knowledge, replaced by searchable databases? What about this litigation's effect on copyright law in the US? Is it possible, as one comment on the Conglomerate blog suggests, that if it wins, "Google may be planting the seeds of the destruction of copyright as we know it"?

Computers are, under current law, the ultimate infringers, in the sense that you can't read anything on a computer without making a copy in RAM. There is, in short, no way to avoid making a copy, if you access at all. It's the gotcha of copyright law in the digital age, and at some point, some say, we need to think about that issue and decide what to do about it. If you want the hairs on your head to stand straight up, note the lack of comprehension of the tech involved in using a computer by reading the MAI SYSTEMS CORP. v. PEAK COMPUTER, INC., 991 F.2d 511 (9th Cir. 1993) decision: "After reviewing the record, we find no specific facts . . . which indicate that the copy created in the RAM is not fixed."

Susan Crawford explains:

All computers do is copy. Copyright law has this idea of strict liability -- no matter what your intent is, if you make a copy without authorization, you're an infringer. So computers are natural-born automatic infringers. Copyright law and computers are always running into conflict -- we really need to rewrite copyright law.

Ernest Miller and Joan Feigenbaum, in their very interesting paper "Taking the Copy out of Copyright" [PDF], suggest that we drop the copy from copyright law and focus on distribution instead. After all, it's distribution that harms authors and publishers, not copies on a Google server no one can see or access but Google.

We watched Napster get hogtied, killed, cremated and scattered to the winds, and most of us were sad that the law was trying to snuff out a great new idea because the courts seemed not to grasp the tech and the real potential for businesses founded on this new technology. But the world's books? Should the law block a new way to research and find books on any topic any human has ever written about, granularized down and searchable by keyword, a way to to find specific books by keyword in the finest libraries in the world, without having to travel there physically?

Larry Lessig puts it like this:

Google Print could be the most important contribution to the spread of knowledge since Jefferson dreamed of national libraries. It is an astonishing opportunity to revive our cultural past, and make it accessible. . . . Google wants to do nothing more to 20,000,000 books than it does to the Internet: it wants to index them, and it offers anyone in the index the right to opt out. If it is illegal to do that with 20,000,000 books, then why is it legal to do it with the Internet? The "authors'" claims, if true, mean Google itself is illegal. Common sense, or better, commons sense, revolts at the idea. And so too should you.

The Author's Guild has only 8,000 members. I say only, because Groklaw has more members than that. The value to the public of Google's Print Library collection so far outweighs the value of one book to one author or even 8,000 books to 8,000 authors, that it is hard to comprehend how any law could be permitted that could allow such a result as shutting down Google on the demand of those 8,000 authors. Have we gone stark raving mad?

Copyright law is designed to protect authors, yes, but it is supposed to do so in a balance with the public good. Copyright law's purpose is to further the public good by promoting more works of authorship, so as to make knowledge available. When did that part of the law's purpose get forgotten? Protecting authors' rights is a means to the end of making knowledge more freely available, which is exactly what Google is trying to do.


Explaining the Google Print Library Project | 277 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Microsoft does it too
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 04 2005 @ 11:19 AM EST
"US software giant Microsoft Corp has forged a 'strategic partnership' to digitise 25 mln pages of content from the British Library in London, the Financial Times reported, citing Microsoft managing director Alistair Baker. "

Read more at , here.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Excellent commentary available on
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 04 2005 @ 11:32 AM EST
There is also an excellent commentary written by Nick Schulz available on called "Don't Fear Google".

Don't Fear Google

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off Topic Here
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 04 2005 @ 11:32 AM EST

[ Reply to This | # ]

Question about class actions
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 04 2005 @ 11:36 AM EST
One of the points in the article is that some members of the supposed class, may
not agree with the class action.

In PJ's article this is described as a problem with the author's guild case.

My question: Is it really that unusual? And is it really a problem?

My point is if a person has ever been a supposed member of a class in class
action, what if you didn't want to be one?

My example is this:

1. Look for any listed company that restated its financial results.

2. After a restatement, there is quite often a class action filed against the
company, on behalf of stock holders, or stock holders who traded during a
certain period.

3. Now go check the stock discussion board for that company after such a class
action is filed.

4. It is not inconceivable that you may see (of course it will differ in
different cases - but I have seen comments like this on various stock boards),
some stock holders, complaining about the class action. For example, they might
say they are opposed to the class action for reasons such as (for example)

(i) Class action money goes to lawyers

(ii) Class actions increase the company's insurance premiums

(iii) If the class action is won or settled, they will receive a payment, but as
the payment comes from either the company or the company's insurance (the latter
of which is financed by the company's premiums), they are essentially paying
themselves (because as stock holders they own the company anyway), except giving
a slice to lawyers.

Anyway, the point is, it isn't inconceivable for some qualifying stock holders
to be opposed to a class action, perhaps even in some cases a majority of stock
holders (how would one know?), but I've never yet seen this as a reason why such
class actions are halted.

I might add, the class action idea does strike me as somewhat WIERD (effectively
you can have a lawyer representing you, as a member of a class, even if though
you've never (personally) requested such representation, didn't want it, and
didn't want the lawyer proceeding in a particular way).

But WIERDness aside, why is the author's guild class (at least one of whose
members apparently opposed to the action), represented as being a particular
problem with this case (as opposed to being a general problem with many class

[ Reply to This | # ]

The fairest of Fair Use, I think.
Authored by: OmniGeek on Friday, November 04 2005 @ 11:38 AM EST
If *this* project isn't *the* archetypal Fair Use of copyrighted material (the
terms scholarship, criticism and education come to mind, let alone the obvious
benefits to authors and publishers), then the Fair Use clause of U.S. copyright
law is well and truly dead, and it's either time to reform the law into
something sensible, or move to somewhere that still/already has sensible
copyright laws. (Come to think of it, perhaps Google should acquire Sealand or
lease Monaco for just this purpose?)

IMHO, recent events demonstrate that the Internet is such a disruptive
technology that we must expect a serious and extended period of falling
applecarts, accompanied by the battle cries of the proprietors of obsoleted
business models. Interesting times, if uncomfortable ones...

My strength is as the strength of ten men, for I am wired to the eyeballs on

[ Reply to This | # ]

Explaining the Google Print Library Project
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 04 2005 @ 12:03 PM EST
If both Microsoft and Google are interested, then they feel that there is a LOT
of money to be made selling information.

What is more of a concern over a long period of time is the "control"
of information. If Microsoft or Google creates a huge database of information
that they initially provide cheaply to the public, it quickly hooks people into
making an "exhaustive" search of of their database, rather than to
pursue other ways of finding information. Once the public has been hooked into
this process, it then becomes rather easy for the information provider to filter
the information, or charge a significant price for it. And once one company has
the database, it becomes very difficult for another group to create a competing

Microsoft does things to preserve a monopoly. If they feel that this service
assists their long term control of computer services, we need to look for ways
that this will create a long term intrusion into our lives.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Google Print is more pro copyright then not
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 04 2005 @ 12:14 PM EST
For instance it mostly links to copyrighted versions of texts that also have a
copyright free version in the public domain

[ Reply to This | # ]

They are foolish
Authored by: GLJason on Friday, November 04 2005 @ 12:18 PM EST
The year Napster started business, the recording industry saw a 20 percent jump in CD sales and had their most profitable year ever. After the lawsuits started and they shut napster down, sales dropped 20 percent, and they blamed Napster! It takes only the most basic logic skills to see the problem with that.

Google is going to make the books searchable and show snippets online. They are going to make money by selling ads with the results. Any bet on what most of the ads will be for? I'm thinking for online booksellers where the people doing the search will be able to buy the book! I think it would be a safe bet that book sales will increase when Google launches this. The only reason I can see for the animosity of the authors is that they are afraid of technology and overprotective of their works. Maybe they also don't want people to see their crappy writing before shelling out money for a book.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Explaining the Google Print Library Project
Authored by: blacklight on Friday, November 04 2005 @ 12:56 PM EST
The Author's Guild is definitely a pain in the neck. If the Author's Guild wants
to sue Goggle, then I hope that Google wins on fair use, as it should. And I
wouldn't mind Google blacklisting every single member of the Author's Guild from
the Print Library Project as an object lesson.

Most of us learned the hard way that treasure buried in the ground is useless as
a way to manage money: money is useful if it is put to work as gift, loan,
investment or even as an expenditure. Money is useless when it does the
"Sleeping Beauty" routine.

Likewise, books are useless when they are not circulated and they do nothing but
sit on their authors' shelves. The members of the Author's Guild don't want in
circulation their pathetic books that no one ever reads: fine! Let's cut their
throats by giving them what they want. If they want to participate in the Print
Library Project, let's make them beg for it - repeatedly and publicly.

SCOG, pro-patent fanatics and now the Author's Guild: we never seem to run out
of Luddites around here.

Know your enemies well, because that's the only way you are going to defeat
them. And know your friends even better, just in case they become your enemies.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Flawed idea
Authored by: The Cornishman on Friday, November 04 2005 @ 01:16 PM EST
I will let others who know more about copyright law than I do debate the rights and wrongs from that point of view. I just want to present a dictum which I learned (or maybe I coined it, who knows?) as an information scientist many years ago:
The words in a document do not of themselves tell you what the document is about
What makes Google so useful is not that it can find me 2.18 million hits for 'sleep deprivation' but that it puts at the top. It does this by exploiting the intelligence that HUMANS have put into linking pages together; that's the beauty of the page-rank algorithm, and before that of Science Citation Index.

Consider for a moment whether a Google Print Library containing all the novels of the world could usefully be used to find storylines that overlap with that daft patent claim PJ wrote of earlier? I don't think so. You could find all the novels with the words 'sleep' and 'memory' and 'forget' and 'remember' and it would be no use to you at all. Meaning exists in semantic structures more complex than words - even being able to do proximity searches is nothing like as useful as human abstracting and indexing.

I don't really know what Google Print Library will be useful for, but I'll be pleased to be enlightened.

(c) assigned to PJ

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Flawed idea - Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 04 2005 @ 02:59 PM EST
  • Flawed idea - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 07 2005 @ 05:33 AM EST
Explaining the Google Print Library Project
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 04 2005 @ 01:31 PM EST
Google has made a very serious mistake in procedure.

Given that all books in any one library can not be instantly scanned and that
scanning will take several years and that this is a new concept what Google
should have done is announced that Google was scanning all books in the
prospective libraries before say 1700 and then scan that lot. Afterwards, which
would be a year or so later, announce that they were scanning all books between
1701 and 1800 which again would take a year or so. Then 1801 to say 1850
followed by 1851 to 1900. One will note that all of the above are definitely in
public domain which nwould cause no problems. After this progress to more modern
works by which times the cookies, nuts, fruitcakes et would be a little more
comfortable with the concept filling a few less law suits.

[ Reply to This | # ]

How long does copyright last? Explaining the Google Print Library Project
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 04 2005 @ 01:33 PM EST
Out of curiosity, I went digging. One author I am interested in is Eric Temple Green. If you go to, you find a number of his books listed. When I went to google print, found only one: Search for Truth. Very well, the project is new, and you can't expect them to have the world available. Eric Temple Green wrote a long time ago, and it surprised me that this item was listed as copyrighted material. Checked the copyright page, and it showed 1934. By my count, that was seventy one years ago. Did I not understand that under current copyright law, copyright was for 70 years? Or was it seventy years after the author's death? uthor:Temple+inauthor:Bell&prev= :Eric%2Binauthor:Temple%2Binauthor:Bell&pg=PP2&printsec=3&lpg=PP2&am p;sig=3F_qLpMLqcJOEk8gh1CHMqNk1r8

[ Reply to This | # ]

Explaining the Google Print Library Project
Authored by: mdchaney on Friday, November 04 2005 @ 01:51 PM EST
I think a lot of people are still confused over the publishers opposition to
something which clearly won't hurt book sales. It's the same as the MPAA's
opposition to equipment that can make home movies, or the RIAA's opposition to
equipment that can allow anyone to make recordings at home.

These organizations have spent the last (almost) century building up a business
model based on controlling publication and distribution of works. That model is
going bye bye due to the internet. Publishers print up copies of books, market
them, hype them, and sell them.

Google's going to screw that up for them by farming the "long tail".
Put another way, people can now find a book whether a publisher cares or not.
Whether they can subsequently get their hands on the book remains to be seen,
but the internet will likely make that possible.

IANAL, but I actually believe that what Google is doing might infringe
copyright. They're making copies of these books for which they don't have the
right, and storing that copy. But there is no economic damage to the authors
from this. None. There might be economic damage to the publishers due to their
business model going away, but that's going to happen, anyway.

Things are probably due to get interesting in the field of copyright soon due to
this. Google has the cash to buy as many laws, if not more, as Hollywood, the
RIAA, and the big publishers. I also believe that they're savvy enough to
figure out how to play politics quickly enough to cause even more grief for
their opponents.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The real reason that the Authors Guild is so peeved off!
Authored by: amhagp on Friday, November 04 2005 @ 01:53 PM EST
I think the real reason the Authors Guild (AG) is so peeved at Google is down to
one of those most basic of human traits....GREED. I guess the AG expected
Google to make some kind of contract with them to get some monetary benefit out
of this without them having to lift a finger and do any of the work to achieve
the goal. Anyone in their right mind can see that this can only benefit the
authors in increased sales, but no they will want the cold hard cash just from
the priviledge of someone looking for their books, as well as any sales
generated from the fact that due to the index people can actually find the book
in the first place.

Yes Google will make incidental/ancillary money out of this, but then they are
the ones doing the hard work in the first place! Is the Authors Guild prepared
to scan and index all the books in their catalogue and put up a web page...I
think not.

I think Google should exclude all Authors Guild books and then the Authors Guild
realising what a BIG mistake they have made, Google should charge them per book
to be included in their index!

Just my 2 cents (Euro-cents that is!)

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Granularity of Copyright
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 04 2005 @ 01:57 PM EST
Assume that it is violation of Copyright Law the scan the work into RAM, since
it is a copy.

Now most likely the software only scans in one portion, say a page, of the work
at a time. This could be extended down to scanning only a single word at a

So at what granularity does it cease to be copying and become just reading and
indexing a list of individual words?

IAASANAL (I Am A Software Architect Not A Lawyer)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Explaining the Google Print Library Project
Authored by: findlay on Friday, November 04 2005 @ 01:58 PM EST
PJ,what about the language found on the copyright page of nearly every book published in modern times:

All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, pr transmitted, in any form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior consent of the publisher.

Does this boilerplate language have the same efficacy and weight as a EULA for software, e.g. overzealous on the part of the content creator's legal team? I'm not disagreeing with the spirit of google's endeavor, but this language seems to condemn almost everything google is trying to do with google print.

Wir müssen wissen. Wir werden wissen.

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What about other copyrighted works?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 04 2005 @ 02:08 PM EST
If Google can legally copy any book and make snippits available. Why can't I
copy any music and make snippits available? Whay can't I copy any movie and
make snippits available? In particular, why can't I copy, say, a 60 second
snippit of Disney's Fantasia and make it available as a screen saver? Is there
some fundamental difference between a three sentence fragment from the book Gone
With the Wind and a 60 second fragment from the movie Gone With the Wind?
Wouldn't it be true by extension, that every form of media could be copied and
indexed and public access provided? If Google copies a library and makes it
available for free, and that is legal, why would it be illegal for anyone else
to link to Google's text search and supply the result surrounded by ads?

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Explaining the Google Print Library Project
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 04 2005 @ 02:22 PM EST

This will not be the end of copyright

Google will get a copyright in their 'version' of the work.
a copyright that will never expire because the 'author' never dies. A right that
google will ensure they assert because they have a responsibility to do so.

It's the same thing Disney do, only Disney steal childrens stories and wrap them
in eye pee.

Google answers to it's shareholders. If today it's not selling advertising, it's
irrelvant. As sure as eggs is eggs, tomorrow it will find a way of
"capitalising it's asset" (a massive database of google copyrighted

The directors of the company have a fiduciary responsibility to maximise
shareholder return on investment and that means ensuring that all assets are
providing a return.

Just for giggles...
Google as a prior art database for 'plot line patents' anyone?

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tinfoil hat territory
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 04 2005 @ 02:28 PM EST
Perhaps the Guild doesn't want us to find all the good books that already exist
- after all, then we wouldn't need to buy new ones.

It seems that the Guild would be disadvantaged by increased use of existing
library collections - and the resulting drop in sales of new books.

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Explaining the Google Print Library Project
Authored by: findlay on Friday, November 04 2005 @ 02:42 PM EST

The Author's Guild has only 8,000 members. I say only, because Groklaw has more members than that. The value to the public of Google's Print Library collection so far outweighs the value of one book to one author or even 8,000 books to 8,000 authors, that it is hard to comprehend how any law could be permitted that could allow such a result as shutting down Google on the demand of those 8,000 authors. Have we gone stark raving mad?

I thought the protection of individual property was one of the founding premises of the United States and that the property of an individual is protected by heavy legal doctrine and precedent. Now under this new guise property, or rather "intellectual" "property" we are so willing to claim eminent domain and dismiss the right of the few for the benefit for the many? Surely this whole matter needs to be re-thought out now that we don't really have the conveince of information or content being bound to a physical object, the main difference between real property and "intellectual" or virtual "property" being that virtual "property" has neither locality nor uniqueness. Some effects of these two attributes are that virtual "property" may be copied without diminishing the original and how can you define the original anyway if it has no locality? Although copyright and patent law do address these issues, I don't think they do it adequately and ought to be reformed or scrapped and completely rewritten, which is the reason any of us care and post on groklaw anyway. (-:

Wir müssen wissen. Wir werden wissen.

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monsters under the bed...
Authored by: Latesigner on Friday, November 04 2005 @ 03:18 PM EST
I really looks like the AG scared itself into court on this one.
I'd recommend a night-light but it's hard to get the grownups to admit that
they're frightened.

The only way to have an "ownership" society is to make slaves of the rest of us.

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Explaining the Google Print Library Project
Authored by: geoff lane on Friday, November 04 2005 @ 03:42 PM EST
Its long been my belief that the last thing that most publishers want to do is sell books. Oh, they want to sell some books to be sure, but only "bestsellers". That poor tome that only sells a hundred copies a year is doomed.

But with Google actually providing a free marketting service the same tome may sell a thousand copies a year and really mess up careful plans :-)

It is sickening that the publishers don't already do something similar.

I'm not a Windows user, consequently I'm not
afraid of receiving email from total strangers.

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The creators' dilemma
Authored by: freeio on Friday, November 04 2005 @ 04:16 PM EST
Our family business is photography, and much like the writers, the photographers and artists really do not know quite what to do with Google.  It is not so much that searchability is a bad thing, but rather the dismemberment and cataloging of everything we put on the web (or now in printed forms).  Why is this an issue?  Well, it is partly the matter of context, and the inevitability of misuse of our materials.  What we put up for promotion or sale is now displayed entirely divorced from the text.

If I do a Google search of the family business website under their images search (remember, we are photographers, so the images are our stock in trade) I get a page which looks like this.  That shows thumbnails of disembodied, out of context images from our web site, with links to every one of them, without reference to the text that supports them.  Notice that if you click on the image shown, it leads to being able to see the entire image, without the web page from which it came.  From our experience we have never been asked about purchase of use of an image, although our web logs show that a significant number of websites directly use our images in their web sites by reference.  So Google helps image users to find our images, but from what we can see, it is of no use to us to have them found.  If someone wants them, they simply link to them and use our bandwidth, or take them and and use them on their own servers, without even the courtesy of crediting us.

We are perhaps in a different situation than a writer or publisher who expects to be able to profit from large numbers of sales of a particular piece.  Most of our work is commissioned, and the commissions are how we make our living - more so than by the sale of prints.  We see no evidence that our works on the web provide leads for new work, unless the viewer is led to view the actual website, and not just the random disembodied images from it.

So are the folks at Google right or wrong?  I have no answer to that.  I will say, however, that the internal cataloging of our works is apparently of no benefit to us.  Is it a cultural advantage somehow?  If so I cannot imagine how, as it does not provide the incentive to produce new works.  After all, that is what copyright law was constitutionally supposed to do.

Note that we really have no real recourse in a legal sense, in that even though we register our copyrights, tracking down infringers is a fool's errand.  There is not enough money in it to interest real lawyers.  Most infringers have such shallow pockets that recovery is a hopeless cause, and all of this would need to be pursued in federal court in some far away city.  We have, in essence, resigned ourselves to the fact that anything we put up on the web (or publish in written form) is protected by a an absolutely toothless paper tiger.  

Tux et bona et fortuna est.

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Real reason? Publishers will get squeezed
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 04 2005 @ 04:46 PM EST
First it will be search

Then some smart author will figure out "Why do I need to pay the publisher
this big cut? I can publish through google"

In comes the new business. The author/printer/binder business.
The Google/retailer/binder/UPS,FEDEX model will take off.

You will

-Find a book online.
-Order a book online from the author
- Author places the order to the printer to be delivered by Fedex/UPS

Lot of oppurtunity for competition to squeeze margins - multiple printers
competing for print orders, mutiple payment processors willing to process
payment, ....

Publishers do provide lot of services - editing, marketing etc, so they will
still survive. But their margins and power will get squeezed.

And they know it.


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A little Schoeder history
Authored by: grouch on Friday, November 04 2005 @ 04:56 PM EST
From Pat Schroeder's New Chapter, Washington Post, Feb. 7, 2001:
And who, you might be wondering, is giving Schroeder and her publishers such afright?

Librarians, of course.

No joke. Of all the dangerous and dot-complex problems that American publishers face in the near future -- economic downturns, competition for leisure time, piracy -- perhaps the most explosive one could be libraries. Publishers and librarians are squaring off for a battle royal over the way electronic books and journals are lent out from libraries and over what constitutes fair use of written material.

Grossly oversimplified: Publishers want to charge people to read material; librarians want to give it away.

"We," says Schroeder, "have a very serious issue with librarians."

If brick and mortar libraries are scary to the Guild, a digital, online library must be Armageddon in their eyes.

-- grouch

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I am Confused
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 04 2005 @ 05:28 PM EST
How is publishing a book, with pages and covers, different from putting
something up on the web?

If you don't want anyone to read it, why is it published? Or is it simply a
matter of wanting someone to BUY it without reading it?

-- Alma

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  • I am Confused - Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, November 05 2005 @ 03:25 AM EST
Explaining the Google Print Library Project
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 04 2005 @ 06:03 PM EST
I have a friend with a "photographic memory". Is he making a copy of
a book everytime he reads it?

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A good example of web/print publishing
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 04 2005 @ 06:27 PM EST
For a look at how things *should* work in the publishing industry, look at <a

Baen puts about the first 1/4 to 1/3 of new book on-line. For free! After you
read that far, you know for sure if you want to buy. If you do not want the
paper version, you can buy an electronic version (Several formats, including
HTML) which you can download.

As I understand it, the authors like it, because more profit goes to them if the
book is sold as HTML. Baen passes the savings from electronic publishing to the

Plus, many also buy the paper version too! (Like me!)

* The authors make more money
* Readers have more information when choosing what to buy
* No DRM nonsense
* Everyone is happy

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Pat Schroeder
Authored by: LarryVance on Friday, November 04 2005 @ 06:42 PM EST
If this is the same Pat Schroeder from Colorado that was in the Congress when
when I lived there. There were some cattle guards that were eliminated from
service from the Highway department. Congressman Schroeder demanded that the
displaced cattleguards be given compensation and be given the oportunity for
retraining. It appears that she is still not able to think, assuming that this
is the same person.


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In defense of the Author's Guild (sort of)
Authored by: lisch on Friday, November 04 2005 @ 07:28 PM EST
I am a member of the Author's Guild (AG) and Groklaw. Just because I am a member
of the AG does not necessarily mean I agree with all of the actions that the
organization takes. In fact, I disagree with their current action against
Google, but I think I understand whence they come.

The AG labors hard on behalf of authors, and it has scored some notable
successes. Some forces in the publishing world work just as hard to screw
authors out of our hard-earned and well-deserved royalties. It is not surprising
that the AG sees every change as a threat to authors' livelihoods. More often
than not, the AG is correct.

I think the AG is misguided in its suit against Google, but I also think Google
has acted hastily and arrogantly, and has not tried hard enough to convince
authors, publishers, and others that their efforts are indeed in our favor. I
know several authors who have a deep distrust of Google's intentions for the
future of this project.

To those who have excoriated all members of the AG, let me ask you whether you
support all the actions of your government, and if not, would the world be fair
to castigate you individually for your government's actions? Please keep
separate the AG directors and officers from the AG membership.

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Rename the Project to "Google Concordance"
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 04 2005 @ 08:42 PM EST
Just have to rename the project to a Concordance of collected works. Looking up
key-words, and finding contextual phrases to either side of the word is how a
concordance works, and allows the reader to find the book in which the key-word
(or perhaps key-phrase) appears. This has been done for many centuries - and
NOT just for the Bible, thank you. It's been done for any number of collections
of books. This is just the most ambitious form of it to date. With the
technology available, and computers large and fast enough... why not? A good
service to the whole English speaking world.

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I'm appalled
Authored by: cmc on Friday, November 04 2005 @ 10:08 PM EST
Personally, I'm appalled at the lot of you who are in favor of Google Print.
Flat out, what they are doing is illegal. It is copyright infringement, pure
and simple. The act of copying the work in it's entirety, to place on their
servers, is copyright infringement. Some people think that it's perfectly
acceptable since they have an "opt out" clause. Yet people slam the
U.S.'s CAN-SPAM act because it is opt-out instead of opt-in. Does the music
industry have an opt-out clause saying you can freely copy their music? Of
course not. Neither do authors.

I'm not going to get into whether Google Print is a good idea or bad idea,
because to be quite honest, I don't care. What I do care about is the fact that
Google is breaking the law and no one seems to care. Rather, people are showing
great support for their illegal activity. Google Print copies the works not for
parody or satire, nor for education. They copy the works as a commercial
venture to make a profit. Period. Let's not pretend that it's for any other
reason. Everyone likes to think of Google as the great big lovable company that
can do no wrong. But I guarantee you, if they couldn't turn a profit on this,
they never would have started. Google exists for the same purpose as every
other corporation - to make money.

Let's try an exercise. Substitute the word "Microsoft" for
"Google". Would you support a Microsoft Print service (as they seem
to want to create one anyway)? If not, why not? Why would you support Google
but not Microsoft?

At the end of the day, it comes down to one thing. This is the exact type of
thing that copyrights were created to protect the authors from.

As another comment here pointed out, which the sub-commenters didn't grasp, is
where will this end? If it is ruled legal for Google to copy all literary works
it comes into contact with, why is it then illegal for private citizens or other
companies to do the same? If Google can copy the latest Harry Potter book from
a library, why can't I? And (as the other commenter pointed out), don't stop at
literary works. Why can't I copy any and all music I want, as long as I don't
distribute more than a "snippet" to others? I can build a virtually
endless music catalog legally. After all, if it's legal for Google, it's legal
for me, right?

What about movies? If I remember correctly, a law was recently passed in the
U.S. making it illegal for a person to record a movie in a cinema using a
camcorder. If Google can copy everything they see, why should someone copying a
movie be illegal as long as they don't distribute it? Suddently, downloading
music and movies is no longer a crime.

Now do you see the problem with it?


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If Google Print is so important...
Authored by: cmc on Friday, November 04 2005 @ 10:14 PM EST
If Google Print is so important and beneficial to society, then won't authors
and publishers *want* their works included? If so, why not make it an opt-in
instead of opt-out? That would satisfy the opponents because Google would then
have strict permission from the copyright holders.

So why not just make it opt-in?


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Statute of limitation?
Authored by: cmc on Friday, November 04 2005 @ 10:25 PM EST
Perhaps a lawyer or someone with more knowledge than myself can answer a
question for me: what is the statute of limitation for copyright infringement?

It seems that everyone is in favor of Google Print simply because they think it
will benefit society. I don't know the details, so I won't argue. However, I
think everyone can see that they are simply taking Google's word that they will
not use the copied works for other purposes. These people are putting their
trust in Google.

Google is a coporation like any other. Over time, their managers, board
members, etc will change, and the direction of the company may change. They may
need to "realize" and "maximize" their "assets".
That would include the works now sitting on their servers. So let's
hypothetically say that ten years from now, Google has all works ever written
stored on their servers, and decide to let people see the entire works instead
of just snippets. Google would then be distributing the authors' works without
permission. Can you agree that *that* would be copyright infringement? Since
this isn't interactive, I'll have to assume you agree on that point.

OK, so we have a hypothetical scenario in which Google is plainly guilty of
copyright infringement. So now the authors and publishers can file lawsuits
against them. But then the courts ask when the infringement occurred.
Technically, the infringement occurred when the copy was created, which would be
now (not ten years from now when this hypothetical scenario takes place).
Therefore, the statute of limitation may be well past, ensuring that the
copyright holders are left with no case, especially if they knew that Google had
copied their works and did nothing about it.

Am I wrong?


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It's bad for publishers but good for humanity
Authored by: elronxenu on Friday, November 04 2005 @ 11:11 PM EST
Google Print is bad for publishers because it opens up the "long tail" - by stimulating demand in books published 1, 5, 50, 500 years ago. Publishers hype only the newest books, and they want you to buy only the newest books, repeatedly, so they can profit from that. A publisher cannot profit from demand for a book published 5 years ago because they don't have any in the warehouse anymore and it is uneconomical to reprint it for what they see is a small demand.

This is another version of the "attention" problem. People have only a finite amount of attention to give. The internet and google have given us enormous resources to find information all around the world. So why should I visit the website of "corporation X" unless there's something in it for me?

A similar argument applies to online advertising. Why should I read your advertisement for a (holiday|mobile phone|cheap DSL) cause when I want one of those things I'll do a search, go to a website and buy it.

Getting back to Google Print, we can assume that people have a finite capacity for buying/reading books as well. By making it possible to find these older works, that will necessarily reduce demand for new works, which is not good news for publishers - unless they can streamline their processes to make it possible to reprint more books in smaller quantities.

On the other hand, this project is a disruptive technology which will benefit the human race enormously. People will use this in ways we can't predict. In 5 years time we'll be using applications we couldn't imagine today. Kudos to Google for devoting the huge resources required for a project of this magnitude. The benefit we will collectively receive far, far outweighs the harm to any individual author or publisher. Even if it turns out to be illegal under copyright law, the law only exists for the public benefit, and the public's interest is clearly best served by not only allowing the project to go ahead, but by supporting it in any way possible.

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There is a publisher doing it differently
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, November 05 2005 @ 01:00 AM EST
Baens Books which gives away free eBooks of a sizable chunk of all their books. This includes the whole "Honor Harrington" series of 16 books. Since Jim Baen started that his sales of paper books is up.
So it is not the number of free copies which count but the number of copies you sell.

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Computers Do NOT Copy!
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, November 05 2005 @ 02:11 AM EST

Technically - Scanning a document into a computer does not make an exact copy of that document. Even when the document has been OCRed, the resultant information is not a copy of the original works. Humans read letters - numbers - language. Computers read ones and zeros. So while the information is loaded into RAM - or even located on a hard drive - it is nothing more than ones and zeros (binary code). Only when the human needs to read the information does to computer translate it back into a form that the human can understand (by placing it on a screen or in print).

When the computer places the information on a screen (or prints the info), it is just arranging a series of dots on the screen. Again - the human can then read the information, but in RAM the same information is just a series of ones and zeros.

Without some form of program to translate the information, a human would have a very hard time trying to read it while it was loaded into the computer. You've got to remember that computers did not always have the kinds of human interfaces (keyboard, mouse, screens, etc) that we are familiar with today. There was a time when you would boot a computer by manually setting a series of registers on the front panel. Then you would load your program into RAM on a series of punch cards. Then once the program was loaded, it would return the answer to your program by creating another series of punch cards - that you would have to translate. The internal workings of a computer have not changed. They may be faster and have more memory and better human interfaces, but the fundamentals of how a computer works are still the same.

It's all ones and zeros.

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Thank you PJ
Authored by: ofermod on Saturday, November 05 2005 @ 03:29 AM EST
Maybe because it is late at night and I should be asleep, but as I read the
article I found myself convinced for one side, and then the other. When I got
to the good old 'laugh test' then I could understand how the two sides mix

I'm wondering why I got so worked up about a ZDNet blogger claiming
that groklaw [sic] was 'one-sided' when his entry (about SCO) was so off the
mark he must have learned to read off a cereal box.

Makes me wonder why I stopped reading LWN some time ago.

Anyway, just wanted to say thanks and keep up the good work.

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  • Thank you PJ - Authored by: PJ on Saturday, November 05 2005 @ 02:09 PM EST
Lest we forget the reason....
Authored by: PeteS on Saturday, November 05 2005 @ 09:53 AM EST
for copyright

The Constitution of the United States of America

Section 8

Clause 8: To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

Although we seem to have strayed from this (and copyright varies country to country), the reason for the exclusive rights was the public interest served by new inventions and books. It was never a one-sided agreement at all; indeed, one may find this view in The Federalist Papers

Perhaps the Author's Guild and others (The congress comes to mind) have forgotten or overlooked it.


Artificial Intelligence is no match for Natural Stupidity

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"Public good"
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, November 05 2005 @ 10:25 AM EST
The world has changed.

Now, the only relevant "public good" is a rising stock market.

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If libraries had billboards
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, November 06 2005 @ 06:48 PM EST
If a library sold add space about the library to publishers or to bookstores.
Would it be violating copyright? How is this different fro Google selling ads on
pages where it displays content from these scanned books?


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"who is harmed by this scenario?" is the wrong question
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 07 2005 @ 03:22 PM EST
Copyright holders do not have to establish that they are harmed by those who
make copies of their works. The copyright law provides for some specific amount
that copyright holders can sue for, without demonstrating economic harm. There's
a technical term for this, which I don't have on the tip of my tongue, unless
it's "statutory damages". I also don't recall if the amount is $5000
or $250,000, but it's much larger than the cost of a book at retail. I'm sure
some readers of this column can fill in the details.

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