back to article Google's 'fair use' mass slurping of books can continue – US Supremes snub writers' pleas

American authors have failed to persuade the US Supreme Court to hear issues raised by the Google book-scanning case. Described as humanity's "last library," Google's 25 million book archive was almost entirely obtained without permissions from authors and publishers, leading to an epic 11-year legal battle. The decision …

  1. Gene Cash Silver badge

    "Out of print" is a mortal sin

    Any industry that lets priceless gems like '50s-'60s Asimov or Arthur Clarke go out-of-print and unable to be bought at any cost can just plain go f*ck itself.

    I'm usually against Google land-grabs, but as a reader, I certainly back this one.

    1. Oengus

      Re: "Out of print" is a mortal sin

      The only thing is that authors should be able to opt-out.

      Google should honour the authors request to not be included in the catalogue.

      1. a_yank_lurker

        Re: "Out of print" is a mortal sin

        The problem is that very works in any genre have any significant sales or interest after the first 3 to 7 years after release. Books, etc. have been going "out of print" regularly after that period. However the copyright law ignores the market reality, most works have a very limited "shelf-life" after which there is no real market.

        1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: Re: "Out of print" is a mortal sin

          "However the copyright law ignores the market reality, most works have a very limited "shelf-life" after which there is no real market."

          Not true in the book world. The sums may be small, but earning potential persists for years and decades. Most books we read are not hot off the presses. The internet has made discovering old works easier, and lowered the cost of warehousing them. So their value should go up, not down.

          In any case,the "law" is what it is. Producers and technology couldn't come together to create a market in this case.

          I don't think you really understand where the commercial value of Google Books should be: a Spotify for research, with all kinds of bundles and deals on offer ranging from free grazing to metered access.

          I use libraries a lot for research, and would happily have handed over a lot of money by now. GB is little more use than a card index.

          1. David 164

            Re: "Out of print" is a mortal sin

            For the publishers, who have spent decades making sure they lost track of the owners of copyrights so they didn't have to pay out to the authors or their inheritors any money they were rightly owed.

            1. msknight

              Re: "Out of print" is a mortal sin

              As an author, I think it is disgraceful that Google can do whatever they want with my works and not pay me a penny.

              As such, there is no framework that says, if Google serves my content to a reader, and displays adverts around it... that any portion of that advertising earnings come back to me.

              Even at the best, anything might go in to a central pot... and we all know what happens to those, don't we, Amazon!

              Pirates know they are pirating, but people using a, "legit," service like Google, will likely trust that background things exist to ensure that the creator of the content is getting, "something." ... so Google's actions basically come down to being legalised profiting from piracy, in my book... literally.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: "Out of print" is a mortal sin

                I agree that people should not steal, pass off or copy other peoples work.

                However, can we be so quick when no doubt we have been inspired by others around us? No doubt if anyone went around with a fine tooth comb they could find any book (or other media) with a bit of borrowed or influenced content they can shout copyright infringement over.

                That's not hyperbole, just check out Youtube and see how it is really hard for anyone to create content that will not get a DMCA claim. Then go through any other film, show, documentary and see if nothing at all has influence from others.

                I agree Google should not display this content without permission, but archiving and allowing search/data analysis of it seems a valuable thing to do.

              2. johnny raindrop

                Re: "Out of print" is a mortal sin

                "As an author, I think it is disgraceful that Google can do whatever they want with my works and not pay me a penny."

                Yes. People should only be able to look at the cover of your book before buying it. No sense in letting any freeloaders see what you wrote.

          2. a_yank_lurker

            Re: "Out of print" is a mortal sin

            The issue is not that some have a bigger sales tail but that except for a few classics books, etc. go "out-of-print". Take all the books written before 1975 (an arbitrary year), now go find how many are still in print from say 1900 (another arbitrary year). The percentage will be very small as there are only a few works consider important or classic enough to remain in print.

            What most forget is a very high percentage in any genre is forgettable and while it may some commercial success it will be forgotten very quickly.

      2. Code For Broke

        Re: "Out of print" is a mortal sin

        I think the opt-out for most thing these days is simply not to publish. Be it the novel that culminates your entire gift for writing, or your various predilections in the input box of a search engine.

  2. bazza Silver badge

    All I know is that there are certain technical books that cost a lot of money as bound paper that you can now effectively read (meaning you can read the bit you're looking for, not the whole thing) for free on Google Books. Great for the reader, but it's probably the end of organised scholarly textbook writing, as there'll be no money in it for the author.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      "effectively read (meaning you can read the bit you're looking for, not the whole thing) for free"

      Well if there are only three pages worth reading in the entire book and they happen to come one after the other, then perhaps the book wasn't all that good in the first place.

      Alternatively, perhaps you actually *would* be tempted to buy the rest of the book if only it wasn't so expensive. In that case, is it not reasonably to argue that Google are making it possible to sell the book at a lower price by making it easier for readers to find that, yes, this probably is a book they are interested in.

      I've certainly bought books after reading tasters and snippets online. I've also browsed books in a real bookshop. I don't see much difference. It certainly seems at least a likely to reward authors as putting books in public libraries and paying authors some fraction of a penny each time their book is borrowed. (I've bought books after borrowing them from the library, too, which presumably paid the author and publisher an order of magnitude or two more than simply having the book in the library.)

      Lastly, I think the ability of almost anyone to self-publish on the interwebs probably does as much to kill organised scholarly textbook writing. There's some great stuff out there on way out subjects, written by people who apparently do it for the pure joy of getting their *own* heads round the subject matter. The world is changing. Google is actually quite late to the party and is only picking at the left-overs. In this case, the left-overs are "anything from the past five centuries that still seems interesting, which to be honest is less than you might think".

      1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

        What's missing from Google Books is the middle ground: between "free grazing a couple of pages" and "buying the entire damn book". There's a lot of opportunity for authors and publishers to profit from that. And a lot of scope for innovation in how it's marketed and presented.

        It didn't happen and probably never will.

        "anyone to self-publish on the interwebs probably does as much to kill organised scholarly textbook writing"

        Erm. Wikipedia has worked out so well!

        1. Ian Michael Gumby

          @Andrew O.

          So you're saying its ok for Google to steal their works and then when the authors are found, they have 48 hours to decide if they want to OPT-OUT or take whatever deal Google has cocked up?

          That's like saying I picked your pocket and stole your wallet. Now you want it back, I'll give it back to you if you agree 1) not to press charges for my theft and 2) Give me the cash so that you get your credit cards back...

          In other words, they steal the book, demand rights over their stolen work, and then dictate what they think the value is that they should pay you the author.

    2. a_yank_lurker

      Academic texts are not a major income source for most. Most authors have a professional or academic position for their primary income.

      1. Code For Broke

        Yes. The third vacation home kept by the average tenured professor does not usually cost as much as the first one, so they don't need to make quite as much money on the book publishing bit.

    3. tom dial Silver badge

      This might or might not be true of technical books as a group, but probably is untrue of textbooks, a great many of which are derivative, redundant with other textbooks, and sold mainly to the authors' students or at least students in the schools where the authors teach. I'm not claiming that's wrong, as I have accumulated several such textbooks that I thought at the time were pretty good, one of which I used in galley proof and helped correct. For most of them, though, the main royalty issue for the authors would have been former students selling them on as used books, something I understand some authors handle by issuing revisions every few years and requiring the current revision.

    4. DropBear

      Absolutely. And home taping is killing the music industry! To the pitchforks, people!!!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That D*mned Mouse

    How long before this decision influences the digital availability of music and videos (including that d*mned mouse)?

  4. John Lilburne

    Years ago Google books wasn't simply snippets it was huge great chunks. It was only after the lawsuite that they started to tone it down to snippets. I predict that they'll go the same way as Images search which started out as thumbs that linked to the website, to what we have now where they are displaying great big downloadable images where the link to the creators site is hard to find. And least any one thinks I'm picking on Google, Bing is just as bad.

    1. That_Guy

      What's hard about a giant button labelled "view site"?

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Exactly, the "View Site" button is the same size, prominence and right next to the "View Image" button and in some cases, clicking the "View Image" button still takes you to the site anyway thanks to some jiggery-pokery on the source website.

  5. Mikel

    Only 11 years

    To find the blatantly obvious. See? The system works.

  6. David 164

    Now Google has won

    Now google has won the court case, the project it will probably get renew it investment and interest from Google, I wouldn't be surprise if in the next couple of years we the catalogue greatly enhance. Before now any money google spent could have been pouring money down the drain.

    1. irwincur

      Re: Now Google has won

      And once complete, Google will shut it down...

      1. Alan Newbury

        Re: Now Google has won

        And, one by one, the stars will go out.

        1. BebopWeBop

          Re: Now Google has won


          Depends which sci fi they have digitised :-)

      2. David 164

        Re: Now Google has won

        Why would they shut something down which they can use to enhance some of there most important research such as AI and translations software?

        1. Gordon 10

          Re: Now Google has won

          Because Google are notorious about shutting down their pet projects when they lose interest or when they dont get enough uptake for it to be commercially viable (ie sell ads). I have sympathy with the latter as they are a business but less with the former as they are not ADD children.

  7. Sebastian A

    I simply do not understand copyright anymore.

    On the one hand we have Google, which to me (the untrained spectator) looks like it's bulk-stealing books from everyone and everything that has ever written anything. And the Supreme court says that's fine.

    Then on the other hand if I download a single movie or MP3, I can be sued into financial oblivion for somehow destroying hundreds if not thousands of livelihoods.

    What am I missing here 'cos there's obviously something I'm not seeing.

    1. Trigonoceps occipitalis

      Re: I simply do not understand copyright anymore.


      What you are missing is that Google has more (much, much more - so much more) money than you. Sorry if that is a surprise.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I simply do not understand copyright anymore.

      What you are missing is the content being stolen.

      You: An artist's song which is available for sale in digital format.

      Google: An out of print book where they may or may not be able to find the author.

      Google goes ahead and copies the book, arguing that they are serving both the author by making his work available to a larger audience and may find a way to pay him pennies on the dollar with or without his approval. (Authors had the ability to opt out if they knew that Google was stealing their work.

      You see, big difference. You're a thief. Google... Robin Hood until you figure out that there's money in the data that google gets from you for searching and reading the print, and the potential ad revenue that will eventually go beyond the costs of setting this scam up.

      Got it?

      1. Adam 52 Silver badge

        Re: I simply do not understand copyright anymore.

        "Google: An out of print book where they may or may not be able to find the author"

        The two books I read yesterday on Google Books were still available to buy on Amazon and the author was very much alive when I saw him last month.

        1. Ian Michael Gumby

          @Adam Re: I simply do not understand copyright anymore.

          I think you need to take a step back and remember the history of this...

          That book you saw at Amazon. Was it a new copy or a Used Copy and out of print?

          And even if the author is alive and well, that doesn't mean that Google was able to find him and to ask him for his permission. Or if the author is dead, the estate who owns the copyright. Or the publisher could have gone out of business and they couldn't provide the records. ...

          Lots of reasons why Google, the world's largest search engine who knows everyone on the web couldn't reasonably find the author... (note the sarcasm)

          The point is that Google is stealing the works and then setting the payments they would pay the author if he didn't opt-out.

      2. John Lilburne

        Re: I simply do not understand copyright anymore.

        I don't think there is a single instance of Google paying someone for the content they've taken. In fact there is a lawsuit outstanding where they have used works on Google Play that they haven't got licenses for, and where there is tandard process of making payments even if they can't find the songwriters. Instead they've just used the works and sit back until someone complains.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I simply do not understand copyright anymore.

      Copyright is for consumers, not corporations.

      Here's an iTunes voucher, now shut up pleb.

    4. irwincur

      Re: I simply do not understand copyright anymore.

      Simple, Google is friends with someone called Obama and invested a lot of time, money, and people getting him hired. It has really worked to their advantage and was a great investment. One just has to look at how their original FCC discussions were quickly and silently swept under the rug.

  8. Mark 85

    Hmm.... so in theory, the same can be done for music and movies? Didn't think so.. Maybe the book authors need a MIPAA type organization?

    1. Robert Helpmann??

      So in theory...

      ...the same can be done for music and movies? Didn't think so.. Maybe the book authors need a MIPAA type organization?

      That's the capacity in which Google is forcing itself upon authors. Organizations such as the MIPAA exist to reap profits from the work of others and only protect that work in as much as it benefits them. Google is new, innovative and much more efficient in this regard, seemingly protecting works from being used to profit those who originally produced them.

  9. TonyMorehen

    Bias showing much?

  10. ratfox

    Twelve years after it started, there is no competitive market for digitized books, which may have given far superior offerings to the public

    There is a competitive market. You have the choice between cheap and crap, or pricey and good quality (from Apple, Amazon, wherever it is). From what I understand, it is very easy to publish yourself.

    The problem is the same with all the rest of the Internet, though. With so much free crap around, you have to offer really good quality to earn anything with it.

    Maybe Apple will manage to expand its walled garden? It seems their users accept to pay for quality.

  11. Adam 52 Silver badge

    And, if course, by the same argument, I can copy films and music, keep the originals and put samples on the Internet whilst raking in Ad revenue for a profit.

    No. Why not?

    1. David 164

      Go to Google books and you will find there are no ads on the site.

      1. BoldMan
      2. JasonT

        "Go to Google books and you will find there are no ads on the site."


        1. David 164

          I very much doubt Google will want to risk any moves which could turn the courts against them. They can make their money from sales of books and using this massive data sets indirectly to enhance their other services.

  12. Oengus

    How long will it last

    handed Google a monopoly that it's unlikely to want to improve

    With the Google propensity to drop projects that it can't get a good return from, how long will this one last?

  13. Dinsdale247

    It's amazing what the supreme court will do for a big enough american corporation. American companies can patent a "look and feel" of a square hand held device and sue foreign companies, but individuals are not allowed to protect actual intellectual property from Google. Sickening.

  14. JeffyPoooh

    "It hasn't destroyed....the market for old books."

    I'm buying several dozens of used books per year.

    Cheap as chips, delivered.

    I hope I live long enough to read them all.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Now remember people this is Google...

    If it turns out to be a popular service they will cancel it at short notice.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Here's the test case.

    Suppose someone slurps the books that Google slurped.

    Can Google sue said company for 'theft'.

    After all, Google can't argue that they are the copyright holder or that they have any legal claim to the books after scanning them. In short, one could use Google's argument against them as well as put forth the argument that having multiple sources for these collective works creates more of a free market which is ultimately better than a monopoly.

    Google would have no legal way to defend against someone else pirating their work.

    IANAL and I don't have the deep pockets to go up against Google to test this theory out.

    1. Intractable Potsherd

      Re: Here's the test case.

      This is a genuinely interesting point! I think I'll set some of my students loose on it and see what they come up with ...

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Here's the test case.

      Google could claim copyright on the scan - and on the OCR. Some of the OCRs are certainly creative - nobody could accuse them of plagiarising the original author's words.

  17. Herby

    Why not let Google be your publisher

    It isn't like they already have the information. They slurp it from every corner of the earth.

    Why bother with the likes of Random House, Pocket Books, or Prentice Hall. Go direct to the eventual holder.

    Lacking that, include a note on the title page:

    "This book shall not be indexed while it is either "in print", or the author is alive".

    1. David 164

      Re: Why not let Google be your publisher

      Which would mean it couldn't be index by a library or by any other organisation like bookshops and Amazon, which would mean no one would ever be able to find your book, great for secret manuscripts about your secret cult, not so great if you actually want people to find and buy your book. I thought this site was meant to be filled with intelligent people.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why not let Google be your publisher

      Books already had such notes on the front. "No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system..." etc. Guessing the courts have ruled this to be totally unenforceable, at least if your name is Google.

      Try slurping the Google database into your own, and see how quickly you get a C&D thrown at you by their lawyers. Data loses its value if everyone has access, and Google is a jealous hoarder.

      1. KeithR

        Re: Why not let Google be your publisher

        "Guessing the courts have ruled this to be totally unenforceable"

        The courts don't have to "rule" - it is SELF-EVIDENTLY unenforceable given the fair use argument.

  18. #define INFINITY -1

    C'mon Andrew, no reference to project gutenberg?

    Surely it would be fitting?

  19. MacroRodent

    Agree with the court

    Have you tried to reads a book via Google books? Except for cases where Google has properly acquired rights to the book, or the copyright has expired, all you get is a small amount of surrounding text around your search term. It really is just a card catalogue.

    I just tried feeding my one surname to it, and got a very relevant reference to an obscure scholarly treatise on village names in a certain region of Finland. I might go and hunt the actual volume, as I have long wondered about the origins of my rather rare name (I knew it was the name of the ancestral farm, but where did its name come from?) Google books did in a few seconds what would otherwise probably require months of digging in the libraries of universities.

    1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: Agree with the court

      It is that "only a snippet" which makes it acceptable to me. Even if Google have wholesale copied books without permission in order to deliver those I do see greater good and fair use arguments in that.

      The ruling is effectively that it is okay to copy a whole work as fair use in order to provide only snippets. That of course throws up issues of others doing the same, and how the principle applies with respect to video, audio and other works.

      This may, in time, prove to be the first step towards more rational and fairer-to-all copyright reform.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Agree with the court

        "It is that "only a snippet" which makes it acceptable to me. "

        I remember reading a SciFi book where part of the premise was the "destruction" of libraries in that the books were shredded and pumped through a large air pipe which contained 1000's if not millions of nano cameras to capture, digitise and re-assemble all the books in digital form, digitising an entire library in a few days

        I wonder how long it will take someone to create an algorithm to collect and reassemble all those snippets from Google searches?

  20. Adam 52 Silver badge

    On the plus side - all that SCO code that IBM "stole" is fair use now, as are all the Java apis that Google put into Android so we can finally put those to bed.

    1. Vic

      all that SCO code that IBM "stole" is fair use now a null set

      There, FTFY.


  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just wait Google starts to publish legal proceedings and papers for free...

    ... and court and lawyers will change their minds.

    But I guess Google will never annoy them....

    PS: wasn't someone recently sued because it made legal stuff available for free - IIRC it was something alike the commentary to US laws, or the like - when usually you have to pay dearly to obtain it? Why Google can copy and publish whatever it likes, and a "simpler" citizen can't, even if those information are essential to understand the laws we all have to abide to?

  22. This post has been deleted by its author

  23. Kall

    Very old books


    As a researcher and author I initially found Google Books a potential threat. However I have changed my tune as it is now possible to find information which was previously unknown.

    This is due to the fact that many books only exist courtesy of Boston who were the second largest producer of books historically and these books only appear to exist in American Libraries. This may be due in part to an American bias to which the British Library did not subscribe.

    I am in the process of writing my third book, a novel which relates to early 18th Century politics, a small addition to the history of the start of the American revolution. I am actually very thankful to Google books without which the information would have been impossible to find.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Very old books

      If you don't know how to do a research without google and raising your ass from the chair is a problem of yours - people used to research even before Google, and the Internet, was dreamed of. Your laziness is not a a good excuse for letting Google bypass any law and earn money it doesn't deserve.

      1. Kall

        Re: Very old books

        Amazing Troll statement. However I will answer your uninformed statement. The books I have been using as part of my research over the last 5 years have come from a variety of sources. I have spent my time in the British Library and other more dusty locations.

        I do not support scanning of current books for profit, the books were not only out of print in this country, but also there is no record of them outside of the chance scanning from various academic libraries across the Eastern Seaboard and in one case information from a West Coast library led to a physical book mis-titled in the UK.

        You are entitled to your opinion. However you might like to re-read this information - Many books only exist because of the Americans love of books in the 18th - 19th Century and the production of them in Boston. They simply do NOT exist anywhere else!

        Enjoy your viewpoint.

  24. jameshogg

    Libertarians don't call for a JPEG standard, they call for a gold standard. And for a reason: anyone insisting JPEG dollars would work as legal tender would be considered insane, by both gold-standard supporters and fiat supporters alike.

    That is why copyright law is utterly unenforceable. Artists are being asked to manage their own de facto currencies, where ANY medium is a legal tender medium, not just coins and notes. They then ask someone else to do the printing without anything like the checks and balances that are thrown at the US treasury/Federal Reserve to prevent corruption, never mind the pirates across the rest of the planet who profit as a result of copyright, just as the drug barons profit off of the war on drugs.

    Copyright is a utopia, frankly. It is the control-freak mentality, and the mentality of the sacred where the image of art must be protected against blasphemy in the name of "moral rights" or even to prevent "cutural appropriation" which has rightly drawn comparisons with social justice warrior safe-space mentalities.

    The cognitive dissonance that is "fair use" - i.e. it's okay to break into the bank as long as you only steal £50 - will keep being exposed for the contradiction that it is as long as cases like these happen. Where free expression is a right, yet simultaneously a "defense". Where it's okay to quote from a book, but not if that book is a book of poems. Where the line between "notes" and "symphonies" is "where we say it is" and "what the market will potentially be, not what it will be".

    However, the protection of artist labour is a real issue. But the way to do that, and the only way that will ever work in this age of copy and paste, is to go down the route of assurance contracts. Demand your price BEFORE you work, not after you work. Go to Kickstarter, IndieGoGo and Patreon, and demand they all refund the pledgers if the project falls flat to really get this going - it can't be "pay what you want", it has to be a payWALL. Get Marvel to demand $50 million for the next comic book movie, and there's a very good chance they will get it. And cover any moral rights by extending trademark laws - also known as an artist's right to a signature.

    Because only the bold will work at, say, Ralph Lauren, and only be told what his salary is going to be after the work has been done for the month. The month in particular.

    So don't mistake me: I do believe in the protection of labour ("labour" being a better word than "property" because it highlights the issues without confusing them with artificially tangible goods). The disagreement I have is HOW to protect it, not IF it should be protected. Because I really do hate for artists to keep going down this road of empty promises and wishful thinking - they're just going to end up hurt and disappointed over and over again, especially as Moore's law continues.

  25. JohnG

    Project Gutenberg

    Long before Google existed, Project Gutenberg started digitizing books in 1971 and has been making them freely available to everyone in long-lasting open formats. They deserve the title of "humanity's last library".

    1. #define INFINITY -1

      Re: Project Gutenberg

      Exactly! And they've taken the legal route. And they take proof reading seriously.

      However, as mentioned above, I have seen the value of google's digitization craze, digging into microfiche copies of books I only found out about as they were referenced in books written in the 19th century (found on gutenberg).

      Google's not all bad.

      1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Re: Project Gutenberg

        It's actually useless for real research. You have to buy the book, and often you can't.

        The point is, not that there's no value in "snippets with gaps". Yes, that's fun. Google Books is a massive fail because there could have been a great market for extracts, somewhere between snippets for free and go and buy the book.

        Plenty of blame to go round on this one, not just Google. But Google foreclosed the possibility of something really useful.

        1. #define INFINITY -1

          Re: Project Gutenberg

          If you've hunted around you'll find that they were handed books that google digitized.

  26. Aedile

    First of all you do not need permission for fair use so I'm not sure why it keeps being brought up over and over. Now there may be disagreement over is it fair use so how about we focus on that and stop crying/whining that Google didn't ask permission.

    There are four factors when considering fair use.


    Nature of the copywritten work

    Amount used

    Effect on the market

    For the first factor the courts found Google's use transformative citing caselaw involving other "full-text searchable database[s]" as a "quintessentially transformative use."

    The courts didn't comment much on the second factor.

    For the third factor they found that while Google scanned the whole book they did not re-use the entire thing. The snippets are normally an eighth of a page and no more than three snippets are shown for any searched term with no more than one per page. Also some parts are "blacklisted" entirely including one full page out of ten. It also doesn't display snippets that may satisfy a reader's need like definitions or recipes.

    For the last factor they found that the number of people who would be satisfied with the snippets wouldn't have that large of an impact on the market.

    So if you think it isn't fair use then you either disagree it was transformative in which you disagree with prior case law. You can disagree that it is the amount looked at/scanned and not just the amount shown that matters. Or finally you can argue that the authors are losing a lot of money since many people want to see less than an 1/8th of a page. I personally don't find any of those disagreements compelling and agree with the courts decision.

  27. another_vulture

    Distinguish in-copyright/out-of-copyright and in-print/out-of-print

    The arguments for these categories are very different. most of the posts here appear to lump them together.

    If a book is out of copyright (in or out of print), I see no moral or legal problem with a Google scan made freely available. The only objection a specious one that Google or another printer can make money by forcing you to buy a copy if Google refuses to make it available. I get extremely frustrated when Google provides snippets instead of full text in these cases.

    If a book is in copyright but out of print, holders of printed copies such as used booksellers, NOT the author or publisher, stand to lose if Google makes a copy available. But for many such works, the snippets constitute free advertizing that may make the printed work easier to sell. the copyright holder can creata an e-book and sell it via a link from the Google site and actually make some money.

    If a book is in print and in copyright, then snippets are again free advertizing. An author (not a publisher) should be happy for this and should make the sell the work as an e-book from the the author's site, getting a link from the Google snippets. eliminating the need for a rapacious publisher.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like