This is a reasonably off-topic post… I’m watching the Google copyright fracas with interest. Let me first state that I am clueless on most things legal in this area so this isn’t a legal viewpoint.
I have however watched in amazement at how Google, in the interests of the people of course, has repackaged news content while enriching their own revenue stream… The relationship between news organizations and Google has always struck me as reasonably symbiotic…
Google News points to news site while in the process representing some it’s copyrighted material –> news site benefits from traffic and profile –> Google gets some review from clicks and the like –> news org relents due to benefit of traffic, and who wants to piss off the search Gorilla anyway…
The difference between this and books is that the symbiotic relationship is much less clear. OK, seeing the book might tickle my fancy to spur me to shop for a copy. But not really. Amazon and BN already do a pretty good job of that. And if I want to search for a book I can use any number of legitimate library search engines.
The silent voice in all this is Amazon – the company most likely to be harmed by this. I definitely see the utility in me searching a book on Google and then getting 5 places to shop for it with low prices, and maybe even a link to my local library. But boy would that screw with Amazon.
At the end of the day, why should an individuals copyrighted content be paraded about, driving
Google’s revenue even higher without their permission – or
participation in the revenue stream. Wouldn’t Google have been smarter to invite publishers and writers to participate – and share the revenue with them? To which Google says this:
"The use we make of all the books we scan through the Library Project is fully consistent with both the fair use doctrine under U.S. copyright law and the principles underlying copyright law itself, which allow everything from parodies to excerpts in book reviews. We regret that this group chose to sue us over a program that will make millions of books more discoverable to the world — especially since any copyright holder can exclude their books from the program. What’s more, many of Google Print’s chief beneficiaries will be authors whose backlist, out of print and lightly marketed new titles will be suggested to countless readers who wouldn’t have found them otherwise."
To which I say, don’t insult us… If this is the case, just focus on books no longer protected, or writers who agree with you. Invite them to participate.
And, if Google book search works as Susan describes, why do it at all. Sounds pretty useless to me. I guess, like me, the Authors Guild suspects something bigger to be afoot. Afterall, Google isn’t just scanning one page and the cover. So they are creating much, much more that a simple index card. This isn’t the first time the issue has flared up. And, it will keep coming-up until the issue of fair use is resolved.
If you want to play in the participatory era, you need to invite people to participate – and provide them with a mechanism for doing so. Scanning in other folks protected content – and in the process creating massive differentiation and revenue from that content strikes me as just, well, illegal.