Children of the Sun > Newsday Archives 2005

Google vs. A Bored Author's Guild (long)

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le update:

--- Quote ---NEW YORK Oct 19, 2005 — Just weeks after a leading authors' organization sued Google for copyright infringement, the Association of American Publishers has also filed suit against the search engine giant's plans to scan and index books for the Internet...
in papers filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, the publishers association sought a ruling that would support an injunction against illegal scanning and cited the "continuing, irreparable and imminent harm publishers are suffering … due to Google's willful (copyright) infringement to further its own commercial purposes."

The suit named five publishers as plaintiffs: McGraw-Hill, Pearson Education, Penguin Group USA, Simon & Schuster and John Wiley & Sons. The suit seeks recovery of legal costs, but no additional damages.
--- End quote ---

(Most of those names have a booming textbook business)

--- Quote ---Breaking Apart at the Seams

Major publishers have joined the legal challenge to the Google Print service, arguing that it represents wanton copyright infringement. This as another battle in the ongoing conflict over intellectual property in the digital world, but I'm concerned it suggests something else: a challenge to the stability of the Internet as we know it.

The Net works because of a series of informal agreements. Root server operators voluntarily point to the right places to make the domain name system function. Backbone networks "peer" to carry each other's traffic without charge. And websites allow search engines to copy their content into indexes, even though at some level that action raises copyright concerns.

The Google Print lawsuit puts the last of these practices in question. On some level, copying a Web page to facilitate searching isn't all that different from copying a book to facilitate searching. And copying an RSS feed to put content onto another site isn't so different either. Unravel the notion that some content sharing benefits everyone, and therefore should be acceptable despite the nominal boundaries of intellectual property, and the Internet economy, especially the Web 2.0 economy, comes crashing down.

What's worrisome to me is that, just as the informal practices for sharing online content are being challenged, the informal practices for sharing Internet traffic and addressing are under stress as well. Backbone carriers Level 3 and Cogent are fighting about who gets to peer, as SBC and Verizon -- telcos with a very different culture than most Internet companies -- prepare to take control of two of the largest Internet backbones. And the whole system of domain name management is in play as well, thanks to the UN's efforts to establish a new governance structure.

Years from now, will we look back at this as the period when the Internet came apart at its seams?
--- End quote ---

And, today's news:

--- Quote ---Google restarts online books plan

Google is resuming its controversial project to digitise millions of books and make them searchable on the net.

The search giant is pressing ahead with its plans despite growing legal pressure from publishers and authors.

They object to what they say are violations of copyright.

But in an apparent attempt to reassure critics, the search giant said on its blog that it would focus on books that were out of print or in the public domain.

2015 archive

Google is pumping $200m (£110m) into creating a digital archive of millions of books from four top US libraries - the libraries of Stanford, Michigan and Harvard universities, and of the New York Public Library - by 2015.

It is also digitising out-of-copyright books from the UK's Oxford University.

But Google has been criticised for not getting explicit permission from the copyright holders before scanning the texts.

The controversy led Google to put its library project on hold in August. The pause is designed to allow publishers to tell Google which books should not be included in the scanning programme.

But the delay did little to assuage concerns. In mid-October, the Association of American Publishers, which includes firms such as Penguin, filed a suit in New York claiming Google is breaching copyright.

In a separate action, the Authors Guild has filed a class-action suit against Google for copyright infringement.

Despite the pending legal action, Google is pressing ahead with its plans. On its blog, the company said it was resuming the scanning of texts, but also offered some words of reassurance.

"As always, the focus of our library effort is on scanning books that are unique to libraries including many public domain books, orphaned works and out-of-print titles," said the blog.

"We're starting with library stacks that mostly contain older and out-of-circulation books, but also some newer books.

"These older books are the ones most inaccessible to users, and make up the vast majority of books - a conservative estimate would be 80%."

"Our digital card catalog will let people discover these books through Google search, see their bibliographic information, view short snippets related to their queries (never the full text), and offer them links to places where they can buy the book or find it in a local library."

However, Google still plans to scan newer books that are both in print and under copyright protection at a later date.


A rival body set up by a group of digital archivists, backed by technology giants Yahoo and Microsoft, as well as libraries and academia, is also pursuing its own digital library project.

The Open Content Alliance (OCA), set up by the Internet Archive, aims to put 150,000 works online.

But it is avoiding some of the problems facing Google by initially focusing on works that are in the public domain.

Against this background, Google has hired an experienced lawyer as its vice president of global communications and public affairs.

Elliot Schrage, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, is known as an international policy activist.

"Elliot Schrage's experience and demonstrated commitment to transparency and global corporate citizenship will be an asset to Google as we continue to grow and explore new opportunities around the world," said Google chief executive officer Eric Schmidt in a statement.
--- End quote ---

Penguin was recently in town as a sponsor for the New Yorker College Tour. I think they had maybe 25% (that's generous) of their catalog as new, recently written titles. The rest of their catalog? Reprinting Plato's Republic in yet another incarnation, maybe a different translator or different foreword, putting out the new cover art (artfully scanned from an old portrait) of The Count of Monte Cristo. Fuck them.


--- Quote from: Matt ---Penguin ....... The rest of their catalog? Reprinting Plato's Republic in yet another incarnation, maybe a different translator or different foreword, putting out the new cover art (artfully scanned from an old portrait) of The Count of Monte Cristo. Fuck them.
--- End quote ---

Hey! Companies like this are going to give me a job someday!

But yeah, I agree. Those who charge $15 for a pretty cover on fucking Republic and such are assholes. The problem is that people buy that shit instead of diving in to Gutenberg.


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