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Author’s Guild speech on Google’s evil

Paul Aiken gave a speech presenting the Authors Guild position on Google Print. I’ve posted a copy here. Here’s a snippet:

We bet Google is right. If books were digitized and searchable on the Internet, we bet Google could make a pretty penny by allowing its legions of users to search that database. And what a mind-boggling database! An assemblage of the nation’s copyrighted books, the result of the efforts and investments of hundreds of thousands of authors and thousands of publishers, served up in handy excerpts by Google’s generous computers.

But here comes the bad part. Google says that its copying of these books — that its scanning of countless copyrighted volumes, then using optical character recognition technology to digitize the text of those works to create files to assemble into a new, unimaginably vast database, surely one of the largest databases ever assembled — that all of that copying and use of these works, would be fair use, so it doesn’t need a license from anyone for this copying. For good measure, it’s handing over a digital copy to its partner libraries, and telling them its OK to post the works to their websites. That, too, I guess, is fair use.

Hint: He doesn’t really think it’s fair use.

I’m not a lawyer and don’t know whether it counts as fair use. But as a citizen who wants to live in an ever smarter world, I hope Google Print goes ahead. I think ultimately it’s going to build more business for publishers, but that’s not my first concern. We need to get way smart real fast, and Google Print is a big step forward. [Thanks to Mark Dionne for the email.] [Tags: ]

4 Responses to “Author’s Guild speech on Google’s evil”

  1. Ahh, sins of omission – what WOULD we do without them?

    Amazing how the Authors’ Guild, and the Publishers’ Association happen not to mention that the database would be for finding stuff, not downloading stuff. (Although an obvious pay-for-print-on-demand distribution deal with the Publishers is an obvious business venture, with money to be made for everyone concerned.) Last time I checked, finding stuff was fair.

  2. There’s a concerted effort to just take any idea Google has and paint it with tar. If we could just get the same energy applied to the efforts of the Republican Party then we’d see some progress on an improved society… unfortunately ignorance is STILL
    a growth market.

    Google print could be a tremendous benefit for allowing individuals to conduct more effective research via the web. Researchers buy books by the carload… they just need to know which book to buy and Amazon cusrtomer reviews don’t come close to helping with that type of search.

    Authors, librarians, publishers and other parties with a versted interest in monetizing the printed word are re-inventing Emily Litella for a whole new generation… only the forgot the classic stinger: “Oh they want to help you find the text in my/our book(s) and then you might buy it or be able to read the words after it’s “out of print” and I’m dead… NEVER MIND.”

    You, David, are on eof the few bloggers that want to scratch off the crap over the veneer of this issue and think about the potenital social benefits behind this project… which will be funded by Google without asking for public funds.
    It’s a great deal for society to have this new search functionality and “fair use” needs to be protected. We need to have our right to know protected and not to be channeled into a “pay-per-use” scheme for research and investigation. I’ll pay when there’s a real value add but not for an intellectual protection scheme that reverses centuries of common law practices.

  3. At first I thought the Author’s Guild was after orphan works. After all, people might want to buy second-hand copies of such works rather than pitiful offerings of their current members.

    But then later I read that someone at the Guild seemed to cheer on Yahoo’s efforts to scan public domain works.

    My guess now is that they really believe their own story: that Google is making money off them. That Google is also making them money is irrelevant to them. They want both sources of income tapped. I guess.

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