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Another Google Book Scanning Debate & Another Publisher Group Objects

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Earlier I posted my back-and-forth with the head of a publishing group over the legality of Google scanning books in Why Don't Book Publishers Object To Web Indexing?. Tim O'Reilly, who heads publishing group O'Reilly, dropped me a note about a similar back-and-forth he had earlier this month that's well worth a read. More on that below, as well as a new group objecting to Google's library digitization plans.

Google Library vs. Publishers has Tim, a major publisher, not at all bothered by Google Library and also embracing the Google Print program. Debating against him via email is Lauren Weinstein of the Electronic Entertainment Policy Initiative, among other organizations.

In the comments, you'll see a suggestion from Tim that people look more closely at the Google Print FAQs, and I agree. I think there's an impression that the program puts books online in their entirety. It does not. It puts portions of books online, with the publisher or copyright holder deciding if they want to let people see a lot or small text snippets. And without explicit permission, it's only small text snippets that are shown. Full pages are not displayed.

Our previous SafeSearch Doesn't Work On Google Print & Can Full Book Preview Prevention Be Hacked? post looks at this in much more depth. To date, I've really seen no one say they've managed to hack the system to print books other than the mention in that article, a loophole that apparently now has been closed.

It's also worth a reminder that Google gathers content in two ways for Google Print -- working directly with publishers and working with libraries. See Gary's past Some Publishers Not Happy With Google's Library Digitization Program post for an extended exploration of this.

Finally, spotted via Brad Hill, Potential Legal Fight Simmers In Google Book-Copying Project has yet another publishing group announcing its opposition to the plan and "pessimistic" that the despite will not go to court.

The group -- The Text and Academic Authors Association -- finds Google is "backwards" in making digital copies of books without first receiving permission. The entire statement is here (PDF format).

The group also currently has a reported 397 pages indexed from its web site by Google. It almost certainly did not ask Google to index these pages, thus making Google just as backward in copying these copyrighted pages. Nevertheless, despite this almost certainly having been the case for years, I don't recall the group objecting to this type of apparent infringement.

More irony. The organization didn't seem to mind having members told at a conference last June that they should make use of Google to find copyright infringement of works on the web.

Let's be clear here:

  • The group thinks Google should only index content with explicit publisher permission.
     
  • Nevertheless, the group seems to like the idea that Google indexes stuff from across the web -- including its own site -- without explicit permission.
     
  • The group also seems to like the idea that its members can use the content Google has indexed to find copyright infringement.

In short, the opt-out approach of web indexing that has run for years seems OK, but that's not going to fly when we're dealing with book indexing for yet another group.


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