Google Print Sued by Authors Guild
Google is being sued by the Authors Guild over copyright laws associated with Google Print’s plans to scan and index the world’s libraries. Google Print came under the target of various authors in August after complaints were raised about Google planning to scan and index copyrighted material in its Google Print index.
Google issued their answer to the complaints, giving the copyright holders the option to exclude their works from Google Print. Google is asking publishers to “opt-out” of the Google Print program during the next 2 months if the publishers do not want their books indexed in Google Print. Interesting tactic, especially since the whole idea behind copyrighting is to be legally opted out of anyone copying your works – even Google.
Now the Authors Guild has filed a class action suit Manhattan federal court against Google over its unauthorized scanning and copying of books through its Google Print / Google Library program. The suit alleges that the $90 billion search engine and advertising juggernaut is engaging in massive copyright infringement at the expense of the rights of individual writers. The complaint seeks damages and an injunction to halt further infringements.
“This is a plain and brazen violation of copyright law,” said Authors Guild president Nick Taylor. “It’s not up to Google or anyone other than the authors, the rightful owners of these copyrights, to decide whether and how their works will be copied.”
Google has responded to the suit with a post on the Google Blog trying to explain its opt-out program and its mission of bringing the books of the world to the masses.
“Google doesn’t show even a single page to users who find copyrighted books through this program (unless the copyright holder gives us permission to show more). At most we show only a brief snippet of text where their search term appears, along with basic bibliographic information and several links to online booksellers and libraries. Here’s what an in-copyright book scanned from a library looks like on Google Print:”
Google feels that they are in the right in this case, and have listed some fair use cases which Google feels defends their stance. It seems that Google’s heart is in the right place with the Google Print project, as its mission is to make literature and research material available to the masses, while helping the publishers and copyright owners of this material by directing potential buyers to publisher websites, providing reports about user interest in specific books, and creating an additional revenue stream via Google’s contextual advertising – which in theroy sounds like a decent trade off.
For authors who do not want their works broadcast across the Internet, Google Print is an infringement on their basic rights and a threat to their livelihoods. This should be a most interesting court case.