PDA

View Full Version : Google Books fight is over as SCOTUS declines to hear final challenge



Alessandra Kelley
04-20-2016, 03:14 AM
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2016/04/18/google-books-just-won-a-decade-long-copyright-fight/


The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a challenge from authors who had argued that the tech giant's project was "brazen violation of copyright law" -- effectively ending the legal battle in Google's favor.

Without the Supreme Court taking up the case, a federal appeals court ruling from October, which found that the book-scanning program fell under the umbrella of fair use, will stand.

Gravity
04-20-2016, 10:28 PM
Sad about this, but not surprised.

Jamesaritchie
04-21-2016, 12:13 AM
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2016/04/18/google-books-just-won-a-decade-long-copyright-fight/

Figures. There is no way in hell this is fair use, unless you're incapable of reading fair use law. Well, it looks like it's going to be addressed in other ways by Congress, once the fall elections are over.

Bartholomew
04-24-2016, 12:16 PM
Isn't it odd how copyright law swings in any direction the wealthiest entities on the planet would like?


Figures. There is no way in hell this is fair use, unless you're incapable of reading fair use law. Well, it looks like it's going to be addressed in other ways by Congress, once the fall elections are over.

I have a feeling that if this benefits writers in any way, it will be akin to how the GDP of a nation rises after a cataclysmic event.

blacbird
04-26-2016, 06:18 AM
Well, it looks like it's going to be addressed in other ways by Congress, once the fall elections are over.

I hadn't heard anything about this. But always remember, they could make it worse.

caw

robjvargas
04-26-2016, 05:06 PM
Figures. There is no way in hell this is fair use, unless you're incapable of reading fair use law. Well, it looks like it's going to be addressed in other ways by Congress, once the fall elections are over.
Google isn't profiting from this, are they? I mean, ads, yeah, but directly from this?

Not Fair Use, I'd agree, but if they aren't profiting from it, I don't think copyright law applies. Is that what the lower court said?

AW Admin
04-26-2016, 05:42 PM
I don't actually have a problem with what Google's done, and yes, I think it's meets the fair use safe harbor.

Consider that you can only view limited amounts of a book, out of context.

It's what you can do in any book store or library.

And yes, my books are there, and no, no one asked me if it was OK.

But consider this:

We have a single fire-damaged copy of Beowulf.

We have roughly sixty-four copies of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in ms.

Distributed copies contribute to the long terms survival of works.

jjdebenedictis
04-26-2016, 11:13 PM
When I first heard Google was doing this, I was pretty outraged. Once I had seen what they were actually doing (probably after they'd already tweaked it to address complaints, but nevertheless), I didn't have a problem with it at all.

It benefits humanity to do this, and it is not hurting authors.

Cramp
04-28-2016, 07:34 PM
Yet.

Google is a private entity that now has license to digitize all books. They only allow the end user to view small parts of the book but they are not restricted in the content they can view, or use (or monetize) in some manner. Nor are they obliged to continue to offer this service to people for free into the future. If this is something that benefits humanity then it should be a public project. Not a private one.

kuwisdelu
04-28-2016, 08:18 PM
Google is a private entity that now has license to digitize all books. They only allow the end user to view small parts of the book but they are not restricted in the content they can view, or use (or monetize) in some manner.

There was never any question about them being allowed to do that. Anyone can do that. You could always go digitize all the books on your shelf for your own use if you wanted. It's the making it available to the public part that was in question.

Amadan
04-28-2016, 08:29 PM
Google is a private entity that now has license to digitize all books. They only allow the end user to view small parts of the book but they are not restricted in the content they can view, or use (or monetize) in some manner.

Depends on what you mean by "monetize." Clearly they cannot sell access to the works.


If this is something that benefits humanity then it should be a public project. Not a private one.

That doesn't follow. Many projects that benefit humanity are undertaken by private individuals and organizations.

Cramp
04-29-2016, 02:24 PM
There was never any question about them being allowed to do that. Anyone can do that. You could always go digitize all the books on your shelf for your own use if you wanted. It's the making it available to the public part that was in question.

Correct me if I'm wrong - but Google did not go out and buy all the books. Could I go to a public library and start digitizing complete books for my private use? Or photo copy an entire book? In the UK, at least, there is an organisation that tallies up copy usage in universities and such and compensates authors some amount of money.

wonderactivist
04-29-2016, 05:26 PM
I think Google Books is not the only problem, WayBackMachine is just as bad. Years ago, I had a popular, non-for-profit homeschool site. When I realized i would have to completely redo it in a different format or become obsolete, I took it down.

Weeks later, a friend wrote to say it was on WayBack so people could still use it forever. I was furious. They had snatched over 200 pages, over 3 years if hard work. So I wrote tgem threatening a lawsuit and they dropped it.

The very idea that you have to write to assert your rights in order to keep them is ridiculous! This Google fight will not end here. They just didn't have the right angle on it.

Lucie.

Bartholomew
05-04-2016, 05:25 AM
I think Google Books is not the only problem, WayBackMachine is just as bad. Years ago, I had a popular, non-for-profit homeschool site. When I realized i would have to completely redo it in a different format or become obsolete, I took it down.

Weeks later, a friend wrote to say it was on WayBack so people could still use it forever. I was furious. They had snatched over 200 pages, over 3 years if hard work. So I wrote tgem threatening a lawsuit and they dropped it.

The very idea that you have to write to assert your rights in order to keep them is ridiculous! This Google fight will not end here. They just didn't have the right angle on it.

Lucie.

I think we get into weird territory with this. My old sites *only* exist because of the WayBack machine. I think there's an intrinsic right of people to remember what other people have said and to keep records.

Now I'm not sure where I stand at all, especially since I've actually spent some time looking at the Google Book site. There's a lot of value in being able to crack the first few pages of practically anything open, and then order it after you've decided that, yes, this is something I want. As an author, I'd be leery to find my stuff up there. But as a reader -- the only people I've ever cared about reaching -- it's clearly of great use.

I'll be mopping my brains up off the walls if anyone needs me.

Ravioli
05-04-2016, 11:36 AM
Google isn't profiting from this, are they? I mean, ads, yeah, but directly from this?

Not Fair Use, I'd agree, but if they aren't profiting from it, I don't think copyright law applies. Is that what the lower court said?
But doesn't copyright law apply when you recreate and publicize other peoples' stuff with or without profit?

Amadan
05-04-2016, 04:15 PM
But doesn't copyright law apply when you recreate and publicize other peoples' stuff with or without profit?

Yes. But after seeing a lot of cases like this, and interminable arguments on the Internet for years, the one thing I know is true is that copyright law is a lot more complicated than you or I or anyone else who's not an IP lawyer thinks it is, so anyone saying something definitely "is" or "is not" Fair Use probably doesn't actually know. Even the courts often don't actually know, because a lot of these gray areas have not been resolved yet (there are all kinds of issues with regard to digital copying, for example, that simply were not envisioned when the copyright laws were written).

robjvargas
05-04-2016, 04:57 PM
But doesn't copyright law apply when you recreate and publicize other peoples' stuff with or without profit?
Copyright isn't a criminal statute, right? So how does one settle a copyright claim? Tort. Monetary damages. Can you argue, should your work be included, that it harmed your business? I think that's a major uphill climb.

So I'm thinking that's where this case turned. I have not, however, read much of the legal discussion in the public record.

Amadan
05-04-2016, 05:30 PM
Copyright isn't a criminal statute, right? So how does one settle a copyright claim? Tort. Monetary damages. Can you argue, should your work be included, that it harmed your business? I think that's a major uphill climb.

Violating copyright can indeed be prosecuted as a crime (those FBI warnings on your DVDs are not a joke). And while damages do play a part in judgments, you don't have to prove your business has been harmed to sue someone for IP theft. JK Rowling could, if she wanted to (she has very publicly said she has no intention of doing so) shut down all those Harry Potter fan fiction sites.

robjvargas
05-04-2016, 11:34 PM
Violating copyright can indeed be prosecuted as a crime (those FBI warnings on your DVDs are not a joke). And while damages do play a part in judgments, you don't have to prove your business has been harmed to sue someone for IP theft. JK Rowling could, if she wanted to (she has very publicly said she has no intention of doing so) shut down all those Harry Potter fan fiction sites.
JK Rowling isn't in the US, so that might complicate the discussion slightly. The discussion here seems to be centered on US law. And those DVD warnings (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/05/dvds-and-blu-rays-will-now-carry-two-unskippable-government-warnings/) are anti-piracy warnings. Since the IP there is (basically) already digitized, I'm not sure how applicable that is.

Ravioli
05-05-2016, 12:09 AM
Copyright isn't a criminal statute, right? So how does one settle a copyright claim? Tort. Monetary damages. Can you argue, should your work be included, that it harmed your business? I think that's a major uphill climb.

So I'm thinking that's where this case turned. I have not, however, read much of the legal discussion in the public record.
So is this why every kindergarten and nursery decorate their signs and walls with Disney characters and don't get screwed?

Amadan
05-05-2016, 12:14 AM
So is this why every kindergarten and nursery decorate their signs and walls with Disney characters and don't get screwed?

Because Disney doesn't usually go after kindergartens and nurseries. But they can and have (http://www.snopes.com/disney/wdco/daycare.asp).

AW Admin
05-05-2016, 02:18 AM
Copyright isn't a criminal statute, right? So how does one settle a copyright claim? Tort. Monetary damages. Can you argue, should your work be included, that it harmed your business? I think that's a major uphill climb.

So I'm thinking that's where this case turned. I have not, however, read much of the legal discussion in the public record.

Judges can and have assigned prison sentences for copyright violations, as part of a sentence that typically also includes damages.

AW Admin
05-05-2016, 02:19 AM
But doesn't copyright law apply when you recreate and publicize other peoples' stuff with or without profit?

Yes.

Laer Carroll
05-05-2016, 04:37 AM
Google Books isn't doing anything illegal, from my experience with it. Nor immoral, for that matter.

First, complete books in the public domain go on it perfectly legally. Pride and Prejudice is an example, which is also on at least a dozen other web sites.

Interestingly, P&P still sells lots of print copies every year. I don't know how many nowadays, but it sold 100,000 print copies in 2001 when Nielsen BookScan began operation. In 2007 it sold 318,000 copies. I haven't checked lately, but I see P&P on the bookshelves when I look for it at my favorite bookstores.

In fact, I have two print copies, one by an American publisher and one by a UK publisher, both with lovely covers and nicely typeset. If I were a completist I could get more, one a hardback, one with scholarly footnotes, and one with illustrations. I also have an ebook copy on my iPad. The ebook "revolution" has leveled off, partly because the market is becoming saturated. But also partly because "pbooks" have advantages ebooks don't.

Second, GBooks only puts online complete books currently under copyright if the publisher gives them permission. Publishers are especially likely to do this if a book is the first of a series or a megabook: duology, trilogy, tetralogy, etc. The online book acts as an ad for all the other books in the series/megabook. Or if the author is a popular one, publishers may allow the inclusion of complete copies of one or more of their books, for the same reason: hook a reader on the author and the publisher can sell lots of other books. (If it isn't clear, readers buy the ebooks and pbooks through a link to the publisher or their agent, not from GBooks.)

Publishers may also authorize GBooks to put the first few chapters online. Amazon and B&N also do this: the first 10% of all my books can be sampled and downloaded. That 10% is also on my website, with Amazon's and B&N's blessing. I am in the process of looking into doing something similar with GBooks for one or more of my books.

Google does more, including scanning books and posting not just the first part but snippets through out the book, especially non-fiction books.

Concerned authors should always question how others use our intellectual property. There are plenty of thieves in the world and we have to be vigilant. But from what I can see Google Books is not just harmless but a positive good.

blacbird
05-06-2016, 06:33 AM
Google Books isn't doing anything illegal, from my experience with it. Nor immoral, for that matter.

First, complete books in the public domain go on it perfectly legally. Pride and Prejudice is an example, which is also on at least a dozen other web sites.

Public domain material was never at issue in this case.




from what I can see Google Books is not just harmless but a positive good.

But where does Google get the right to decide what is "a positive good"? Shouldn't that reside with individual authors?

caw

jjdebenedictis
05-06-2016, 08:38 AM
But where does Google get the right to decide what is "a positive good"? Shouldn't that reside with individual authors?

I'm not sure what "positive good" is, but the public good is an important factor in whether this should be done, and I don't think Google or individual authors should necessarily decide that. Judges should.

The reason why I don't think the authors should decide is because they won't be unbiased about whether their rights are outweighed by the public good.

Also, in a discussion here on AW about how long after a creator's death it should be before the property becomes public domain, I was surprised at how many people thought it was better for copyright to be extended to the point where people born long after the creator died still have a lock on the profits. I mean, how many of your great-grandparents can you name? And you really think your great-great-grandchildren, fully functional adults to whom you will have never been anything but a paycheque from a grave, deserve to profit exclusively from the work you did in your lifetime? Why owe them loyalty to the exclusion and detriment of all the rest of humanity?

Laer Carroll
05-09-2016, 02:09 AM
… where does Google get the right to decide what is "a positive good"? Shouldn't that reside with individual authors?

It does. Google can't excerpt in total without the consent of publishers and their authors. The courts still prosecute anyone, including Google, who publish complete works without permission.

What Google does is publish excerpts. And along with those are links to where those books can be bought or gotten from a library. At least for my books I heartily approve. When my latest book was listed by Google I noticed an uptick in my sales (small, but hey that's self-pub for you).

I'd be out to bomb Google or anyone else if they were screwing authors. But they don't seem to be doing so.

blacbird
05-09-2016, 04:57 AM
At least for my books I heartily approve.

Which is fine. It was YOUR choice to "approve". But that still doesn't address the issue of some other author NOT approving of this practice. To me, it isn't an issue of the amount of material Google gets to reproduce, freely. It's an issue of permission. If I, as author, want Google to reproduce excerpts from my books, that should be my choice, not theirs. They don't have the right to determine for me what's good for me.

caw

Amadan
05-09-2016, 05:26 AM
It's an issue of permission. If I, as author, want Google to reproduce excerpts from my books, that should be my choice, not theirs.

Why?

That's not a rhetorical question. If it's a question of someone profiting off your work, sure, that's what copyright is for. But I think the "humanity benefits" argument is actually stronger here than the "I should have complete control over every word I produce, dammit!" argument.

The courts may or may not eventually agree - it seems to be unsettled law at the moment. But I cannot see how it harms you as an author, and there are already contexts in which people are allowed to reproduce extracts of your work without your permission.

blacbird
05-09-2016, 06:52 AM
Why?


To which the only response is: Why not?

I'm generally in favor of "opt-in" situations, rather than "opt-out" ones, and in the case of Google, there isn't even an "opt-out" now, is there?

caw

blacbird
05-09-2016, 07:05 AM
Also, in a discussion here on AW about how long after a creator's death it should be before the property becomes public domain, I was surprised at how many people thought it was better for copyright to be extended to the point where people born long after the creator died still have a lock on the profits.

Red herring to this thread, methinks. I, personally, think the U.S. (and EU) copyright protection terms are excessively long, and benefit primarily large publishing houses, rather than individual authors. But that's a separate argument.

caw

Amadan
05-09-2016, 07:29 AM
To which the only response is: Why not?

I already said why not. It benefits humanity for information to be preserved and available. Absent any harm caused to you or anyone else, that a pretty compelling argument.

jjdebenedictis
05-09-2016, 07:30 AM
Red herring to this thread, methinks. I, personally, think the U.S. (and EU) copyright protection terms are excessively long, and benefit primarily large publishing houses, rather than individual authors. But that's a separate argument.
Agreed; it's not so relevant. But it illustrates my point that the creator isn't objective enough to decide this. We can all be a bit irrational about our art.

If you never want anyone to say, "It belongs to the world now," then keep your art in a folder and order it destroyed upon your death. That's the only way to be sure.

If you're selling your art, however, then at some point it will become the property of humanity. Copyright ensures that doesn't happen until after you and the relatives you personally knew have benefited fully and probably are dead, but even while everyone is still alive, fair use applies: People get some rights to your work as soon as you release it. They can do a practice sketch based on your painting; they can put an excerpt of your novel in their class notes; they can sample and re-mix a snippet your music.

Google decided they don't need your permission to do this, just like a random university instructor doesn't need permission to use your first chapter as an example for her students to analyse in class. I can completely understand the argument that they shouldn't be allowed to do this much without your permission, but saying they can't do anything without your permission isn't in keeping with what the law already allows.

blacbird
05-09-2016, 07:59 AM
If you never want anyone to say, "It belongs to the world now," then keep your art in a folder and order it destroyed upon your death. That's the only way to be sure.

You persist in completely misconstruing my point, so I'll let the argument fly as it wishes.

I don't have to worry about any of this, in regard to my work, anyhow.

caw