“Google Print” fuels copyright concerns

Google Inc. is under fire for scanning and digitizing books under the Google Print Library Project, an act that opponents of the Internet search giant consider a violation of copyright law.

Five major publishers were named as plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed against Google in October by the Association of American Publishers. The suit, intended to recover legal costs, asked a federal judge that Google be blocked from resuming its scanning of books on Nov. 1, according to the Washington Post.

Google had ceased its digitizing program in a compromise with the unhappy publishers, who oppose its plans of making all of the world’s books searchable online.

The publishers named on the lawsuit are McGraw-Hill, Pearson Education, Penguin Group USA, Simon & Schuster and John Wiley & Sons.
Google has alreadye scanned books from the University of Michigan, Harvard University, Stanford University, The New York Public Library and Oxford University, according to the Web site Macworld.com.

Despite heated opposition, the company said that it will continue scanning library books unless copyright holders specify which books they want excluded.

Yahoo Inc., one of Google’s major competitors, automatically excludes books protected by copyright unless the company receives permission to use them from copyright holders, the Washington Post reported.

Google said that its program, which is an extension of the Google Print service, does not violate copyright law because the viewing of copyrighted materials in the library is restricted to a snippet of their contents until the viewer pays to see it.

The publishers proposed that Google identify books under copyright using their unique ISBN numbers as an alternative to the current system of archiving, and then seek permission to scan them from copyright holders.

Google denied the proposal, according to the Washington Post.

Under federal law, copyright holders have the exclusive right to reproduce copyrighted works themselves or authorize others to do so, distribute copies to the public and prepare materials based on them.

A major exception to these exclusive rights is the “fair use” provision, which allows third parties to reproduce copyrighted works under certain circumstances depending on the purpose and extent of use.

A third party’s reproduction of a copyrighted work is considered “fair use” only a small portion of the total work is used or if it is used for “non-profit purposes.”

Another exception is the right of archives and libraries to reproduce copyrighted materials, as long as those materials are not used to gain commercial advantage. Google said that its print service is an archive, but does not necessarily give Google, but the exception to apply, the

Because Google is a commercial operation obligated to create profits for its stockholders, the company may find it difficult to argue that it would not gain at least an indirect advantage from its project, according to the Web site Localtechwire.com.

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