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Date: Fri, 9 Mar 2007 21:04:54 -0500
From: Ruben Safir
Subject: [NYLXS - HANGOUT] To Google is theft
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BBC NEWS Is Google really flouting copyright law? By Mukul Devichand
Reporter, BBC Law in Action
A Microsoft lawyer this week accused Google of "systematically violating
copyright" with its plans to scan millions of books and journals from
libraries around the world and make them available online. But Google
argues its plans are legal.
Google is not the only company scanning books and putting them on the
internet. In a large underground room at the British Library in London,
Microsoft has set up a system to scan in 100,000 books.
An automatic clamp holds the books in a cradle and turns the
pages. Powerful cameras capture each page and a computer reads the text.
Google and Microsoft are, in effect, going head to head with projects
which could make the whole of human literature available to search
Google has signed up the libraries of Oxford and Harvard Universities,
among others. Microsoft has agreements with libraries including the
University of California and the British Library.
Moral high ground
Sometimes publishers want their books included in these book searches
. There is no legal problem with those, but books scanned in from
libraries are much more controversial.
The majority of human knowledge is still not on-line, it's still
stored in collections and libraries Jens Redmer, Google
In libraries, Microsoft is only digitising older titles - in the
British library, for example, they are only scanning books from
before 1850. Books published after that may be in copyright,
which means scanning them in could infringe the rights of authors.
Google has crossed this line by scanning some in-copyright works
with its American partners, which is why Microsoft is claiming
the moral high ground.
Microsoft complain that Google is being "cavalier". But Google
believes it is legal under copyright law in the United States
where Google is carrying out its book scans.
"We have created all of our products to comply with copyright
law," says Jens Redmer, Director of Google Book Search Europe,
in Google's first UK broadcast interview on the subject with
the BBC Radio 4 programme Law in Action.
Google are relying on the American legal doctrine of "fair use",
which is much more liberal than other legal systems. It has its
origins in the right to freedom of speech in the US constitution.
American law has various tests for any "fair use" to pass -
such as making sure it poses no commercial threat to anyone else.
"The majority of human knowledge is still not on-line, it's still
stored in collections and libraries, at these great libraries
around the world," says Jens Redmer.
Google argues that because they only show a very small extract
of a copyrighted work on their book search, it is not against
"For copyrighted books we only show a snippet except where we
have a contract with the copyright owner," he says.
"For those books that we have digitised in some of the US
libraries, that are still in copyright, we only show that there
is a book out there on the market," says Redmer.
We need to have a clear fair dealing arrangement Lynne
Brindley, British Library
But in the US, the Authors Guild are suing Google for
what they say is "massive copyright infringement".
A court will decide whether Google's book search complies
with fair use. But Google's stand has been supported by
one of America's most prominent copyright activists -
Stanford Law professor Lawrence Lessig.
On his blog, Lessig points out that Google only offers
"an index into the book".
"It doesn't give you a book to read," he says.
Copyright law is designed to protect the authors of
books by making sure people cannot steal their work.
So a crucial question is whether book search engines
like Google ultimately benefit authors by driving up
book sales, or hurt the publishing trade.
There are mixed feelings among publishers. While many
mainstream authors feel threatened by their texts being
searchable on-line for free, some niche and unknown
authors may have more to gain.
"All I think authors and publishers need are some sort of
assurances and controls," says Mel Thomspon, a UK-based
author of books on philosophy and ethics.
Thompson worries that unless there is a fair system in
place to make sure authors get paid for writing, the
quality of books written will deteriorate and Google's
library programme will "cut its own throat long term".
But he also accepts that it might actually drive up
sales - something he approves of.
Authors want to make sure that "if stuff is sold on the
internet - and why shouldn't it be - at least they'll get
fair remuneration compared to the print market," he says.
The controversy around Google book search is also being
watched by lawyers around the world because everywhere,
copyright law is being challenged by digital technology
and it is unclear where the balance should lie.
In the UK, a recent government review was against adopting
a more flexible, US-style system. But libraries are
calling for a debate on the future of this law.
Lynne Brindley, chief executive of the British Library,
wants a system that makes sure authors get paid but also
allows library collections to be searched.
"We need to have a clear fair dealing arrangement,"
she says. "We would be a much poorer society if we were
not to allow that in the digital age."
Law in Action is on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesdays at 1600 GMT
or hear the latest programme at the Law in Action website.
You can email Law in Action with your stories
about the law using the form below Name Your E-mail
address Town & Country Comments Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/03/09 21:14:28 GMT
© BBC MMVII -- http://www.mrbrklyn.com - Interesting Stuff
http://www.nylxs.com - Leadership Development in Free Software
So many immigrant groups have swept through our town that Brooklyn, like
Atlantis, reaches mythological proportions in the mind of the world -
RI Safir 1998
http://fairuse.nylxs.com DRM is THEFT - We are the STAKEHOLDERS -
RI Safir 2002
"Yeah - I write Free Software...so SUE ME"
"The tremendous problem we face is that we are becoming sharecroppers
to our own cultural heritage -- we need the ability to participate in
our own society."
"> I'm an engineer. I choose the best tool for the job, politics be
damned.< You must be a stupid engineer then, because politcs and
technology have been attacted at the hip since the 1st dynasty in
Ancient Egypt. I guess you missed that one."