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Donna Wentworth
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Ernest Miller
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About this weblog
Here we'll explore the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill policy-making, technical standards development, and technological innovation that creates -- and will recreate -- the networked world as we know it. Among the topics we'll touch on: intellectual property conflicts, technical architecture and innovation, the evolution of copyright, private vs. public interests in Net policy-making, lobbying and the law, and more.

Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this weblog are those of the authors and not of their respective institutions.

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Copyfight, the Solo Years: April 2002-March 2004

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In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

Copyfight

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October 24, 2005

Speaking Volumes

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I've got a few pressing personal matters to attend to, and may not be able to return to Copyfight for another few days. In the meantime, here are a few highlights from the discussion surrounding (what else but) Google's "bet-the-Internet" battle to make books easier to find -- and keep fair use alive in the digital era.

Danny Sullivan, underscoring the difference between indexing and reprinting: "Here's the thing. Google is NOT, repeat NOT, republishing copies of books that it scans out of libraries. This is a fundamental mistake that many people seem to be making. Google is scanning books into an index, just as it spiders web pages and adds them to its index...Want the actual book? Google Print won't give it to you. Instead, you have to go someplace and buy it or find it in a library. Google Print merely tells you the book may be what you're looking for."

Dan Thies, responding: "In the case of web pages, a cached copy is usually kept, but Google Print isn’t offering that. If you search for some words with Google Print, they’ll tell you which books the words occured in, and give you a very small snippet of context, which is about as close a fit to 'fair use' as you’ll find… I just quoted a far more substantive piece of Danny’s intellectual property than Google Print ever would, and I’m well within the bounds of reasonable fair use."

Kevin Drum in The Washington Monthly: "I sometimes feel that if the increasingly expansive view of copyright asserted today had been around a couple of centuries ago, the Supreme Court would have ruled that lending libraries were illegal. But just as circulating libraries have a social value that far outweighs the minimal intrusion they produce in an author's ability to control the distribution of her work, the same is true of Google's project."

Authors Guild President Nick Taylor: "Now that the Authors Guild has objected, in the form of a lawsuit, to Google's appropriation of our books, we're getting heat for standing in the way of progress, again for thoughtlessly wanting to be paid. It's been tradition in this country to believe in property rights. When did we decide that socialism was the way to run the Internet?"

Peter Suber, responding: "Nick Taylor's piece shows that he's as clueless as I feared. First, he doesn't understand what socialism is. Second and more important, he complains that the Google project will deprive him of revenue but doesn't offer a single reason to think so...If he thinks that Google's snippets are too large, then either he should scale back his lawsuit to the demand that they fall within fair use or he should forthrightly call for the repeal of fair use."

Meghann Marco, the author whose publisher won't allow her book to be included in Google Print: "I'd asked for my book to be included, because gosh it's so hard to get people to read a book [but Simon & Schuster refused.]...Kinda sucks for me, because not that many people know about my book and this might help them find out about it...In case you guys haven't noticed, books don't have marketing like TV and Movies do."

Brother Blankenhorn, on what he describes as "monetizing fair use": "Lining up for money before the risk is proven is like the pig, the duck, and the dog lining up at the Little Red Hen's oven, waiting for bread, when she hasn't yet sown the seed. If publishers offered their help to Google, instead of their lawsuits, they might have some moral right to the bread coming out of Google's virtual ovens."

Tim Lee: "If there had been an Association of Web Site Publishers in 1995, they could have made precisely the same argument about AltaVista. Had they prevailed, it’s hard to predict how things would have evolved, but it seems unlikely they would have gone as well...The most comprehensive search engines might have required users to subscribe, as LexisNexis and Factiva do....If Google Print is copyright infringement, then so is Google itself. I hope it’s obvious to everyone that declaring Google illegal would be a bad idea."

(Via Peter Suber's always useful Open Access News.)

Update (Oct. 25): Derek Slater: " When I look at the Google Print case, I say 'game on' - I see a chance for a legitimate defendant to take a real shot at making some good law. There's broad and even unexpected support for what Google's doing. A strategy of just patiently waiting on the sidelines, to try to hold Congress off, seems potentially very damaging."

Update #2: Charles Bailey presents The Google Print Controversy: A Bibliography: "This bibliography presents selected electronic works about Google Print that are freely available on the Internet. It has a special focus on the legal issues associated with this project."

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