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Tuesday, 07 October 2008 14:46That's a great idea. I'll add that to my mental wish list.
Friday, 26 September 2008 11:54Does anyone regularly scour the Needs and Offers lists? How many forums do you search? I've just started a project to replace some lost and paid titles, and I'm getting eyestrain from all the email listservs and the GPO's own N&O page. I would pu .....
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Just a few hours ago Judge Chin issued a ruling that is bound to make authors, photographers, graphic artists and content creators in general happy. The ruling finds that the Author’s Guild and others representing photographers and graphic artists can sue on behalf of their membership.
Google tried to block this action by citing their own research that suggested content creators loved the idea of the search giant scanning protected works. Judge Chin wasn’t buying it, noting that these collective organizations are better suited to interpret their member’s wishes and are a more efficient vehicle for making the fight, “given the sweeping and undiscriminating nature of Google’s unauthorized copying.” Google apparently would have preferred battling authors in court one on one.
The attempt to block the Author’s Guild is especially ironic given that Google claims its proposed settlement with two other author groups did speak for the rights of all authors. So much for having your cake and eating it too.
Everyone can now look forward to a decision on the important merits of the case.
Everyone knows Google has scanned tens of millions of books, including over 3 million books in the public domain, and that it got most of these books from many different libraries, public and private.
What most don’t know is that Google forces those libraries to use technology to restrict Internet access to those digital copies, even the public domain books that are no longer copyrighted.
Under Google’s contracts, those libraries must deploy “technological measures” to prevent other libraries, digital archives, researchers, competing search engines, and others from downloading and analyzing the content of those public domain books. That’s wrong. Public domain books should always be accessible by the public, and not locked up by Google’s technology.
What are “technological measures” or TPMs? Think DRM, encryption, and other access controls typically used to protect copyrighted music and movies from piracy. TPMs like the ones Google requires are backed up by the force of law, specifically Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. That law imposes civil and criminal penalties on anyone who tries to circumvent or disable TPMs without permission of the copyright owner. We believe strongly that this law should never be used by Google to threaten civil and criminal liability on users of digital public domain books, particularly where such threats could cause substantial harm to competition.
Fortunately, every three years the United States Copyright Office examines how TPMs are used to see if they are inhibiting the legitimate, non-infringing use of creative works. Today we filed comments asking the Copyright Office to make clear that Google cannot invoke the law against users of public domain books. We’ve seen Google take many tortured public policy positions throughout the GBS saga, but it is still shocking to watch the company that promotes everything “open” resort to a scheme to keep public domain books “closed.”
In what has become almost frighteningly routine, the three parties to the disgraced and rejected Google Book Settlement were in court again today to update Judge Chin on the status of their case. The news coverage is focusing on a few interesting developments – “progress” between Google and the publishers, a seeming lack of progress between Google and the Authors Guild, and a schedule for a trial on the original litigation (which some observers doubt will ever occur).
Back in March, when Judge Chin sided with the U.S. Department of Justice and rejected the proposed settlement, there was an inclination to believe that Google’s audacious attempt to unilaterally rewrite public policy had been defeated.
But as this process unfolds, it becomes more like Survivor: Google Edition – outwit, outlast, outplay. Emphasis on outlast. Google continues to scan thousands of books per month – at least 15 million unauthorized scans so far. Google continues to exclusively crawl and index these scans – for untold benefit to its dominant search engine. Google continues to wield its nearly unlimited resources to exploit a deliberative legal process so that their efforts can continue. A deal with the publishers would give Google every incentive to continue an expensive litigation track with an Authors Guild ill-equipped to take on a company that makes $2 billion per quarter in the courtroom.
It’s kind of like those Survivor seasons where one of the tribes has a well-outfitted camp with plenty of food, water and shelter while the other is left uncovered in a desert. Except that the tribe in question is inhabiting the super camp illegally.
Even so, with the Federal Trade Commission and State Attorneys General investigating every aspect of their business practices and the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee holding a hearing next week into their market power, there is hope for a fair resolution to these issues.
No offense to the producers or fans of Survivor.
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