Authors sue Google over Google Print

The Authors Guild and three authors filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Google for its Google Print project.

The Authors Guild and three other writers filed a class action suit on Tuesday against Google over the Google Print program. The lawsuit charges Google with massive copyright infringement.

Google Print is a beta, or test, project that allows Internet users to search for content in books. Google is in the process of scanning books from several libraries into the searchable database.

The Authors Guild, a society of published writers representing over 8,000 U.S. authors, charges that Google has not sought the approval of authors to include their works in the program.

Google does allow copyright holders to exclude their books from the program. However, traditionally, content users must have affirmative authorization from a copyright owner to use the copyrighted material, said Terence Ross, a partner and copyright law specialist at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, a Washington, D.C., law office. "Merely saying that if we don't hear from you we assume it's okay has never been accepted by any court and I doubt it would ever be accepted," he said.

Google said in a statement responding to the lawsuit that its activities are consistent with the fair use doctrine under U.S. copyright law and the principles underlying copyright law. Fair use is a concept within U.S. copyright law that allows copyright material to be used in limited circumstances, such as quoting parts of a novel for a book review, without the permission of the author.

When users search the Google Print database, they find a "brief snippet of text where their search term appears," not the entire text, Google explained in the statement.

Still, Google is copying entire works into its database. "It's not what's delivered to the PC user that's the copyright issue, it's the fact that they have copied the entire work in the first place," said Ross. "I don't see fair use."

Google also points to a paper issued by Jonathan Band, an intellectual property lawyer, who cites potentially relevant cases. In one, a company was allowed to make copies of images on Web sites and offer them in smaller, lower quality form because such a format doesn't alleviate the need for the higher-quality originals.

Similarly, rather than erode the potential for authors to sell books, Google argues the program will encourage sales. "This ability to introduce millions of users to millions of titles can only expand the market for authors' books, which is precisely what copyright law is intended to foster," the statement said.

Google is working with University of Michigan, Harvard University, Stanford University, The New York Public Library and Oxford University to scan all or part of their books into the Google Print database.

The lawsuit was filed in a New York federal court. The three writers named in the suit in addition to the Authors Guild are Herbert Mitgang, a former New York Times writer and book author, Betty Miles, a children's book author and Daniel Hoffman, a poet and author.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Nancy Gohring

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?