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June 24, 2005

"Google Library: Peril for Publishers?"

"Susan Kuchinskas, Google Library: Peril for Publishers? Internet.com, June 17, 2005.

Excerpt: 'Google promises publishers they can earn money when searchers click on contextual ads that appear alongside the book pages. But book publishers were taken aback when they heard about Google Library, a project that had been under way since 2002 with the University of Michigan... The Library Project was positioned as an extension of Google Print, but some publishers saw it as more of a collision with it....Deals with Google were struck one publisher at a time, but they included restrictions on the amount of material from a work under copyright that Google could show in search results, maintaining a fair-use argument for the search engine's use. When searchers click on a listing, they might be able to read anywhere from several pages to only a few sentences containing the keywords....[A]ll the ad money would stay in Google's pocket... "Having reached these agreements with publishers for the use of books under their copyright, Google now announced they'd scan works from several libraries -- including works that are currently under copyright -- without requesting the permission of the copyright owners," said Allan Adler, vice president for legal affairs for the Association of American Publishers (AAP). "Imagine the consternation that caused among publishing houses who realized the possibility that books they had agreed to provide to Google under contract might nevertheless be scanned by Google without those agreements." Adler said AAP members were wondering why Google had sat down with them, then announced two months later that it didn't really need publishers' permission to scan... The AAP's Adler said the publishing community wasn't focusing on the murky fair use question, but rather on Google's plan to make money from books it hadn't bought. "Google's use of these copyrighted works in order to expand the kinds of responses it offers to users of its search engine is clearly going to be used to enhance its ability to sell advertising in conjunction with the operation of that search engine," Adler said... The crux of the copyright issue, according to Adler, is not whether supplying anywhere from a few sentences to a few pages of a book to searchers is covered by the admittedly murky fair use provisions of U.S. copyright law. Rather, the Library Project seems like a way for Google to profit off books without buying them.'"

Source: Peter Suber. Publishers want a cut. Open Access News Blog (18 June 2005) [FullText]

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