Divide and Conquer: Update on the Google Books Lawsuit

By Pike, George H. | Information Today, February 2012 | Go to article overview

Divide and Conquer: Update on the Google Books Lawsuit


Pike, George H., Information Today


This year will mark the seventh anniversary of the lawsuit pitting the Google Books project against a coalition of authors, publishers, photographers, and other copyright owners. Notwithstanding the years that have passed, a series of recent developments have kick-started the lawsuit from settlement talks back to the litigation process. However, those same developments suggest a number of directions the lawsuit could take, ranging anywhere from a quick dismissal of the case to years of further litigation that could ultimately restructure U.S. and worldwide copyright law.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Google Print Library Project

The basic history of the Google Books lawsuit is now well-known. In 2004, Google initiated what was then called the Google Print Library Project, entering into agreements with several large academic and public libraries to scan the libraries' books into Google's servers. Web searches using Google are also run through the book collection, and relevant book results are presented as "snippets," offering brief descriptions of the search terms and a few sentences from the book to provide context. While some books were already in the public domain and some publishers actually entered into agreements with Google, most of the books were scanned without obtaining permission from the copyright owners. Many of these books are so-called orphan works, books that are still under copyright protection, but the owner can no longer be identified or located.

Google was sued for copyright infringement by a host of players: first by The Authors Guild and several individual authors and then by The Association of American Publishers, along with several individual publishing companies that brought suit a few weeks later. Two other lawsuits garnered less publicity but weighed in with possibly equal or greater significance. The first was a lawsuit filed in the French courts by a number of French publishing companies in 2006, and the second was a suit filed by the American Society of Media Photographers, Inc., along with other photographer groups and individual photographers in 2010.

Using Fair Use Snippets

All of the lawsuits claimed that the project, now known as Google Books, infringed on copyrights owned by the various authors, publishers, and photographers. For its part, Google defended its actions, claiming that the copying and showing of snippets was a fair use of copyrighted material. The initial Authors Guild and publishers' suits were merged by the courts, and the photographers joined the suit later. The French suit proceeded separately in the French courts.

Famously, a settlement of the guild and publishers' suits was reached in 2008, which allowed Google to develop and to market the book database in return for payment of royalties to copyright owners. The creation of a registry was also mandated to manage the royalties, including holding royalties for copyright owners of potential orphan works. However, objections quickly mounted over what were seen as fundamental violations of owners' rights to determine the use of their copyrights, as well as the exclusive rights that Google would obtain under the settlement. Early in 2011, a federal court rejected the settlement, indicating that Google went too far in violating fundamental copyright law and too far beyond the original scope of the lawsuit, which had been over the use of snippets and not full-text books.

Opt Out Versus Opt In

While settlement negotiations resumed, it quickly became clear that another full settlement was unlikely. The court had rejected the "opt out" scheme that automatically included all works in the database, subject to an owner being allowed to opt out. The alternate "opt in" scheme would have only allowed the database to contain books for which permission had been sought and granted. Many observers did not believe that would provide enough economic return on Google's investment. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Divide and Conquer: Update on the Google Books Lawsuit
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.