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Old 09-12-2011, 11:27 PM   #1
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Authors Guild sues universities over online books

Authors and authors' groups in the United States, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom sued the University of Michigan and four other universities Monday, seeking to stop the creation of online libraries made up of as many as 7 million copyright-protected books they say were scanned without authorization.

The Authors Guild, the Australian Society of Authors and the Union Des Ecrivaines et des Ecrivains Quebecois, or UNEQ, joined eight individual authors to file the copyright infringement lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan against Michigan, the University of California, the University of Wisconsin, Indiana University and Cornell University.

http://news.yahoo.com/authors-guild-...233911504.html
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Old 09-13-2011, 12:17 AM   #2
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This is a case of where the old copyright system worked a lot better. Where they had to be renewed, much like the patent system.

Basically a handful of commercially viable works is holding an immense wealth of information about the past hostage.

But sometimes the greater good is better than benefiting the creator for perpetuity. Same with patents - many of those have a more immediate impact on life, so why should inventors be penalized, while authors and musicians and whatnot be rewarded for only affecting culture?
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Old 09-14-2011, 09:34 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by JeremyR View Post
This is a case of where the old copyright system worked a lot better. Where they had to be renewed, much like the patent system.

Basically a handful of commercially viable works is holding an immense wealth of information about the past hostage.

But sometimes the greater good is better than benefiting the creator for perpetuity. Same with patents - many of those have a more immediate impact on life, so why should inventors be penalized, while authors and musicians and whatnot be rewarded for only affecting culture?
Because culture IS life. Not that I'm a fan of copyright. I think it is the archaic remnant of a primitive capitalist 'land grab' that has morphed into a tool for corporate domination.
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Old 09-14-2011, 10:54 AM   #4
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One point raised in the article concerns the fact that they are not making antiques available:

"The authors said books from nearly every nation have been digitized, including thousands of works published in 2001 in China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Russia, Spain and the United Kingdom, and hundreds from Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Mexico, The Netherlands, The Philippines, South Korea, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam."

2001 is a bit soon to claim that many works as "orphaned" and way too short even in the earliest versions of copyright life...
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Old 09-14-2011, 12:02 PM   #5
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I wonder if the foreign authors are doing this suit against the universities and HathiTrust as a publicity stunt against Google. It's not clear to me whether the US fair use rules apply to foreign works, and as far as I can tell, the HathiTrust initiative is based on making "orphaned works" available through fair use based on the not for profit educational use rule.
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Old 09-14-2011, 12:35 PM   #6
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lol, crybabies. "You can't read without our permission!" As if the universities existence has taken no toll on the universe as a whole.
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Old 09-14-2011, 01:49 PM   #7
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This frustrates me. I use Google book search a LOT to locate passages in paper books I already own but which I can't yet buy in eBook form because they haven't been converted yet.
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Old 09-14-2011, 03:20 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by bgalbrecht View Post
I wonder if the foreign authors are doing this suit against the universities and HathiTrust as a publicity stunt against Google. It's not clear to me whether the US fair use rules apply to foreign works, and as far as I can tell, the HathiTrust initiative is based on making "orphaned works" available through fair use based on the not for profit educational use rule.
Fair use doesn't let you copy the whole damn book... this is what is being done here... and while there can be justification for putting orphaned works online, 2001 publications are hardly going to be orphaned en masse...
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Old 09-14-2011, 04:06 PM   #9
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Fair use doesn't let you copy the whole damn book...
§ 107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use
the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.
The issue is potentially whether the use is "classroom" based, or whether the entire work is necessary for the critique/scholarship use being supported.

The "four factors" have to consider whether financial harm is being done by the copying--and if there's no legit digital version being sold, it's hard to claim that unauthorized ones are cutting into ebook profits. It's also hard to prove society's being damaged by removing profits from a publishing company 20 years after the death of the author with no identifiable heirs.

I'm not saying digitizing-and-sharing whole books for educational purposes is always legal, but there *is* a substantial argument for it in many specific cases.
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Old 09-14-2011, 04:55 PM   #10
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Well, and the other thing is: Google isn't sharing the entire work. They show snippets when you search for text, but essentially they are "quoting" the work selectively.

I feel they have a strong case, but who can say these days? I will say that anyone who goes up against Google's lawyers is gutsy.
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Old 09-14-2011, 05:17 PM   #11
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The Author's Guild blog claimed that they gleaned enough information in a two minute Google search to find one of the authors in the list of "orphaned works" that HathiTrust was going to make available to the students and faculty at the participating universities. I'm guessing that author will soon become a principle litigant in the suit, since he's the only one who has clear standing.

I believe that this suit is really about the limits of fair use, and possibly as another salvo in the campaign against passing an orphan works provision in the copyright laws. It might be a smart move for HathiTrust to back away from releasing "orphaned works" and concentrating on verifying the copyright status of post 1923 works which did not have their copyright renewed.
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Old 09-14-2011, 06:28 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elfwreck View Post
§ 107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use
the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.
The issue is potentially whether the use is "classroom" based, or whether the entire work is necessary for the critique/scholarship use being supported.

The "four factors" have to consider whether financial harm is being done by the copying--and if there's no legit digital version being sold, it's hard to claim that unauthorized ones are cutting into ebook profits. It's also hard to prove society's being damaged by removing profits from a publishing company 20 years after the death of the author with no identifiable heirs.

I'm not saying digitizing-and-sharing whole books for educational purposes is always legal, but there *is* a substantial argument for it in many specific cases.
So sorry, forgot many of you are rebellious colonists from across the water... in the UK copying an entire work is not fair use but publishers will do special bulk rates on titles required for classroom distribution.
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Old 09-14-2011, 06:40 PM   #13
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Here's an article that appeared in the University of Michigan student newspaper today, fwiw:
http://www.michigandaily.com/news/un...zation-project
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Old 09-14-2011, 06:49 PM   #14
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Cool Oi, who you callin' foreign........ ?

[QUOTE: Authors and authors' groups in the United States, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom sued the University of Michigan and four other universities Monday, seeking to stop the creation of online libraries made up of as many as 7 million copyright-protected books they say were scanned without authorization.
The Authors Guild, the Australian Society of Authors and the Union Des Ecrivaines et des Ecrivains Quebecois, or UNEQ, joined eight individual [/QUOTE]


bgalbrecht :"I wonder if the foreign authors are doing this suit against the universities and HathiTrust as a publicity stunt against Google. "

And you are of what nationality ? I'm intrigued.

Just to clear up the "foreign" throw-away.....
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Old 09-14-2011, 06:51 PM   #15
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“We don’t know who has the copyright,” Courant said. “If we can’t find the copyright holder after months of searching, then we’re going to allow you … to read that book from your laptop at home.”
Well that is very nice of them, but has no basis in law.
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