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Old 11-14-2013, 12:00 PM   #1
kennyc
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Google Books wins -- Fair Use says Judge

Quote:
Google wins book-scanning case: judge finds “fair use,” cites many benefits
by Jeff John Roberts 2 HOURS AGO 1 Comment

SUMMARY:
The long-running copyright fight between Google and the Authors Guild is over: Judge Denny Chin issued a resounding ruling in favor of fair use.

Google has won a resounding victory in its eight-year copyright battle with the Authors Guild over the search giant’s controversial decision to scan more than 20 million books from libraries and make them available on the internet.

In a ruling (embedded below) issued Thursday morning in New York, US Circuit Judge Denny Chin said the book scanning amounted to fair use because it was “highly transformative” and because it didn’t harm the market for the original work.

“Google Books provides significant public benefits,” Chin wrote, describing it as “an essential research tool” and noting that the scanning service has expanded literary access for the blind and helped preserve the text of old books from physical decay.

Chin also rejected the theory that Google was depriving authors of income, noting that the company does not sell the scans or make whole copies of books available. He concluded, instead, that Google Books served to help readers discover new books and amounted to “new income from authors.”
...
http://gigaom.com/2013/11/14/google-...many-benefits/

CNET: http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-576...-google-books/

Last edited by kennyc; 11-14-2013 at 12:17 PM.
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Old 11-14-2013, 12:17 PM   #2
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Wow, I didn't see that coming.
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Old 11-14-2013, 01:00 PM   #3
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Nor I, but it is certainly a very welcome decision.
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Old 11-14-2013, 01:37 PM   #4
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A rare win for common sense.
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Old 11-14-2013, 02:12 PM   #5
Ninjalawyer
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The argument by the authors in this case, that returning a snippet of a book (which could could be 1/8th of one page), was copyright infringement and not covered by fair use was always bound to fail. Their argument was based on the incorrect premise that copyright grants the holder an ability to control all uses of a work, and not just certain uses (e.g., total reproduction of a work).

No doubt we'll be reading some FUD shortly from the usual places about how the court has handed Google a license to pirate, and that Google will continue its nefarious plot to give away every writer's book, for free.


I'm really looking forward to reading the full ruling tonight.

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Old 11-14-2013, 02:22 PM   #6
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Author's Guild
Round One to Google: Judge Chin Finds Mass Book Digitization a Fair Use. Guild Plans Appeal.

Quote:
“We disagree with and are disappointed by the court’s decision today,” Authors Guild executive director Paul Aiken said. “This case presents a fundamental challenge to copyright that merits review by a higher court. Google made unauthorized digital editions of nearly all of the world’s valuable copyright-protected literature and profits from displaying those works. In our view, such mass digitization and exploitation far exceeds the bounds of fair use defense.”

“We plan to appeal the decision.”

Publisher's Weekly
Google Wins: Court Issues a Ringing Endorsement of Google Books

Library Journal
Digitization: Google Prevails in Authors Guild Lawsuit, Summary Judgment Filed New York District Court

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Old 11-14-2013, 03:49 PM   #7
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If the Authors Guild was really interested in supporting authors, it would be in favour of book digitization, rather than wasting more money with an appeal that will likely prove fruitless and only serve to strengthen the precedent set by this case.

Just for fun, here's a snippet from the judgement that demonstrates the calibre of some of the Guild's arguments:

Quote:
Plaintiffs argue that Google Books will negatively impact the market for books and that Google's scans will serve as a "market replacement" for books. [The complaint] also argues that users could put in multiple searches, varying slightly the search terms, to access an entire book.

Neither suggestion makes sense. Google does not sell its scans, and the scans do not replace the books. While partner libraries have the ability to download a scan of a book from their collections, they owned the books already—they provided the original book to Google to scan. Nor is it likely that someone would take the time and energy to input countless searches to try and get enough snippets to comprise an entire book.
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Old 11-14-2013, 04:30 PM   #8
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The Author's Guild has always come across as an arm of the big publishers. They backed, through their President, Scott Turow, (at least verbally) the publishers price fixing, claims, again through Scott Turow, that Amazon is destroying physical bookstores and continues to whine about Google. They should really put Scott on the payroll.
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Old 11-14-2013, 04:39 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jgaiser View Post
The Author's Guild has always come across as an arm of the big publishers.
If they've all got contracts like the ones I've hear P.N. Elrod talking about, then they're more like sock puppets.
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Old 11-14-2013, 04:44 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jgaiser View Post
The Author's Guild has always come across as an arm of the big publishers. They backed, through their President, Scott Turow, (at least verbally) the publishers price fixing, claims, again through Scott Turow, that Amazon is destroying physical bookstores and continues to whine about Google. They should really put Scott on the payroll.
Yep....
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Old 11-14-2013, 05:01 PM   #11
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Excellent! Nice to see a few pieces of good news recently.
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Old 11-14-2013, 05:20 PM   #12
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Chin's breakdown of the four factors of fair use:
Quote:
1) Google Books does not supersede or supplant books because it is not a tool to be used to read books. Instead, it "adds value to the original" and allows for "the creation of new information, new aesthetics, new insights and understandings." Leval, Toward a Fair Use Standard, 103 Harv. L. Rev. at 1111. Hence, the use is transformative.

2) The second factor is "the nature of the copyrighted work." 17 U.S.C. § 107(2). Here, the works are books – all types of published books, fiction and non-fiction, in-print and out-of-print. While works of fiction are entitled to greater copyright protection, Stewart v. Abend, 495 U.S. 207, 237 (1990), here the vast majority of the books in Google Books are non-fiction. Further, the books at issue are published and available to the public. These considerations favor a finding of fair use.

3) Google scans the full text of books – the entire books -- and it copies verbatim expression. […] Here, as one of the keys to Google Books is its offering of full-text search of books, full-work reproduction is critical to the functioning of Google Books. Significantly, Google limits the amount of text it displays in response to a search.

On balance, I conclude that the third factor weighs slightly against a finding of fair use.

4) Google does not sell its scans, and the scans do not replace the books. … To the contrary, a reasonable factfinder could only find that Google Books enhances the sales of books to the benefit of copyright holders. An important factor in the success of an individual title is whether it is discovered….
Many authors have noted that online browsing in general and Google Books in particular helps readers find their work, thus increasing their audiences. Further, Google provides convenient links to booksellers to make it easy for a reader to order a book. In this day and age of on-line shopping, there can be no doubt but that Google Books improves books sales.

Hence, I conclude that the fourth factor weighs strongly in favor of a finding of fair use.
Nothing flashy, no great tweet-worthy quotes to grab, just a solid writeup of the background and a conclusion that no, Google Books does not infringe author's copyrights.

I have to wonder what the Author's Guild actually wanted--to shut down Google Books? To be paid a royalty of their choice every time one of their books turned up in a search (at which point, Google would just exclude those books from search; I'm sure that'd go over really well)? Maybe a portion of Google's profits for the entire time G'books has been active... which doesn't seem to be likely even if they'd won. (The appeal would've been intense--I could see Google arguing that they shouldn't be penalized because no reasonable person could know whether or not copyright was infringed in this situation. Google certainly has the resources to spend years getting the courts to wrangle that one.)

So glad this is over, and that it got such a clear and solid ruling. It'll set the groundwork for all sorts of small businesses based around research based on scanned texts, and it may be a solid foundation for those "buck a book" scanning sites. (Which isn't true; it's a buck-per-100-pages.)
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Old 11-14-2013, 06:24 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elfwreck View Post
Chin's breakdown of the four factors of fair use:
Nothing flashy, no great tweet-worthy quotes to grab, just a solid writeup of the background and a conclusion that no, Google Books does not infringe author's copyrights.
And it pretty much shuts the door on a successful appeal. It will be interesting to see what the Author's Guild will try to claim on appeal.
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Old 11-15-2013, 03:16 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jgaiser View Post
The Author's Guild has always come across as an arm of the big publishers. They backed, through their President, Scott Turow, (at least verbally) the publishers price fixing, claims, again through Scott Turow, that Amazon is destroying physical bookstores and continues to whine about Google. They should really put Scott on the payroll.
But if Amazon didn't have the books available as ebooks many people who don't live near a bookstore would be denied access to a good part of the world's literature wouldn't they? And wouldn't that be discriminatory? i.e. Sorry you don't live in the right place for you to have access to a bookstore so you can't buy a copy of (insert book title). Granted not everyone even now has access to the internet for one reason or another, but many who had no access to books now do because of things like wireless internet and 3G. And what of the old books that google has saved digitally that aren't in copyright any longer? Are we supposed to let them all vanish because a publisher (who wasn't even born when the book was written) wants to keep it a strictly physical book and not an ebook?
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Old 11-15-2013, 09:42 AM   #15
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But if Amazon didn't have the books available as ebooks many people who don't live near a bookstore would be denied access to a good part of the world's literature wouldn't they?
People bought books by mail long before Amazon. The USPS still has a very affordable book postage rate.
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