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Archived updates for Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Statutory Damages for Every Author in the Library?

According to writing for the National Law Journal on October 3, 2005, the latest artist v. technology battle involves a recently filed lawsuit in which the Authors Guild is suing Google over its unauthorized scanning and copying of book collections at major libraries across the country:

"The basic point is-Google is copying the books. The question is, 'What use is being made of it?' " said Ilan Barzilay, an intellectual property specialist with Wolf, Greenfield & Sacks in Boston. "Google is going to say, 'Hey, look . . . we're just redistributing tiny little snippets. It's free advertising. But
the flip side is: The authors can't feel happy that there's a digital copy of
their book out there. That makes everybody nervous."

"The authors and only the copyright holders are the ones who are uniquely positioned to decide how they want to make commercial use of their works," said Michael Boni, a shareholder at Philadelphia's Kohn, Swift & Graf. "It's not for Google to tell them, 'Trust us. You're better off this way.' They don't have that right. It's arrogant."

Boni also argues that the authors should get some royalties from the Google project.

Katie Hafner writing for the New York Times on October 3, 2005, notes that Yahoo has also announced plans for a similar project:

The new project's approach differs from Google's in several ways. Once a book
has been digitized, Yahoo will integrate the content into its index and provide
an engine for the group's Web site ( "As soon as it's made available on the O.C.A. Web site, we'll get a feed letting us know, so it can be indexed by us immediately," said David Mandelbrot, vice president of search content at Yahoo.

In a departure from Google's approach, the Open Content Alliance will also make the books accessible to any search engine, including Google's. (Under Google's program, a digitized book would show up only through a Google search.) And by focusing at first on works that are in the public domain - such as thousands of volumes of early American fiction - the group is sidestepping the tricky question of copyright violation.

Peter Givler, the executive director of the Association of American University Presses, who has been an outspoken critic of the Google project, was also more sanguine about the Open Content Alliance. "They want to start working with publishers from the get-go," said Mr. Givler. "And I certainly like the idea that their index will be searchable by other search engines."

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