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Miguel Ferreyra's profile photoChris Granade's profile photoBill Bogstad's profile photoWendy Cockcroft's profile photo
Maybe? On the other hand, it'd be great if the suit goes forward and the authors lose, helping to establish a right to index.
+Lauren Weinstein Why is it a bad ruling?
+Chris Granade If all Google did was to retain an index, I would probably agree with you. But as I understand it, Google also retains an entire digital copy of the work as well which would appear to me to be a clear copyright violation. Now whether the Author's Guild should have standing to bring a suit for this violation is beyond where I (as a laymen) am willing to go. Apparently the judge after some consideration has decided that they do.
If Google offered some kind of profit-sharing deal like authors get on Amazon or other services, that'd be hard to argue against. The question to be asked is, are the authors being deprived of money that Google is getting instead or are they kicking off for no good reason?
+Bill Bogstad: Saying that Google can't maintain a digital copy, internal to their own organization, is somewhat akin to saying that they can't remember the contents of what they've read. Maintaining a complete enough index of a book to search over it requires that one have enough information to reconstruct it.
+Wendy Cockcroft As you almost certainly know copyright law has the idea of statutory damages.   Whether Google made a nickel from this, I would assume they are still liable for such damages.  An argument could be made that at this point Google's infringement is willful which might kick up the cost to $150,000 per work.

Now you (and perhaps I) might think the whole idea of statutory damages is absurd in this case, but we shouldn't be asking the courts to change the law just because we don't like the results.  As I see it, there is too much of that from all corners of the political and business world as it is.
+Chris Granade Google (and it's computers) aren't persons.
(Okay maybe Google is a person for purposes of political speech in the US, but that's a whole other issue.  It's hard drives are certainly not persons.)   Copyright law doesn't (yet) consider changes to your neurons to be an infringement while fixing a copy in some other media is.   Just because what Google wants to do would provide many lovely services and would be extremely helpful to their business model doesn't mean that it isn't a violation of current copyright law.   Google decided that rather then asking for permission up front, that they would ask for forgiveness later.   Well, they aren't getting it.

As for index == full copy.   Maybe in the way that we think of it online. But I'm pretty sure that you could rip the index out of the back of any book and publish it separately without the original content at all.   Concordances usually? include the original work, but I suppose they could be published separately.  Google probably wouldn't be able to make any money off of this but I would have more sympathy if that was what they had done.
Here's the +Techdirt take:

And their point: ...different authors would have very different issues (especially on the fair use analysis), but also because lots and lots of authors didn't seem to have a problem with what Google was doing (especially considering studies that have shown being in Google Books helps sell more books).

As +Lauren Weinstein would say, the Authors Guild case is orthogonal to the author's case because the Guild claims to be representing the authors when it seems that it's not.

Here are the issues:


The products and services envisioned by the proposed settlement will give Google not only an unprecedented ability to track our reading habits but to do so at an unprecedented level of granularity. Because the books will be accessed on Google's servers Google will not only know what books readers search for and access but will also know which pages they read how long they stayed on each page what book they read before and which books they access next. This is a level of reader surveillance that no library or bookstore has ever had.

The Case

The case began in 2005 when the Authors Guild sued Google for digitizing books as part of the Google Book Search program called "Google Print" at the time. Through partnerships with university libraries Google intended to scan books index the contents and provide both library users and the public with the ability to search through books. The Authors Guild complained that Google was "engaging in massive copyright infringement" by scanning books and that also that Google would be guilty of copyright infringement by displaying the search results to book-seeking users.

After a couple of years of litigation the Authors Guild and Google proposed a massive complex settlement in October 2008 setting off waves of controversy. In it the Authors Guild sought to allow Google to continue scanning books and moreover would allow Google to offer readers previews for free and full access to books for a fee through a few different models. In exchange Google planned to pay a portion of those fees back to the publishers and authors through the Book Rights Registry a separate non-profit entity created by the settlement and intended to represent the interests of authors and publishers.

The initial settlement resulted in a litany of objections from groups as varied as the US Department of Justice public interest groups foreign governments authors publishers physical and digital book retailers library associations and more. After the objections were filed the Authors Guild and Google were given extra time to amend the settlement.

Basically, Google tried to simplify a straightforward process and ran into a quagmire of publishers' rights, etc.

There's a plan to pay for the infringement and a dogfight over who gets the dosh and how it will be dished out. +Electronic Frontier Foundation supplied the rest of the information.
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