November 06, 2008

My _Guardian_ column on Google Book Search Settlement

Google's copyright war will have open access advocates up in arms

.. on the copyright issues surrounding Google's digitising of books

There's some value in enemy-of-my-enemy opposition, where the interests of an advertising near-monopoly are a counterweight to a content cartel. But battles between behemoth businesses should not be mistaken for friendship to libraries, authors or public interest.

[Update: I didn't pick the title, but I don't find it a problem]

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in google , press | on November 06, 2008 07:23 AM (Infothought permalink)
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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You have surely misinterpreted the copyright law in suggesting that it allows the use of short extracts as "fair use" - these provisions are expessly restricted to individuals, for their own research or private study,or for the purposes of review (i.e book reviews etc), not for the kind of commercial purposes that Google is apparently trying to operate, and if it does it should certainly lose any lawsuit, either side of the Atlantic.
Barry West, ex-Deputy Librarian, Coventry University

Posted by: Barry West at November 6, 2008 09:26 AM

A very good piece. I miss the traditional gloss on who picked the title, especially as it might be unclear to what targets they're supposed to take up arms against - I'm sure some will blame it all on 'Big Content' and give Google another pass.

One thing I would say though, in regard to 'neither could win by having paid advocates and captive experts overwhelm the other's viewpoint,' is that Google obviously hoped to get some swell of support with its statements on how utterly convinced they were that it was Fair Use in a way that the publishers never really tried. Leading people to assume that if Google's lawyers - who must, after all, be the best money can buy - say it, it is so. After this, pulling out of the Yahoo deal and seesawing on the Viacom suit, even when Google is doing something that is totally non-evil and good for everyone, people should treat their statements on legal matters as mostly PR instead of citable support for a cause.

Posted by: Chris at November 6, 2008 09:35 AM