19 October 2005 by Published in: General News 4 comments

Well, now a publisher’s trade association has joined the fray in the fight against Google’s massive copyright infringement scheme. The Association of American Publishers’s press release states, quite correctly, that “the bottom line is that under its current plan, Google is seeking to make millions of dollars by freeloading on the talent and property of authors and publishers.”

This new lawsuit joins the suit filed by the Author’s Guild last month. The press release issued when the Author’s Guild suit was filed said, “This is a plain and brazen violation of copyright law. It’s not up to Google or anyone other than the authors, the rightful owners of these copyrights, to decide whether and how their works will be copied.”

Google apparently still doesn’t get it. Its response to the AAP lawsuit announcement is “Google Print is a historic effort to make millions of books easier for people to find and buy. Creating an easy-to-use index of books is fair use under copyright law and supports the purpose of copyright: to increase the awareness and sales of books directly benefiting copyright holders,” said David Drummond, Google’s vice president of corporate development and general counsel. “This short-sighted attempt to block Google Print works counter to the interests of not just the world’s readers, but also the world’s authors and publishers.” Never mind that it constitutes a flagrant violation of even the most fundamental concepts of copyright law. Never let the details get in the way of a good program idea, I guess. Or so seems Google’s attitude.

As for me, I can’t see how having my intellectual property–my blood, sweat, and tears–available to the world for free–with no payment of royalties to me–or any other author, for that matter–benefits either my publisher or me, but I’m just a dumb lawyer. What do I know as compared to the all-knowing Google?

That Google is trampling on the intellectual property rights of authors and publishers is of no account and of no consideration to Google. I guess it’s going to take losing these two lawsuits–and the concomitant judgments, which will include awards of attorney’s fees–for them to get it.

This litigation interests me a great deal for a variety of reasons. As an attorney who has dabbled in intellectual property law for the better part of twenty years, it’s of great interest to me professionally and intellectually. IP issues have always fascinated me. As a publisher, I have a vested interest in protecting the copyright rights of my authors and of doing everything I can possibly do to maximize the company’s profits to benefit its shareholders, including preventing our works from being readily available to the world for free. Finally, as an author who has not consented to the infringement of his copyrights by Google, I am outraged by their policy. The combination of these factors means that I am a zealous supporter of this litigation. As I pointed out in a prior post on this blog, I view Google’s program as being virtually identical to the sorts of copyright infringement that the U. S. Supreme Court outlawed in the Grokster decision earlier this year. If Grokster is illegal, so, too, should this program be.

Let’s hope that the AAP and the Author’s Guild prevail.

Scridb filter


  1. Thu 20th Oct 2005 at 7:05 am

    Google has posted their point of view over on their blog.


  2. Kerry Webb
    Thu 20th Oct 2005 at 6:50 pm

    It’s mostly a question of trust. If you trust Google to do nothing more than what they say they’ll do, what’s the harm? Sure, we may object to the high-handed way they’re going about it (requiring copyright holders to opt-out), but they say that they’ll be digitising this stuff to make a huge index, that’s all. And is that so bad?

    But if they succumb to the temptation to offer this digitised text as a service (and perhaps give some return to the authors) that’s another thing.

    And of course it’s not as simple as that.

  3. Thu 20th Oct 2005 at 9:31 pm


    Thanks very much for passing that along.

    It does not change my mind or my opinion in any fashion.

    An old cliche goes, “why should I buy the cow if I can get its milk for free?” In my mind, making my material available on line for free, without my permission, in any fashion whatsoever, violates my copyright.

    Nothing will change my mind about this.


  4. Wed 26th Oct 2005 at 9:32 am

    As a researcher and author – and I know Eric will agree with this – we often purchase a book just for a single account in it. Even for one paragraph, or one sentence. We may use that as a quote in a book or article. It’s not uncommon to shell out 30 or 40 bucks just for that one tidbit of information.

    The digitized text might make something available to someone for free, whereas they may have otherwise purchased that book. So, if what Google plans to do ruins ONE sale for an author, then it’s one sale too many.

    J.D. Petruzzi

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