Monday, September 26, 2005

Author's Guild Sues Google for Copyright Infringement - The Author's Guild does NOT represent THIS Author

NOTE: We have more than a cursory interest in this matter as several of our book publications are found in the following libraries: Michigan (1 book), Stanford (6 books), Harvard (9 books), Oxford (1 book) and the New York Public Library (5 books).

Numerous reports have already appeared on the September 20, 2005 copyright suit brought by the Author's Guild against Google because of its Google Print Project, known generally as "Google Print".

We refer here to TVC Alert at The Virtual Chase (hat tip).

The Washington Post has a September 21, 2005 Reuters article by Eric Auchard titled "Google library push faces lawsuit by US authors".

Edward Wyatt has a September 21, 2005 article at the New York Times, Writers Sue Google, Accusing It of Copyright Violation.

As reported there, the plaintiffs, the Author's Guild and three associated authors, also suing "on behalf of all others similarly situated", filed a class action complaint for copyright infringement against Google Inc. on September 20, 2005 in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

The copyright violation claimed applies to Google's Google Print program, which seeks to scan the library holdings of the university libraries of Stanford, Harvard, Michigan, and Oxford as well as of the New York Public Library (see the first paragraph above) in an effort to create a searchable library of the world's printed books.

The Official Google Blog has a statement on the suit by Susan Wojcicki, Vice President, Product Management Google, indicating that Google will raise the "fair use" defense.

The fair use exception to copyrights is found in Section 107 of Title 17 of the United States Code which encompasses the Copyright Law of the United States of America.

Google refers to an analysis of Google Print and copyright law by Jonathan Band at "The Google Print Library Project: A Copyright Analysis".

As noted above, the LawPundit is the author of numerous copyrighted books and fully supports the Google Print project as a modern means of making information about those books more publicly available. As can be seen at the page Stars Stones and Scholars of Trafford Publishing, what Google seeks to do is already being done by some publishing companies. Star Stones and Scholars is also one of my books and I can confirm that although potential readers are able to read a sizeable excerpt out of that book for free, the online-presence of free material from this book has definitely increased sales of the book, not only at Trafford, but also at Amazon.

This lawsuit by the Author's Guild represents the reactionary, anti-competitive and antiquated side of the publishing industry of yesteryear, representing the vested, monied publishing interests of a very small minority of authors, and it can only be hoped that the courts will so find. If the plaintiffs in this case do not want their copyrighted works to be included on Google, they can do this easily by so notifying Google. Their not being listed would only serve them right. Requiring Google to personally contact all the world's copyright holders would just be silly since 99% are not going to complain if their works are indexed by Google. We, the vast majority of book authors, should not have to suffer because of the selfish 1%.

Seeking a class action here runs counter to the right of copyright which is an individual right, not a right of groups or multiple plaintiffs. A copyright class action is a contradiction in terms. This is also precisely the kind of lawsuit that the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 was intended in spirit to stop. I neither need nor want - nor have I authorized - the Author's Guild to bring this action on my behalf, nor do I support its claim that the Google Print project constitutes copyright infringement. The ultimate profit that Google could possibly make from MY work is miniscule. The ultimate gain that I could possibly obtain from my publications being listed in Google Print is substantial.

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