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March 06, 2007



Spot on. The disingenuousness of MS is so patent that it's comical. Their big issue is they don't have the infrastructure to scale to scanning the books at the rate Google is getting through them. This is really a multi-year advantage Google is building into their index. They started scanning way before MS and the rate at which they're scanning dwarfs MSs own efforts.

If you can't beat them... litigate.

big dog

could i just start a company that scans the Stanford library and puts the pages on the internet without getting the permission of the authors?

I dont know, i think i would be sued fairly quickly.

From what i understand google copies the books without permission than lets authors opt out?

Why would a publishing house want to just give away their books? It does make sense to me.

Microsoft is disingenuous. But i dont think google should be profiting by using copyrighted material if it does not have the author's permission.

i know zero about the book publishing industry but its pretty obvious their most valuable product is the intellect of their authors rather than any physical publishing tools. Dont see why they should just give that away.


When I go to and search for ["by henry blodget"], I find all kinds of things you've written for Slate, Forbes and even your book, The Wall Street Self-Defense Manual. Each result has a link to Microsoft's "cached page," where they've copied entire pages of your copyrighted content to their servers.

Did Microsoft ask for your permission before copying your content to their servers, and showing snippets in their search results? How exactly is this different from Google storing copyrighted content on their servers and displaying snippets as search results?

Kettle, meet pot.


big dog: You are right that authors and publishers can opt out and ask for their books to be removed and Google do not ask for permission first.

Why shouldn't Google be profiting by adding value to others work? Its exactly what they did with the web. All search engines operate on an opt-out basis. Their scanning of books is a transformative use, not a copying of content which copyright is designed to protect.

They aren't giving away books for free, if the books are in copyright they show tiny snippets of text which are clearly protected by fair use. The publishing house is in no way "giving away their books".

85% of books they are scanning are out of print but in copyright. Who are they meant to ask for permission? Most of the time no one knows who owns the copyright. Google is essenitally building a database of all books ever published, from a societal and cultural point of view surely this is a great thing - especially as it it doesnt harm copyright owners at all. Who else is going to do this if no one is allowed to scan a book before asking permission? The major publishing houses still wouldnt be able to do this even if they all got together just because of the incredibly ambiguous status of most out of print copyrights.

Copyright is designed to encourage creativity by ensuring it is profitable. How does Google scanning books so they can be searched harm authors or publishers sales? Its not like you can read the books online. A number of initial studies seem to show book sales are increased by Google Book Search, as people find books they never knew were out there and buy them.

Unfortunately the law is unclear, and whether Google can do this legally is going to be a close run thing as although the snippets are obviously far use, whether Google's scanning of books is allowed under fair use is a tricky legal question .It will likely be decided by the Supreme Court in a few years time.


A recent New Yorker article points out that while several book publishers are currently suing Google for copyright infringement, it's a case of conducting a business negotiation in the courts. Google will likely pay a settlement, and thereby establish the precedent that internet search services need to pay to index.

Today, Google and others are working on the assumption that they're free to index and display short abstracts of a book - without paying publishers. If Google cuts a deal and makes a pay-off, this will freeze out others, unless they have pockets as deep as Google.


Recent developments with Microsoft attack on Google's "cavalier" approach to copyright protection" highlighted mro structural problem to the core of Business of Google. In a simple interpretation all this story with copyright issues is similar to open next to Nike Shop a Whorehouse with cheap illegal copycats from Asia. "It will be very good for advertisement of your business" is very weak argument against criminal case. It is plain illegal and will kill Nike Shop. "Companies (Google S.) that create no content of their own, and make money solely on the backs of other people's content, are raking in billions through advertising revenue and IPOs," says Rubin, who oversees copyright and trade secret law at Microsoft." Here Microsoft is right and actually is rising the issue which could save trillions of Dollars to struggling US economy. Even more, until this "too liberal", criminal in nature approach is allowed (I think nobody cares so far and do not understand far reaching complications) it is killing USA economy eroding the last resource of defence - Intellectual Property Rights. If you are not aware USA was the Driving force from 70s for constructing "IP" infrastructure and Patent and Copyright Protection...con'd.

Still Inside

"Copyright is designed to encourage creativity by ensuring it is profitable."

This is perhaps one of the key misunderstandings of copyright, and perhaps rights in general.

Having the right to something doesn't mean being forced to make money off of it based on somebody else's defintion, it means that you OWN it and can do anything you damn well please with it, profitable or otherwise.

If the State takes to deciding what is/is not "profitable" and forcing people to adopt it with their property, it might be a bizarre reversal of the usual manafestion of socialism, but it's socialism nevertheless.

Perhaps the most interesting question here is, who owns GOOG's scanned content? Is everybody free to steal GOOG's entire collection of stolen stuff? If not, why not? Even if they make some kind of twisted case for fair use, they are going to play hell trying turn 180 and suddenly apply the law in their favor in order to protect what they've scanned. If they don't, then they have about zero business model here since every other service can offer the same exact product in a matter of weeks.



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