August 31, 2006

Hiawatha Bray Recaps The Booksearch Battle [7:39 am]

Using Google’s foray into the domain of Project Gutenberg: Google makes thousands of classics available for downloading - pdf

For now, the Google Book Search service offers full downloads only of “public domain” books, whose copyrights have expired. These include many of the most famous titles of all time, such as the writings of Dickens , Shakespeare , and Dante.

It’s the latest milestone in Google’s campaign to do for books what it has done for websites. “Our goal is to create a comprehensive, full-text index of all the world’s books,” said Google Book Search group business product manager Adam Smith. But Google is also providing brief “snippets” of copyrighted works by major publishers, outraging book publishers and authors who say the company has no right to reproduce them without permission.

[...] However, many publishers and authors say that even if Google Book Search only displays small portions of a copyrighted book, the fair use doctrine doesn’t permit Google to make digital copies of entire books without permission. “In order to be able to provide that service, which greatly enhances Google’s market status . . . Google has to create its own proprietary digital library of the full contents of all these books,” said Allan Adler, vice president of legal and government affairs at the Association of American Publishers. In addition, said Adler, Google is providing digitized copies of the books to its partner libraries, without compensation to copyright holders. The association and five of its member publishers filed suit in federal court last year in an effort to stop Google from including copyrighted works in its book search service. An organization of authors has filed a similar suit.

CNet’s writeup: Google: These books are free

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