The Authors Guild has been trying to get a court to shut down Google's book-scanning/book-search program for more than a decade.
One year ago today
Libraries and Makerspaces: a match made in heaven: Every discussion of libraries in the age of austerity always includes at least one blowhard who opines, "What do we need libraries for? We've got the Internet now!"
Paul Aiken, who has long served as the Executive Director of the Authors Guild, has Amyotrophic Lateral Scleroris, the degenerative neuromuscular disease more commonly known as ALS, or "Lou Gehrig's Disease." My own father died from it.
Back in June, I wrote about the Hathi Trust, which is rescuing orphaned literary works from the university libraries that Google has scanned. If they can't find an author for a book, and if it's not in print, they're going to make it available. — Read the rest
The Volokh Conspiracy's David Post shreds the Authors Guild editorial in this week's NYT. In it, Scott Turow and James Shapiro argue that America should introduce COICA, an official censorship law that blocks websites that large companies from the entertainment industry don't like. — Read the rest
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The Author's Guild v Google suit recently produced a settlement agreement. The agreement has been lauded widely, but what hasn't gotten as much press is what the agreement says about orphan works — copyrighted works whose author cannot be found, or where it is not clear if the copyright is valid.
Tim from the Electronic Frontier Foundation sez,
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Yesterday, hundreds of people gathered in front of the headquarters of The Authors Guild in New York City to protest the removal of text-to-speech capabilities in Amazon's new Kindle 2 ebook device.
You may remember a few months ago, when The Authors Guild claimed (falsely) that the text-to-speech feature violated copyright law, and forced Amazon to disable it.
The Reading Rights Coalition and the National Federation for the Blind are staging a protest in New York today (Tuesday) at the offices of the Authors Guild, to let the Guild know that their successful campaign to remove the text-to-speech feature from the Kindle has hurt blind people and undermined their ability to access a wide variety of works in a more-accessible form. — Read the rest
I wrote an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times on the class action suit filed last week against the Google Print Library Project by the Authors Guild, a biographer of Abraham Lincoln, a children's book author and a former U.S. poet laureate. — Read the rest
UPDATED: Cory Doctorow weighs in on the debate, at bottom of post.
Here's the complaint (PDF Link), and here's a snip from a story by Elinor Mills at CNET:
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The Authors Guild on Tuesday filed a class action lawsuit against search engine Google, alleging that its scanning and digitizing of library books constitutes a "massive" copyright infringement.
Amazon is calling on used-book sellers and writers to send letters to the President of the Authors Guild, giving him what-for in return for his campaign to get writers to sever ties with Amazon to protest Amazon's practice of selling used and new books together. — Read the rest
You'll recall that self-published romance author Faleena Hopkins undertook the sociopathic step of registering a trademark on the word "Cocky" in the titles of romance novels and then had her rivals' works removed from Amazon, threatening to sue any writer who used the common word in a title in the future.
In 1998, Disney led an entertainment industry lobbying effort that resulted in the term of copyright being extended by 20 years, even for works that had already been created — a law with an incoherent basis, given that the US copyright system is constitutionally constrained to passing laws to promote new creative works (giving creators more copyright on works they've already created doesn't get them to make new ones, and it reduces the ability of new artists to remix existing works, the way Disney did with the Grimm's fairy tales).
The Hathi Trust has won another important victory in its court battles against the Authors Guild over the right of academic libraries to scan books under the banner of fair use. Hathi creates full-text indexes of books from academic institutional libraries that were scanned by Google, so that academic libraries can access full-text indexes of the books, as well as offering the books in assistive formats used by people with visual disabilities, and providing long-term archives of rare texts that are still under copyright. — Read the rest
The major US writers' group, the Authors Guild, claims to represent all writers when it sues over library book-scanning and other fair uses; a new group, the Authors Alliance, has been launched by leading copyright expert Pam Samuelson to represent the authors who like fair use, users' rights, and who reject censorship and surveillance. — Read the rest
Google's seemingly-interminable legal fight over its book-scanning project is over, for now: a judge ruled that the effort is fair use, tossing a lawsuit first filed by the Authors Guild and others nearly a decade ago.
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U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin in Manhattan accepted Google's argument that its scanning of more than 20 million books, and making "snippets" of text available online, constituted "fair use" under U.S.
On Ars Technica, Timothy Lee has some excellent legal analysis of the Google Books settlement, which was just rejected by a US federal judge. Under the terms of the settlement, Google would get permission to scan, sell, and distribute all the books ever published, in exchange for a modest amount of cash paid in accord with terms set by the Washington-based Authors Guild (a small and reactionary pressure group that represents a minuscule fraction of all authors). — Read the rest