Google sued by thousands of authors over Google Print

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Google is being sued by the Authors Guild, among others, due to the verbatim publishing of contents of their books in Google Print for Libraries, a search engine for searching books that started in December. The Authors Guild wants Google to make the content from books protected under copyright unavailable, as they claim that they have never given permission for their text to be published. However, Google offers the option of having their text removed from their databases.

Google also claims that the text is used under fair use, as they only include "snippets" of the text, and not the entire book. Also, Google sees Google Print as an incentive to authors, as it could help boost sales. “This ability to introduce millions of users to millions of titles can only expand the market for authors’ books, which is precisely what copyright law is intended to foster,” says Google.

The lawsuit was filed by three writers in a New York federal court, and has the support from the U.S.-based Authors Guild. The suit acknowledges that text snippets presented via the internet to users is legal under the U.S. definition of fair use. Rather, the complaint centers on the wholesale copying of a book's text into Google databases.

Another Google Print program, called "Google Print for Publishers", seeks consent from publishers (such as Simon & Schuster, who has given permission) to publish their works. Considering as publishers may be holders of the copyright in book contents, this could be the sole project of Google Print, assuming Google Print for Libraries is deemed "massive copyright infringement" by the District Court in Manhattan where the suit was filed.