Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Google Thievery

It is likely you are all aware of the new "feature" that Google is offering: Google Print. If you aren't aware, basically, they are providing a free service that allows you to search the content of books on the market. Their public statement about this sounds like they are God's gift to authors and publishers, promising increased sales, limiting how much is available to users, and a convenient "opt out" program.

But the fact is, what they are doing is illegal. Blatant copyright violation. Author Sara Gruen pointed this out to me originally, and what I discovered shocked me. Enough to write a nasty letter to Google.

It turns out that with a few simple keywords, you can turn up each and every page found in the book. And we are talking about recently published books, definitely still under copyright.

What is most upsetting is that Google has blatantly lied about this on several fronts. First, by claiming you can only turn up a few pages. (I was able to find an entire book. Every page, every word...including, as was pointed out to me, the copyright page that explicitly prohibits copying!)

Second, by claiming that they had the publisher's permission. (I personally know of one case where the author contacted their publisher, and their publisher most definitely did not grant permission.)

Third, by suggesting this will increase book sales. I'd like to see the evidence to support that one, because, frankly, I don't believe it.

The copyright is there to protect authors. It is there to ensure authors and publishers get their rightful dues in the cost of publication. It isn't a cheap business. It isn't even, most of the time, profitable. So, any attempt to infringe on the copyright in such an underhanded manner is just wrong.

I sent Google a nasty letter about this, and they came back with a very polite response that seems to ignore the heart of the matter: Google is stealing. Not only so, but Google is providing the means for other people to steal. And, it seems, the Author's Guild agrees, as they have brought a lawsuit against Google.

Please take the time to send Google a note. Tell them that this is wrong. Don't know how? Here's their e-mail address:


Anonymous said...

Can you present some concrete examples? Every example I've seen of a book that could be downloaded in its entirety turned out to be wrong.

Also, It is quite possible the publisher rep speaking to your author friend was wrong about their employer's licensing relationships with Google.

RyanBruner said...

I didn't really want to provide specific examples, because I fear it may encourage the very thing I'm against here.

But I did try my brother's book. I was able to view approximately 1/3 of his book before it prevented me. I suspect I would just need to set up another account to see the next 1/3, etc.

Regardless, it matters little, as even making 1/3 available is copyright violation.

In the case of this particular author friend, she most certainly did not grant permission (she is the copyright holder), nor did her publisher, who as the right to grant permission, but did not in this case. (She explicitly asked to make sure.)

By the way, thanks for visiting!