Is Google Books’ Court Decision Fair?

A federal court decision rejected a settlement on Tuesday, March 22 among Google, the Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild over the search engine’s full-text scanning of copyrighted books citing doubts that Google would make every book searchable online in the future.

U.S. Judge Denny Chin said that “…the creation of a universal digital library would benefit many.” Chin decided in the end that Google Books were “not fair, adequate and reasonable.”

Google partnered with research universities to scan their library collections to make digitized copies available online in 2004. There are currently 12 million Google Books online.

Publisher and author groups protested against Google in violation of copyrights. The groups said that if Google was going to publish their works online, they should get profits from the operation and Google should ask for permission to publish the books. Google replied to the protesters by saying the books were in “fair use.”

A year after Google Books was announced, the Authors Guild and the American Association of Publishers filed a law suit to stop the scanning of any more books. The case has been going on for six years, and the future of Google Books is still unknown.

Do you think Google Books should exist? Do you think Google is violating copyrights of publishers and authors? Do you agree with Judge Chin’s ruling? As a public relations practitioner, do you think Google should launch a campaign about the benefits of Google Books, such as for students? Do you think the Google Books gives the company a bad name since it has upset publishers and authors? The question is, how will authors and publishers be compensated for Google Books?

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4 Responses to Is Google Books’ Court Decision Fair?

  1. afleisha says:

    I’m torn about how I feel about this lawsuit. I’ve used GoogleBooks on multiple occasions for research. I feel like it’s a wonderful service to utilize when looking for obscure resources that libraries (university or public) do not have. I would be very disappointed if GoogleBooks ceased to exist. However, I do understand where authors and publishers are coming from; they’re afraid they will suffer the same fate the music industry did from file sharing. However, I don’t think that will be the case. I don’t sit on GoogleBooks to read an entire book–I just use the service to quickly find quotes and information.

    GoogleBooks serves more as a research tool than an online public library for people to read a book in its entirety. Those readers will still go elsewhere to get the entire book because GoogleBooks isn’t easy to read for a long amount of time.

    Perhaps they can compromise to work somewhat like a library does?

  2. dbaxley says:

    While as a starving college student I certainly appreciate reading books online for free, I can understand the frustration of publishers and authors. After all, why should I buy the hard copy if I can just Google it? I don’t think this gives the company any more of a bad name than the publishers and authors who complain about losing the money. I think the authors should just sell the rights to their books in order to generate some profit. As long as the Internet has the ability to stream free music, movies and books on the Internet; this debate will always exist.

  3. mculber says:

    Great post. Not enough people are paying attention to this: it’s a serious proprietary question, it’s a question of what would be best for the consumer, it’s a question of whether Google is monopolizing the online publishing industry, and it’s a question of what’s fair to the creator of the content.

  4. mgingeri says:

    This case reminded me a lot of the case several years ago dealing with musicians, record labels, and Napster. Of course, the public loves free music and free access to books, but is the free access right and just? In America, free access isn’t considered right. We have patents on pharmaceuticals and strict rules about copyright, property rights are very important here. So I think that although Google Books are very beneficial, I do think they violated the rights of publishers and authors.

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