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I have always been a loyal user for Google Book because I could get most the resources I want with just few clicks of the mouse. Google’s ambitious project to scan and make available millions of online books with at least five libraries that include the New York public library and four other universities libraries – Harvard, Stanford, Michigan and Oxford in England sounds like a wonderful idea to because we can get access to more interesting academic books online.

Figure 1: Google Book project

Source: http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/epicenter/2009/04/picture-8.png

John Wilkin, as University of Michigan librarian working with Google even commented that ‘this is the day the world changes’ to further epitomize the potential benefits of digitalizes the libraries collection (msnbc.msn.com 2004).

However this might not be the case if you view it from another perspective. In the year 2005, five major publishers (Simon & Schuster Inc., McGraw-Hill Cos., John Wiley & Sons Inc., Penguin Group (USA) Inc. and Pearson Education Inc) had sued Google Inc. because they viewed the project as a form violation of copyright (washingtonpost.com 2005). According to the U.S Copyright Office (2009), copyright infringement occurs ‘when a copyrighted work is reproduced, distributed, performed, publicly displayed, or made into a derivative work without the permission of the copyright owner’.

After three years of lawsuit that challenged Google’s Book Search program, the giant search engine had agreed to pay $125 million to settle the lawsuits (Synder 2008). Some said Google could be subjected to a much hefty infringement penalty such as $700 to $150,000 per book. What could be argued from this is that the Copyright Act has a loophole. Bredeson (2003) points out that the Fair Use Doctrine within the Copyright Act allows for some “fair use” of copyrighted material without penalty. This means if one is not making a profit from copying a work, then it is considered as a fair use. In the case of digitalizing books, the stand is clear because the main purpose of this program is to ‘preserve knowledge in libraries the world over and make it more widely available’ (Synder 2008).

Reference

Bredeson, D 2003, ‘Thumbnail reproductions, imported images, and copyright infringement on the Web’, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, vol. 31, no. 1.

Msnbc.msn.com 2004, Google to scan books from major libraries, viewed 18 November 2009, <http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6709342/ns/technology_and_science-tech_and_gadgets/print/1/displaymode/1098/>.

Washingtonpost.com 2005, Publishers sue Google to stop scanning, viewed 18 November 2009, <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/10/19/AR2005101901463.html>.

Synder 2008, Google settles book-scan lawsuits, everybody wins, viewed 18 November 2009, <http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2008/10/google-settles/>.

U.S Copyright Office 2009, Definitions, viewed 18 November 2009,
<http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-definitions.html>.

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