Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Google scanning book, a long battle with publishers

The lawsuit for scanning books between Google and publishers has lasted for 7 years.

According to PaidContent's report, Google stated that all the scanning books qualify as “fair use” under copyright law in a document which submitted by Google last Friday.

Google regards the activity of scanning books conforms to the public benefit, it not only doesn't harm authors and publishers' profit, but also helps them to expend the distribution channel. The company thinks they do not offer the the entire book to be read, they only provide the service of full-text search and this function enables readers to search information much more quickly and easily. 

Google said: "The most significant advance in library search technology in the last five decades". And there is also an author declared that there is no evidence shows the scanning book harms physical book's sales volume. 

Dated back to 2004, Google launched this grand digital library project with the New York Public Library, Harvard University Library,  Stanford University, Bodleian Library and some other grand public libraries. The goal of this project is to scan those treasured collection of books to digital format and upload to Google's data base to build the biggest library in human world. For now, there are more than 20 millions books are scanned and uploaded.

September 2005,  Google was sued by Author Guild and then Google stopped scanning books to digital format, and they told publishers to give the company a list about which books are not allowed to be scanned before November that year, or Google would not delete the scanned books. Before long, Association of American Publishers also sued Google, their president and CEO Pat Schoeder thought Google's logic is bloody ridiculous, they are doing harm to this nation's protection and management of copyright. But there are also many people support Google's practice, they said that Google was sharing the books which were only available to a handful of people to the whole world, it is conducive to the communication of culture and meets up with Internet Age's spirits, "sharing" and "equality".

2008, Google accepted out-of-court settlement and paid $1.25 billion for it, they also set up a Book Rights Registry to specially solve copyright affairs.

2009, Google modified the settlement agreement and decided to pay $60 dollars and 70% of all the incoming from the book to the copyright owner.

March 2011, this settlement agreement was rejected again by the judge.

July 2012, Google submitted the court filings and claim that the scanning of millions of books qualifies as a “fair use” under copyright law.

In my private point of view, Google is not a charity organization, even if they do not sell the scanned books to make profit, they can also increase incoming by ads. This is not about being evil or not, this is the trends of this digital age, although the digital library project is about the books, the core is still SEARCH. 

On the other hand, the digital wave will inevitably make a negative effect on traditional publisher's benefit, what they need to do is to be calm and find the new growth points of their business.