If you’ve not heard of it, Google Print is scanning in the contents of books to make them searchable. That is a key phrase, “make them searchable.” Google Print does not make the whole book available, just a “snippet” of the text based on the search term.
My first thought was, “Finally, now I can find things in books I’m looking for without having to flip through all the pages. Even better, I can find books I’ve not yet read that have something of interest.” (For example, a search on “the unreasonable man” pointed me to, among other things, 777 Mathematical Conversation Starters.)
My second thought was, “Authors are going to love this. What a great way for them to get their books found, especially those ‘obscure’ books that most people may never know about. “
Boy, was I wrong. As described in Macworld: News: Authors sue Google over Google Print:
The Authors Guild and three other writers filed a class action suit on Tuesday against Google Inc. over the Google Print program. The lawsuit charges Google with massive copyright infringement.
The Authors Guild, a society of published writers representing over 8,000 U.S. authors, charges that Google has not sought the approval of authors to include their works in the program.
Google said in a statement responding to the lawsuit that its activities are consistent with the fair use doctrine under U.S. copyright law and the principles underlying copyright law. Fair use is a concept within U.S. copyright law that allows copyright material to be used in limited circumstances, such as quoting parts of a novel for a book review, without the permission of the author.
After so many years, and so much work and thought on how technology changes things and how that technology can be used to benefit everyone (except maybe the middleman), it is sad to see this total lack of understanding.