Some of you have asked about copyright issues in the Google Print - the massive library project...that is why aren't the players frozen by fear of lawsuits? Barbara Quint relays some reassurance from publishers:
Although some library participants apparently were worried that publishers might object to the program on the grounds of copyright violation, Patricia Schroeder, executive director of the Association of American Publishers (AAP), assured me that they have no immediate plans to try to deter the program, such as through legal action. The program expands on the existing Google Print program built on similar digitization done in direct arrangements with publishers.
from Google and Research Libraries Launch Massive Digitization Project by Barbara Quint, Information Today December 20, 2004
Minow take: This is very good news. It doesn't cover every publisher/author, of course, but it could help reshape our norms. This in turn affects fair use analysis by courts. Further, it could help efforts to update copyright law and regain some of the balance that users have badly lost over the last several years. Section 108 needs to be revised, and this project helps us visualize the promotion of progress, giving some user access while retaining incentives for authors. I think it sounds like a fabulous, forward thinking project. I hope some privacy concerns are being discussed.
Read on for more from Barbara Quint's conversation with Pat Schroeder:
Some library participants in the program (e.g., NYPL) have clearly sought to avoid any copyright problems by limiting access to public domain. Others are moving carefully, as if through a legal minefield. However, my conversation with Schroeder of the AAP may serve to reassure Google and its library partners. Schroeder indicated that publishers were relatively comfortable with the prospect of Google’s entry into their world. She admitted that publishers reissuing public domain works in print might take a hit, but she then pointed to the advantage to publishers, particularly small ones, of having their backlists digitized and promoted for free. (Google has apparently been talking with AAP publisher members.)
When I asked Schroeder whether lawsuits to stop the project were under consideration, she assured me they were not. According to Schroeder: “At the moment, there are no alarm bells ringing from members. Many are consulting with Google. Of course, if the bells do start ringing, we will be out [of] there like a 12-alarm fire, but for now Google is working with publishers to create a whole new way to deliver content. We are ever vigilant, but unless the system crashes or we see large-scale piracy or leakage or changes in Google’s business models, our people are being cooperative.”
In launching the program, Google promised publishers and authors that this expansion of Google Print “will increase the visibility of in- and out-of-print books and generate book sales via ‘Buy this Book’ links and advertising.” Searchers on Google will see links to Google Print results—including the massive library collections—appear in a box on the first page of Web search results. Clicking in the Google Print box will retrieve the full-image of public domain works and up to three snippets of text and bibliographic citations for copyrighted material. In situations where Google Print has a working relationship directly with publishers, publishers will allow fuller descriptions and a full-text percentage available to users each month. Public domain works are not downloadable. Readers will have the option to browse and read the image texts online while connected to Google.