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Google Print, Cache, and Copyright  (View post)

Cow [PersonRank 2]

Saturday, November 5, 2005
17 years ago

I feel that the main (even if not a legal copyright) difference is that you have to buy books, somehow that makes it a bit different.

That said I like Google Print!

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

17 years ago #

Unless you're in the library, where you don't have to pay for books...

Steve Baker [PersonRank 1]

17 years ago #

I wrote the original slashdot posting that's at the head of this topic. Let me expand a bit on what I said.

For me, the library analogy is an important one.

With a web site, you can read the page at zero cost (although you may be implicitly paying for it by viewing advertising). This leads people to assume that web pages are somehow 'free' – and they can copy them freely. This is not the case. Just because I let you read something that I wrote does not mean I've given up my copyright – and therefore it doesn't mean that you can copy it. The fact that the Walt Disney corporation let you freely view images of Mickey Mouse on broadcast television does not mean that they've given up copyright on Mickey Mouse (as you'll very soon find out if you try to infringe on it!)

With books, people understand that they aren't allowed to photocopy an entire book and give it away or sell it – and this leads to the misapprehension that books are somehow different from web pages in this regard BECAUSE books are generally bought and paid for.

The library shows the difference. You can visit a library, read any book for free – but still not copy it. That's closely analogous to the way the Wold Wide Web works.

Indexing is a different matter though. The principles of 'Fair Use' make it very clear that small sections from a copyrighted work may be excerpted for informational purposes – indexing is an informational use – so it's generally held that this is OK.

This paper about fair use is very helpful in explaining this:

But there is NO legal difference between the copyright on a book and on a web site. Web sites hadn't even been invented when copyright laws were written – so there is no possibility of a difference.

So there can be no difference whatever between indexing books and indexing web sites – both seem 100% legal to me.

Some have argued that the act of scanning entire books for the purposes of making indices of them is a breach of copyright. I'm not sure whether that's legal or not. It certainly *ought* to be legal – since the original author of the book has nothing to lose and everything to gain. The only reasonable restriction I could envisage would be to require the organisation doing the scanning to actually purchase a copy of the book in order to do that. But the law may say otherwise – IANAL.

Caching is a different matter though. I can't see any way that caching (either of copyrighted books or web pages) can be legal. Search engines like Google offer an 'opt out' scheme whereby you can stick a tag into your web pages saying "Please don't cache me" – but I don't see anywhere in law where you have to say that you don't want someone to violate your copyright. To the contrary in fact, the US government actually REMOVED the legal requirement to put (c)Copyright on your works in order for them to be considered copyrighted. In a sense, they removed the requirement to opt out of the public domain.

But – if caching is legal for websites, then it should be so for books that are still in copyright – and if it's illegal for copyrighted books then it must be illegal for copyrighted websites.

Hashim [PersonRank 10]

17 years ago #

a website can choose to be indexed by Google but not cached. Many newspaper sites already do this.

Kyle [PersonRank 0]

17 years ago #

What is not mentioned in the article is that google print's cache is structured specifically not to allow circumvention of copyright. They have a cache of ever book, true, but the search engine is the only one that can access it in its entirity. If a work is copyrighted, google will only display between 3 pages and 3 sentences of text to provide context, depending on if they got it from a publisher or a library. And they say that they have excluded a certain number of pages (I think it's 3) from the viewable results of a copyrighted book. There is no way that you can obtain a complete copyrighted work from Google print.

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