There has been quite a lot of controversy over the new Google Print service provided by Google (obviously). This service allows users to search printed books for certain keywords that they input.
Google is currently being sued for copyright infringement for copying these books and many people are in agreement to that. Me? Not necessarily.
Although I might not know the legalities by heart or even understand them thoroughly, I still think that Google should be allowed to at least show snippets of the books, like they are currently doing.
The one thing that I don’t understand is how it is copyright infringement when Google displays a snippet of the book in a separate, obvious “frame” or format. I’ve used block quotes all the time for reports and that’s not against copyright law. I, of course, do cite where my sources are from. But so does Google. They actually do one better by showing the copyright page and the cover of the book. There’s no mistaking where that snippet came from! If I memorized a poem and wrote it out in a note to my girlfriend without saying who it was by (maybe I forgot who actually wrote it, but acknowledging that I didn’t write it), is that against copyright law?
Also, Google doesn’t charge for this service. All it takes is signing up for a free Google account. I admit that they have an ad on the page, but I’ve been in many libraries with quite a few ads for all sorts of things all over the walls and doors. Plus, the ad is at the very bottom and kind of hard to notice unless you look down there.
I recently looked up “Dorian Gray”, the lead character of my favorite book, “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde. When I chose the first selection, I was brought to the “page viewer” window. In this view, it shows the author’s name, the ISBN number, and the words “copyrighted material” on every page.
Somehow, I got the idea that this was a copyrighted material and that Google wasn’t calling it its own, unique material; which would be copyright infringement.
The only counter-arguments that I’ve heard is that “Google shouldn’t do this because it’s wrong” and “search engines should stick to searching web sites, not books”. Wow. Very convincing… No one can tell anybody where exactly (which chapter or article of the Copyright Law) that it says what Google is doing (not exactly of course, but generally) is against this law. They all just repeat themselves like parrots saying “Google is definitely violating copyright law”. Okay… where?
In my opinion, the two worst kinds of complainers are the ones that don’t do anything about what they are complaining about and the ones that don’t know why they’re complaining or can’t back up their own argument.