Fair Use and Google Book Search

There is a big copyright violation fight going on between Copyright Holders and Google about what is fair use and what is a violation. I came across a great article by Cory Doctorow on this issue. He is firmly on the side of Google on this issue and lists the three main points of contention:

  1. Google should cut copyright holders in for a slice of any revenue that comes from this.
  2. Google should have obtained permission before scanning the GBS books
  3. Although Google only shows excerpts, wily hackers could eventually piece together enough excerpts to reproduce the entire GBS library and then post it on the Internet

He then goes and explains how each of the three points are invalid. As he rightly points out, the biggest threat as an author isn't piracy, it's obscurity.

He has quotes Tim O'reilly, who says Piracy is progressive taxation. This appears in this article which is also a must read. That article was written in 2002 and was about legality of online file sharing.

If I were a copyright holder, (I mean a big copyright holder), my own stand would be to let google scan and index all my work (with possible penaulties if any evidence was found that people can hack google's system to reconstruct the complete work). The publishing industry will definitely move online and I will gain more if people can find links to my work when they are searching for related content.

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