Authors Guild Sues Google, Citing “Massive Copyright Infringement”

Today I received this email press release from the Authors Guild regarding Google’s outrageous violation of copyright law.

The Authors Guild and a Lincoln
biographer, a children’s book author, and a former Poet Laureate of the United
States filed a class action suit today in federal court in Manhattan against
Google over its unauthorized scanning and copying of books through its Google
Library program.  The suit alleges that the $90 billion search engine and
advertising juggernaut is engaging in massive copyright infringement at the
expense of the rights of individual writers.

Through its Library program,
Google is reproducing works still under the protection of copyright as well as
public domain works from the collection of the University of Michigan’s

"This is a plain and brazen violation of copyright law," said
Authors Guild president Nick Taylor.  "It’s not up to Google or anyone other
than the authors, the rightful owners of these copyrights, to decide whether and
how their works will be copied."

The individual plaintiffs are Herbert
Mitgang, a former New York Times editorial writer and the author of numerous
fiction and nonfiction books, including "The Fiery Trial: A Life of Lincoln,"
published by Viking Press; Betty Miles, the award-winning author of many works
for children and young adults, and the co-author of "Just Think," published by
Alfred A. Knopf; and Daniel Hoffman, the author and editor of many volumes of
poetry, translation, and literary criticism, including "Barbarous Knowledge:
Myth in the Poetry of Yeats, Graves and Muir" and "Striking the Stones," both
published by Oxford University Press.  Mr. Hoffman was the 1973-74 Poet Laureate
of the United States.

Google has agreements with four academic libraries
— those of Stanford, Harvard, Oxford and the University of Michigan — and with
the New York Public Library to create digital copies of substantial parts of
their collections and to make those collections available for searching online. 
Google has not sought the approval of the authors of these works for this

The complaint seeks damages and an injunction to halt further

12 thoughts on “Authors Guild Sues Google, Citing “Massive Copyright Infringement””

  1. Authors Guild Sues Google for Copyright Infringement

    Lee Goldberg reported that he received an email from Authors Guild about a lawsuit filed against Google for its library project. Google has digitally copied many written works including the ones not in public domain and made them available online.

  2. The Google Print thing lets you search for text in a book, then gives you a link to buy it. It doesn’t let you get all the text in a new book for free. Isn’t this a good thing for authors? To have potential readers be able to find their books easily and quickly?

  3. The difference is that Amazon does it with the permission of the copyright holder, they don’t just take chapters of any book they please.

  4. Maybe I’m misunderstanding the whole thing, forgive me if I am… but as far as I know, they’re not “taking” chapters. If the only purpose is to do a search inside a book that lets you then buy said book, where’s the harm? I just don’t see where the Bad Stuff is on this one.
    mapletree7: Don’t start.

  5. Google puts much more of the book online than Amazon’s “Search In” feature does.
    Amazon gives you maybe the first 5 pages at most. Google gives you about a third of the book.
    Google’s “out” is that every 5 pages or so, they skip a page (they say “this page is unavailable to view”), then go on with the following 5, etc. (If you don’t log in, you get fewer pages; if you log in, you get approximately a third or more of the book. But logged in or out, there are a -few- pages you can’t get. Gee, thanks, Google!)
    It is an outrageous violation of copyright. Here’s how I used it: not to “search for a term” and “buy the book.” Oh, no, pal! I looked up a book I wanted to buy – and I read all the juicy parts. I’m not s–tting you. And I never will buy that book. Hey, I just read a good third of it. (It was a non-fiction book, which makes a difference.)
    I pulled the stupid move of self-publishing a novel a while back, so I googled it, too. Yep. A very large chunk of it is online now. I felt my skin start to crawl. “Hey…aren’t I supposed to get PAID for this?” ran through my mind. (Again.)

  6. Lee, are you sure Amazon gets permission of the copyright holder for their search-in-book feature? My wife’s books are on Amazon, each of them is searchable, and she’s NEVER been contacted for permission. Maybe her publisher neglected to tell her something? That would not surprise me at all.

  7. I should have said “the publisher’s permission.” My publisher allows Amazon to show a peek into my DIAGNOSIS MURDER books after the first several months of release (I checked with my editor to see if Amazon sought their permission).

  8. So you do a search, and then can see 5 pages of a book. To read the whole thing, you’d have to make sure your search started with the first 5, and then move forward, painfully slowly, 5 pages at a time, reading the thing on the screen. It’s not worth the hassle. Apart from anything else, do people really read whole books on a screen?
    The Authors Guild had better get their suing pants on, because apparently there are large buildings all over the world where you can just stroll in, borrow a book for free, read it, and give it back *without paying* for it. Obviously I would never go to one of these so-called “libraries”, because I’m not a hacker.


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