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Google Book Scanning was Aimed at Amazon

7 August 2012

From Paid Content:

Google has so far spent more than $180 million on book scanning and, at the outset of the project, one of its stated goals was to keep web searchers away from Amazon.

These are among the details set out in a new court filing by the Authors Guild, which is locked in a long-running case over the search giant’s decision to digitize libraries.

The filing points to internal Google documents in an attempt to show that the scanning was an overtly commercial project, and that the scanning was not a fair use as Google is claiming.

In a 2003 internal Google presentation described in the filing, the company stated “[we want web searchers interested in book content to come to Google not Amazon.”

As annotated by the Authors’ Guild, the 2003 Google presentation also said “[e]verything else is secondary … but make money.” (The presentation was filed under seal so the context of the remark is unclear).

Link to the rest at Paid Content

First, the Price-Fix Six, then Google. What is it about Amazon that causes temporary insanity among its competitors?

Amazon, Copyright/Intellectual Property, Google, Legal Stuff

20 Comments to “Google Book Scanning was Aimed at Amazon”

  1. First, the Price-Fix Six, then Google. What is it about Amazon that causes temporary insanity among its competitors?


  2. Top-flight customer service. 😉

  3. Wow, Scott Turow and the AG must be really conflicted about suing someone who was trying to stick it to Amazon.

  4. I am very much on googles side on this case. If the law does not permit this conduct, then by implication it also can not allow the main google search engine to function. There really is no difference between the two services that I can see.

    Without search engines the internet would be a poorer place.

  5. I doubt that the insanity is temporary, PG.

  6. I can’t figure out why the Authors Guild (and publishers) are against this in the first place. Google doesn’t show the full text of in-copyright books and never did. It lets you run searches on the text, shows you an extremely limited preview, and then gives you a link to BUY the book.

    How could anyone be against that?

    Oh, right. Scott Turow.

    • I am against it because Google says three of my books are not available as ebooks, but all three are. If someone lands on those pages looking for an ebook, the search stops there.

        • I have no interest in selling on Google. My ebooks (except for two that Random House offers via several storefronts) are enrolled in KDP Select. They’re available only in the Kindle Store per the terms of the KDP enrollment agreement, but according to Google they’re not available at all.

          • Okay, I guess I’m confused. Do you also expect an Amazon search to show links to purchase your books on other vendors?

            • To be a bit more clear: suppose your ebooks were available on (say) the iBookstore, but not Amazon. Amazon doesn’t show you links to the iBookstore in that case; you get a message that says (roughly) “tell the publisher that you want to see this book on Kindle!”

              Why should Google Books be different?

              Note that regular Google Search does still index the Amazon store. Searching “Sheet Music by Patricia Sierra” on Google brings up the Amazon store as the second and third links (the first is to a page on goodreads.com).

            • We’re talking about different things, Tony. I’m not talking about buy buttons when one does a search in Google Books; I’m talking about misinformation on the books’ pages.

    • It’s about ownership rights. Either a copyright means you own the work, or it does not. Fair use or no fair use, Google has scanned in books without permission from the owners of those books, in order to profit by them. They’re not doing it out of the goodness of their heart, or for the Library of Congress. It is, as the above says, to make money. And as Patricia points out above, their search is not showing books available for sale on Amazon.

      Seems pretty obvious to me why this is wrong.

      • “Fair use or no fair use”

        This is the key, and we’ll have to wait to see what the court decides.

        Personally, I wouldn’t be bothered by Google making money if it meant that I was going to make a lot more money, but that’s just me.

      • Without seeking permission google retrieves copies of every web page on the internet, and stores the information on its database for retrieval. It uses these in a search engine to allow users to find the information they want. It does this for profit.

        I can’t see a difference between the internet search engine, and the book engine they have produced.

        Arguably, the result of this judgement would make millions of people like me eligable to sue google for copyright infringement.

        Within a few hours, google will have copied every single post on this web site and stored it in databases without asking the copyright owners permission (i.e. without asking if I want this post copied).

        That’s the consequence of the judge finding for the authors guild: it would become unlawful for a company to operate a search engine within the united states.

        To be honest, it would be chaos.

        • What Google’s search engine does has probably always been technically illegal (or at least since it started selling ads). Does the reality that we have to let Google keep doing it make it okay to do even worse stuff?

          Google’s search engine business model is essentially that of a magazine. It provides access to the works of writers and artists and makes money by selling ads. Except that magazines pay the writers and artists. Google keeps all the revenues.

          I for one suspect that Google’s management is well aware that if copyright is destroyed – as appears to be happening as piracy becomes accepted practice – Google stands to make billions from that destruction. Google is not un-evil.

        • Without seeking permission google retrieves copies of every web page on the internet

          Actually, no. There are “do not archive this page” codes that you can implant into a web-page, and polite web-spiders — and Google’s are polite in this matter, at least — will not archive that page. All my Livejournal pages are un-archived by Google.

          Now, whether that means web pages are implicitly giving permission or not is some legal question I don’t know the answer to — but you can deny permission, and thus far, Google has honored that, far as I know.

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