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Google’s Shutterbug Stumble

By Peter Brantley

Given that Google is trying to secure an exclusive license to millions of books through a complex legal process in order to further feed their advertising profits, it’s not surprising that their legal troubles continue to mount.  This time it’s a lawsuit from the creative community of photographers and visual artists including:  the American Society of Media Photographers, Graphic Artists Guild, the North American Nature Photography Association, the Professional Photographers of America, and individual photographers and illustrators.

Of particular interest is whether Google’s commercialization of the digital copies of books they have scanned without rightsholder permission extends to the photos, illustrations, maps, and other visual images that appear in those books.  As I tweeted last night:

Wonder if Google utilizes digitized photos from #GBS even if it redacts them, to enhance image search algorithms. captions+images.


An archive of historical images, plus associated captions scanned and ocr’d from books, is a nice data set in its own right #GBS

In response to the Amended Settlement Agreement, new attention was brought by the Open Book Alliance and the Department of Justice to the advantage a corpus of millions of books would give Google in the Internet search market.  This unfair competitive advantage would be compounded by including the images at the heart of this new lawsuit.

In the past two weeks, Google also attracted a new lawsuit from major French publishers, having already been found guilty of copyright infringement in France.  In January, authors groups filed a lawsuit in India alleging copyright violation.

This is in addition to the unprecedented show of opposition to their effort to settle their lawsuit over copyright infringement in the U.S.  That opposition included the United States government, many foreign governments, several U.S. States, authors groups, labor unions, libraries, consumer advocates, and technology companies.

It’s not difficult to envision even more legal action in the coming months.  Scott Moss, an associate professor at the University of Colorado Law School was quoted in the New York Times on this point:

Google is trying to control or expand access to virtually all information in the world.  It isn’t surprising that their settlement with written authors doesn’t end all their legal battles.

With the ever growing legal entanglements surrounding Google’s book business deal, it’s clearer than ever that Congressional action is necessary to prevent a corporate monopoly of our nation’s cultural and literary history.

Originally posted on The Open Book Alliance Blog by Peter.

Written by internetarchive

April 7, 2010 at 6:38 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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