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April 7, 2010

Visual artists sue Google over copyright issues

Posted: 02:19 PM ET

Photographers and illustrators filed a lawsuit against Google on Wednesday, claiming that the search engine displays copyrighted images in books it scans, without fairly compensating the people who created the images.

The American Society of Media Photographers is leading the class-action lawsuit, which was filed on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in New York, according to a news release.

Visual artists were not allowed to join a previous lawsuit filed against Google by book authors and publishers, who charged that Google was not fairly compensating them for books and excerpts posted online as part of its Google Books project. That project aims to digitize the world's books, creating a huge online library.

The Google Books legal action, initially filed in 2005, is expected to be settled soon; however, Wednesday's lawsuit over visual art on Google could keep the search engine in court on copyright issues for longer.

“We are seeking justice and fair compensation for visual artists whose work appears in the 12 million books and other publications Google has illegally scanned to date," Victor Perlman, general counsel for the photographers' organization, said in a written statement. "In doing so, we are giving voice to thousands of disenfranchised creators of visual artworks whose rights we hope to enforce through this class action.”

James McGuire, who represents the ASMP in the lawsuit against Google, told the Financial Times that the visual artists "are not trying to crash the party or influence what is happening with the other class action. We are just trying to get the best possible result for this class of plaintiffs."

Google says its trying to make information more universally available.

"We are confident that Google Books is fully compliant with U.S. and international copyright law," Gabriel Stricker, a Google spokesman, wrote in an e-mail message to CNN.

"Google Books is an historic effort to make all of the knowledge contained within the world's books searchable online. It exposes readers to information they might not otherwise see, and it provides authors and publishers with a new way to be found."

The ASMP is joined by the Graphic Artists Guild, the Picture Archive Council of America, the North American Nature Photography Association, Professional Photographers of America and others in its filing against Google.

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Filed under: Google • Google Books

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SoulardGuy   April 7th, 2010 3:10 pm ET

What a waste of legal resources. If you don't want your web page, article, scan, picture, etc. to be indexed by a search enginee, then follow the rules of SEO. Google it for an explanation of how it works. Search enginess will omit your contect if you index it correctly.

CC   April 7th, 2010 3:32 pm ET

@SoulardGuy This article refers to books scanned BY Google, what does SEO has to do with this???

Paul Duncan   April 7th, 2010 3:32 pm ET

They're not talking about not wanting webpages, articles, or pictures indexed by Google. They're talking about having real, physical books scanned in and displayed for all the world to read without compensation for the copyright holders and artists.

This is nothing to do w/not wanting your blog indexed by Google.

It's no different than musicians getting up in arms over copying and distributing their music without compensation from those receiving/consuming their music.

Would you be cool w/Google going down to Best Buy, getting a copy of every CD they had and ripping them into MP3's and giving them away for free from their site?

I'm sure YOU would be, but not those musicians and labels.

This is no different.

Tim   April 7th, 2010 3:34 pm ET

SoulardGuy is an idiot. The article is NOT about websites!

Why should Google profit from other people's work?

JohannesBrahms   April 7th, 2010 3:56 pm ET

they are not 'giving them away for free'. first, because their photos were used in those books, they have already been paid royalty by the people who wrote the books using their photos. second, google doesnt 'give out' books. it allows you preview them. if seeing 20% of a book is going to be alright with you, yea, then it is 'giving away'. its never enough. this increases sales of those books, bringing revenue to the book owners. let me put it this way – photo owners are requesting payments from BOTH the people who used the photos in their books and both the viewers, in this case. its asking for double payment. would you be asked to pay for the photos in any book you already bought ? no. therefore this lawsuit has no legal basis, but out of pure greed. unless, the books in question are solely picture books that pictures' owners themseves publish directly, without getting paid royalty by the publishing house. however this is very very rare.

LacrosseSon   April 7th, 2010 4:08 pm ET

I think it's great that Google is trying to make all this content available. Unfortunately, they are violating copyright law and will lose this fight.

Photographers & Graphic Artists Sue Google Over Book Scans   April 7th, 2010 4:13 pm ET

[...] to CNN, Gabriel Stricker, a Google spokesman said "We are confident that Google Books is fully [...]

neo   April 7th, 2010 4:16 pm ET

So it ok for the book to be in libraries where millions of people can see their illustrations and photos for free, but if its viewable on the internet we call foul....

Paul Duncan   April 7th, 2010 4:17 pm ET

@JohannesBrahms let's see how you feel after someone takes your hard work and gives it away.

If the publisher is not being paid by the people scanning in the books, then the writer and the photographer/graphic artist isn't getting their royalties.

That's how that works.

If google wants to rip books for the world to see for free, then they need to compensate the publisher (which trickles down to the artist/writer) – not the "You should thank me because I gave away half your book! Now you can sit back and just wait and hope someone will drive down to the bookstore and pick up the full copy!"

By the way, I've borrowed your car (without permission) and left it for you over here in Charlotte. It's cool because now everyone can see what a great car it is and will want to buy one too.

Mark B.   April 7th, 2010 4:26 pm ET

I liken this to network TV which plays artisits songs all the time.
They pay a fee to be able to do that. Doesn't the publisher have some rights in who gets images and text? The point about people being able to get the exact same thing at a library is excellent too.
Sounds to me like it's sour grapes.

Nick   April 7th, 2010 4:33 pm ET

Shouldn't it be the author's/publisher's job to compensate the photographer/artist if, in fact, compensation is due.

okc   April 7th, 2010 4:33 pm ET

There is a difference between online, free to the world and a book in the library. Someone bought the book that sits in the library. One person can read it at a time. Online for everyone, all the time is not the same. I have mixed feelings on this. Maybe Google should have to pay a partial royalty to the artists...This will be interesting to watch. (I'm sure it will settle though.)

Paul Duncan   April 7th, 2010 4:34 pm ET

Well, a couple of things:

Yes, I get that Google wants to be a "world library". But lest we forget they're a for-profit company. They're not doing this for purely Social reasons (unlike you're local library).

I think generally people would agree that if I went to B&N and bought a book, took it home and made 100 copies of it then stood on the sidewalk and gave it away to anyone who walked by that that would be at the very least a very bad thing to do.

Geekoid   April 7th, 2010 4:35 pm ET

Another bunch of whiners holding back progress.

No one is giving anything away, and no one and people using the material in works still pay royalties.

Geekoid   April 7th, 2010 4:37 pm ET

If by 'borrow' you mean make a copy and then drive the copy to Charlotte, then yeah, it's cool. News for you, all evidences point to displaying your wares as a means to generate MORE revenue.

Paul Duncan   April 7th, 2010 4:38 pm ET

Yes. Stupid whiners! Why should they get paid money (of all things!) for the things they produce!?

Oh. I know: so they'll keep producing, earning money, paying taxes, purchase other things, and keep our economy going.

Paul Duncan   April 7th, 2010 4:44 pm ET


Well, by that logic, the copy would then be "borrowed" (not re-copied) and driven around the world where the hope is that every citizen viewing it would want to buy one .

In the meantime, because the one copy was being borrowed by everyone, they've had the experience, got the use of where they wanted to go, and would have no reason to buy one. And since this model suddenly creates less demand, the less sales there will eventually be – or certainly less "new" models because, hey, I only need to make one new model and sell one new model because it'll just be copied and given away.

jack merridew   April 7th, 2010 4:52 pm ET

everything we create we can make available online
everything available online can be obtained for free
since everything we create can we freely traded online
all information is free

shutting down napster won't stop this, suing google won't stop this, nothing can stop the natural evolution of created works, and that evolution leads to free for all (well all with internet)

Paul Duncan   April 7th, 2010 4:55 pm ET

@jack merridew hippies.

I don't think it's about "stopping the natural evolution", but it is about making sure creator are compensated. By all means: put the stuff online, but don't do it w/o compensation and call it a good thing.

Plan9   April 7th, 2010 4:55 pm ET

Because all of you of earth are idiots!
You see, you see, your stupid minds, stupid, stupid, stupid!

Well, that about sums it up...

jack merridew   April 7th, 2010 4:59 pm ET

i think people are getting confused with things here.

this is the reality of the world we now live in, i can download books , movies, music and anything else people create and i can do it without anyone stopping me

right or wrong this is the reality

VoiceOReason   April 7th, 2010 5:01 pm ET

I'd have to agree with Plan9.

Google has already won this battle since our current copyright laws
allow indexing/posting these excerpts without compensation under fair use. This is not whole copies, not being resold to anyone, so the current law supports it the same way news org are using published works.
The artists have already been comp'd by the publisher.
Best win for the artists would be new rules for publisher, or copyright holder to opt out of their indexing/excerpting, that's what will eventually come of this.

jack merridew   April 7th, 2010 5:03 pm ET

"but it is about making sure creator are compensated."

there is no possible way to ensure this, i fully support it , i think everyone from musicians to authors to actors and directors are hurt by the availability of their media online

but there is nothijng you can do about it

bailoutsos   April 7th, 2010 5:03 pm ET

"trying to make information more universally available." Does Google publish all their code and company secrets?

Paul Duncan   April 7th, 2010 5:09 pm ET

@jack merridew

"this is the reality of the world we now live in, i can download books , movies, music and anything else people create and i can do it without anyone stopping me"

Yes – but it isn't being done systematically by a multi-billion dollar company. They're pulling the ol' "better to ask for forgiveness than permission" because asking for permission costs more money.

fixing it   April 7th, 2010 5:10 pm ET

As an Concept Artist and Illustrator,
This Law suit is long over due.

The web is a wonderful playground, and its also a location for people do download images, with a click of a mouse, without ever paying for the rights to use such images.
Having respect for those whose work accents a story, movie or book for a big studio has long been recognized on the web. This is just another step to insure that those whose livelyhoods depend on these works are compensated.

Google as a world leader in media should be a leader and compensate the professionals whose works are displayed.

The same should be the case for anyone who willing takes anothers work off the internet.

If you do not know copyright laws around usage.
Learn, read and understand.

Its worth the time.

weberc2   April 7th, 2010 5:12 pm ET

1) If the illustrators have already been paid royalties by the publishing companies, they shouldn't receive another payment.

2) Google Books isn't selling books or the illustrations, it is only offering previews of the books. It's the same as if you walked through Walmart and thumbed through a few pages. If you want to sue Google for this, you have to sue all retailers by this logic. Basically anyone who allows anyone else to see any portion of any book that the viewer doesn't own is at fault, according to this logic.

3) This preview service increases the number of books sold–it is beneficial. The less people are able to preview books, the fewer books will be sold. The fewer books sold, the less valuable the illustrations. The less valuable the illustrations, the less the illustrators will be compensated. Don't bite the hand that feeds, noobs.

wow   April 7th, 2010 5:17 pm ET

Seems like everyone misses the point that google only shows a small portion of the book at a time. A few pages, a teaser if you will. Just like you could pick up a book in the bookstore and read ten or 20 pages before you decide to buy it. Google only shows 20% of the book and only a smaller percentage at one time. If the person is actually interested in the book then they will buy the other 80% and everyone gets there money. Google's only profit from this could be through advertising on the page, which based on Google's systems would be advertising for the book, book stores and publishers. This is not the same as handing the book out on the sidewalk unless you are going to hand out 20% of the book or downloading an MP3 unless you only want 20% of the song. Which, by the way, there are many websites that you can listen to 20% of a song before you choose to purchase it and this is legal and not being contested. Google's efforts will benefit them financially but they will also increase the sales of books some people would have never even heard of had it not been for Google.

Grace   April 7th, 2010 5:33 pm ET

Law firm handling the case is on Twitter:

Ryan Cameron   April 7th, 2010 5:36 pm ET

Raw Sewage..."sue-age" we live in. Pointless waste that shows why copyright is stupid.

Vignesh   April 7th, 2010 5:40 pm ET

Most of the people who wrote and illustrated the books on Google Books are dead.

IF they are dead then it should be perfectly fine to redistribute the work. In fact if its fine to copy a pill after 15 years it should be fine to copy a book as well.

Vignesh   April 7th, 2010 5:41 pm ET

One more thing, books are free at the library anyways. The only difference in buying a book and taking it out from the library is you have 4 weeks to finish it.

Stan Chraminski   April 7th, 2010 5:47 pm ET

This can be readily solved if Google just uses low resolution images like I use on my art Website. The images look fine on the Web but if you try to do anything else with them, like print, or enlarge them, then they are too poor quality. I would bet Google does the same to save file size if for no other reason. Of course, anyone can still illegally copy from the images, for example, copy from my painted image, but that is a copyright violation for sure if found out, and again, the quality is doubtful . It's probably easier to scan from a borrowed book and get a better copy if you really want to steal the image but a downloaded low resolution copy will be about worthless.

Fred Dickey   April 7th, 2010 5:49 pm ET

Ok...all books should be thrown out of the libraries and burned because the libraries are violating copyright laws every time someone reads a book at the library and sees the photos inside them.

You could argue that it's not in digital form and therefore cannot be copied, but I would argue that almost every person and their dog possesses a digital camera in the form of a cell phone and can easily copy/paste content at the library into a digital format.

Bob   April 7th, 2010 5:56 pm ET

If I am reading this correctly does it not equate to previewing a song before buying it. Allowing you to see part of the book from a search engine makes you want to buy the book for the reaming context. There are books out there that I do not know of but with this tool it allows me to discover them and even purchase them. Remember because they are for profit would they not make more money selling or linking the context to a site that does sell it. This reminds me of what happened with music. Keep up with the times folks.

Marc   April 7th, 2010 6:08 pm ET

I will never purchase a song without hearing it first. I will never purchase a book without looking through the pages first to make sure it has what I want. The stuff is available on BN's retail store floor for me to read free of charge. Its available at a library free of charge. If I want it free I'll get it free. If I want to pay for it, I'll pay for it.

Google is the best company to happen to America in a long time. It seems trustworthy with our information. It is amazingly moral and neutral. It is surprisingly secure, resourceful, innovative, and responsive. It's going to get attacked by blood sucking leeches all the time who's books weren't good enough to sell on their own merit so they have to get their free money from a successful, GOOD company.

If someone is looking for a vote in the court of public opinion. Put mine in for Google. BTW, I am a photographer and my content is freely available via I'm not sure if people use it without my permission or not. But whatever. If people want to steal it go ahead. I make my money with my clients. Maybe I'll gain a few FREE customers from Google... as a matter of fact I had one last month =).

New Class Action Lawsuit Against Google | Class Action Lawsuits   April 7th, 2010 6:11 pm ET

[...] The new lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in New York.  You can read more on CNN's SciTechBlog.Related Articles:What Will Happen to John O'Quinn Class Action Former Clients?Class Action [...]

E. Ham   April 7th, 2010 7:23 pm ET

It is simple.

A book in the library has been purchased from the publisher and any residuals due the contributors to that book's content are compensated by the publisher.

Google buys and scans in a book. Until the digital version is made fully available, everything is OK. However, once Google 'distributes' more content than 'fair use' allows, they have violated the copyright of the book's authors/contributors.

Nasty Google. Bad Google. Kill Google.

Sandra Chung   April 7th, 2010 7:39 pm ET

This is ridiculous. Google is not posting entire written works, but giving people samples, maybe getting those people interested in heading to library, or bookstore. Instead of suing they should consider it free advertising!

JordanEarl   April 7th, 2010 8:11 pm ET

google has been sued by a lot of people and has lost billions of dollars its about times those idiots should learn, however google is just doing its job and is advertising. People just want money so they intentionally go after wealthy sites like google .

Jim H   April 7th, 2010 9:07 pm ET

What a joke! I make 99% of all my purchases on line, usually after searching for the item and previewing it first. This is just a waste of time and I hope it will backfire.

I'm sure there are many of these creative folks who got worldwide exposure thanks to things like Google. Without it they woukld have remained in obscurity. Did any of them send Google any promotional fees or did Google charge them? Funny how this is such a one way street.

midwestman76   April 7th, 2010 9:26 pm ET

All of you are not seeing the big picture here. It always starts small with a little complaining from a small group of people then it moves to public opinions like this forum, then comes more lawsuits and eventually it will end up right where the major companies intended it to go in the first place. That place is....eventually charging everyone a yearly fee to use search engines on the internet...or some type of fee on top of your IP fee. People haven't any of you learned from life that its always All About The MONEY!!!! and control of course. :o) Cheers.

midwestman76   April 7th, 2010 9:44 pm ET

@fixing it..There are millions of graphics and pictures on the internet that you cannot click on or copy unless you pay a fee to that web site. Then they will unlock that feature for you to can do the same with your graphic work, that way no one on the internet can copy and save as..with respect to your work. :)

Joe   April 7th, 2010 10:44 pm ET

It's pretty simple really, an artist creates something and automatically asserts copyright on his creation. He is rightly reimbursed by the publisher whenever his work is included in a publication. Google steals the publication and puts it on the web for everyone to get for free (and sticks ads next to is that earn more revenue for google) and wonders why people aren't ecstatic?

Hank   April 7th, 2010 10:48 pm ET

People, this is not comparable to a library or stealing. This is not about scanning books and giving them away for free. It is to allow searching them, and the results only show *snippets*. This is actually closer to an advertisement than a library....for example, any Best Buy or Wal-Mart advertisement can contain pictures of the video games and DVD's they sell, even if the covers of those products are copyrighted.

That being said, some of the people commenting here are getting too emotional about this. When it comes to a legal disagreement, big businesses go through the courts and work it out. It doesn't necessarily mean that one side or the other is evil...sometimes both sides are willing to meet in the middle and just need the courts to work out the details.

Man   April 7th, 2010 11:15 pm ET

This is more of a sensationalist news story than anything else. It says that the books are copied wholesale and placed where everyone can get them. I have used google.books before, and I can tell you that being able to see a snippet of certain books online before I buy has saved me quite a bit of time and money. I can find books for a research project that I would not be able to have access to since they are not usually sold at the bookstore. I order them online and have found them to be exactly what I was seeking. The people who are suing Google should be thanking them for the exposure, since most of the books online are older and not carried in main bookstores. Besides, if I really wanted to take a book for free, I could bit.torrent a pdf file and read it from my computer. It is quite simple nowadays to get songs, movies, or music free. I generally pay for what I like because I want the artists I pay for to keep making money. Overall, I think that the illustrators will receive a little bit of money out of this but will not get that much. Finally, to the people who keep saying it is stealing: please understand that this has been proven to generate more revenue for the artists, as their work is generally out of the public sphere and the ability to read or see a snippet of it sustains interest in the work. If you really don't want your work up on google.books, I bet you could email or call them and they would be happy to take it down for you.

Mike   April 8th, 2010 12:09 am ET

The books google 'gives away' are only made available by google after negotiations with the publisher. If your publisher is giving your work away without your permission, I fail to see how that is Google's (or anyone else's) fault – blame yourself for your shortsightedness and don't try to get paid twice.

Visual artists sue Google over copyright issues « descLOG   April 8th, 2010 12:13 am ET

[...] : CNN Categories: News Tags: artists, google, justice, News, technology, usa Comments (0) [...]

graphicArTiST   April 8th, 2010 1:51 am ET

These are the exact same people who thought it was great that a search engine "gave them a voice" and people could "share their work with the world" i say take there names and books and pictures and search criteria off of Google and let them be without their voice again. Fair's fair, right? you dont want to be searched and "used" for content without compensation, Mr. UnknownArtist from Obscurity USA, go back to promoting yourself the old way. Pass out fliers and sent junk e-mail for people to actually type in your site, and not use google. good luck with that.

foxelein   April 8th, 2010 1:56 am ET

oiii... people.. come on,... google bot engine only indexed.

And DO NOT make your web online if you whiner bout compensate.
or go back to the stone age, sell yours there..

Using INTERNET or being ONLINE means freedom of information.
and you do have risk doing it.
It is the copyright laws around.
Learn, read then understand.

Jon   April 8th, 2010 2:06 am ET

I agree with most. Don't put it online if you don't want it online. Too much greed. I am a photographer, and anything I post online, as far as I am concerned, is fair game. I do put a watermark on things, but whatever. People in this country are so damn greedy and they act irresponsibly and then get paid for being an idiot. Let's flash back to the McDonalds incident of someone spilling coffee on themselves and being surprised it was hot – flash forward to people posting photos online and getting mad because someone scans it or saves it to their hard drive...

hal9thou   April 8th, 2010 2:52 am ET

Let's just shut down the internet, OK? Problem solved. It was getting too big for its britches anyway.

Mark   April 8th, 2010 3:07 am ET

*** photo owners are requesting payments from BOTH the people who used the photos in their books and both the viewers, in this case. its asking for double payment. would you be asked to pay for the photos in any book you already bought ? no. therefore this lawsuit has no legal basis, but out of pure greed ***

You're an idiot.

The people in question didn't "already buy" the book. They have paid nothing. And while 20% of a book might be worthless, 100% of an illustration in that book may in fact have value. You clearly know NOTHING about image publishing.

Mark   April 8th, 2010 3:10 am ET

** It is to allow searching them, and the results only show *snippets*. ***

It is not a "snippet" to the artist or photographer, whose image may be shown in its entirety. Congratulations on being so dense at to completely miss the point of the complaint, and the article.

Mark   April 8th, 2010 3:11 am ET

*** I agree with most. Don't put it online if you don't want it online. ***

Uh, they DIDN'T PUT IT ONLINE, dimwit. Google did.

Mark   April 8th, 2010 3:15 am ET

*** The books google 'gives away' are only made available by google after negotiations with the publisher. If your publisher is giving your work away without your permission, I fail to see how that is Google's (or anyone else's) fault – blame yourself for your shortsightedness and don't try to get paid twice. ***

Moron, Google is being sued by the publishers precisely because THEY DIDN'T get permission. And being stolen from is not being "shortsighted." It's being stolen from. Could you possibly be a bigger imbecile?

TG Designer » Photographers & Graphic Artists Sue Google Over Book Scans   April 8th, 2010 4:52 am ET

[...] to CNN, Gabriel Stricker, a Google spokesman said "We are confident that Google Books is fully [...]

richard   April 8th, 2010 6:11 am ET

if the author ,publisher, and contributing artists do not want their work on google ask google to remove them form their data base oh yea and watch sales drop. next watch hollywood sue youtube for showing their previews

Ashi   April 8th, 2010 6:21 am ET

1) Google is copying the books without buying them, they are not showing something they bought. .
2) If google BOUGHT the books and only let ONE PERSON view the book at a time, then it would be like the library. Even libraries cannot make photocopies of the book and then loan those photocopies out. Then they too would be violating copyright law.

So as a result, all of these comparisons to public libraries are not valid comparisons.

James   April 8th, 2010 6:29 am ET

Jon: "I agree with most. Don't put it online if you don't want it online. Too much greed. I am a photographer"

I'm afraid you being a photographer does not excuse your utter lack of reading comprehension. You'll probably be unable to understand it anyway, but let me try to use small words and type slowly:

1. Artists did not post their content online. They provided photographs and illustrations for *printed* books.

2. Google took those printed books and scanned them without permission, and put parts of them online.

3. Now, one may argue that only 1/5th of the book is online. One might argue that's OK for text (I'm not arguing either way), but if I provided 3 photos for the book and if all three happen to be in that published 1/5th, it would mean my entire work on that book is published without my permission. To do it properly within fair use, maybe Google should have thought about black banding 4/5th of each photo.

James   April 8th, 2010 6:32 am ET

"oiii... people.. come on,... google bot engine only indexed.

And DO NOT make your web online if you whiner bout compensate.
or go back to the stone age, sell yours there..

Using INTERNET or being ONLINE means freedom of information.
and you do have risk doing it.
It is the copyright laws around.
Learn, read then understand."

ROTFLMAO at the irony on the last sentence.

Donna   April 8th, 2010 6:44 am ET

I agree with Marc that google is an amazing resource, but I'm not sure it's secure and responsive.

I am an illustrator and if you search my name, images show up that were not done by me and I wish I knew what I can do about it.

Crom   April 8th, 2010 7:16 am ET

How many god dam times does a person need to be compensated for something they wrote/made etc. 40 years, 30 years hell, even 20 years later you still want to be compensated ... why? Because someone might see your pce of crap book or art work on line now. Resurrected from the dust piles of nowhere to the Google book project.

Terry   April 8th, 2010 7:54 am ET

@midwestman76 if you can see it on your computer then it is already on your computer. It's a simple matter to find that file and save it in a persistent rather than temporary format. If it can be previewed, it can be copied. There is no way to "lock" something into a view only mode as the data must be handled by your machine on the user end.

JD   April 8th, 2010 8:22 am ET

@cc. As we say in today's age cc, google it.

DeathStalker   April 8th, 2010 9:08 am ET

Use COMMON SENSE people – items online are NO DIFFERENT than those items IN A LIBRARY! There were *still* purchased at one point. All this copyright BS is just a result of those entertainment conglomerates' (be they photographers, musicians, movie producers, or whatever) antiquated business models coming to an end. Gee, what did all the candlemakers cry when Edison developed the electric light bulb – or the buggy makers cry when Ford developed the automobile? It's call PROGRESS, people.

DeathStalker   April 8th, 2010 9:15 am ET

oh, and as to the mental midgets that are calling for one view at a time, WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES THAT MAKE????! If 100,000 people view something one at at time, what is the difference between them all viewing it at the same time? How stupid can you get? A difference that makes no difference IS no difference.

Artists involved in these issues (companies aside) are also being stupid – would you rather have someone SEE your work PERIOD, or have them NOT EVER see your work? If they are exposed to SOME of your work, *maybe* they might want to obtain *more* of your work – like someone hearing a song by an artist that is never played on the radio, liking it, and ending up going to a concert (which involves PAYING for tickets, and maybe CDs/DVDs, and other merchandise, and future concerts).

It's called "loss leader" – stores know all about this, it's how they gain a lot of their business. It's also called COMMON SENSE.

David   April 8th, 2010 9:55 am ET

In my opinion, these "artists" are just trying to chase a quick and easy buck...they dont get "compensated" when someone reads a book in a public library, so why should they be compensated when the book is read online?

This is actually great advertising for the "artists" and authors, because if the reader likes the book enough, they will go out and buy a copy, which would undoubtedly have a better quality copy of whatever photo or illustration that these "artists" are wanting to be paid AGAIN for.

The artist was initially paid when they did the work for the book, so they need to shut up and stop trying to milk every last cent out of what is a great endeavor to make knowledge and information more accessible to more people.

JM   April 8th, 2010 10:05 am ET

After reading many of the complaints against the organizations suing google, i thought it was important that i repost what James wrote earlier this morning.

1. Artists did not post their content online. They provided photographs and illustrations for *printed* books.

2. Google took those printed books and scanned them without permission, and put parts of them online.

3. Now, one may argue that only 1/5th of the book is online. One might argue that's OK for text (I'm not arguing either way), but if I provided 3 photos for the book and if all three happen to be in that published 1/5th, it would mean my entire work on that book is published without my permission. To do it properly within fair use, maybe Google should have thought about black banding 4/5th of each photo.

JM   April 8th, 2010 10:21 am ET

Dear jack merridew,

Maybe you could get hired to take a photo, draw a picture,write a song, or a book. I'll pay you two thousand dollars to publish it in a book, hard copy book that can be printed however many times.

Ten years later, im going to scan that baby online, for everyone in the world to see it. I am going to completely IGNORE the fact that you HAVE a COPYRIGHT on your work and just put it on Google for everyone to see.

So from now on, that book is worthless. When you are 90 and could be collecting a small income from your efforts, you wont be. When you want to be recognized for all of your efforts and time and creativity you wont be.

Have a great Day!

David   April 8th, 2010 10:41 am ET

re: JM's msg to Jack
No, the book/work is not worthless just because people can preview or read it on Google.
If you are creative and good at marketing, you can still profit from your work. Make it into a movie, a video game, a comic book...a TV series.
Create sequels to your original work.
Google is basically helping you to advertise your work for free, and if your work is worthwhile, people will pay to own a legitimate copy of it.
At the same time, if the day comes and your work is out of print, people may still have access to it, and perhaps that box full of first printings that you had stashed away in your attic will appreciate in value.

Stylo   April 8th, 2010 10:46 am ET

I dont Think Google Scan Book it self. Google Inc, is Just Indexing pictures if you dont want your picture to be indexed by google you may dont share on the web.

Ranger   April 8th, 2010 11:07 am ET

After reading this, I've come to the conclusion that half the posters on Google chats are agents of Google. There's no way there could be that many supporters of their position.

The bigger problem is this: If there is no economic incentive to create, no one will create. Just flip on the boob tube and you'll see the crap that we consider art today. Point is, we have none. Allowing people to endlessly copy things they did not work to produce or pay to get will not improve the situation.

GRS   April 8th, 2010 11:12 am ET

It really doesn't matter that Google is only displaying portions of a book in an effort to sell the book or get customers interested in purchasing. The big fact people are forgetting is that Google is an ADVERTISEMENT based search engine. Google makes money whether the search results lead to a purchase or not, through the endless advertisements placed throughout the results. So Google IS making money at the expense of the copywrighted works it has scanned for free. As a result, royalties to the artists need to be paid from the AD REVENUES Google receives. Think that will happen?

JM   April 8th, 2010 11:16 am ET

Stylo, people are not asking to be indexed by google, google is just doing it. no request, nothing. that is why there is an issue. they are acting with out permission

David   April 8th, 2010 11:17 am ET

Is Ranger referring to this topic/blog? It appears this is CNN, not Google... I am not an agent of Google or CNN. Making books accessible online is not a license to endlessly copy things. Its merely making information more accessible to more people. Its also helping people be more informed BEFORE they buy...if I preview a book online, and like it, I'll buy it...on the other hand, if I preview it and decide its not any good, then I'll save money I would have otherwise wasted on it. Again, its no different than previewing a book in a library, or borrowing a copy from a friend.

David   April 8th, 2010 11:21 am ET

GRS, I can't speak for others, but I pay NO attention to the ads when I google something...same as when I watch a show on TV, I am watching for the show content, not the for ads they happen to include... just because you use Google, it doesnt mean you have to read the ads.

RustyBlade   April 8th, 2010 11:26 am ET

@cc Realy? You had sentence fragments, misspelled words, and everything why would someone take in what you are trying to say? Well anyways this is a bit rediculous like SoulardGuy said I strongly agree with him in what he has said.

Matthemus   April 8th, 2010 11:37 am ET

I find this somewhat ridiculous. Google is trying to create progress, and then you have these people who feel the need to complain about it. Sure people need to get paid for what they create, but how many of these people were actually making any royalty from these books? My bet is half of them haven't made any royalty in years, and just want the money they think they deserve from something that made no money anyway. And, as far as I understand it, it won't just be, "oh here's millions of books, feel free to download and then keep them all." Seems more like, if I search something relevant, it may show me the page of the book it has to do with.

Say I am doing a book report on Ender's Game (Orson Scott Card) and I need a specific detail from the book, and now instead of having to search through the book, I can simply type it into Google, and surprise, it shows me relevant pages, not the whole book. Feel free to correct me if this is not how it works.

How about Google gives these people money based on royalty they have been given for that picture in the last five years? Anything recent could be full royalty, but images from books that are older can receive little if any payment.

Britt Griswold   April 8th, 2010 11:41 am ET

The ignorance of some of the "free Culture" people siding with Google on copyright law, the economics of visual commerce, and what fair use really means is appalling. Libraries can not copy and spread my art. They can buy books that have my art in it. This is not Google's model. Google is not a library, it is a duplication service when it comes to images.

If I sell an image for book publication, I am paid based on the number of books produced. I am not paid for any additional use. If the publisher would like to pay me for all rights to any future use, I will charge the proper amount to compensate me for the loss of any potential future revenue I might have gained. Google is horning in on my contractual setup without permission.

A picture is not the same as a book of words. If Google shows 20% of a book's words, there is a lot left to sell. If Google shows my Image, because it is in that 20%, I have nothing left to sell.

I can think of ways to make showing my image the equivalent of showing 20% of a Book's words, and I can think of ways to charge for the possibility that Google will reproduce my work, but I have not heard that proper compensation or image degradation is what Google will do.

Unless the Book Publisher owns full rights to my work for all uses, then Google does not have the right to show my work without permission or compensation. Period. I have seen no scheme proposed that would protect my rights to the extend the publishers of books are being protected by Google's schemes.

A lawsuit is the only way Google ever slows down to as the questions they should have thought about up front. That is why this lawsuit is not frivolous or greedy.

Britt Griswold   April 8th, 2010 11:51 am ET

PS- maybe when Disney is OK with Google and YouTube giving away its animations and art in total, for free, I will be also...

reader   April 8th, 2010 11:53 am ET

OK.. so if I go to the library or bookstore and pick up one of these books and flip through it, is the bookstore or library violating copyright by having this image where I can view it???? I don't think so, Google is offering the same thing online.. I see no difference with the library or bookstore allowing you to view the images. There is no way this violates the image copyright... Just my opinion

Telefonica   April 8th, 2010 11:55 am ET

Google works with the publishers of the books to determine how many pages (and even which pages) can be displayed on their website. Sometimes, publishers don't allow the book to be displayed at all, other times, they allow portions of the book or the entire book to be displayed by Google. The publishers see it as another marketing tool. If I'm allowed to read 20% of a book, I may find the book valuable and wish to purchase the book.

I'm not sure what the relationship is between publishers and visual artists, but I would venture to guess that the publishers own the rights to the contents of the books, and not the artists themselves. So if the publisher says it's ok to publish an image on Google's website, the artist has no say.

David   April 8th, 2010 11:57 am ET

Britt Griswold
Google showing a low rez copy of your image causes you no damage. (It may even prompt people to buy a full quality copy of your image, because other wise they may never have seen it before.)
However if you feel that the low rez image does indeed cause you damage and/or distress, request Google to remove said image.
Perhaps they can replace it with a statement that says "censored at the request of Britt Griswold"
Then if they don't remove your image, sue them THEN.
As it is now, Its dDEFINITELY greed and frivolity.

K Rose   April 8th, 2010 11:58 am ET

Google has no right to scan and display the creative work of others without compensation. All of the images in that 20% that they allow people to see would be available for people to see and copy for free with no compensation to the artist. This is not fair. No one should have the right to give away someone else's creative work without their permission.

What if i did the same thing? I would swiftly be prosecuted.

If they are going to do this, they should track each image download and comesate the artist. Intellectual property is not community property. It belongs to the person who created it. It certainly doesn't belong to Google. Stealing intellectual property will discourage artists from creating or at least from making their creations available in any onine form.

adam hunter   April 8th, 2010 12:02 pm ET

so once there is no manufacturing left in America because it is all in China, no tech sector because all the work is in india, and no motivation to create anything new because google will just give it away for free, isn't that a recipe for complete economic collapse of the west?

Rob   April 8th, 2010 12:04 pm ET

Anyone ever hear of a library?? Most of these books are most likely there and Google is most likely getting them there as I am sure they do not go out and purchase these books for the good of the world. I think it is just plain out greed on the part of all that is driving this. How wonderful is it to have as much written and visual media available to all, including those that have neither the means to purchase or have the access to many of these items. You go Google!!!

Yogi   April 8th, 2010 12:05 pm ET

They just want money...'adequate' compensation. its just about money nothing else. Nothing wrong with that, just don't put a moral spin on it.

K Rose   April 8th, 2010 12:05 pm ET

One more thing. For all of you that are calling artists and musicians whiners for wanting to be compensated for the use of their work. I would say anyone who complains because they can't download someone's creative work without paying for it is also a whiner and is looking to get something for nothing. They are essentially thieves, robbing someone somewhere of their hard earned cash. And most artists and musicians are not wealthy enough to give away their money to you.

The analogy to the library would only hold, if someone borrowed a book, made a million or so copies, gave them all away and then returned the book to the library. Which btw, would be illegal as it should be......

Sebas   April 8th, 2010 12:06 pm ET


"Maybe you could get hired to take a photo, draw a picture,write a song, or a book. I'll pay you two thousand dollars to publish it in a book, hard copy book that can be printed however many times.

Ten years later, im going to scan that baby online, for everyone in the world to see it. I am going to completely IGNORE the fact that you HAVE a COPYRIGHT on your work and just put it on Google for everyone to see. "

I would guess that once the publisher paid the artist their fee so that they could use the image in publication, the COPYRIGHT would belong to the publisher. It's there in your first sentence...
The publisher paid for the righ to print as many copies of that ilustration... so in escence; they bought the copyright. What they do with it 10 or 20 years later is totally up to them. The artist sold the product and once payment was made, ownership of that product and all rights that come with that were transferred over to the publisher. So if anyone has a case here, it would be the publisher, oh wait they already did and an agreement between the parts was reached. So why would the artist that sold the picture to the publisher that already reached an agreement with the plaintif have any right to go after that plaintif again?

Marcia H   April 8th, 2010 12:07 pm ET

I am an illustrator, and books that I have illustrated have been scanned and appear on Googlebooks, BUT MY IMAGES DON'T. That is because the publisher grants permission for the scanning, and in my contract with the publisher, I retained rights to the illustrations, so they did not grant Google the right to display them. The images are not included with the text, rather a block appears with the statement that the imagery is protected by copyright.
I have no quarrel with Google on this point. If my publisher plays by the rules of the contract they signed, my images are protected appropriately. If I sign a work-for-hire contract, the publisher can do whatever they want with them, and I have no further rights to the images.

To me, the problem with imagery appearing illegally in Googlebooks, if indeed that is happening, isn't that people will view it, as they would in the library, but that they will steal the imagery for their own use, often commercial use, without acknowledgement or payment.
Artists/photographers rarely get royalties from books, rather they are paid per image for the specified use. This is how we make a living.

Veronica   April 8th, 2010 12:12 pm ET

So, why aren't they also suing libraries that do exactly what Google does and have been doing so for decades?

Josh   April 8th, 2010 12:13 pm ET

If I sold a group of words to be included in a book, and those 20 words are included in the selected 20 pages, should I be able to sue? No. The book is a book. Just because you sold your part to be used in a book, if that particular part of the book is fairly used by a company like google, does not mean you are to be compensated. If someone else uses your image illegally, then sue them. If they bought the book, would they then be able to use it? No.

If my friend bought the book, then I saw it, would you be able to sue me for consuming the image with my mind? No.

However, it would be nice if google would either scramble or watermark any images, just to cover themselves for the future. It shouldn't be necessary, but it would solve the grievances of the artist community.

Bob   April 8th, 2010 12:14 pm ET

If someone picks up a book in a public library and flips thru the pages of a book, is a royalty due to the artists ? This is a frivolous lawsuit and should be thrown out before it advances any further. The people bringing the suit should be publicly admonished and fined for placing a further strain on our court system.

It is truly a shame that Lawyers somehow make up the best and worst of mankind.

Anne   April 8th, 2010 12:17 pm ET

These artists need to Google "fair use". Google Books is for educational purposes, and the value of the art isn't impacted anymore than it would be if the rights were purchased and posted on the web. Google will win.

Vince   April 8th, 2010 12:18 pm ET

Hard to tell. All media has a period of relevance that is directly related to the cost of obtaining it. Google only copies books that would otherwise be an obsolete part of media, and not just that, books that the public would generally not pay to obtain. It is like crying injury way after the fact. Is it fair for them to wait and sue NOW, when they have known about this copying for years? "I'm going to wait until it gets really popular and Google gets really rich. Once those things happen, I'll sue for the money!"

Frog Prince   April 8th, 2010 12:21 pm ET

Money money money money.........

Money makes the world go round, the world go round, the world go round.........

Be reasonable   April 8th, 2010 12:24 pm ET

Google is not giving away the content. That is what the previous lawsuit is about. Content no longer legally protected will be available free. Other content not able to be purchased at a book store can be PURCHASED from Google and compensation given to the publisher/author just like normal (although perhaps at a different level of compensation).

This is just a way for a small group to try and get paid twice for work that they have done (once from the publisher when they sold their artwork and once from Google).

Slow   April 8th, 2010 12:27 pm ET

Libraries don't post new material up on the Internet. We post old out of copyright material only (meaning 19th century and earlier). If the material can't survive a hundred years in the market, it and its creator is probably better off forgotten.

John   April 8th, 2010 12:30 pm ET

What about USED books with your photo or illustration in it? sells the same book over and over and over again. Do you expect to get a check for those books sold? I think not. These are already rich photographers and illustrators wanting to be richer.

Jaimie   April 8th, 2010 12:33 pm ET

I work as a graphic designer, author and musician. If you take everything I create and give it away for free then I don't make a living. If you went to work every day and built furniture for a living and at the end of the day someone took the chair you worked on all day, didn't reimburse you for the cost of the wood and materials, and gave the chair away to someone else, you'd stop going to work and making chairs. Why is it so hard for people to understand that creating artwork, music and books is no different? They are still "products" that have value and should be paid for. When you take them without permission and give them to people for free you are stealing.

And by the way, when a publisher publishes your book, they don't get your copyright as some people have suggested. As the author you still retain your copyrights. You are the creator. They just pay for the rights to reproduce your work however many times is in the contract. They don't own the copyright.

Somsay   April 8th, 2010 12:36 pm ET

google is making money off advertising to show illegally scanned books with photography and artwork...more people should sue, and the big publishers should sue also! The publishers will loose billions if they don't start ending this illegal scanning of books.

If people thought the music industry and music shops were hit out book stores!

Hasn Ben Sobar   April 8th, 2010 12:37 pm ET

Does it always come to a lawsuit. Somebody pipes up and everybody else thinks I hear money, and decides that they've been wronged.

Jaimie   April 8th, 2010 12:40 pm ET


I don't know a lot of rich illustrators. Most of them struggle to earn a living.

If you rent a car, you don't get to keep going back and taking that same car again every weekend forever without paying again just because you rented it once. When a publisher pays for artwork in a book, they pay for a certain usage. If the additional usage is not covered in the original contract, they don't get to just give it away in other forms without paying again. You know, like the rental car example above. Dimwits.

fip   April 8th, 2010 12:40 pm ET

we should all keep in mind that Google's efforts aren't simply an act of kindness. they have developed an economic model by which they will profit quite nicely from these efforts.

most importantly, this debate should keep in mind that Google quietly spent A LOT of money to try and push the Orphan Works bills through passage. (including unsucessful attempts to piggyback in 11th hour on unrelated bills) those bills are specifically designed to separate the copyright holder from their work – making the effort to show ownership of copyright nearly impossible for the small studio. those pesky copyright boxes mentioned earlier are really slowing Google down and they are working hard to eliminate them from the mix.

Jessica   April 8th, 2010 12:42 pm ET

this is an interesting, because one would have to conclude that Library's are essentially doing the same thing...they buy the book, then "SHARE" it will hundreds, possibly, thousands of people...

Now, with inter-library sharing, its even easier to have access to books from anywhere...

googles literally just eliminating the library...which may or may not be a good thing. Google only has to buy 1 copy and scan it in...where as Library's have to buy lots of copies (or have them donated to them)...

but at the end of the day, they are serving the same purpose.
Free access to knowledge.

Shane   April 8th, 2010 12:43 pm ET

These steps are necessary. There is too much intellectual property being pirated for free by everyone. Nobody stops to think they're no better than the common thief when they download unauthorized pictures, music, literary content, etc. It's creating hardship for millions of creative professionals, and depleting incentives for them to continue developing creative content. As for those who willingly post their art on the internet for everyone to freely download — they're complete idiots.

Their system is off   April 8th, 2010 12:50 pm ET

The problem is that artists – musical artists, authors and visual artists – are getting paid by how much they sell. So an illustrator creates a series of very complicated diagrams for a how-to book, and often instead of being paid a large sum and handing over the rights to that illustration, they are paid in part by royalties from the sale of the book. Same with musicians and authors.

When it works this way, they have every right to be upset that someone has taken their work and is making it available for free. That's where they are getting most of the money they earn for the project.

If, instead, these people were paid by project only – a large amount for the book, illustration, photo, song, etc., then we could take the free sharing of information to the next level. The artist would know he or she is getting no more out of it, and would likely not protest the use of the material on those grounds. If Google then, like a real library, paid some sort of fee for each work it was making available, the system could work to everyone's benefit.

However, as it is, Google is stealing, and they need to figure out another system.

Bubba   April 8th, 2010 12:52 pm ET

I only download stuff if I already have it or if I would never spend money to buy it. I never download new stuff. But then, I'm not the problem.

Woe is the legal system   April 8th, 2010 12:52 pm ET

This is sadly just another case of greedy people trying to pick off a chunk of a successful company. I have used Google books myself and have never seen a recent publication on there. Of course these people are trying to make it sound like Google is posting full copies of all seven Harry Potter books for free, but thats far from the case. It's things like out of date text books, resource and reference books, and the fiction that is found is mostly by writers who are dead or no longer writing. Most of these are books that you would never see otherwise. The ones that might still be in print only let you see the introduction at best, and never lets you read enough to not warrant buying it if you are interested in the material.

This is a bogus lawsuit and i will be really sad if they win anything other than embarrassment. Though, with the legal system as screwed as it is, they might win.

JB   April 8th, 2010 12:53 pm ET

Whiney artists = my biggest pet peeve.

Mathew   April 8th, 2010 12:53 pm ET

Unfortunately, 'class action suits' have become a form legal extortion. Most of these suits don't make it to trial because legal fees cost so much. Firms settle out of court.

My prediction for this "class action suit" is
1) People supposedly represented by it will end up with a few bucks (maybe $20 and a coupon for Barnes & Nobles) while
2) some lawyer or group of lawyers pulls in millions of dollars of legal fees..

As long as Google doesn't reproduce the whole book, this whole topic is already covered by 'fair use' laws (mentioned already in other posts.)

Jessica   April 8th, 2010 12:54 pm ET

I might be one of the few people who loves that techonology allows me to preview something before buying it. As an artist, I would hate this because no one has to buy an entire CD anymore and be upset that 8 out of 10 songs STINK. And its safe to say that if 20% of the book doesnt speak to you, the other 80% isnt likely to as well...

I cant remember the last time I purchased EVERY SONG from an artists release album, except for say Charity ones like HAITI. Even then I didnt like all the songs, but giving money to charity is different, its not about what you get...but what you give.

I hope if Google wins, will begin posting larger excerpts...cuz ive gotten some rotten books...and frankly, the only people who lose in these scenarios, are bad artists with a crummy product.

Understand the Law   April 8th, 2010 12:56 pm ET

Before throwing out phrases like 'copyright' please understand how the law works. To win a copyright case, you have to prove that the person who owns the 'rights' has been materially harmed (i.e. loss of money) because of your copying of their works. Since most of the books Google images are out of print it is IMPOSSIBLE for the copyright owners to have been harmed because no one can buy their books anyway. There are a few other areas of copyright, dealing with how the copyrighted material is displayed and if this is appropriate, but I am sure that Google is not drawing clown faces and defacing their pictures in any way.

Cameraman   April 8th, 2010 12:59 pm ET

I am a professional photographer and although I am not involved in the lawsuit this is a serious issue that is changing the face of the industry.

What most of you don't understand is that artists don't sell the photos, songs or illustrations at all (usually) They sell the rights to use them. We make our money by allowing publishers or companies to use our works for a certain thing, for a certain amount of time. For example, a photo might be used exclusively by the client for a year for an ad campaign and then their rights to use it expire. The same photo might cost Pepsi $10000 to use for an ad, while it would cost $50 for a newspaper to use, the value depends on prominence and circulation. We are selling limited USAGE.

If you want quality content you have to pay someone to make it. If you want to sort through mountains of crap by amateurs, free content is the way to go. For my own part, I have $100,000 in photo gear, 2 college degrees, 10 years of pro experience and a lot of talent. And you want me to let you use my work for anything you choose for FREE.

It is easy to lose track of value if you can so easily steal stuff. If you could copy a Ferrari as many times as you wanted for free and do whatever you wanted to with it, what would happen to the people who made the original? They spent $20 million on research and development, they have a factory and workers, and they deserve to ( gasp) make a profit. I'll tell you. They will go bankrupt because they will only sell one car and then the copies are out there for "free"

Think about that when you cut and paste.

Or maybe your photos are just as good and you are willing to do it for nothing.

And maybe a Soccer mom/ weathergirl can be president. She's just like you and you are just great. I saw it on facebook.

tom   April 8th, 2010 1:01 pm ET


John Doe   April 8th, 2010 1:03 pm ET

Lets be honest here, artists whether its musicians, photographers, or writers get very little from royalties, almost pennies per CD, Book or Image. I would think all three would be ecstatic at having a free and open sourced system of release. This gives them more exposure and more people who may not be capable of buying all the music or books they would really like a chance to listen to their music. Musicians make their big money through concerts. With more exposure, your going to get more people becoming fans and showing up. Lesser known groups will have an even chance that the heavily endorsed publisher cookie cutter music will offer. Photographers make their money from actual sales from their studios, I would know, Ive no problem uploading my work as wallpapers, since Ive done this, more people know my name, and Ive increased my business 20% a year from the free advertising I get. Something being free is not necessarily a bad thing. Who it really hurts is the middle men, the publishers, not the musicians, writers and photographers.

Dan   April 8th, 2010 1:04 pm ET

It probably helps the publishers to have parts of their books in Google, but not the entire books. The publishers should have more control over the content released in Google and they can probably make more money selling ebooks through Google.

Google should also fix it's Suggest feature to stop suggesting piracy, hacking, cracks, and illegal activity. As a content creator, it's difficult enough dealing with people searching for pirated materials, but to have Google blatantly suggest to searchers to search on illegal content is going too far.

Shoe   April 8th, 2010 1:06 pm ET

@ SoulardGuy, this isn't about web pages showing up in search engines, this is about 12 million _paper_ books that Google illegally scanned and put online without permission from their publishers, authors, etc. In other words, Google pirated 12 million books.

John Doe   April 8th, 2010 1:07 pm ET

Oh and do you realize how many publishers have now called me after seeing something online? They would never have even considered it unless I paid a promoter, or had to do all the footwork and visit various publishing houses. Ive doubled my income in this area and almost exclusively from views from the internet.

WildDingo   April 8th, 2010 1:08 pm ET

I am the copyright holder of an image and I decide how it will be used, if at all. That's what copyright is.

When I license an image to a book publisher, COPYRIGHT IS NEVER EVER TRANSFERRED. I remain the copyright holder. If you don't understand this point, stop reading this and educate yourself on copyright law first.

When a book publisher contacts me to use my images, I quote him a price based primarily on how they will distribute and sell the book. I need to know in which countries or regions the book will be distributed, duration of use, size of print runs, size of the image, whether it will appear on the cover or not, etc...

I charge less for an image published in a book that will be distributed in California only than an image that will be distributed Worldwide. An image that will appear in a book that is printed AND available online costs more than the same image used only in printed form.

This is standard practice in the industry.

I am remunerated by the book publisher based on how the publisher intends to use the image. Google cannot simply pick up a finished copyrighted work and distribute portions of it electronically as it sees fit without consulting and remunerating the copyright holders for those extra uses (web/online viewing to a worldwide audience).

If Google is going to circulate my images to a wider audience than the one originally intended by my publisher client, then I need to be remunerated for that extra use of my image regardless of whether this results in additional sales of the book.

Furthermore, Google will plaster its own ads around each book it shows. In other words, they are deriving income from the use of my images. My rates for advertising use are much much higher than what I charge editorial (i.e. textbooks, newspapers, etc) clients, so my fee to Google for their use would be much higher than what the publisher originally paid me.

I make part of my living from licensing my images. If copyright laws did not exist, I would never be able to supply professional-quality imagery to publishers and everyone would end up losing as book quality would then drop to an amateurish standard.

What y'all need to understand is that Google is a corporation. A multi-billion dollar corporation at that. The main purpose of a corporation is to make a profit. You cannot be so naive to think that its main objective in this book project is altrustic.

The Dingo has spoken.

another illustrator   April 8th, 2010 1:13 pm ET

One of the unique things about the internet is that what people see, they can steal and re-use.

At the very least, Google needs to put in place more protections on the visual art that is included in the books they are internet publishing. Perhaps a large and annoying watermark that keeps people from being able to steal the image and re-use it without permission as an avatar, on a website, in their own work, or for their own personal gain.

Satago   April 8th, 2010 1:14 pm ET

Google is foolish and/or misleading to think they can actually do this.

I digitize books for a living, at a university, and I really don't think Google knows what they're taking on. It's one thing to be the worlds search engine, but entirely another to think you can bring "the worlds books" in a some sort of giant digital library.

Ok, the Koran, for instance? Where's that? Good luck digitizing that.

There are a lot of books out there. A lot. I have walked past shelves and shelves of books hundreds of years old, and in many cases there are only a few copies in the world or only one, and no one knows what's in them.

BTW, we only digitize pre-23 material. Pre 1923 is in the public domain, that's US copyright law.

By the way, Google's book digitizing is very low end. These are not true representations of the books. Do they even use a color card in the shots? I've also heard plenty of stories abut how poorly they treat the actual volumes, disbinding them as they shoot, tearing pages...

Roberta   April 8th, 2010 1:15 pm ET

Library books are purchased at a higher library price to compensate for the books that will not be purchased.

Shoe   April 8th, 2010 1:17 pm ET

The "point" that people can get the exact same work from a library is idiotic: a library has to pay for their copies of books, so the publishers/authors/artists get paid. If all the libraries in the country purchase 1 copy of a book, thats thousands of copies purchased right there. A digital copy, on the other hand, can be duplicated and shared an unlimited number of times to an (effectively) unlimited number of users all at once. A book at a library may be available to everyone, but not at all at the _same time_... if a book is popular each library purchases many copies to meet demand, and again, that's _each_ library, not one massive library that's avaiable to all people regardless of location. It's great to make material available to everyone, but stealing works is NOT the way to do it.

rachel   April 8th, 2010 1:18 pm ET

@SoulardGuy: this has nothing to do with content indexable by googlebot. this is the visual scanning of books (and the illustrations/photos in those books) that google has been working on.

Daniel   April 8th, 2010 1:18 pm ET

In response to the folks who rightly state only a 'portion' of the book will be visible... that portion may have an entire illustration/picture/diagram (whatever) in it, thus that piece is there in it's entirety for someone to download and re-use illegally. I see the artists' point to some extent. However, I think instead of a lawsuit they should put a 'watermark' on the artist's piece and degrade the scanning quality enough that it really wouldn't be useful. Just my two cents of course.

Rachel   April 8th, 2010 1:23 pm ET

So then how are those online libraries able to function? There are several of these that allow you to look up magazine, newspaper, professional journal, etc articles and yes even books. I'm sure nearly every college has some subscription to one or many of these for their students. Are you telling me that the people who run these are paying copyright fees and royalties to every author or artist? If they are, how in the world can they afford to do this?

Ed B.   April 8th, 2010 1:25 pm ET

What I would like to see, is science books. Even if it would be ad-ridden, it's advertising well spent!

Lenny   April 8th, 2010 1:25 pm ET

This is no different from the library. All these illustrators receive royalties from the actual printed books, they're not losing any money. In fact, if anything, they're getting free publicity from Google.

Carl   April 8th, 2010 1:28 pm ET

The solution is simple to fix this. Out-of-Print books should have an opt-out for photos and other artists works. In-print books should have an opt-in for photos and other works. In the future, if a publisher wants the rights for the book to be previewed in this way, they need to buy the appropriate license from the artist. The consumer will decide which direction this will go. Personally, the books that I will buy will most likely come from the set of books I can preview. Having pictures or illustrations not viewable when I preview will make me less likely to buy that book, lowering the value of that artist's license.

Brian   April 8th, 2010 1:29 pm ET

If the artists and authors want to ban people from viewing their works on a site like Google then while we are at it why not ban libraries. Are they not allowing the masses to see a book without paying for it? Can the people not take the book home and scan any images or text that they want to?

While we are at it lets go after microsoft. As it is functions like screen print and in versions of windows xp and later that allow people to bypass the scripts like no right click to capture a page of text or a picture. I have used the google search not only for photos, but for books. It has helped me to find several artists that I like and would not have found any other way. I have also found books that I liked that I would not have ordinarily read through this service.

Personally if I like a particular artist then I look for books with their art illustrated in them. And if there is an author I like from the teasers that google puts out then I go and buy the book. And yes I have scanned the items I cannot find in an e-book into my computer as if I should ever have a fire it is allot easier to grab a hard drive or two and go than it is to grab a few bookshelves of material and go.

This is especially great personally as allot of the material I have are out of print, but should I really be penalized for trying to insure that I will always have the items I paid for by having to find and buy them again?

And how is google really making any money off of this? They tell you it is a preview and that pages viewed are limited. and off to the left it gives you options like where to buy or where to find in a library. WOW they are really making tons of money off of this.... NOT!!!! This is the new age of digital. Just as the post office is becoming extinct so is the world of printed text. It is time that these publishers, writers, and artists start to embrace the new age.

Think of the power the internet had over the election. In the past you saw campaigning on tv and if you were lucky enough got to go to a rally. But those mediums only reach a small portion of the US. But with the internet and technology everyone who has a computer can be at each rally and research the candidate thanks to live streaming video and various websites..

Argenteus   April 8th, 2010 1:34 pm ET

SEO is not the answer – Google is scanning books that are not online, performing OCR, and posting the text and scanned images online. By any interpretation of copyright law, that seems like blatantly "reproducing without permission." this isn't a case of folks posting their material online and then complaining that it's indexed – SEO doesn't matter a whit in this issue.

Adam   April 8th, 2010 1:35 pm ET

This is so ridiculous. If they want to call out Google on this, for distributing their images in books freely, then they also need to sue every single library on EARTH where anyone can borrow a book for free and consume their images. Repeatedly. Over and over!

People have this insane, unfounded fear that the internet is going to ruin them, or their business. Rather than fight a technology that is hear to stay, rather than trying to force it into a decades old business model, how about you try and find a way to make a new business model that revolves around the power of the internet. The companies that survive this are going to be the ones that find a way to grow and change with society, with technology rather than against it.

This lawsuit is ridiculous and it hurts everyone. We're stuck in a 1950s-1970s business mindset and yet it's the year 2010. Time to update our thinking.

Jerom   April 8th, 2010 1:38 pm ET

@ SoulardGuy – When a rights managed image is purchased by a publisher for a book the publisher buys limited rights to use that image typically for a certain period of time and to be used in specific markets and in specific ways. If the image was purchased with print rights only then to display it digitally is a violation of the copyright, or to use it in another publication or to sell it in a country that you did not purchase the rights to use the image in then you are also in violation of the copyright.

This is potentially worse since Google is not the publisher and did not purchase those rights in the first place, and is not going back to the copyright holders and purchasing the digital rights to "publish" the image on the internet. The copyright holders have a right to compensation under our laws for the use of their intellectual property.

Katelyn   April 8th, 2010 1:40 pm ET

Those of you who insist that libraries "give away" books without compensating authors are misinformed.

Libraries are usually very respectful of copyright laws - after all, those laws ensure a healthy artistic and literary culture. Authors whose work is lent by libraries are compensated under something called the Public Lending Right. It's a rather complicated process, but essentially, this system tracks how many times a book is checked out and pays an author a stipend based on this figure. Authors ARE compensated when you check out one of their books from the library. Has Google proposed a similar system of fair payment for intellectual property?

Argenteus   April 8th, 2010 1:41 pm ET

How does Google make money off of this? They're a search engine, that's how. The more they make available to be searched, the more searches they'll get performed. This directly increases their revenue through the many advertising services they provide in conjunction with their searches. In this case, they are making available unauthorized copies of copyrighted material to be searched online, in many cases material that otherwise would not be posted online. It doesn't matter what fringe benefits this produces are what sales this leads to for the victims – they needed to work that out with the copyright holders before they moved forward with this, plain and simple. They tried to get away with not compensating them at all, and now those victims are suing for the compensation that Google should have ethically pursued with them in the first place.

matt   April 8th, 2010 1:43 pm ET

dinosaurs complaining that the planet no longer suits them. Your "work" is digitized, its out there. If you're lucky someone might actually read it (though don't hold your breath). You're moving at a pace that is so slow the vast majority of the worlds net savvy population cant even conceive of it.

Now you want to sue Google because they have the audacity to make it easier to get? Maybe you should focus on getting your money upfront and realize that the world has moved on. No one buys books anymore other then grandparents and school kids.

Within 30 years those 2 groups wont either.

Satago   April 8th, 2010 1:44 pm ET


There's no law preventing people from "consuming" books (nice mental image, btw). But there are laws about *reproducing* books. That's why an author works with a *publisher*. The publisher is the one the author lets PUBLISH the book. The publisher then 0supposedly- acts responsibly and compensates the author for their work.

I wonder if Google would change their concept about "making things available" to "publishing".

Jonathan   April 8th, 2010 1:45 pm ET

(NEO) Your comment doesn't make sense. The authors, illustrators and photographers of books in stores and libraries are compensated during each book sale. They know that more than one person would see that one book from a single sale. The internet is no different either in slight or technical legal ways. The internet is still a physical platform for content just like a book, magazine, or other printed piece is. At the end of the day, Google nor anyone else who may be involved in the future DID NOT compensate the authors, illustrators or photographers for displaying their work online for people to see. Any way you look at it, it's a copyright violation. The company I work for is involved in this very same situation with a client. The law is the law and it specifically states that "any derivatives or copies of (artwork or content) is considered a copyright violation". College English should have also taught you this. Website designers, developers and graphic designers also have to be careful about how closely related their designs are to others. I should know since I'm a Multimedia Specialist and have been educated and trained on this subject matter. If ever in question, contact a lawyer. It's not worth being sued and it's not worth being labeled a copier.

Jerom   April 8th, 2010 1:46 pm ET

@Adam – People make a living selling photographs and illustrations to go into books, and if they retain the copyright then they have the right to be compensated for the use of their image whenever it is used under the law. This is not a frivolous lawsuit any more than one against a publisher that uses the image without permission. Disney has taken great advantage of this to ensure the continued control over Micky Mouse and Donald Duck, and if Google were digitizing Disney's cartoons and posting them freely on the internet then I assure you that Disney would be suing Google as well, and would most likely win.

Ed Waters   April 8th, 2010 1:47 pm ET

"And how is google really making any money off of this? "

Google, at it's heart in an advertising firm, nothing more, nothing less. If Google didn't make money on it's ventures, it wouldn't do it, period. It's something that Google-bots cannot understand. They think Google is out to provide services and to 'give' people access to tons of information. No, their job is to make money and they find creative ways of doing it. They are capitalists wholeheartedly and at the same time they convince some people they are for a 'free' world. They are an economy unto themselves and that, to them, allow them to exist in a duplicitous manner. Just look at the stick price of Google and you will see what they are all about.

SDS65805   April 8th, 2010 1:52 pm ET

The article says: "the search engine displays copyrighted images in books it scans".
I am a photographer. Whenever anyone makes a copy of one of my photographs I am suppose to get compensated. Period.
If Google scans a book that happens to have my photographs in it – I am suppose to get compensated. Period. Doesn't matter if they are doing it for profit or not.
That is how the copyright laws are written. It doesn't matter how we feel about them – that's what they say. If we think it's not reasonable in the new age of mass duplication of material – we need to change the law, not ignore it.

Larry Caro   April 8th, 2010 1:54 pm ET

Another example of the overbroad reach of copyright law in this country. If a use of a copyrighted image does not result in a lost sale, then there is no good reason for an infringement action. As I understand the situation here, the artists and illustrators already got paid for their work when the original book was created.

Sarcasmo   April 8th, 2010 1:54 pm ET

I, for one, welcome our new Google overlords.

David   April 8th, 2010 1:54 pm ET

@NEO – books in the library are purchsed by a collective and usable by its members. There are university libraries as well as municipal. Technically, a county library copy is only availble to its members (tax payers)... who own the book. That is why you have to prove your residence when you get a library card. So, library copies are technically not free for "anyone" to see and use.

Satago   April 8th, 2010 1:54 pm ET

Great point Jerom!

Anybody who thinks this is "frivolous" should take a photo of the latest Disney movie poster and offer reprints for free or cheap online.

Heck, I'm not even sure if it's legal to even point your camera at a movie poster anymore. As soon as you press the button you're "reproducing another persons copy-written work".

Greg   April 8th, 2010 2:01 pm ET

Would Google have an issue with someone putting all their computer code that runs the search engine on line for the world to see? I doubt it. But they have no problem with someone scanning in someone else's books to Index.

Google doesn't think they have to follow HIPPA laws.

Google is evil. You have been warned.

Satago   April 8th, 2010 2:01 pm ET

Larry, then the responsibility would fall on the publisher, wouldn't it? and that, in turn, would depend on the contract the creator and publisher worked out, which in many many cases didn't omit or include the idea of "an internet".

One fun thing to think about is....if a book and it's illustrations are in public domain, published BEFORE 1923, then reprinted exactly the same AFTER 1923...well, which book should be digitized?

Or, if a work written BEFORE 1923 is printed with illustrations POST 1923...well, what then? Digitize it without the illustrations? Then it's not the real published volume.

SK   April 8th, 2010 2:02 pm ET

Copyright is something that binds us from proper access of the knowledge. Human progress could get even faster with proper access. Google is great! Let's make knowledge free, and lets pay the writers from taxes. This is a better way maybe. Idk

Dan   April 8th, 2010 2:03 pm ET

Who is to say what deserves what compensation? Worth is relative, and apparently people feel fine about going online to find things without having to pay
Maybe this goes to show that being an artist or musician is more of a hobby than a living
It is up to society to cultivate and protect the talented and to take care of one another, especially those who can't take care of themselves. Just like seniors have services to help them for being old, why not have services that help successful artists/authors/etc get by, instead of having to fit into the corporate scheme?
Unfortunately, this is America, and everyone's on their own, trying to get rich, or even just get by, by screwing the next guy.
How this lawsuit ends will give some insight into just how much of community we really are, or aren't.

Jerom   April 8th, 2010 2:05 pm ET

@Larry – When rights are purchased for a book and the copyright is retained by the artist or photographer it is typically done with restrictions to the use, including time. I worked in publishing and photographs were typically purchased with a market (US, North American, Global) and a time limit of 5-10 years, as well as distribution (print, digital). After the specified time the publisher need to purchase those rights again if they want to continue using the image. If they purchased print rights for the U.S. and they want to market it digitally and expand that market to North America then they need to purchase those rights as well.

And with a copyright there it doesn't matter if the person using the copyrighted image is making money off of it or not, the fact that they did not have permission to use the image is a violation of copyright law. If you have a blog and post an AP photograph without permission then you have a chance of being contacted by them and possibly being sued by them as well.

Kellie   April 8th, 2010 2:06 pm ET

They aren't violating any laws because they only scan in books that are out of copyright. Otherwise they show you the info a library catalog would show you. Google will prevail, everyone else is a whiner.

Satago   April 8th, 2010 2:14 pm ET


are you sure they're only "scanning" pre-23 books, or are they "scanning" all of them and only publishing pre-23? And do we know if there is independent oversight of that?

Being the child of an author and a (thankfully) working photographer...yeah, it makes a difference to me. And what ends up on my family's dinner table at the end of the day.

ElodieStClair   April 8th, 2010 2:15 pm ET

Let's get one thing straight. These people are NOT artists. They are craftspeople. Or tradespeople. There is a HUGE difference.

If they were actually making contemporary art, they would see classical definitions of Copyright as moot and ridiculous. In the wake of Richard Prince, Creative Commons, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc... do these clowns really think that they are artists if this is their thinking?

These are tradespeople and/or entertainers. They have no business calling themselves artists.

Katelyn   April 8th, 2010 2:19 pm ET

SK, copyright is the single reason authors, illustrators and other people whose work falls outside the realm of the tangible are able to thrive and master their craft. When copyright fails, and people who were once professionals able to devote themselves fully to their craft are instead spending their days behind the counter at the DMV just to make ends meet, THAT is when human achievement in the arts and entertainment will come screeching to a halt. Unless you're willing to endure concert halls full of amateurs and plays put on by community theater troupes and books written by the self-published, you'd better support copyright.

Max   April 8th, 2010 2:21 pm ET

What about having a place where you can see books including the artwork on their cover and even read them in their entirety if you like. The place just buys one book but then lets anybody look at it and read it. Imagine all the lost revenue to people not buying books Do you think this would be illegal? Well I was thinking of a traditional library. Google books from my understanding just lets you search books but not necessarily read them unless certain conditions are met. For one, books out of copyright and in the public domain are fully downloadable. For people cliaiming piracy I don't think this is such a clearcut issue.

Stephen   April 8th, 2010 2:23 pm ET

I am a photographer and it makes me laugh how people who obviously know nothing about copyright or how material is licensed seem to think it’s ok to basically steal. I see allot of comment about how books are free at libraries and that Google is no different to a library in distributing an image. This is NOT the case. First of book was paid for by the library. The book cannot be copied and redistributed in any form regardless of the number of pages. Libraries do not make copies they are not allowed to.
The fundamental difference here is Google is copying the book and redistributing it without the permission of the artist or photographer. This is not the publisher digitizing the book this is Google illegally copying the book.
I love the argument that this somehow increases sales as someone who has been selling images commercially for 10 years then this is not the case in fact the oposit is true.In today’s sad society the norm seems to be if you can steal it then that ok. After all what harm is it , its only an image. The harm is it costs money to take images. Equipment, travel and expenses have to be covered. In most cases these trips are covered by the royalties received over a long period of time not from the initial sale.
How would people like it if someone stole something of theirs and profited from it. Google is not making a library that benefits anyone, this is not progress. This is blatant theft.

Damian   April 8th, 2010 2:24 pm ET

im a digital artist. we live in a world where people can access anything illegally if they choose. my images are going to be used whether i like it or not. i realize this and i also realize that my ability to make a living as a digital artist is through my ability to produce new images, not to live off the old ones. this is an example of people who had their cake and got to eat it too in the past and want it to always be that way in the future. the world changes. the rules should change too. stop crying over spilled milk and learn to adapt to the way things will be from now on.

Published   April 8th, 2010 2:26 pm ET

So, for you nay-sayers, I should be able to rip off all your websites, because they're already out there, and use it for my own profit, eh? I've had many books over the years. No, in any way, shape or form, do I allow ANYONE without my explicit permission, to do anything, with my art or writing, PERIOD!

Violate my rights, and you're up a creek fast.

Whiners? Hah – you're not published, that's how I know the difference.

Larry Caro   April 8th, 2010 2:29 pm ET

@Jerom – my point is that U.S. copyright law has strayed far, far from its original intent. Copyright was intended to protect authors like Charles Dickens who books were massively bootlegged in his day, clearly representing lost sales for him. The law was pretty easy to understand then. My argument is to reign in copyright law, which in its current state is almost unbelievably complicated because of the continuous pressure over the decades to bring more and more material and uses into its orbit.

Mike   April 8th, 2010 2:30 pm ET

Unfortunately people think that "sharing" information is a bad thing. Do these artists stand in libraries and ask for money every time someone opens a book or magazine and see a picture of their art or "creation"? NO! I swear some people, if they can't get a profit out of something, they want to throw us all back into the stone ages. Fine. Lets dismantle the internet because there is not a profit for everyone. I guess everyone will have to start going back to the library then and actually grabbing a book by hand. Seems you 'artists" will lose money if you don't get the exposure that Google and the internet is giving you.

Copyrighteous   April 8th, 2010 2:30 pm ET

This is no different than copying DVD's and then giving them away on the corner, "To make information available" but ALSO getting paid by AT&T, BLOCKBUSTER – whoever, to advertise on a standup sign next to you on that corner.

I like google – er I did, until they decided that they could get away with whatever they want in the name of 'progress'. When people are getting ripped off so you can benefit – you're no longer the good guy google. Get your act together or so help me I'll bing. It's the clunkiest site ever but I swear I'll use it if I have to!

What happened google? You changed man, you used to be cool.

methuselah   April 8th, 2010 2:32 pm ET

a person with poor reading skills or no idea what they are talking about says: "If you don't want your web page, article, scan, picture, etc. to be indexed by a search enginee, then follow the rules of SEO"

That isn't what happened here. These are from books that Google has scanned offline and put online. So...this isn't about their "web page" or article or anything else. This is a violation of copyright. These items are not already on the internet and simply being searched. They are being created by Google. Get your facts straight before you rant and rant about something you no nothing of. See: Reading Comprehension

VISUAL ARTS SUE GOOGLE? « Photography Blog   April 8th, 2010 2:32 pm ET

[...]               [...]

Satago   April 8th, 2010 2:33 pm ET

Horrible to think that as the physical books are thrown away or rot in attics and basements we're going to be left with these horrible quality Google reproductions. All the more a pity since they are mostly "older" books, not born digital, and the craftsmanship of the printer, publisher and designer won't carry though. I haven't seen any Google repro's of Paradise Lost, but I bet Google doesn't really give much thought to quality issues. it's a shame because they could also be preserving these books to an archival standard. Now THAT would be good. Not much profit in that, though....

hey, new the future they'll look at the digital version of the book and say it looks terrible, it's been "googled"...

saintmalakai   April 8th, 2010 2:34 pm ET

Right or wrong, legal or otherwise, the simple fact is that the ONLY way to ensure that you're so-called intellectual property 'rights' are protected is to NEVER share your ideas. Period.

Humans have always copied, borrowed, re-worked, and shared their work with each other–with or without the permission of the original creators of the work. (Next thing you know, manufacturers of acrylic and oil paints will be trying to sue artists for using paint without paying royalties.)

"Human rights"? Have fun explaining that to the people in N. Korea. "Property rights"? Tell that to anyone who has ever been robbed.
"Intellectual Property Rights"? Research Tesla and Edison.
"Right to life"? Tell that to all the Holocaust victims

18 year olds who are eligible to be drafted to fight and die in the military don't even have the "right" to make their own decisions about what they put into their own bodies (18 is mature enough to kill others or be killed yourself, but whoa! whoa! whoa!... careful with that beer... you're a child who can't be trusted...

Yeah... "Rights"

People seriously need to start educating themselves and stop relying on others to do it for them. Take a political science or philosophy class. Or start by turning off the TV and reading a freaking book...

Bottom line: ANYthing that can be taken away from is NOT a right, it's a privilege. It's about time we stop deluding ourselves with all these high and mighty visions of the "RIGHTS!" we like to pretend we have, and start recognizing that the ONLY reason we have any of these so-called 'rights' at all is because the authorities who have the ability to remove them simply haven't chosen to do so... yet...

methuselah   April 8th, 2010 2:37 pm ET

"Unfortunately people think that "sharing" information is a bad thing. Do these artists stand in libraries and ask for money every time someone opens a book or magazine and see a picture of their art or "creation"?"

No, sharing information isn't a bad thing. Eroding and distorting economic models without consultation from the creatives who made them is not legal. There is a reason copyright exists and without observing the laws.

As a published copyright owner in many mediums, I see my work pop up on the Web frequently. Many times I have no issue with it, it is sort of flattering. But there have been contexts where our work was used to promote someone else's venture without a single ounce of consultation. That is wrong and we do not accept that people have the right to use our work as they please, especially without consultation and agreement from our company.
Get over it, if you don't like intellectual copyrights.

jon   April 8th, 2010 2:37 pm ET

For one thing, people who read books online rarely "buy" books Secondly, the artist(s) who created or supplied artwork were paid for their work by the publisher or the author. These artists are paid a commission for their work. They don't get royalties for artwork on book covers. Yes there are exceptions to the rule, but it is not the norm. Only the author and publisher get royalties. If the artist(s) don't want their artwork made available online, a copyright "stamp" can be transposed over the online artwork to reduce the chance that someone "copies" it to their hard drive. This type of "stamp" is used by thousands of artists for artwork who don't want their work "stolen". Remember, Google is not making a profit on the books that are viewed, it is a free service. If an author doesn't want his book made available online, he can request that it be removed. However, free advertising benefits everyone. As I said before, people who read books online, don't "normally" buy books. In any case, the only people Google has to get permission from is the author and/or publisher.

Mark   April 8th, 2010 2:38 pm ET

Interesting. So if I order 10 Farside books from Amazon and scan say 20% of the pictures out of each one to put on my website, then return the book to Amazon for a refund... does that mean I've done something wrong or am I just doing business the Google way?

lea   April 8th, 2010 2:41 pm ET

google isnt taking books for free, there's a settlement whereby they are giving compensation to the Authors for the material they have published on line, i suppose it doesn't apply to illustrators in those books.. Also, many of these book are out of print, so it's v useful for google to make them available.

JP   April 8th, 2010 2:43 pm ET

The fair use argument has been tried for books, since Google does not give away complete books.

But a copyrighted visual work may be completely contained in one page of a book, and Google's book scans are good enough to allow reproduction of many of the visual works they have put on-line.

The publisher of the book has often obtained a limited license for printed reproduction specific to that book, and does not own the overall copyright of the image. That rests with the artist behind the image, who may still be licensing the image for sale.

Is it still fair use to reproduce the entirety of a copyrighted work?

Mathieu   April 8th, 2010 2:44 pm ET

If this were my project, and I owned Google, I would remove ALL links, all mention, and all sites that contain any content related to: "The ASMP, the Graphic Artists Guild, the Picture Archive Council of America, the North American Nature Photography Association, Professional Photographers of America".

They can use other SE's to list their sites if they aren't happy with Google.

Michael Troop   April 8th, 2010 2:45 pm ET

I am an artist and do not mind. My work has been scanned by Google and it has brought people to my webpage and to buy my work. It show greed and the eye for easy money on the part of so many. It is a new age and we all must change.

Mark   April 8th, 2010 2:46 pm ET

Jon said "Google is not making a profit on the books that are viewed, it is a free service. "

Wow, no profit huh? Did Google take down all the sponsored links from their search results and all their pages of content?

Daniel   April 8th, 2010 2:49 pm ET

When Google stops generating revenue from scanned materials, it may have a case about helping to make knowledge universal and free. However, Googlet makes money by displaying someone else's intellectual property for all those eyes that advertisers love. The people who have not created anything, but simply consume (as does Google), are happy with that arrangement, but those who create deserve to be compensated fairly.

How many of you are willing to work for nothing? You may wish to do so, but you won't be able to pay for yourself. That's what is so upsetting for creators of intellectual content. They can't pay their bills if no one pays for their content.

As for creating new exposure, how many of you actually buy a book that you have seen on Google? Very few of you.

Marketing Gremlin   April 8th, 2010 2:49 pm ET

Mathieu – RE:
"If this were my project, and I owned Google, I would remove ALL links, all mention, and all sites that contain any content related to: "The ASMP, the Graphic Artists Guild, the Picture Archive Council of America, the North American Nature Photography Association, Professional Photographers of America".

They can use other SE's to list their sites if they aren't happy with Google".

That would be VERY scary – for Google to decide who can and can't be listed, and hypocritical considering they stated the censorship of the Chinese gov't and hacking of certain gmail accounts as being the reason they pulled out of the China search engine market

mojokabobo   April 8th, 2010 2:50 pm ET

Ok, I read this article, then I decided i'd check out google books on my own. I went there, searched for 1984, and started reading somewhere in the middle. After I had read a couple of pages, I received a message that the next pages were omitted from the preview. I clicked a link next to that message that said "learn more", and google's book policy was laid out in simple and easy to understand terms.

Here's a link to said policy:

Anyone who wants to say anything about this issue, should first go there.

Mark   April 8th, 2010 2:51 pm ET

JP hit the nail on the head. An artist creates a picture for a particular book and gives that right to the publisher. If Google takes that picture and thing uses it for their own financial gain then there is a problem And YES Google does gain financially as their entire revenue stream is driven off selling advertising space that is now more valuable because it has an artist's picture on it.

Fact is i think it is up to each and every artist or photographer to decide. They created the work and if they only want it to show in a printed book that is their right. In fact I would imagine that a book author would need to work up a new agreement if they were to want to use the artists pictures in a 2nd or 3rd book. So why should the book author have to get permission if they wish to reuse an artists picture say in a poster or to put in a seperate book but it is ok for Google to use the picture for free?

IMHO   April 8th, 2010 2:57 pm ET


If all they're showing is a preview portion of the content (about what you'd expect to see if you previewed a book at an or B&N website) and if they showed only small, low-resolution images of any photos or graphics (that couldn't be enlarged or reproduced) contained in those books they scanned, I fail to see what harm they are doing to the authors or artists.

At the very least, they are getting free advertising. The fruits of their labors are being exposed to a potentially far greater audience than they would probably be able to reach on their own without expending a great deal of effort and money. I wouldn't go so far as to cite them for greed but I do think they're cutting off their noses to spite their faces.

Ice Man   April 8th, 2010 2:57 pm ET

so what's next...are these people going to sue libraries for have the books on their shelves and available for anyone to check out and read! The fact is that these people have already been compensated for the content the have put in these books. Google is just making them searchable. It clearly states on the website the rules and restrictions on using Google books. Everyone is always looking to make an easy buck!

Copyrighteous   April 8th, 2010 3:01 pm ET

There's infinite # of contractual situations. The money doesn't have to go the artist directly but rather through the book company they signed a deal with, THEN through that book publisher to the artist depending on the deal.

A lot of contracts have no 'new media' clause which governs the use of material on the internet because it didn't exist when the book was made. The intent of the contracts however is to ensure that artists get their % of the deal same as the book publisher. Right now they're both getting screwed.

The point is – an audience gets to see that book either by buying it at a bookstore or viewing it online. The created material gets to an audience. Right now the creators (Publishers and Artists) are getting the shaft. They are the creators and it's their call how their work is used and/or delivered. Once it's public domain it can go to a library, but before that it's completely up to them. This may be a huge shock – but books and art take a LOT of time to create. The good stuff that is – not the drawings you did on your mom's fridge. If this continues you'll see a decline in U.S. made artwork because no-one will be able to afford living that way to make them. Many artists have a hard enough time already.

One idea could be for Google to become a publisher themselves. Sign deals with writers and artists to publish their work and include an online searchability clause that promises them whatever fair % of profit made from their work. Share information AND your profits. If the artists decide you're not as profitable as a publisher that's their choice but you don't have the right to simply take it and use it anyway. That's messed up.

Mark   April 8th, 2010 3:06 pm ET


I think the point of this comes down to the issue of why should Google get to unilaterly decide what pictures they can take in their entirety from a book. Take my idea for the Farside book. I would love to have 20% of their pictures, even in low res, for free to put on my website I could scan one picture a day out of the Farside book, put it on my site and my traffic would grow. right now I get about 1,000 or so visitors a month... with a daily new Farside cartoon each and every day my site would take off much faster. So in your opinion that would be completely legitimate for me to do as i would be using a lower res picture and only using say 20% of each Farside book.

Copyrighteous   April 8th, 2010 3:08 pm ET

Wow it's pretty clear by this message board that as soon as Google gets in front of a Jury on this they're in the wrong. They better shape up quick. There's PLENTY of other SE's existing and waiting to launch who can fill their place if they don't. Google isn't some kind of genius company. They're just pirates who are currently getting away with it via legal loopholes. Rolex eyepatch.

Don't get me wrong – I appreciate a lot of what google does, has done, and wants to do. But they need to not be doing it at the expense of everyone who makes them great. They are NOTHING without the creators of content. Just an empty store with nothing to sell. A nice, very easy to search store – but still an empty one without content. (and yes – they're a store – they make revenue on those products via Advertising). Does this make Google the new Mad Men?

Lois   April 8th, 2010 3:09 pm ET

Little thieves pay artist for their works! Google is pilfering other folks work. I love Google. . . it's great to have all forms of work accessible but there must be a way to give royalties to the artists without shafting the general public.

Copyrighteous   April 8th, 2010 3:11 pm ET

@ Mark

That's the same as DVD pirating like I mentioned earlier. Those videos are poor quality but they still steal ticket sales.

P   April 8th, 2010 3:13 pm ET

No matter who wins, everyone loses.

Sue   April 8th, 2010 3:21 pm ET

"So then how are those online libraries able to function? There are several of these that allow you to look up magazine, newspaper, professional journal, etc articles and yes even books. I'm sure nearly every college has some subscription to one or many of these for their students. Are you telling me that the people who run these are paying copyright fees and royalties to every author or artist? If they are, how in the world can they afford to do this?"

Yes the vendors of the databases pay to license the content from publishers. Libraries pay BIG BUCKS for these research databases. My library (small college 750 enrollment) has over 100 databases pays $65,000 in subscription fees per year. That amount doesn't include the ones that are provided free via funding from the state (to the tune of $300,000)

The databases are licensed from the publishers and if you take a look at some of them, the entire content is not there. Due to the Tassini decision, publishers do not have electronic rights to articles written by free-lancers (pre-1991) because the standard contract did not allow for that use.

Google has signed contracts with a number of libraries to digitize the books owned by the libraries. Pre-1923 books are out of copyright and don't matter, but Google wanted to copy newer books and post them online until their copyright holder complained.
The copyright owner has the EXCLUSIVE right to reproduce his/her works. Google doesn't want to take the time and money to locate the rights holder and get his permission. In other words, they want to profit from materials that they haven't paid to use in the first place.

Paul   April 8th, 2010 3:22 pm ET

Better start nailing those libraries for all the lost "rental fees".

Paul   April 8th, 2010 3:25 pm ET


You should probably learn a bit about pirating before making blanket comments that facts do not support.

Joe W   April 8th, 2010 3:26 pm ET

People you might want to actually read Marcia's comment below.
Seems like 99% of the story and comments on said story here are irrelevant based on her experience.

Marcia H April 8th, 2010 12:07 pm ET

I am an illustrator, and books that I have illustrated have been scanned and appear on Googlebooks, BUT MY IMAGES DON'T. That is because the publisher grants permission for the scanning, and in my contract with the publisher, I retained rights to the illustrations, so they did not grant Google the right to display them. The images are not included with the text, rather a block appears with the statement that the imagery is protected by copyright.
I have no quarrel with Google on this point. If my publisher plays by the rules of the contract they signed, my images are protected appropriately. If I sign a work-for-hire contract, the publisher can do whatever they want with them, and I have no further rights to the images.

To me, the problem with imagery appearing illegally in Googlebooks, if indeed that is happening, isn't that people will view it, as they would in the library, but that they will steal the imagery for their own use, often commercial use, without acknowledgement or payment.
Artists/photographers rarely get royalties from books, rather they are paid per image for the specified use. This is how we make a living.

William R. Cousert   April 8th, 2010 3:31 pm ET

I fully support what Google is doing. If Google can be sued, then why not the public library?

Here's a thought – why not split the ad revenue with the copyright owners of the books? The author and publisher gets something each time someone views part of their book. Problem solved.

mommamarygetsawordin   April 8th, 2010 3:32 pm ET

First, no it does not violate copyright law if Google has permission from the writer/publisher (whomever owns the copyright) to display a portion of the book. Second, in my mind this is a version of advertising and the publisher/writer, etc. all profit if making book 20% available online helps to sell actual copies of the book. Third all monies paid at the time of printing fairly compensate the artist(s) for the supplied work (and its contractual), but the reality is who owns the copyright? If its owned by the writer/publisher, etc – then no harm no foul if Google has permission to display the book. Finally, google has a responsibility to ensure that the material cannot be taken from the online display by viewers. As long as Google has permission and protects the product from viewer theft – then Google is well within their rights to display content.

I understand the artists' motives to be fairly compensated but this is not the right way to go about it. They will not win the Google fight (unless Google settles) but they do have better chances of tackling this at the publisher side of things. Also, if you want to be compensated for work that may appear on the Internet as part of a 'sales and marketing' program – then get it in your contract before selling the artwork.

Satago   April 8th, 2010 3:34 pm ET


consider that one is a private corporation that makes a profit, the other is a public service that barely can afford employees and is the first on the chopping block at budget cut time.

One will replace the other. Which do you think will be here in 100 years?

John L   April 8th, 2010 3:40 pm ET

I believe that it is high time that the copyright laws be updated to be practical for this century, given the technology that is being utilized. As they now exist, they are virtually impossible to enforce. This legal action will be a hugh waste of money, no matter which side wins.

©2010 John L

mommamarygetsawordin   April 8th, 2010 3:43 pm ET

One final thought because it is worth saying – if you are going to sue Google for dispalying copyrighted material then these individuals should include as well. They display portions of books so that readers may get a fair idea of the content before purchasing. Most of the books are technical or instructional in some way – and artwork appears in them as well. Does this fall under ' you don't bite the hand that feeds you.'?

Must be nice to pick and choose who can afford to fork over the money for the battle you want to rage. Google has money – publishers generally run under tight budgets. My hope is that Google swings a heavy hammer on this and squashes it like a bug.

SJ   April 8th, 2010 3:48 pm ET

Misguided effort. First, who reads obsolete media (books) instead of the digitalized copy? Second, how is this so different than my library having a copy and me reading it there, other than being more convenient for me than driving to the library to check it out? Third, why do they want to miss the exposure which might encourage people to purchase their works?

Norm   April 8th, 2010 3:51 pm ET

This is what you get for trying to do something for humanity. The all mighty dollar has no love for mankind. Pull every book that's in the law suit . Delete it and post a notice listing all of these authors who don't want the world to see their art unless it's paid for. Try to immortalise someone and this is the thanks you get.

Megan   April 8th, 2010 3:52 pm ET

I the library argument I have seen some people post is unfortunately flawed. Yes, libraries are allowed to circulate books where everyone can get to them. This is an exception to the copyright laws specifically set out by congress (§108 in the copyright act). There is not an equal exception for Google, and thus they are infringing by their actions. I think you will find that there is a considerable difference between library loans, where the number accessible is strictly limited due to space, and books on the internet where anyone at anytime can access. The 3 copies of a book that may or may not be at the library is hardly a deterent from going out to buy the book....the free copy that I can get on the internet at any time is. As several people have said, it is the same argument as the Music industry essentially.

Jerom   April 8th, 2010 3:55 pm ET

@mommamarygetsawordin – If I permission an image to a publisher for print in the U.S. for 5 years and 50,000 copies and get a fee for that then any use beyond those terms is a violation of that agreement. For it to be put in a digital database for distribution either by the publisher or Google with the publishers permission it is still a violation of my copyright since the agreement was for print not digital. Even if they did have digital rights, once the 5 year period passes if they do not come back and extend those rights then they are in violation of the copyright if they continue to use it. And if they bought U.S. rights and through Google (or another digital service) it is available outside the U.S. then they are in violation of that copyright agreement.

The terms I mentioned above are common from my experience in purchasing rights for photography for a book. Each of these effects the price that is charged.

Les   April 8th, 2010 4:01 pm ET

How does an AMERICAN court get to decide whether the WORLD'S books should be published on Google

John L   April 8th, 2010 4:02 pm ET

The copyright laws are SO unfriendly to the consumers. Do you know that if a youth group has a "sleep over" at a church, for instance, it is illegal to show a copyrighted work of entertainment content without getting a license for that "performance"? That's right. When you rent, or even purchase a DVD, you are only granted a license to "display" the work in you home, and then to only your household or a small group of "close friends". How antiquated! (Be especially careful with "certain" copyright owners: "Orlando" will dispatch a goon squad to get you!)

Jerom   April 8th, 2010 4:03 pm ET

@mommamarygetsawordin – When a publisher purchases the right to an image they typically purchase the right to use it in advertising for that book as well, such as is done in Amazon where the reproduction of it is directly advertising the sale of the book.

However, at a company that I used to work for that designed books for some of the major publishers had problems getting permission to post images of the books we designed on our web site or use in our marketing material from the publishers because they did not have the rights for us to use the images and were concerned about the potential for a lawsuit for copyright violation.

mommamarygetsawordin   April 8th, 2010 4:06 pm ET

@Jerom – You seem to misunderstand – I very specifically spoke about permission. The breech of copyright would be between the artist and the publisher. Google is just an adjunct and as long as they have permission from the copyright owner – then they are not in breech. I assumed the readers of this blog would understand that I meant current permission – but then I guess some will read what they want.

R H   April 8th, 2010 4:08 pm ET

Google makes huge profits, they should share these profits with the creators whose work the are using.

Seems obvious to me.

Megan   April 8th, 2010 4:11 pm ET

for the record, just because they are only showing "snippets" of books, doesn't mean they have not violated copyright law. Reproducing any part of a work, no matter how small, and distributing is infringement (think Vanilla ice...all he took was the beat right? not the whole song...). I appreciate that this is akin to thumbing through a book in B&N in THEORY, but B&N paid for that book...they did not illegally reproduce it. Bc Google has photocopied these works, they have violated copyright holder's reproduction and distribution rights under §106 of the copyright act.

Aaron   April 8th, 2010 4:15 pm ET

Isn't it legal to publicly play a short piece of music without paying royalties? I believe it's somewhere around 20-25 seconds worth. Where does the limitation come in play with books? Can you display 1 sentence? 1 page? 1 chapter? Can I use the word "the" publicly or do I have to pay royalties? I know that's an extreme example, but what are the limitations to referencing others works? You can't use Google Books and just sit down and read an entire book, but you can reference short portions. That seems like a huge advantage to the author as long as they are properly cited for the work.

Megan   April 8th, 2010 4:16 pm ET

additionally, just because an artist is dead or no longer writing, does not mean he no longer has copyright protection. Copyright is for the life of the artist plus 75 years, so unless the works are 75 years older than the date of the authors death, its still covered by copyright.

I have also seen mentioned that its ok because google is just ripping textbooks, research books, etc. These people also have intellectual property rights, even though they are not sterotypical "artists", so it is still illegal

TF   April 8th, 2010 4:19 pm ET

As a university student, Google books has often been very helpful to me. In my experience, they do not show even entire pages of most books. Recently I wrote a research paper and used the website to search for phrases, then found it in the hard copy of the book. It is a valuable tool.

Rycterman   April 8th, 2010 4:20 pm ET

IMO, the ones who are really getting paid are the lawyers that are litigating this, regardless of the outcome of this case ALL the lawyers will be paid, so the longer this goes on and more people involved the more the lawyers make so they are going to take whatever they can to court, regardless if it is right or even logical.

Aaron   April 8th, 2010 4:21 pm ET

"The Fair Use doctrine allows copyrighted works to be reproduced for limited purposes, such as teaching, news reporting, criticism, comment, and research."

By the way... I ripped that off of Google.

Jerom   April 8th, 2010 4:27 pm ET

@mommamarygetsawordin – I am speaking as someone who has worked in the publishing industry and so my use of the terms reflects that. A book has a copyright, but the copyright of a photograph in that book is not part of the copyright of the book itself, and may be retained by the photographer (or illustrator). The publisher may have the right to give permission to Google to display their book, but not necessarily my image. Weather it is the publishers that should contact the copyright owner or Googles and negotiate the new distribution rights doesn't matter, the distribution of the image outside the bounds of the original agreement is in violation of copyright law, so if the publishers are giving permission for Google to use the image maybe they should be named in the lawsuit as well, but it is Google who is distributing the image without owning the permission to do so.

An artist (whatever that is)   April 8th, 2010 4:27 pm ET

The digital revolution means that undigitized art will most likely be forgotten, unfortunately. Also unfortunately is that all of these people can't accept that soon art will be just as useless (financially) as it always was meant to be. People create art out of a passion for creating art, not for making money. Money is just a bonus. There are too many laws in the world, too many regulations. I know a cup of cofffee is hot, when i order it hot so why do i need a label? Art isn't meant to be paid for, art is meant to be appreciated. And appreciation, I don't know if you can put a price on that.

Mel   April 8th, 2010 4:33 pm ET

I love using Google Books for researching what book a particular quote first appeared in, and for copyright information on the books. Their snippet view function would seem to qualify as fair use, but from the user's POV it's kind of maddening when you can only see one or two lines of the text and are trying to verify something. Showing multiple full pages of text or a complete work such as an image, however, is clearly a violation if they don't have permission (though it's quite useful!). I'd like to see them work out arrangements with publishers to be able to show more material, and compensate them fairly.

An Artist   April 8th, 2010 4:40 pm ET

It is about time that people and business realized that you can't go stealing copyrighted work with out paying the penalty! As an artist I have seen my worked ripped time and time again with no reguard for my rights to my own work.
This is not waste of time, but something that is sorely needed.

rjw   April 8th, 2010 4:42 pm ET

How my seeing a preview of a book online substantially different from me thumbing through the same book at the local public library? Why don't they start with a class action suit against the public library system?

I agree with an earlier and large their contracts are with publishers. It's the publishers who should be making a big deal about the digitizing of books.

Les   April 8th, 2010 4:43 pm ET

As an avid reader, I am appalled at this lawsuit. I have purchased many books because I found them online in Google Books first. Photographers and artists are paid for their work by the publisher period. The greed being shown by this lawsuit is inexcusable. Take another picture and sell it. Knowledge should be freely available to all. The benefit of a library on-line is far more important than this modern notion that an artist should presume they own something after they sell it. Is there a list that names the people involved in this suit so we can avoid purchasing books that use their work? Google Books is a LIBRARY. Get a clue!

Steve   April 8th, 2010 4:46 pm ET

Kind of humors me especially when talking about photographs. Does it take talent to take a great picture? Of course, but what is it in the photograph that you are showing? If you take a picture of the White House and get compensated for that picture, but some of the logic here, shouldn't the photographer have to pay the architect and the builder of the White House royalties for every picture they distribute? Who is the original creator of what is in the photographs....

Satago   April 8th, 2010 4:48 pm ET


Google books isn't a library. It just isn't.

It will probably end up replacing "the library", which is a shame because my daughter and grandchildren will get their info from a private company with it's own agenda.

ramblnrev   April 8th, 2010 4:54 pm ET

Publishing a portion of a book is one thing. Publishing a portion of the artwork, illustration or photograph would be the equivalent. But when the image is shown in its entirety the comparison between the book and the image falls apart. These are indeed two different issues. Granted, low res images may deter physical piracy of the images but it does not deter unauthorized use in other digital contexts.

Brad   April 8th, 2010 4:55 pm ET

This lawsuit strikes me as both greedy and short-sighted when you consider how many books are being sold as a result of excepts and sample photos being posted on the internet. The plaintiffs don't mention that.

not your profession   April 8th, 2010 4:57 pm ET

Those of you who claim the artist/photographer/illustrator "has been compensated by the publisher and now wants double payment" - you don't know anything about any industry that sells intellectual material. Our royalty compensation is miniscule, to say the least. So no wonder we don't want to give any of it up. We don't mind pages being shown on amazon as a sales tool. We don't mind physical books available free in not-for-profit libraries. We DO MIND having our work displayed as a means of of attracting people to a website (which enables the website to sell advertising space) without compensating us. This is WRONG. Songwriters get paid EVERY SINGLE TIME THEIR SONG IS PLAYED ON THE RADIO. That's because their work attracts listeners, which enables the radio station to sell advertising airtime. Why shouldn't I get paid every single time my artwork/photography is displayed on the internet to attract viewers?? And why shouldn't I get paid when my copyrighted writing is offered for free to viewers? I created this stuff and it's what I sell for a living. It would not exist without me. Google has no right to display it free to attract people for their own profit. People who are criticizing the lawsuit know nothing about selling your creations. They get a regular paycheck and aren't dependent upon the royalty system, which already is stacked against the artist, who only gets a tiny fraction from a bizarre formula. Such critics are criticizing something about which they have ZERO knowledge or experience. Do us a favor and comment on something in which you are qualified.

Les   April 8th, 2010 5:01 pm ET

Sorry. I meant that it could become a Library and avoid the hue and cry. Instead of excerpts they could then post the entire work like Gutenberg does. So far as viewers 'stealing' content for their own use is concerned, private non-commercial use is well within the 'fair use' clauses. Sorry for the misunderstanding. As an artist, I am happy when someone buys my work. I do not expect to continue being paid for that individual work after I sell it.

not your profession   April 8th, 2010 5:05 pm ET

And by the way, we aren't all dead, as a commentor seems to think. I've got copyrights that will be valid for another 50 years and I do not want to give my stuff away for free.
And NO – libraries and Google are NOT the same. Far from it. That's like saying because you can hear a song for free on the radio, you shouldn't have to buy it from itunes if you want to listen to it whenever you like. You can hear a snipet of it on itunes, but if you want to listen to the whole thing whenever you like, you must buy your own copy. Well, if you want to read my books or look at my photography whenever you like, you need to buy a copy, not just log onto Google and see the whole thing for free. Or, go check it out at your local library for free. I have no problem with that. But obviously, you don't want to bother - you want it at your fingertips. Sorry, but you've gotta pay for that. Just like you gotta pay for that song you heard on the radio that you now want on your ipod.

John L   April 8th, 2010 5:12 pm ET

One thing that has always griped me is the portrait photographer that I pay to take pictures of myself and family. My belief is that I am the subject of the "work", and that I paid the guy a fee for doing the work, the "work" should belong to me – not the bozo clicking the shutter.

Mike   April 8th, 2010 5:12 pm ET

I know about photography. I was once in a photograph

SLN   April 8th, 2010 5:13 pm ET

I am an architect, and I suggest that any time when a building appears in a photo, the photographer pays the architect. This copyright thing is now going too far, it starts to hold back human from moving forward; and prevents Disney create anything beyond Mickey Mouse for 80 years.

Mike   April 8th, 2010 5:14 pm ET

Hey john, if he is such a bozo, why do you hire him?

Mark   April 8th, 2010 5:15 pm ET

not your profession,

You are 100% correct. For all those supporting Google I still haven't had any of them respond to my proposal... I have a website would it be appropriate for me to start scanning images out of a Farside book to put on my joke site so that i can attract more visitors without paying the creator of those images a penny? See I expect I would get sued quickly by the publisher of FarSide for using their images in their book without permission, even if I only used one a day and only a small percent of their book.

That is the part that people supporting Google in this do not get. They are not doing thing for humanitarian reasons any more than I would be posting Farside pictures on my joke site for the academic reasons. People may like coming to my site and seeing free Farside pictures each day. I could even suggest that me showing pictures from their book may encourage one of my visitors to buy one. But the thing here is that if I were really wanting to use these pictures from the book, I NEED TO GET PERMISSION FIRST! And that is where Google wants to turn it around. They want to be able to select and choose whatever they want from books without permission then wait for someone to specifically call them out on it. They want to put the work on the publishers of books and content creators to police Google's use of content they didn't even make.

Last let's compare it to the library scenerio. How about Google has to purchase a copy of the book for every similtaneous viewer of the information just like a library does. So if the excert from Tiger Woods book along with the pictures happens to get 3,000 people looking at it at once over a given month, then Google could then cough up the money for 3,000 books just like a library would have to do if they checked out 3,000 of the same book at once.

Mike   April 8th, 2010 5:15 pm ET

John L. Then who owns photographs of nature? God

Jerom   April 8th, 2010 5:15 pm ET

@Les – Read some of my earlier posts. Photographs, and to a lesser extent Illustrations are purchased by publishers for limited use, this saves them money on the purchase.

For example if they use a photo at 2" x 3" on an interior page of a color book that will have a distribution of 10,000 copies for sale in the United States then it will cost them $100. If they are going to use it full page at the beginning of a chapter it may be $150. If it is on the cover it might be $400. If the publisher licenses it for 20,000 copies it would be a bit more, digital distribution a bit more. World wide distribution a bit more. If the publisher wants exclusive rights however it might cost them $1,000 or more.

When the distribution goes beyond the agreed upon and paid for rights then it is a violation of copyright. It is basically the same as having someone work overtime without paying them for it.

xboxboi   April 8th, 2010 5:16 pm ET

hahaha .. "do no evil" :P put copyrighted contents on Google get plenty of $$$ from ads and clicks and then scream "do no evil" to reuters, AFP, CNN, FOX News, NYT, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal. Steve Jobs had already got his Karma – (bad health) for his years of promoting "abuse/discrimination etc" (by encouraging kids to poke fun of PC users at school that they are uncool and they are geeky – reminds us of bullies at school?) via his PC vs MAC ads to increase sales that translate to $$$. I am waiting to see karma catches with Google owners..

not your profession   April 8th, 2010 5:16 pm ET

Sebras, how do you know what the details of my contract with my publisher are? I frequently retain the copyright myself. I LICENSE my work to the publisher. Google is WRONG to infringe on my copyright. What makes you think you can assume that the publisher owns the copyright? Your ignorance is showing. If you don't have a dog in this fight, just hush.

RickyV   April 8th, 2010 5:17 pm ET

wake up people!!!! this is just another way to censor and control the internet...don't go crying about royalties and copyrights, this will be another excuse to add to the pile that the "powers that be" will use to centralize the internet into a main server so the flow of information can be controled....wake up to 1984 people

Mike   April 8th, 2010 5:20 pm ET

You hire a photographer because he/she is talented at taking photos. You then pay the photographer for any images you want to buy. Why is it somehow wrong for the photographer to do this?

not your profession   April 8th, 2010 5:20 pm ET

Bob, if going to the library, picking up a book and flipping through it to look at the images is satisfactory to you, why don't you just do that instead of wanting to get it free from Google? Obviously, you want the convenience of online. Google is using my work to satisfy your desire. Then, by attracting you to their website, they are charging advertisers to display ads to you. Google makes money. I don't. I created the content. Google didn't.
NOW can you see what's wrong with this picture?

Mike   April 8th, 2010 5:22 pm ET

Eat a dick sandwich

Jerom   April 8th, 2010 5:25 pm ET

@ SLN – There are buildings that you have to have permission to print a representation of. In particular the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio which is trademarked. When I have used photos of this building in books we had to get permission from and pay the stock agency and then go to the Hall of Fame to get permission to use the photo we purchased rights to.

Other than that a building is slightly different since it publicly viewable, however the design of the building and it's floor plan I believe are protected by copyright unless you explicitly (in a contract) gave those rights to the client, that is unless you are an employee of an agency then your employer holds the copyright.

Mike   April 8th, 2010 5:26 pm ET

Hey Jerom,

eat a dick sandwich. you would love it

bob   April 8th, 2010 5:26 pm ET


semi   April 8th, 2010 5:27 pm ET

Let's unpack this:

>1) If the illustrators have already been paid royalties by the publishing companies, they shouldn't receive another payment.2) Google Books isn't selling books or the illustrations, it is only offering previews of the books. It's the same as if you walked through Walmart and thumbed through a few pages. If you want to sue Google for this, you have to sue all retailers by this logic. Basically anyone who allows anyone else to see any portion of any book that the viewer doesn't own is at fault, according to this logic.3) This preview service increases the number of books sold–it is beneficial. The less people are able to preview books, the fewer books will be sold. The fewer books sold, the less valuable the illustrations. The less valuable the illustrations, the less the illustrators will be compensated. Don't bite the hand that feeds, noobs.<

It's irrelevant whether it increases sales or not. Intentions don't matter in copyright violations.

Mike   April 8th, 2010 5:28 pm ET

There are building that have a viewing copyright. If you look at it you must pay the builder of the building a dollar or give them a dick sandwich instead.

Mike   April 8th, 2010 5:29 pm ET

Hey semi, you too need a dick sandwich

LS   April 8th, 2010 5:30 pm ET

I don't understand why Google hasn't been sued into oblivion by thousands of book authors. I have a book coming out this year and I'll sure as heck sue if they scan it so that no one has to buy it. Writing is a professional service, and when it's taken away from us and given away for free we are robbed of income for our services.

Mike   April 8th, 2010 5:31 pm ET

I'm going to unpack my lunch and charge google a dollar

Mike   April 8th, 2010 5:32 pm ET


You have been robbed of a dick sandwich

Mike   April 8th, 2010 5:33 pm ET

If you eat a dick sandwich, you must not photograph it. That would be strange

Ashley'Mom   April 8th, 2010 5:37 pm ET

I have previewed books on google books and then went out and purchased the ones that caught my interest. I shouldn't have to pay for a commerical and I wouldn't I think the authors and artists should be paying google.

not your profession   April 8th, 2010 5:39 pm ET

IMHO – just because Google displays an image I produced during their reproduction of a book does NOT mean that I will benefit from the exposure to the photography credit is in the back of the book. It's not on the photo that is suddenly free for all to see. Same with my hand-drawn illustrations. So quit telling me how great the "exposure" is. Even if you liked my work and wanted to buy it or hire me, you don't have a clue that I'm the one who created the work. So this "exposure" does me no good at all. Trust me, I've had enough copyrighted writing ripped off and posted free on websites to know that my name does not get exposure along with my work. People think they can lift work straight out of a magazine or book and use it for free to attract people to their site. Google is doing this on a grand scale. Those of us who are in publishing for a living aren't "dying to be published" and "seeking exposure". We've been published. We have exposure. Printed works include our names with our work - it's negotiated in the contract. Why would digital media get to leave our names off - no credit - and not pay us? What was the point of all that contract negotiation, anyway? We are seeking compensation for work produced. Simple as that.

Chris Tyrell’s Blog › “Visual artists sue Google over copyright issues” (CNN)   April 8th, 2010 5:43 pm ET

[...] images in books it scans, without fairly compensating the people who created the images.... more. (CNN website) This was written by chris. Posted on Thursday, April 8, 2010, at 2:43 pm. Filed [...]

Matt   April 8th, 2010 5:46 pm ET

Its funny to think that if Google didnt scan all these books and media, most people would never know they existed, further diminishing their sales.

my question to you, why do libraries provide copiers that are used to duplicate copyrighted images and text? isnt google basically doing the same thing?

Also, LS no one cares about your book, and you would be stupid not to want it scanned... people google things, they dont search for them. Just be glad for the free marketing. Or, i suppose you have better resources to market your book...?

R Posey   April 8th, 2010 5:51 pm ET

The world needs these books to be available over the internet for a rational cost. If we are talking about the whole book, then that is a much easier case, since clearly there should be compensation for the creators in that case. However, what is needed is a way for selected pieces of the book to be available at reasonable cost. Some method for this compensation needs to be worked out, but its not that simple to do.

1. Many picture, or technical books are primarily bought to access a small part of the total book, such as a key table. Thus, pricing based on the percentage of the copyrighted material may not work.

2. There are thousands of books that are out of print, and are very unlikely to sell another copy, do these get the same return as a best seller? Note if Google includes the ability to pay for the rest of the out of print material and shares this money, these creators should be very happy.

3. When you search for something, how does Google tell what parts you actually use, or even read. Its not fair to make you pay for everything that turns up in the search, but do not use. Bookstores do charge you to look at books to see if they are right for you.

4. The idea of low resolution pictures in the database, with charges for high resolution might be expanded for technical tables, equations etc by selective deletions of material from each page. Again more detail at a price, and the returns should be shared.

Of course since I create new SW Algorithms for a living, and I can not get patents for the basic algorithm, the hard part, I do not have a problem with selective display of information from Google. The idea should be to tie it to the ability to get the rest of the information for a price, which would be share with the creators.

Note many of the books Google have put up are out of copyright, and thus are in the public domain.

Shawn in MN   April 8th, 2010 5:55 pm ET

Hey CNN there was a major ruling on Net Neutrality today. Where is news on that? It does affect CNN you know.

R Posey   April 8th, 2010 5:58 pm ET

I thought of another idea.

If Google finds the idea of selective editing of images by low resolution or removal of key data from tables, drawings etc too hard. They could continue with their current method, but have a pay for view concept. In other words, if 100 people in the world are using a book, then they have to pay for 100 copies. Of course they will have to work out a deal to understand what using a book is.
The problem is that if you buy or check out a book you are able to use completely for the time period you own it. The fact that Google displays you an image from a book is not at all equal unless you down load it, or extract and retain vital information from it.

However, if Book publishers do not get ahead of the problem in a way that enables the product to be purchases reasonably in digital form, they will suffer like the music industry. The are not going to stop this form of use, they need to follow iTunes example and get ahead of the curve or they will lose.

Jerom   April 8th, 2010 6:07 pm ET

When someone posts a copyrighted video on UTube it must be taken down when it is discovered, but Google gets away with posting copyrighted material and when the copyright owners call them out on it is they who are demonized as being "Greedy" when it is their intellectual property that has been stolen... Google is not the victim here, it is the Illustrators, Photographers, writers and publishers.

J. Keller   April 8th, 2010 6:25 pm ET

Ok, sense here people – again, let's be clear, they ARE NOT GIVING AWAY UNLIMITED FREE COPIES OF BOOKS ONLINE – do you understand this point? Man, how dense do we have to be? Ok, now onto the point the illustrators/artists have made about the snippets. Very good point, and true, if the snippet provided does happen to contain your entire contribution to the printed work, I can see how you would feel like you haven't been fairly compensated, HOWEVER , and think about this – how is that ANY DIFFERENT from me going down to barns and noble and thumbing through the book, ALSO seeing ALL of your contribution to the book – do I now owe you a royalty because your work has merely been seen by my eyes? No! If I bought a copy to take home and own, you get compensated. Can this be done with google books, no! I cannot get a complete copy of the printed work to own by using google books. Do artists who's works are on display in public galleries deserve payment for every set of eyes that are laid on their artwork, I think not. Google is offering a VIEWER to portions of these books, not offering your own personal copy of these snippets. Illustrators and artists are compensated by the publisher, so you HAVE been paid, and get paid whenever a printed copy is sold. In fact, the point has been made, and I agree, that this has the liklihood of increasing sales for you, so why do you complain? Last time I checked, books were not 'pay per view' works, but rather 'pay to get a copy of to own and enjoy' works.

Bill   April 8th, 2010 6:25 pm ET

"So it ok for the book to be in libraries where millions of people can see their illustrations and photos for free, but if its viewable on the internet we call foul...."

Obviously you are an imbecile.

Anyway, Google and others have made big business out of stealing the rights of recording artists to make a living from their hard work. It is ironic that supposed music lovers would be so callous as to the effect this has on the musical community.

It's about time that the visual artists struck back.

It's unfortunate that we are not able to steal the rights of others to make a living, so that they would be able to see the murder they have visited upon the music community in the name of freedom.

not your profession   April 8th, 2010 6:32 pm ET

Semi – You said: 1) If the illustrators have already been paid royalties by the publishing companies, they shouldn't receive another payment.

Hmm, evidently, you don't understand what royalties are. They are very small ongoing payments that are specified by a contract. You aren't "already paid" royalties...these are ongoing payments. (Understand what ongoing means??)To throw the contract out the window and use the work - without making a royalty payment - to earn a profit (by selling ad space to vendors on the basis of attracting viewers to a website) is wrong. It's illegal. It's also unethical.

Don't believe me? Try renting a DVD and then charging people to come view it. You'll find out soon enough that you are in violation of intellectual property laws. Google is also in violation of such laws.

The opposite of royalties are flat fees. This is when a creator (writer, artist, photog) is paid a flat fee to create something specific and gives up all rights. This is upfront payment is usually much, much larger than then teeny-tiny royalty payments. But if you take the flat fee, you will not earn anything else, no many how many copies are sold. So it's a gamble. It cost the publisher less money up front to pay royalties instead of a flat fee, so everyone is all in the game together and hopes to produce a winner. For a creator to actually enjoy a profit from his work under the royalty system, the payments have to be ongoing as the work continues to be sold. Over time, a profit is accrued. If you suddenly disrupt the timeline and offer the creation for free, then the work is being used and the creator is not getting a royalty payment. But they didn't get a flat fee, either, so they are getting screwed. That's because it's an either-or system. Either get paid once and bank on it or take a little tiny bit at a time for many years. Everyone has to play fair for the system to work. Google is NOT playing fair.

Once again, we have someone who obviously isn't earning any royalty payments commenting on something they don't understand. If you aren't dependent on a system, how can you tell me that my rights under that system don't count? You don't know what you're are talking about, that much is clear in your very first comment, shown above.

not your profession   April 8th, 2010 6:33 pm ET

Not only do I own the copyrights to my works, I also own the e-rights. I do NOT give them away when I sign a contract with a conventional publisher. No one has the right to publish my work online without my permission. And I don't give permission without compensation unless I want to help out a NON-PROFIT group. Google makes a HUGE PROFIT. Why should they get my work for free???

Sky Galyen   April 8th, 2010 6:36 pm ET

As usual, it's where some want more than their fair share and attempt to squeeze as much as they can out of any source. It's simple, Google is no more guilty than the local library or school that shows the same exact thing. Rule #1 on the internet, if you place something on the internet, it is now EVERYWHERE.... simple enough. If you do not want your 'art' shared on the net, then don't place it there! If you don't want your painting to be viewed, then never show it in public! I mean i can go by a gallery and snap a photo thru the window, and that is theft???? Let's quit this crap and get rid of the FRIVOLOUS laws suits.

Writer   April 8th, 2010 6:44 pm ET

It amazes me how people do not understand the meaning of a copyright. It's about ownership. When you buy a book, you own the paper it is printed on, but you do not own the story. When you buy a CD, you own the piece of plastic it is recorded on, but you do not own the songs. Someone else does–a writer, a producer, a musician, an artist or a combination. The point is: THEY OWN IT; YOU DO NOT. You don't get to decide that they've already been paid enough for their creations any more than I get to decide you've had plenty of time to drive your car and should now let others drive it for free. If the rights of artists are not respected, why should they continue to create? Yes, we need to figure this out so that new media can make information available. Let's just remember who the rightful owners are.

when you don't know, it's called ignorance   April 8th, 2010 6:45 pm ET

Telefonica –
You wrote:
I'm not sure what the relationship is between publishers and visual artists, but I would venture to guess that the publishers own the rights to the contents of the books, and not the artists themselves. So if the publisher says it's ok to publish an image on Google's website, the artist has no say.

Maybe if you don't know, you should not comment. You've ventured a guess based on ignorance. You are WRONG. The publishers do NOT own the rights to the contents of the books UNLESS those rights are sold per the specifications of the contract. Many creators merely LICENSE their work to the publishers. The creators still own the rights. Many creators negotiate this point carefully, even taking lower advances (less $ up front) in order to maintain control over the rights. This can be true of artists and authors. Sometimes, the author and the artist is the same person. I am.
So yes, we DO have a say in the Google situation. And yet, you - who are ignorant of the facts - are telling me that I don't have a say...what a strange world. I'm venturing a guess that you've never had anything published...

Lawrence   April 8th, 2010 6:56 pm ET

Get a life. If I announce that I fly in a BOEING I have to pay Boeing a royalty? GHC......can we get more picky than THIS.

me too   April 8th, 2010 6:57 pm ET

What a bunch of crap.........its a friggen book. its in the library. Whats the difference? So, one person can get it, read it, return it, then another person gets it and does the same. there is no limit. This is no different from having it on the web except to allow more efficient use of hte material. Authors should be PRAISING GOOGLE for hte exposure, not trying to stop them. The authors dont complain when someone searches for their book to buy online USING GOOGLE. BIPOLAR MORONS.........

NSL15   April 8th, 2010 7:01 pm ET

I am one of the photographers being represented in this class action suit. It's clear from the comments above, in my opinion, that most people have little or no understanding of the issues, nor of royalties, nor of the problem of the Google Books Library Project for photographers, artists, illustrators, etc. Permit me to explain. If you don't agree or don't like what I have to say, that's your right, but I hope you will consider what I've said here.

1. Royalties: Once a book with a photographer's work in it is published, the photographer's compensation for the work may or may not be complete. The photographer may get a one time payment, or the photographer may get a negotiated royalty for their portion of published work according to the contract agreed to by the author and the publisher, similar to the author which is often based on an amount for every book published, or some measure based on the success of the sale of the book. Therefore you cannot say that once the book is published, the photographer is owed nothing more.

2. It's true that if I as a photographer puts my photographs on the Internet to be seen, whatever happens is on my head. The same is not true if someone else decides to scan one of my photographs without my permission and displays my photograph on the web, whether or not I want it displayed. In the case of the Google Books Library Project, Google is not giving photographers a choice. They are making the decision to display our work, and to make matters worse, are not compensating us for displaying our work.

3. Libraries (Brick and Mortar type): Libraries buy books and lend them out. Libraries don't buy a book, then copy it several times, so it can lend out multiple copies. If they want to lend multiple copies, they buy multiple copies. In turn, the person borrowing the book doesn't get to scan any part of the book more than possibly a small excerpt for their reading pleasure, and they don't get to use the small excerpt for any commercial purpose whatsoever. Google is a commercial operation and is gaining from people reading their excerpts via their advertising.

3. It is true with regard to text, that the Google Books Library Project is only displaying a small percentage of each copyrighted book, and therefore, the author is in little danger, and it would appear on the face of the issues there is no copyright infringement.

That's text. The same isn't true of photographs or illustrations.

Each photograph or illustration on the excerpted pages, unlike the text, is a complete work of the photographer. In other words the photographs and illustrations scanned and displayed are complete works of art unto themselves, and they are copyrighted works of art. Scanning and displaying complete works is a copyright violation. In the case of the way Google is running the Google Books Library Project, photographs and text are 2 very different animals, and how copyrighting works, for each photograph and illustration, we believe is completely different than text.

I can tell you that as a group, photographers and illustrators gave these issues a great deal of thought. Our livelihood depends on our ability to sell our work. We believe Google, through the Google Books Library Project has seriously diminished that ability, and therefore our ability to make a living.

at least try to understand the issue   April 8th, 2010 7:05 pm ET

Sky, we DIDN'T "place our work on the internet"...that's the whole point. Google is scanning physical books and placing the contents on the internet without permission and without compensation.

I own the rights to my work. I carefully negotiate licensing for both conventional (hardcopy) publishing AND for e-publishing. This is specified in my contract with the publisher. No one can publish my work in any form - hardcopy or online - except by following the terms of my signed contract.

Google is a third party. They have no rights to my work. None. Whatsover.

And by the way, if you take a photo of a painting through a gallery window and then post in on your website, you are breaking the law. You actually aren't even supposed to take the picture... I didn't invent the law but it does exist. The artist owns the rights to that work of art. Ever noticed how when you go into a "real" art museum that NO PHOTOGRAPHY is allowed? There are signs everywhere. Just like you're not supposed to record a concert you attend. Sure, some people break the law. Some people break all kinds of laws. Does that mean we should throw the laws out the windows and let large corporations do whatever they want because they're too powerful to stop? (Sounds a bit too much like "too big to fail"...)

Don't tell me that I "put" my work on the internet when I did not - Google took it. At least try to understand the issue before being a know-it-all.

Jeff   April 8th, 2010 7:05 pm ET

Solard Guy
Google is not indexing these books already on line. Google is going out and scanning in hard copies of the books. Google is clearly in copyright violation. Google is a for profit company and they are using other peoples works to enhance Google so they can charge advertisers more money, yet Google doesn't want to share this advertising income with the copyright holders.

Sans   April 8th, 2010 7:07 pm ET

There are various agreements we artists make in order to be paid for our work, but the point is that the publishers, etc. agree to pay us, be it a flat fee, per print, what have you.
If we don't get paid for our work, we can't make all of the nice pictures, books, songs, video games, and every other shiny little prize that people seem to feel they're owed.
Any argument trying to justify taking something and not compensating the one that made it for their efforts is both ignorant and selfish, mostly selfish. All of the trolling and so-called arguments weakly trying to justify that still come down to the same thing: "We're selfish and want that, and we intend to take it. So there!" ...except maybe the trolling; there is no point there, except the amusement that really doesn't escape their own thoughts. They spend more time re-reading and snickering at their own comments than anyone else.
Some of those studies showing the average social maturity age as being 12 are surely being validated by these silly arguments, but then even the brightest and most helpful twelve-year-old's look back many years later and say, "Gee, I was really ignorant and selfish back then." Far too many people never even reach that point, and society is sadly reflecting it.

Dave4337   April 8th, 2010 7:18 pm ET

Report Scams. Help Warn Others!!

canadaguy   April 8th, 2010 7:24 pm ET

A library buys a copy and a person has to actually handle the real object to make use of it.

In Canada, writers actually get a fee based on the number of libraries that their books are in. This is in addition to the royalty from the sale of the book.

Team6   April 8th, 2010 7:31 pm ET

Copyright is retarded and one day it will be outed. This is coming from a programmer. Digital copyright is even more stupid, but not as stupid as the snide comments with which you want to respond to this. The era of copyrights and patents will be known as the Information Dark Ages.

mike   April 8th, 2010 7:32 pm ET

Google should just shut it down and be done with it. We tried to make snippits of this stuff visable to the world...oh well

Joe Canada   April 8th, 2010 7:52 pm ET

I'm so glad that I live in Canada, where we can copy whatever we want and not have to feel the consequences.

NP   April 8th, 2010 7:53 pm ET

I've always thought that this royalty business was a bunch of crap. The people the create material get paid once, then expect to keep getting paid for the same work. As a carpenter, I wonder if I can go back to every structure I built a stairway in and hit up the owners for a "royalty" for everytime the stairway is used, surely there's a value that can be calculated based on its use.

Jerom   April 8th, 2010 7:58 pm ET

@Team6 – Copyrights, trademarks, and patents are very important to the very fiber of our economic system. They are not outdated just because the Internet came into being and a bunch of people think that everything should be freely available online.

Google takes full advantage of them when it suits them, and I'm sure they would be more aggressive than the illustrators and photographers have been in protecting their copyrights, trademarks, and patents.

mike   April 8th, 2010 8:15 pm ET

Great idea as an electrician wonder if I can use the same logic and get paid for that first electrical floor plan i created 20 years ago that is the basis for the house thats still sitting there today...the new owners havent paid me a cent for the work i put into that design and implementation.

Sunshine   April 8th, 2010 8:21 pm ET

I have spent several hundred dollars buying books that I found by googling information. Wow, pretty short sighted.

chris   April 8th, 2010 8:22 pm ET

Don't like your hard work taken away and given away freely to others? Lol welcome to socialism you liberal artists!

It's a stretch, i know. But I find it ironic.

Jerom   April 8th, 2010 8:23 pm ET

@NP – you obviously do not understand how the publishing world work or what a royalty is.

When an author is published they do not sell their work, as you do when you create a staircase, they enter into what basically amounts to a partnership with the publisher where they get a portion of ALL THE SALES during the LIFE of the published work. They sometimes but not always receive an advance on their royalty payments, and if they do then they do not get anything until the advance is covered by their royalties of the sale of the book. Also there are different publication rights that authors negotiate, print is just one but they can also negotiate for digital and audio rights separately and at times will sign on with different publishers for some of these. They also might have different publishers in different countries.

With photographs and illustrations (what the above story is really about) the arrangements are sometimes different. Typically when I was working in publishing we either hired a photographer as a work-for hire where we owned all rights to the photographs or we bought limited rights to USE the image, which costs less up front in most cases. The Photographer doesn't charge as much for the image up front because in maintaining their copyright of the image and selling limited rights to it they can sell the rights to it again for another use, and this is one of the ways that they make money.

The important thing to remember here is the photographer typically owns that image, not the publisher, and just because it is in the book does not mean that it is part of that book. The publisher has just "Rented" it for a specific time and use, if they want to use it again in another book or even in a different chapter then they need to pay for it again. If the agreed period of time has expired, or the agreed number of copies of the publication have been printed then they need to pay for it again if they want to continue using it.

9898   April 8th, 2010 8:28 pm ET

Some questions
Do the artists get money(royality) if someone looks at their work?
Do book stores cover the images and illustrations before putting the book on display?
Do you go to a bookstore look at all the illustrations and images and say okay now i don't need the book?
Even if there is only one image in the book and google indexes it or you see it in a bookstore artists will not make money.
There are laws against illegal use of copyrighted material. So any person downloading without permission or using material will be covered by it.
These artists can think of this as free advertisement in a magazine or newspaper. People can make copy of that too incase you forgot.

chris   April 8th, 2010 8:36 pm ET

Team6, without copyrights or patents, there is absolutely no point in investing into research and development or even product innovation. There is also no barrier against misleading or false advertising or merchandising. Any shmoe could stick a CocaCola or Microsoft logo on any product and sell knock-offs, etc.

Megan   April 8th, 2010 8:36 pm ET

the people who suggest that this lawsuit refuses to face up to technology is nonsensical. No one is suggesting that the service Google seeks to provide is not a valuable one. It is, unquestionably. The difficulty is that they are going about it illegally. Think Napster...nobody would suggest being able to download all your music offline rather than having to go through CDs is not a valuable tool....however it was illegal then to do it without compensating the artist. Hence the development of iTunes, etc where music may be downloaded at a price. Similarly, Google will provide this same service in the future...they will simply have to pay for the rights to do so.

it's like waiting tables   April 8th, 2010 8:39 pm ET

Okay, try to understand:
The waiter can legally be paid less than minimum wage because the American system calls for the difference to be made up in tips. If the waiter also works many hours when the restaurant isn't open for business (waiters are some places also have to arrive early to prep the salad bar, stay late to close and clean, etc), the waiter is still paid less than minimum wage for those hours. And it's legal. So when you don't tip, you are really screwing the waiter, big time. In Spain, the waiters are fully sompensated by the restaurant and so the customer is not expected to tip. Like it or not, the American system is legally recognized by the IRS and the waiter can be taxed on an estimate of tips, even if his hourly wage averages out to less. This old system is in place and it is legal and that's why waiters feel they are due their tips when they work hard and offer good service. Like it or not, it's the system they must operate under.

Publishing is very similar. The system is antiquated. Books are sold ON CONSIGNMENT. If you want to sell socks in your store, you purchase a load of socks from a wholesaler and hope you can sell them for a higher retail price. If no one buys them, it's your tough luck. But if you want to sell books in your store, you get to "borrow" the books. That is, if the books don't sell in your store, YOU GET TO SEND THEM BACK TO THE PUBLISHER and get your money back!!! So a book isn't sold when a bookstore places an order for it. It's only considered sold when a consumer walks out the door with it. Books are perhaps one of the ONLY consumer products sold this way. This system has its roots in the Great Depression. Publishing has evolved around this. So it's hard for publishers to make money on books. Therefore, they must put out as little cash up front as possible. Hence, the royalty system. It's a way for publishers to share the risk and then later, share the rewards if a book does turn out to be a successful seller. THIS IS WHY AUTHORS AND ARTISTS GET ROYALTIES AND ELECTRICIANS DON'T. We are NOT being compensated in full when we complete the job. We may not ever be compensated in full. But perhaps we'll get lucky and make a little money off of royalties. If we're really talented and lucky, perhaps we'll make a lot.
It's a very old system and it kind of sucks. But don't call us who are stuck operating under it "greedy" just because we must count our pennies when they are due to us. (And I do mean pennies per actual sale...and that's only on a full-priced book. If the retail price is slashed, the creators get no royalties at all in many cases.)

Free access to material that's for sale cuts into sales. Don't believe me? Take a look at how many magazines have gone under in recent years. Their websites brought them "exposure" but also undercut their subscriptions and hence, their ad sales.

So creators are right to be concerned about Google offering access to their work for free. And creators must get their royalties UNLESS publishing is going to change and we get paid in full, up front when the job is completed, the way the rest of you other people do. SO STOP CRITICIZING US FOR TRYING TO GET PAID.

Jerom   April 8th, 2010 8:43 pm ET

@Mike and NP – as an electrician or a carpenter you charge an hourly rate for your work, and collect a wage from that based off of what the market will bear and the value of your work. Photographers sometimes work this way with a work-for-hire contract, and if so they are payed for their time.

Another way to work is selling limited rights. This is much like a movie ticket, if you buy one for the 12:00 showing of Star Trek 86 and you decide to stay to see The Revenge of Harry Potter at 2:30 then The Dukes of Hazard 2100 at 6:00 that is "Theft" and you can be arrested for it.

Publishers typically pay for limited use of the photographs which costs them less, and the photographer retains the copyright. The photographer can do this because since they own the copyright they can sell it again. So if they spend a day of work, setting up lighting, paying a model, etc for a photoshoot to get a photograph that may cost them $500-$1000 and get 2 "good" photos out of it. To make a profit the sell the rights to 5-10 companies to "use" for them to break even if they charge an average of $100 per use. To make a living doing this you need to sell it a lot more than that.

Megan   April 8th, 2010 8:45 pm ET

I should further clarify that I am well aware most people still do not pay for music, just as they dont pay for anything they pull from the internet. However, just because this is the state of society and the internet does not make it any less illegal. The law remains the same, and it quite clearly states that reproducing and distributing another's work without permission is copyright infringement (see §106 of the copyright act). I have seen several suggest that this law is antiquated, but in reality this area of law is changes continuously due to changes in is keeping up with the times. I appreciate that we all like something for free, but the reality is that these writers/artists deserve compensation for their work. Without payment there is no incentive to create works, without incentive we lose out on so much art, music, and literature.

wendy   April 8th, 2010 9:26 pm ET

how about the public gets to scan/see just a 20% snippet of google's secret sauce?

Hank Castello   April 8th, 2010 10:10 pm ET

Some level of compensation should be paid, but much, much less than with physical books.

It's like the new safaribooksonline website where you can pay $23/mo and have access to thousands of tech books. I used to average $100/mo at B&N. Now I just pay $23. If Google is going to make these books available online, they should probably be allowed to show samples of the book for free and give access for pennies per book, and pay royalties out of those pennies.

Jerom   April 8th, 2010 10:33 pm ET

Why should a photographer be paid less than his normal licensing fee just because it is online? It costs the photographer the same to make the image regardless of how the client uses it. If he normally charges 400 per use for a 5 year right to publish it is the same, and if he is paid a royalty then it will take him longer to recoup his investment at a lower price than than at the print rate.

rainynight   April 9th, 2010 4:34 am ET

am i missing something. i thought writers write the book and pay photographers one time payments for images in the book. the publishers then deal directly with the writers to publish the book and pays the writer. the publisher make money by selling books and if contract said writer gets percentages then thats what writers would get.

if the photographer wants higher fee or percentage compensation of his images getting distributed in books, photographer need to ask writer for higher payment or ask that they both be in contract with publisher for payments as if that would happen.

in publishing a book, the writer is the main focus for publisher compensation and no one else.

google should compensate publisher and no one else.
everyone should seek out the publisher for further compensation if they want to sue but not google.

Terry   April 9th, 2010 7:46 am ET

@Soulardguy. So, you are saying it is the responsibility of each individual artist to "opt-out" of this? Even the ones who don't speak English, and might not know that Google is doing this? That makes so much more sense than for Google to adhere to the law and not offer other people's work without their consent.

I love the work of places like project Gutenberg which is in the process of LEGALLY doing just this, but with all books that are no longer under copyright protection. I like Google in general, but many times they go too far with these things.

Jerom   April 9th, 2010 9:36 am ET

@rainynight – My experience in working on books as a Graphic Designer the publisher handles the photo's and artwork purchases and rights unless it is an illustrated book where there is a partnership between the author and illustrator. I doubt the publisher would just pick up a writers photo's on their say in most cases because they would be legally responsible if the writer did not get the proper permissions and other paperwork to use the photo's (such as model releases) for the book, and in most cases the writer probably does not know what is needed. Also, as I recall the way the law works the rights have to be purchased in the publishers name, not the authors. And finally I doubt the author would have the money in most cases to have the art and photographs done up front, unless they are also the photographer and illustrator.

I know that if I own a royalty free image or a special font that I use in a book design I can use it, but if I am working on something for a publisher the publisher needs to buy that image or font to legally use it, my license of the image or font is not transferable to my client.

Copyright law is complex, that is why there are a lot of lawyers that specialize in it, and there are people at the publishers who specialize in permissions for the art and photographs and sometimes text excerpts that are put in books, and there are people at the publishers who do nothing but find the art and photographs and hiring the photographers and illustrators to create what is needed.

Avrailer(Jeremii)   April 9th, 2010 10:37 am ET


why it matters   April 9th, 2010 11:26 am ET

I am an expert in a non-fiction subject. I have a college degree in my subject. I have many years professional experience working in the profession of my subject. I have many years of experience writing, photographing, hand-drawing, and lecturing on my subject. People pay me to advise them in my subject, too. I work long hours to meet crazy deadlines. I have worked hard to hone my talents and to know a lot about my subject.

When/if Google (or anybody else) takes my work - writing, images, or even a video of one of my lectures - and posts it online, then they are taking away what I sell for a living. They are hijacking my expertise without my permission and without compensating me.

Note that my publishers do NOT own my work. I license it to them very carefully for a specific publishing use. I retain the copyrights. Sometimes, I am paid less because I insist on retaining the copyrights. So why should I give my copyrighted material away to Google for free???

I have invested a lot of money, time, and effort to become an expert. No one has the right to offer access to my expertise without my permission.

Google sells ad space to advertisers who want to target people who are interested in my subject of expertise. So the advertisers want to place ads near my work because they can target a group of potential customers. But no one asked me if they could use my work to lure viewers and NO ONE is paying me. So Google gets richer without paying me one penny. Meanwhile, my work is devalued because the public has free access to it, so why should they purchase it?

Why is it so hard for the general public to understand why this is wrong??? It must be because everyone wants to get something free, so they want Google to take whatever they want and offer it online free.

Jerom   April 9th, 2010 1:37 pm ET

@why it matters – because it is not their earnings that is being effected, they can only see that it is a way to get something free.

They do not know how the business works and don't care to understand it, they only see a law suite being filed against the "benevolent Google" who can do no wrong and assume that someone is out to take advantage of Google and ride their "Gravy Train" when the fact is that it is Google that is taking advantage of the works of others in this case without getting the legal rights to do so from t he owners of the content that they are making available (ie publishing) on the web which they are making money off of through their advertising.

What Google is doing is theft, the same as if they were robbing a bank. I have no doubt that they know the law, and that they know it should be their responsibility to get permission to use the material before they post it on the web, and it doesn't matter if they are making money off it or not they still need permission to use the material before publishing it because once it is available then you ability to "sell" the digital rights to the material that you own is diminished.

Sency   April 9th, 2010 3:27 pm ET

it seems that there is a new Google suit each week

Matt   April 11th, 2010 6:46 pm ET

Here we are, on the verge of the Second Great Library. And people are trying to sue it out of existence.

To create a Second Great Library world would be one of the great achievements of humanity.

But no! Can't let that get in the way of money. Money, money, money. Money, money, $$, money, MONEY, SUE THEM, need more money!

Missa.   April 12th, 2010 2:40 pm ET

o1. Google is not profiting -directly- from the "illegal" use of images. The advertisement is placed on all pages to generate revenue from traffic, regardless of whether the person on the page is even reading the book.

o2. I thought that those with images in books must collect royalties through the actual publisher. Not third-parties. You guys are making it seem like Google is being outright malicious, when the people who should really pick up this fight is the publishers of the books (who should be the ones giving Google lawful permission to copy said books). It is from them you collect your money...or so I thought.

o3. You must remember, that in the age of widespread Internet access–everything–& I do mean everything, is up for grabs as long as someone puts it up for public use. Illegal yes, but it's very hard to stop it from occuring. I like to think of it as "free advertisement." I'm an artist myself...I believe that if my work were featured online (in the book I willingly put it in), I'd be kind of glad to have that extra exposure. I think I would be more angry if someone took that picture & used it for themselves commercially, or even altered it, without my permission.

Photographers Australia   April 19th, 2010 3:08 am ET

But will Google even bat an eyelid?

Google Lover   December 29th, 2010 1:39 pm ET

If you go to a public library and view a book, do you pay a royalty? No, of course not. What's the difference with viewing it on the web? None. You still don't own a copy. You only view it.

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