Book Publisher Resorts To Cheap Stunts: Steals Google Laptops

from the let's-explain-the-difference-between-theft-and-doing-you-a-favor dept

Just as Google is making it even more obvious how their book scanning project is helping publishers by helping them sell more books, it appears that at least one publisher doesn't seem to understand the difference between helping more people find your books and theft. Apparently the CEO of Macmillan Publishers decided to swipe two Google laptops from Google's booth at BookExpo America, wait for Google employees to notice the missing laptops (took about an hour) and then claim that he was just giving Google "a taste of their own medicine." Let's see. One is taking an expensive scarce item. The other is building an index so more people can find books. If Macmillan's CEO really thinks that's the same medicine, than someone ought to check what medication he's taking.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2007 @ 3:33pm

    Maybe when he said "taste of their own medicine" he didn't mean taking the scarce laptops, but rather the private customer data (infinite resource) that was on them :-)

     

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  2.  
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    TheDock22, Jun 5th, 2007 @ 3:46pm

    What is this?

     

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  3.  
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    TheDock22, Jun 5th, 2007 @ 3:47pm

    Re: What is this?

    Sorry, I meant to say:

    Are we still in grade school or something? At least instead of the principals office they will go to court and lose some money.

     

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  4.  
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    MissingFrame, Jun 5th, 2007 @ 3:58pm

    Someone stole my comment.

    I had it all written out, but after I posted it, it was stolen by all the readers. Please give it back!

     

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  5.  
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    Mark, Jun 5th, 2007 @ 4:06pm

    Macmillan

    This is the same company that, a few years back, saw fit to publish a job ad for a content editor that included the phrase, "WEB EDITORS NEED NOT APPLY." Because, of course, my Ph.D. was completely cancelled out by the fact that my professional experience included work for a website.

    In short, Macmillan has a two-word mission statement: "Be asinine."

     

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  6.  
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    Brian, Jun 5th, 2007 @ 4:08pm

    Re: Someone stole my comment.

    No. All your comments are belong to me.

    Now go take your Xanex and cry yourself to sleep before I give you a taste of your own laptop, too... or something.

    *gleeful laugh*

     

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  7.  
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    interval, Jun 5th, 2007 @ 4:17pm

    This guy is a CEO...?

    ...And they won't make me a CEO and pay me 12Mil/Year because...?

     

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  8.  
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    elgeebar, Jun 5th, 2007 @ 4:25pm

    Re: This guy is a CEO...?

    "...And they won't make me a CEO and pay me 12Mil/Year because...?"


    You have more than 50 brain cells.

     

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  9.  
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    Shun, Jun 5th, 2007 @ 4:30pm

    Comments on original article

    The register's comments are flametastic, and somewhat overshadow these comments. Basically, there's a lot of copyright violation == theft type things going on here.

    Personally, I am not against Google's project, but I am not an author. If I had a vested interest in the publishing world, I am sure that I would feel different.

    Anyway, back to the point : what McMillan man did would technically be classified as theft, or conversion, at best. I do not think a person of his reputation should be pulling high-school pranks of this nature, but then I was brought up to be courteous and respectful.

    Not that I always am, however. Still, I would not open myself up to litigation/prosecution and openly brag about it on my blog, if I were the CEO of a big company.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2007 @ 4:39pm

    apparently big content is so intent on equating IP/copyright infringement (even when it's not really) that they are willing to lie and even do some actual stealing of their own to try to convince us all of that fact. That's OK though, I've simply put Macmillon on my list of companies I won't buy from.

     

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  11.  
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    Dan, Jun 5th, 2007 @ 4:49pm

    What this is really

     

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  12.  
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    Dan, Jun 5th, 2007 @ 4:53pm

    What this is really

    (OK don't hit enter and expect to jump to the next box)

    What it is is the CEO being unable to cope with the fact that his industry is being superseded. Instead of embracing technology and changing with it, guys like this would prefer us to stay where we were.

     

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  13.  
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    GoblinJuice, Jun 5th, 2007 @ 5:02pm

    What a punk. :-

    Boo-hoo! My business model isn't as good as it once was!

    Instead of earning my pay, I'll just kick dirt in my perceived enemy's face! Yeah! That'll work!

     

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  14.  
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    Beyond Niche Marketing, Jun 5th, 2007 @ 5:25pm

    It's a publicity stunt...

    because no one is talking about any of the BOOKS published by MacMillan.

    Publishers used to have exclusive access to the ink and the printing presses. Now, the competition is coming at old established publishing houses from every direction. Google is just the biggest wolf in the pack.

     

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  15.  
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    MEoip, Jun 5th, 2007 @ 5:39pm

    Me

    If he is giving Google a taste of their own medicine and Google gives me his stuff shouldn't he be giving me parts of that laptop.

     

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  16.  
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    Bob Sadler, Jun 5th, 2007 @ 6:41pm

    Is this the day for STUPID EXECUTIVE Triacks?

    The CEO, are you sure? I mean, come on, maybe I'll buy a programmer doing this, or perhaps someone in the Finance department, but NOT the CEO!

    This CEO and the idiot Microsoft Manager/Engineer must be thinking David Letterman is having STUPID EXECUTIVE tricks on his show tonight!

     

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  17.  
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    rEdEyEz, Jun 5th, 2007 @ 6:50pm

    How friggin asinine can he be?

    Yep, I bet "he and the boys" got a good chuckle out of that one, by gawd, heh, heh.

    "I felt rather shabby playing this trick on Google. They should feel the same playing the same trick on authors and publishers."

    To use the vernacular, "this guy is a total asshat"

    ...Yes, include "authors" in your statement to give it some "moral" relevance, Yackoff, as if stealing property, (i.e. a notebook), is that same as digitally copying your clients copyrighted media... (huh?)

    This man is a CEO? CLEARLY he has a comprehensive understanding of his own business capabilities/model, and is fully qualified to leverage that model to the benefit of all of those he represents. (not)

    Time for the board to convene...

     

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  18.  
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    Vincent Clement (profile), Jun 5th, 2007 @ 7:32pm

    Re: Me

    He should be giving you COPIES of parts of the laptop and then pointing you to a website where you can buy the entire laptop.

     

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  19.  
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    Matthew, Jun 5th, 2007 @ 7:58pm

    I for one, am with Macmillan.

    I know most of you are all for google, but almost every book published is copyrighted by the publisher and / or author. In fact, open up any book you have with you right now (you do read printed books, don't you?) and look at the bold copyright notice which goes something like "No part of these books may be reproduced in any form except by the original retail purchaser for their own personal use."

    Google chooses to blatantly violate this, and expects publishers and / or authors to explicitly notify google if they don't want their works scanned. I wouldn't say Macmillan is asinine, google is.

     

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  20.  
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    Vincent Clement (profile), Jun 5th, 2007 @ 8:52pm

    Re: I for one, am with Macmillan.

    First, this is a copyright notice: © 2007 Vincent Clement.

    Second, there is this little thing called Fair Use that trumps anything that a publisher or copyright owners may say about how a book can be used or reproduced. The book scanning project falls under fair use. Contrary to popular belief, the fact that you make money via fair use does not invalidate fair use.

    Fair Use - US Copyright Office

     

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  21.  
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    Kaila Colbin, Jun 5th, 2007 @ 9:00pm

    Macmillan CEO has a spited face

    @Matthew:

    Well done to point out the copyright issues faced by publishers. It's a shame that the CEO's tactics have now managed to effectively eclipse the problem he was intending to highlight and reroute the entire conversation to the stupidity of his actions.

    That's why his move wasn't wise--not because Google doesn't engage in copyright infringement.

    Cheers,
    Kaila Colbin

     

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  22.  
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    Mike (profile), Jun 5th, 2007 @ 10:21pm

    Re: I for one, am with Macmillan.

    Matthew,

    look at the bold copyright notice which goes something like "No part of these books may be reproduced in any form except by the original retail purchaser for their own personal use."

    You do realize that just because a publisher says that, it doesn't mean it's true, right?

    There are clear exceptions to copyright, and one very important one is "fair use." What Google is doing pretty clearly qualifies under fair use -- especially since it's helping to sell more books.

    The idea that it's theft is simply laughable.

     

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  23.  
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    Cixelsid, Jun 6th, 2007 @ 12:20am

    random comment

    Would have been funny if Security tackled him to the ground and he was led away in cuffs.

     

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  24.  
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    Charles Griswold, Jun 6th, 2007 @ 12:37am

    Re: Me

    If he is giving Google a taste of their own medicine and Google gives me his stuff shouldn't he be giving me parts of that laptop.
    Dibs on the "Any" key.

     

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  25.  
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    I Hate books, Jun 6th, 2007 @ 6:39am

    Serves them right anyway...

    For years of and the continuing practice of making small changes to perfectly good text just so they can call it a new edition so that used books are useless forcing you to spend 150 bucks on a stupid text book.

     

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  26.  
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    Andrew, Jun 6th, 2007 @ 6:50am

    Re: Re: Me

    I was thinking about the same thing, only that he would be the victim of theft himself, and have the laptops taken while he had them.

     

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  27.  
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    SailorRipley, Jun 6th, 2007 @ 9:57am

    Re: Macmillan CEO has a spited face

    his move wasn't wise for several reasons:

    1) what he did was theft (never a smart thing, because he could get in serious trouble just for the act of his "protest")

    2) "a taste of their own medicine" doesn't apply since they accuse Google of copyright infringement (which is not theft)

    3) failure to come up with a proper "taste of their own medicine" procedure

    4) Google isn't guilty of copyright infringement, as what Google does is covered by fair use (and whether they make a profit or not is not relevant)

    5) demonstrating your own stupidity is never wise

     

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  28.  
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    Living in First Life, Dos, Jun 6th, 2007 @ 10:29am

    This guy is hilarious!!!

    This prank was garbage. It wasn't funny and it wasn't analogous at all. See more on this incident and other Web 2.0 bs at Living in First Life

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    satan, Jun 6th, 2007 @ 3:10pm

    this message

    This message will disapear after the first person reads it.

     

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  30.  
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    Shadus, Jun 7th, 2007 @ 3:45am

    Yesh...

    ... Google should delist his company entirely to demonstrate the difference in sales between a listed company and an unlisted company.

    I bet the share holders will be thrilled that the CEO is a common thief.

     

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  31.  
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    Joni Mueller, Jun 7th, 2007 @ 4:23am

    Re: Re: I for one, am with Macmillan.

    So according to you, Mike, and Vincent, earlier, I can download a copy of a book from Usenet, perhaps even an eBook, and sleep well at night on my Fair Use pillow?

    It just seems to me that the Fair Use clause (found at 17 USC § 107) prohibits wholesale copying of a work. Maybe some legal eagle will weigh in later. (Don't look at me, I just work for lawyers.)

     

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  32.  
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    mark rushworth, Jun 7th, 2007 @ 4:37am

    tastey

    i interpret it from a seo point of view... one day you're riding high then google changes the algo and bang youre nowhere to be seen.

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    pk, Jun 7th, 2007 @ 4:48am

    Please explain...

    Some here claim the scanning of books increases sales.
    Perhaps it does.

    However, what does that have to do with copyright law or fair use? I've done a little reading on copyright and fair use and I haven't read anything that suggests that acceptable use can be based on whether the use impacts sales.

    Perhaps someone can explain what the potential for increased sales has to do with acceptable use?

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    fb, Jun 7th, 2007 @ 5:02am

    Re: Re: I for one, am with Macmillan

    @Joni
    I think you need to do more research before speaking (or writing in this case).

    "Fair Use" by no means implies that you can "download a book from Usenet". What it implies is that portions of the copyright content can be reproduced by anyone without permission from the copyright holder.

    Now I understand that the whole books' content is required for indexing, however, the index is not open, in whole, to the public. Instead you have to search it. Yes, theoretically I could put in different search terms and *possibly* extract the content of the book, but that would take so long and so much time that it's most likely not worth it (it's much easier to click on the Google supplied link and purchase the book).

    So in no certain terms does Google violate Copyright. Now had they displayed, or allowed users to download the copyrighted work as a whole or provided links to pirated copies of the copyrighted work then there would be trouble. But, to date, I have heard of no such case.

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Meme, Jun 7th, 2007 @ 6:02am

    Give me all the money you make from your web site

    Okay, I copied your website...Everyhing to my computer. My friends now read your assinine stuff on my computer. I have also copied every word and every thing from your website to another domain name. Millions of people are reading your work now and not visitine the real website anymore.

    Keep working. We want more of your content. AND NO>>>WE DON'T CARE ABOUT YOUR COPYRIGHT CLAIMS, OR THAT YOU ARE NOT BEING PAID FOR YOUR LABOUR OR RECIEVING ROYALTIES.

    WE STOLE ALL OF YOUR PROPERTY AND WE CAN DO WHAT WE WANT WITH IT.


    You no longer recieve any revenue from ads on your site. You no longer get paid for your work.

    Now please thank me.

    Are you a moron?

     

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  36.  
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    Donna, Jun 7th, 2007 @ 6:20am

    good for MacMillan

    Copyright is copyright. I say, "Good for the CEO!" for letting people know -- in a harmless, humorous way -- that at least one publisher (I would venture that more than one publisher has concerns...) is not happy with Google's lastest copyright infringement. It's a slippery slope and if publishers and authors don't dig in their heels, we're all sliding down to the bottom together and landing in an incomprehensible heap.

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    Sean McManus, Jun 7th, 2007 @ 6:25am

    It's about who decides what happens to content

    Copying a book in its entirety is certainly outside the bounds of fair use, even if only portions of it at a time are made available to the public. Copyright law gives the owners of a creative work the right to decide who can copy their work. By not seeking their permission in advance, Google is breaching copyright law. It doesn't matter whether or not Google's use increases or decreases sales - the issue is that it's not up to them to decide.

    It's like the laptop: the computer belongs to Google, so they get to decide who can use it. If Pan MacMillan took the computer, put it in an internet cafe so everyone could use it, it would be wrong. Even if Google sold a few more adverts from the brand exposure.

    Incidentally, Google's attitude is very one-sided. Everyone else's copyright is theirs for the taking. But Google's pretty firm about asserting its own rights in its content and brand.

     

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  38.  
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    mase, Jun 7th, 2007 @ 8:28am

    ha.

    what a dumbass a whole hr i would have ghosted the hard drives and been outa there in that time. he's a dumbass never admit to a crim ;)

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    dj, Jun 7th, 2007 @ 9:00am

    Re: Re: Me

    Yes! Finally, someone who detects the true idiocy of this stunt! --Just taking the laptops and then giving them back is lame and a poor analogy. He should have *copied* the laptops, then widely distributed pamphlets about the laptops while offering the entire contents of the laptop in book form at his exhibitor booth. This would improve the analogy while simultaneously mitigating the lameness.

     

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  40.  
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    hoss cartwright, Jun 7th, 2007 @ 9:17am

    stealing laptops

    My father left his garden tiller out beside the road one time, I drove by in my pickup truck and saw it, backed up and loaded it up. When he realized his tiller was gone I came back over and returned it. He never left it beside the road again. What does this have to do with Google scanning books, and laptop computers? I don't know, but I feel there is a moral here somewhere. Yee haw !!!!

     

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  41.  
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    Dell, Jun 7th, 2007 @ 9:37am

    Now I See

    The CEO is just trying to protect his profits and to prove a point by doing that. It's sad really that he'd have to stoop so low to do that however.

     

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  42.  
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    FinanceStoog, Jun 7th, 2007 @ 11:31am

    Hey!

    I'm in finance, and I take offense! In finance, we would have at least calculated the chance of going to jail from pulling such as stunt, and concluded the cost outweighed the benefit, so we'ed send someone...else....

     

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  43.  
    identicon
    Michael, Jun 7th, 2007 @ 11:43am

    Re: Give me all the money you make from your web s

    Or, more accurately, I have a website. You post some of my material on your website (which gets a LOT more hits). You also include all the information for people to find my website. From you, I get a ton more hits, I now make zillions on ads and membership. Dur?

     

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  44.  
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    Mike (profile), Jun 7th, 2007 @ 5:47pm

    Re: Give me all the money you make from your web s

    Okay, I copied your website...Everyhing to my computer.

    Yup. Actually, that happens every time anyone views this website. They are making a local copy on their computer called a cache.

    My friends now read your assinine stuff on my computer. I have also copied every word and every thing from your website to another domain name. Millions of people are reading your work now and not visitine the real website anymore.

    Awesome, if true (though I doubt it). I have said repeatedly that it's fine if other sites make use of our content. I'm not sure why you think we'd complain. Other sites already make use of our content, and it actually drives more traffic, because they figure out they should just come here first... and also they want to engage in the discussion, which doesn't happen on other sites.

    Keep working. We want more of your content. AND NO>>>WE DON'T CARE ABOUT YOUR COPYRIGHT CLAIMS, OR THAT YOU ARE NOT BEING PAID FOR YOUR LABOUR OR RECIEVING ROYALTIES.

    We don't make copyright claims. I'm not sure what you're talking about concerning getting paid for our labor. Our business is doing just fine. If you help bring us more traffic, that's fantastic. If you actually can take traffic away from us (and I don't see how by just copying our content) then that's just competition. Gives us more reason to be better at what we do.

    You no longer recieve any revenue from ads on your site. You no longer get paid for your work.

    Actually, advertising isn't really our business model, so if we received no ad money it wouldn't be a big deal. You seem to be speaking without knowing what you're talking about.

    Now please thank me.

    Thank you!

     

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  45.  
    identicon
    seekXL, Jun 7th, 2007 @ 6:10pm

    Good Idea

    good idea for a demonstration. in german is the book scanning project a discussion too

     

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  46.  
    identicon
    Chris, Jun 8th, 2007 @ 6:03pm

    Do you not understand?

    Ok...Yes google does scan the books for their index. Let me repeat...their INDEX. At no time can you or anyone else "lookup" the entire book...just keywords which give you a "glimpse" of information which surround that keyword or words....

    The failure of most copyhouses to understand and better profit in our new (not so new) internet world does not make his actions justified or even legal.

    The Fair use clause allows this kind of information retreival which google is attempting to do. Just because the publishers objects do not make this copyright infringement. I am an author, and I am not in anyway or form "worried" that sales of my material will be affected in an inverse way....

     

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  47.  
    identicon
    Brad, Jun 11th, 2007 @ 2:02pm

    Mike -- you don't get it...

    They're a reference publisher. They make their money answering questions for people who buy their books.

    If those books are scanned completely and available via Google, the need to buy a print book goes out the window. In a reference book you NEVER need the entire book, but you need a section here or there over time. Placing the book in Google just makes it easier to find that information without buying the book.

    As soon as the ad revenue from those online views tops the revenue they get from selling print books, publishers will change and put their content online. Until then, the books online gut their profits and their ability to pay authors to create the material in the first place.

    I think I'll turn on my Ad blocking software (we all should right! Ads are a form of DRM -- they slow my access to your content and irritate me!) and keep surfing your site. I'm not really stealing 'cause I wasn't going to buy anything from your advertisers or you anyway...

     

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  48.  
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    uberhype, Sep 28th, 2007 @ 3:11am

    Nice Stunt but

    poorly executed. so much more scope for proving a point once he had the laptop.

     

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  49.  
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    web design leeds, May 23rd, 2009 @ 2:02am

    good post! many thanks

     

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  50.  
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    burlesque performer, Jun 17th, 2009 @ 3:21am

    nice idea for a demonstartion!..

     

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  51.  
    identicon
    epc london, Jun 17th, 2009 @ 3:27am

    good idea for a demonstration. in german is the book scanning project a discussion too

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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