Using Google Books To Remove Access To Public Domain Books

from the that's-evil dept

Michael Scott points us to a blog post at Mike Cane's blog discussing a question asked in the Google Books help forum asking whether or not a publisher named Kessinger Publishing is taking public domain books scanned by Google, printing them, and then trying to block Google Books from offering the whole thing.

The details are a bit sketchy at this point, but it does seem like Kessinger is taking the public domain books scanned by Google and then offering them for sale. The guy investigating it notes that some of the covers on Kessinger's books clearly show the Google Books-generated cover. Now, it's important to note that Kessinger reprinting public domain books scanned by Google is perfectly legal (perhaps an argument could be made that Google could claim copyright over some aspect of that cover page it generates, but even that seems like a stretch). There's nothing infringing (at least in the US -- elsewhere, it's a bit unsettled) about taking someone else's scan of public domain works and then publishing it yourself.

What's worrying here is the claim that once Kessinger "republishes" these works, that it's somehow getting Google Books to no longer show the full editions of the books. It's not quite as bad as the initial person claims -- that Kessinger is "taking books out of the public domain," as the books do, in fact, remain in the public domain. The real question is why Google is restricting access to these works. If I had to guess, it's probably due to the fact that Google keeps getting hit with (questionable) copyright lawsuits, so they have a "lock-up first, ask questions later" sort of approach to these things. Unfortunately, if that's the case, it lets publishers effectively hide books that should be freely available, at least for the time being.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Sep 8th, 2010 @ 11:01am

    Typo alert

    "it lets publishers effective hide books"

    Should be effectively?

     

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

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 8th, 2010 @ 11:42am

    There is nobody who hates our culture more...

    ...than the people who stand between the writers and the consumers of media.

    And yet, we still pay them to do so...

     

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

  3.  
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Sep 8th, 2010 @ 11:49am

    Who is behind Kessinger Publishing?

    Is it a Google front company? Because I've predicted that Google is going to "effectively" lock up access to public domain works, perhaps in order to prevent old-fashioned ideas of liberty and common law from being re-discovered. Since there's curiously no evidence to the contrary -- Kessinger Books being several times stated as difficult to communicate with -- then I'll just take this as in accord with my notion that instead of being a public service, Google Books is actually a subtle but wide-ranging way to suppress thought. -- Why else does a corporation that size go along with demands of a less-than-obscure publisher from the sticks?

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 8th, 2010 @ 11:58am

    Re: Who is behind Kessinger Publishing?

    This ought to supplement their chem-trails campaign. That's right sheeple; drink that fluoride-laced water!

     

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  5.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Sep 8th, 2010 @ 12:17pm

    Re: Re: Who is behind Kessinger Publishing?

    I'm pretty sure that Google killed both Kennedys, MLK, Malcom X, AND that wierd time traveler guy that the interwebz blew their wad over a while back.

    Also, Google perpetrated 9/11 simply to up their YouTube business with videos of the attacks.

     

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

  6.  
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    fogbugzd (profile), Sep 8th, 2010 @ 12:24pm

    copyfraud

    If we continueto have strong copyright laws with Draconian penalties for violations, then there is need for some type of law against false claim of copyright with the burden of proof being on the person claiming copyright.

     

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

  7.  
    identicon
    Yogi, Sep 8th, 2010 @ 12:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Who is behind Kessinger Publishing?

    I read on some blog that Google Killed Jesus too.Bastards.

     

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

  8.  
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    Alimas (profile), Sep 8th, 2010 @ 12:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Who is behind Kessinger Publishing?

    One would note that Youtube has all sorts of videos with all kinds of interviews, angles and diagrams of the 9/11 attacks.

    Coincidence? I think not!

     

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

  9.  
    icon
    Alimas (profile), Sep 8th, 2010 @ 12:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Who is behind Kessinger Publishing?

    One would note that Youtube has all sorts of videos with all kinds of interviews, angles and diagrams of the 9/11 attacks.

    Coincidence? I think not!

     

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

  10.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Sep 8th, 2010 @ 12:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Who is behind Kessinger Publishing?

    No, no, no. Google simply presided over the trial. It was the Jews that killed Jesus, Mel Gibson told me so. See Epstein vs. Christ for the relevant case information....

     

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

  11.  
    identicon
    Comboman, Sep 8th, 2010 @ 12:56pm

    Google is not careful enough

    Unfortunately, Google is often not careful enough about what version of a book they choose to scan. I don't know about the Kessinger books, but for example the book "Ten Acres Enough" (1864), Google scanned a recent reprint of the book by BiblioBazaar which is protected by copyright (the original text isn't protected, but the new cover, formating, layout, etc are protected which the scanning process captures), instead of scanning an original copy which is in the public domain and freely available at archive.org.

     

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

  12.  
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    Free Capitalist (profile), Sep 8th, 2010 @ 1:48pm

    Re: copyfraud

    The law of supply-side economics wants you to come along quietly.

     

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

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 8th, 2010 @ 3:05pm

    Re: Who is behind Kessinger Publishing?

    If you want to read books with "old fashioned" ideas of liberty and common law there's no need to use Google books.

    Just go here: http://oll.libertyfund.org/

     

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

  14.  
    identicon
    TheBigJim, Sep 8th, 2010 @ 5:14pm

    Kessinger and its suspect business

    A book in public domain cannot be recopyrighted

    to create a new copyright, changes must be relevant

    adding a cover, modify only printed size, is not enough

    this is the first malicious act from Kessinger

    Kessinger and other BAD companies like Kessinger, try, I think, to OBFUSCATE and MAKING HARD to find, original public domain, scanned by google, that are sources of their reprints

    in fact, many times, when Kessinger downloads a new book from googlebooks and then load its REPRINT, with a more recent date, this is done in order to confuse reader and googlebooks

    confusing the reader, so he/she, believes does not exist a free browsable copy of book and buy their very poor reprints (very poor why several people are reporting cases of books ordered from kessinger and only partially printed - see here:

    http://www.jpwalter.com/machina/?p=199

    that is already a behavior at edges of law (buying for whole book and receiving a book incomplete)

    CONFUSING googlebooks, why, with loading a downloadedfromgooglecopy of the book, with a more recent date, can produce the false impression of a book that must be not in full view, and, since this reprinted book has the same title of original public domain book, if googlebooks does not care about these attempts of COPYFRAUD, their system can inhibit access also to public domain copy of the same book, that is , I presume, the think that Kessinger try to obtain

    in addition to this, its WHOIS records are obscured (via ID SHIELD I Presume)

    see:
    http://www.ip-adress.com/whois/www.kessinger.net

    a curious thing, legally, but curious for a GREAT PUBLISHING COMPANY

    no contact seems available, except for this e-mail address ( I have not tried)

    books@kessingerpub.com

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    TheBigJim, Sep 8th, 2010 @ 5:36pm

    terms of use violated

    There is another thing worth to say in this COPYFRAUD case

    Kessinger (and others) CAN REPRINT but NOT REPUBLISH

    In fact, terms of use of googlebooks books, prohibit the COMMERCIAL USE

    now, if a company want offer a REPRINTING service (as public domain reprinting.org has done in past), this must be done WITHOUT to be ludicrous, in other words, price must be low enough to pay ink, paper, shipment and so on...

    BUT have you seen KESSINGER prices? their bookstakenfromgooglebooks are

    - ever in HARDCOVER (hardcover costs more)
    - ever at very high (and so ludicrous) price

    I think googlebooks must alert its legal staff against Kessinger

     

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

  16.  
    icon
    fogbugzd (profile), Sep 8th, 2010 @ 7:01pm

    copyfraud

    If we continueto have strong copyright laws with Draconian penalties for violations, then there is need for some type of law against false claim of copyright with the burden of proof being on the person claiming copyright.

     

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

  17.  
    identicon
    Michael, Sep 9th, 2010 @ 4:44am

    Re: Google is not careful enough

    ...and there is another problem with copyright.

    How can a publisher claim copyright on the formatting of a public domain book and then have some way to prevent it from being scanned into another (digital) format?

    Copyright has gotten so twisted up by the middlemen that it no longer helps anyone that it is supposed to.

     

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

  18.  
    identicon
    Gary Copeland, Sep 15th, 2010 @ 5:33pm

    Public Domain reprints

    I would disagree that Kessinger in fact, is, taking the "digitized" books out of the public domain. They cannot simply copy the work in its entirety and slap their own copyright notice on it, this does not constitute a legal copyright. I have indeed purchased a few books of Kessingers in search of public domain material for adaptation and re-arrangement. It used to be pretty convenient for me to search google books to find a title in their catalog specific to content of my interest, then search the ISBN number at any book retailer and order the book to have on hand as hard-copy evidence in the event I ran into somebody claiming copyright infringement on a work adapted and arranged that was already in the public domain. However, now when I access their web address, no direction at all. Any input directs me to Amazon in an attempt to market the reprinted material Kessinger is selling. I cannot even find subject matter topics to find the published material I am looking for. And if I search google books I simply get a preview that does not sufficiently describe to me if the book contains the required material. It is ridiculous... What Kessinger has essentially created is an environment wherein if I want the book, they are the only supplier... Even though I could've gotten it for free digitally from google and opted to buy it in the past. I can promise I will never put another dime in Kessingers coffers. Google, please do not let them do this, these works are for the people. They are history. They are public domain. They do NOT belong to Kessinger.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    TheBigJim, Sep 16th, 2010 @ 5:22am

    Re: Public Domain reprints

    Sorry to hear your words

    If we continue to buy from Kessinger, kessinger never will be out of business

    Learn, that if Kessinger can REPRINT/REPUBLISH AND RECOPYFRAUD, then, must exist the PUBLIC DOMAIN BOOK source of this reprint (scanned by goole, since Kessinger scans nothing itself)

    So, if you don't find the book you search, in full view, you must write to googlebooks forum

    http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/books/browse?hl=en

    in order to request that this book must be in FULL VIEW

    Buying from Kessinger is not a solution, only increases the Kessinger revenues

    I remember also that is strictly prohibited making commercial use of googlebooks scans, and Kessinger is making an hard commercial use, so, it must expect a serious lawsuit from google lawyers

     

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

  20.  
    identicon
    ed lear, Aug 20th, 2012 @ 9:01am

    reprints

    Kessinger are simply pirates. They have "republished" books that are not in the public domain.

     

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


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