If Google's Book Scanning Violates Copyright Law, What About The AP's Book Scanning?

from the hard-to-see-the-difference dept

Danny Sullivan does a great job calling out the hypocrisy of the Associated Press yet again. The organization, which has taken a very maximalist position on copyright, where fair use gets mostly ignored, apparently had no problem scanning Sarah Palin’s entire book into a computer so that reporters could search it. Of course, this is no different than what Google is doing with its book scanning program (which, again, I still believe is a clear case of fair use). Yet, since the AP seems to take such a limited view on fair use (and has a habit of accusing Google of “stealing” content), it’s amusing that it’s now trying to defend its actions by claiming that it was legal because it was for the sake of journalism, and the scan wasn’t for public consumption. Except, of course, Google’s book scanning isn’t for “public consumption” of the entire work either, but so people can do a search to find the relevant tidbit of info within the book. The AP’s statement on the matter is laughable:

“The book, purchased several days ahead of its on-sale date by the AP, was scanned after the first spot stories moved on the wire from New York so that staffers in bureaus in Washington and Alaska with knowledge of various parts of Gov. Palin’s life and political career could read those relevant sections the next day.”

Yes, you can understand why they did it, and even why it seems reasonable. But that doesn’t change the fact that it appears the AP made an unauthorized copy of the book, in violation of its own interpretation of copyright law. Funny how the law seems oh so different when it limits what you can do, than when it’s about limiting what your competitors can do…

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Companies: associated press, google

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Comments on “If Google's Book Scanning Violates Copyright Law, What About The AP's Book Scanning?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

These stories are only going to get more absurd the longer intellectual property reform is left off of the table.

And with technology becoming so cheap and ubiquitous, well, I imagine there will be numerous problems when Apple introduces the iBall.

“The iBall has the amazing capability to record every second of your life and the capacity to share that life with your family, your friends and the world.”

Seriously, good luck with the future.

Henry Andersen says:

Re: Re:

>>”The iBall has the amazing capability to record every second of your life and the capacity to share that life with your family, your friends and the world.”

No, wrong manufacturer. It’s actually a Microsoft Product called SenseCam, which feeds into the “MyLifeBits project”, a lifetime storage database.


Joe (profile) says:

Re: Fact Check on Paragraph 1

eh, it’s more like Lynn Vincent was paraphrasing for her. if I came up with an idea and someone else wrote it down in their own words it was still my idea, not theirs. it’s not uncommon for biographies to have so called “ghost writers” that do the actual writing of the person’s ideas so that it sounds more professional and gets the point across in a clear manner.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’m not sure if you are being sarcastic… a) fair use is not about the reactions of rights holders, but about the law, and b) Mike states right in this very post that he considers Google’s project to be fair use and this to be reasonable, defensible and potentially fair use as well – he’s merely stating that this violates the AP’s own (narrow) interpretation of fair use.

Anonymous Coward says:

This thing will be cheaper than Toilet Paper

I can’t really get upset about this given how this book is being bought up by organizations trying to funnel cash to Palin most copies sold will never be read by their original purchasers if at all. I would expect to find it being funneled back to the distributors to be sold again and again- Like the Scientologosts did with Hubbard’s books.

Anonymous Coward says:

If keep looking at this from the perspective of morals it will never make sense.

It is not about morals is about functionality.

It’s about the “how can I stop others and do it myself”.

From that perspective it makes complete sense why they do and act that way.

Is about creating terrain, throwing fertilizer and trying to collect the maximum yeld possible while destroying others it functions exactly like cancer does and have the same results it kills the host. In this case these people will kill countries LoL

Michael Ward (profile) says:


Are you saying that if I own a copy of a book I can’t scan it into my computer so I can create my own personal index of it? Isn’t that the epitome of fair use?

Oh, wait, then if Google owns a copy of a book they can scan it into their computer so they can index it? Well, that sure sounds reasonable to me.

So, then, if a library owns a copy of a book they can scan it in to index it, too. OK, maybe they hire Google to run the scanners, eh. Hm.

Gosh! What a wonderfully slippery slope of common sense we have here. I think it’s time someone stopped complaining about scanning, as I don’t think they have a leg to stand on.

Or, put another way, Google simply buys a copy of every book they want to scan and makes their private index — which they don’t have to show to anyone; all they have to do is tell people the information can be found on page nn of Book Aaaa Bbbbb.

Oh, wait, information isn’t copyrightable….

Nobody said it says:

Mike, you're off your rocker.

What Google has done and gotten away with is a flagrant violation of copyright law, and always has been.

The one key phrase in your and their /entire/ argument is “the entire work”

Merely hiding 1 out of every 10 pages does not hold water.

What you have expounded on here is nothing more than a red herring.

Under the purview of copyright law, this is no similarity between what AP did and what Google is doing.

AP used a legally purchased book to it’s fullest extent for THEIR OWN PURPOSES, privately. The “Journalism” exception isn’t even properly invoked!

Google is displaying vast amounts of copyrighted work COMMERCIALLY, for public consumption.

The two actions are not one bit the same. Equating them is dishonest.

Slandering one side or the other in light of the facts is just poor form.

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