Photographers The Latest To Sue Over Google Book Search Deal

from the sue-sue-sue-sue dept

This is hardly a surprise, but with the Google Book search lawsuit/settlement with authors and publishers still under discussion, it seems that photographers have decided to file their own lawsuit. This was, in large part, driven by the judge in the existing case, who excluded photographers from the current lawsuit/settlement, because the photographers have a very different perspective and demands concerning the scanning.

Via The Trademark Blog, we get a look at the actual filing:
While Google decided to cave rather than fight the good fair use fight on regular book scanning, it would be interesting to see if they decide to fight the photographers on this one. I would think they have a very strong fair use case -- and there is at least some case law to support this position. I know of two recent cases that had at least somewhat similar fact patterns, involving commercial entities using copyrighted images as part of an aggregated product -- and both were found as fair use.

Just last year, we wrote about a book that used old magazine covers drawn by artist Basil Gogos that looked at Gogos' artwork. The magazine that originally published the artwork claimed copyright violations, but the district court found a strong fair use claim in noting that it was "fundamentally transformative in nature." The other case, involves old Grateful Dead posters, where someone published a book of the posters, but was sued by the Bill Graham Archives, claiming copyright infringement over those posters. Once again, the court said this was fair use, despite it being a commercial endeavor. Again, part of the reasoning was that this was an aggregation of the content, and the overall quality of the images did not match up to the original posters. Given the low-fi quality of Google book scans, it seems likely that the same claim makes sense for photographic/visual media works that Google scans in books as well. It's worth noting, also, that the Grateful Dead poster decision took place in the same district court (Southern District of NY) where this new lawsuit is being filed.

Even so, this whole thing seems confusing, and feels like a pure moneygrab by photographers. The images from a Google book scan are not high quality in any way. They're certainly not going to replace or act as a substitute for the original works. In fact, it's difficult to see how they would do anything but increase the interest in the original, higher quality, works.

Filed Under: google books, photographers
Companies: google


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  1. icon
    Txknight (profile), 7 Apr 2010 @ 7:24pm

    and the majority of these books, no one but a few people will even care about or be aware of them

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