Using Google Books To Remove Access To Public Domain Books
from the that's-evil dept
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.