Authors Guild Asks For $750 For Every Book Google Scans; While Google Points Out That There's No Evidence Of Any Harm
from the fair-use-fight dept
But, really, all this is doing is highlighting the insanity of statutory damages in copyright law, which have no connection to reality. Even at this "low end" of the scale, the amounts would clearly make it cost prohibitive for Google to scan any more books, and that would be a shame.
In fact, on its side of the legal fight, Google is arguing that the authors have completely failed to prove any harm, while making the argument that the scanning project is fair use. Basically, Google points out that it's creating an index of everything in the books, not acting as a substitute for the books. Thus, the purpose serves to make useful information more widely available (which likely can increase the demand for the books, by helping users find new books). Not surprisingly, I find the arguments in favor of fair use compelling (and have been saying so for many years -- so much so that I was disappointed when Google first tried to settle this case, rather than standing behind its fair use claims).
While, in the end, it's likely that the case will depend on the fair use ruling, it should also be seen as a case that highlights the insanity of statutory licenses in copyright law. There is no doubt that Google's book search is a useful tool that helps expand access to knowledge. The idea that such a thing could only be created with an additional $750 per book scanned being sent back to the copyright holder, seems ridiculous -- but it's a factor of a broken copyright system that has such out of touch and out of proportion statutory damages.