Strong opinions, weakly held

Tim O’Reilly on Microsoft’s criticism of Google’s books scanning

Microsoft has cynically chosen to support the Association of American Publishers’ wrongheaded and self-destructive lawsuit against Google for scanning and indexing the content of books for search purposes. Tim O’Reilly explains just how stupid the AAP lawsuit is, and why Microsoft is wrong for supporting it.

1 Comment

  1. there was a New Yorker article on this recently, which implied that the lawsuit was essentially a negotiation tactic — the same people are supporting the actual on-the-ground scanning effort, and merely hope to get some benefit for all involved. it was complicated enough (and months ago enough) that I can’t remember the details, but if their analysis was correct, the lawsuit wasn’t as dire as you might otherwise imagine.

    I’d dig it out, but I think I recycled it a few weeks ago — oh, here it is.

    Google, in an effort to put the lawsuits behind it, may agree to pay the plaintiffs more than a court would require; but, by doing so, the company would discourage potential competitors. To put it another way, being taken to court and charged with copyright infringement on a large scale might be the best thing that ever happens to Google’s foray into the printed word.

    there’s a chewier look at the lawsuit, the history of copyright law, and how the two come together here, later in the piece. Also this:

    “The suits that have been filed are a business negotiation that happens to be going on in the courts,” Marissa Mayer told me. “We think of it as a business negotiation that has a large legal-system component to it.” According to Pat Schroeder, the former congresswoman, who is the president of the Association of American Publishers, “This is basically a business deal. Let’s find a way to work this out. It can be done. Google can license these rights, go to the rights holder of these books, and make a deal.”

    it’s interesting to note that some major libraries are not allowing Google to scan any books published since the 1960s, for fear of copyright claims. also, that if Google makes a settlement, it may end up with an edge over open-access book scanning projects (already a risk inherent in having this done by a for-profit entity)… blah blah. just to add more to the mix.

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