Fair use? Microsoft hits Google over book-search model
It's being accused of abusing copyright and fair-use rules
IDG News Service - A Microsoft Corp. attorney will attack Google Inc.'s book-search service in a speech today to the Association of American Publishers (AAP), saying Google is misappropriating principles of fair use to further its own business model.
Thomas Rubin, Microsoft's associate general counsel, will address the AAP's annual meeting in New York, and plans to argue that while Microsoft's Live Search Books honors copyright protection and fair use, Google's Book Search abuses it.
"In my view, Google has chosen the wrong path for the longer term, because it systematically violates copyright and deprives authors and publishers of an important avenue for monetizing their works," Rubin said in a copy of the speech posted on The Wall Street Journal's Web site.
Rubin also addressed the issue in a commentary written for Monday's edition of The Financial Times.
"Google defends its actions primarily by arguing that its unauthorized copying and future monetization of your books are protected as fair use," the speech says.
At issue is Microsoft's contention that Google believes it may scan, catalog and display content published in book form under fair-use principles unless the copyright holder tells it not to. Rubin also says in his prepared remarks that Google then profits from material to which it does not own the copyright by running advertising along with it.
In contrast, he says Microsoft seeks and receives permission from all publishers of copyrighted material before including it among titles that can be searched.
A search for Ernest Hemingway's novel The Old Man and the Sea on Google Book Search brought up no ads on the results page, but inserted one ad below four pages of scanned text.
By contrast, Microsoft's Live Search Books, currently being beta-tested, brought up only one title in its search results, a book called Search and Struggle for Quality and Independence That book cites Hemingway's tale as a reference, and no advertising appears on the results page or the book's page.
Rubin calls Google's attitude towards copyright protection "weak at best" and cites accusations leveled at Google-owned YouTube Inc. over failure to remove copyrighted material as proof of that. "Anyone who visits YouTube, which Google purchased last year, will immediately recognize that it follows a similar cavalier approach to copyright," said Rubin.
Google did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
The U.S. Copyright Office defines "fair use" on its Web site as a "quotation of excerpts in a review or criticism for purposes of illustration or comment; quotation of short passages in a scholarly or technical work, for illustration or clarification of the author's observations; use in a parody of some of the content of the work parodied; summary of an address or article, with brief quotations, in a news report; reproduction by a library of a portion of a work to replace part of a damaged copy; reproduction by a teacher or student of a small part of a work to illustrate a lesson; reproduction of a work in legislative or judicial proceedings or reports; incidental and fortuitous reproduction, in a newsreel or broadcast, of a work located in the scene of an event being reported."
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