The Association of American Publishers filed suit against Google last week, charging that the search kings online library program was instituting massive copyright infringement by copying published works without permission.
The suit came after discussions between Google management and the AAP broke down. The association had earlier supported a suit filed in September against Google by the Authors Guild, but the lawsuit filed last week is a separate one. Publishers objected to the opt-out nature of the program, which requires them to specify which books they dont want scanned in by Google.
In August, Google temporarily suspended the Google Print program until Nov. 1 after hearing complaints from publishers and authors alike. Last Tuesday, however, Google said it would expand the program to eight countries in Europe.
Publish.com spoke recently with AAP President and former Colorado Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder about the lawsuit.
Publish: The AAP had lengthy discussions with Google before announcing the lawsuit. Can you tell me a little bit about those discussions? What was Googles attitude?
Schroeder: As you know, almost a year ago Google was in Frankfurt and everyone, including publishers, was very happy about Google Print. And then a month or so later they announced Google Print Library, in which they announced they were going to copy all these library books without permission. Thats when we contacted them and said hey, whats going on? That first meeting was held in the AAP offices in New York on July 1. CEO came with his team, including [director of content partnerships] Tim Gerber. We presented them with why we were concerned about copyright issues. Their complaint was that it was too hard to find out the copyright owner. And our reply was, it really isnt. Every book has an ISBN number. And this isnt a new thing, the systems been around for years. Its not like there isnt a quick and easy way. But they seemed to think that our system was somebody sitting in a room with catalog cards in a shoebox.
Several prominent critics have noticed that quite a few authors, especially less well-known authors, like the idea of Google Print and Google Print Library. They think Google Print will only raise awareness of their books. That doesnt sound like a bad thing.
Publishers think that too, but the law says that the author and the publisher get to make that decision, not Google. And there are some people who dont think that. Poets dont. Cookbook writers dont. People who write reference books dont. But thats not even the issue. The bigger issue is that if Google is allowed to unilaterally make copies of a copyrighted work, whats to stop someone else from coming in and doing it again, but this time making the whole work available?