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Google Steals Books

Google truly has no shame. These days it's nearly impossible to make it as an author. For every James Patterson, there are hundreds of thousands of men and women with unsold manuscripts, and hundreds of thousands who self-publish manuscripts that too few read.

For those lucky enough to get published, Google has a sweet deal. It will get you exposure by scanning and publishing parts of your book for free! That way you don't even have to worry about selling it or cashing all those pesky royalty checks.

If you don't think this is a big deal, Google has already scanned and posted parts of over 20 million books. That's great for cheapskates, bad for writing and the writing industry. The Authors Guild is suing, and the utterly shameless (Google) is fighting it, claiming that what it does is good since the public achieves "increased knowledge" and that "books exist to read." It won't be for long if writers stop writing because they can't make a living (or get paid at all).

One of the coolest writers on my shelf, "Ball Four" author and former big leaguer Jim Bouton, is a plaintiff. Imagine if that book never got written.

Am I too rough on poor old Google and should it be allowed to trample on copyrights so we can read book excerpts for free? What else should we give Google (my first born is already taken, sorry)? Send your lists and thoughts to dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on 08/22/2012 at 1:19 PM


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Reader Comments:

Thu, Aug 23, 2012 Art USA

I'm an engineer / inventor / designer my patents are good for what ,17 yrs or 20yrs so after that their fair game ! I should have been a writer, painter, or sculptor ( what if we engineers copyrighted all our work ! ) etc. 20 yrs or eternity for copyrights & patents I say, lets have some "égalité"

Wed, Aug 22, 2012 Linda

oh and any 'free' download you get from Amazon and Barnes and Nobles is given with permission from publishers, therefore it is not illegal or the same as google just pulling out pieces and publishing at thier will.

Wed, Aug 22, 2012 Linda

The problem is also a copyright issue. If the book is legally published then it is copyrighted and like it or not, there are copyright laws to protect writers and artists and computer code creaters etc. from people stealing thier work. All of the book will be covered under the copyright therefore any part that is copied/posted etc without permission of the copyright holder is illegal..whether you're Google or not

Wed, Aug 22, 2012 Jim

If only parts of a book are being published, then I don't see the problem. Looks to me like someone is looking for the deep pockets!

Wed, Aug 22, 2012 Bobby Texas

I have found books that meet my search criteria when researching a topic that I would have otherwise not known about. As a result I have purchased a couple of books that I otherwise would not have purchased. I'm not sure I understand why the Authors Guild is suing except perhaps that they think going after deep pockets is a profitable thing to do. Personally I think Google is doing writers a favor.

Wed, Aug 22, 2012 EVVJSK

I think the judge will help decide if Google is showing too much. I wonder if you aren't close to libel yourself for publishing a title that says "Google Steals Books" before a judge has ruled that Google has stolen a book. See how slippery the litigation slope is ?

Wed, Aug 22, 2012

I don't see how giving authors exposure by posting excerpts (NOT THE WHOLE VERSION) is an issue. If so, Amazon and Barnes & Noble should stop letting me download excerpts for free on my ereader, booksellers (like Barnes & Noble) should stop letting me read books in the store and libraries should be burned to the ground...

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