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Google and Microsoft clash on Fair Use under copyright law

Sounds like fight’en words from Tom Rubin, associate general counsel for copyright, trademark and trade secrets at Microsoft, in addressing the Association of American Publishers.

Companies that create no content of their own, and make money solely on the backs of other people’s content, are raking in billions through advertising revenue and IPOs.

Rubin ripped on Google directly when he described Google’s Book Project, where Google is scanning and indexing all books, as ‘the wrong path’ for respecting copyright laws on the internet.  

Concocting a novel ‘fair use‘ theory, Google bestowed upon itself the unilateral right to make entire copies of copyrighted books not covered by these publisher agreements without first obtaining the copyright holder’s permission.

Garnered a swift response from Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond:

Rubin’s comments are simply not true. In the publishing industry alone, we work with more than 10,000 partners around the world to make their works discoverable online .

We do this by complying with international copyright laws, and the result has been more exposure and in many cases more revenue for authors, publishers and producers of content.

Google’s stated policy is not to provide entire volumes for free. The Google Books Library Project currently shows only public domain books in their entirety.

Other works are shown only as a short passage and the listings intend only to tell the user where the book can be obtained.

To me, it’s Google rewriting American and international copyright law to what Google believes is practical. And based on the traffic Google can drive to copyrighted content by indexing such content, copyright holders find this evolving copyright law to be in their best interests as well.

For bloggers, who survive on the Fair Use Doctrine, it’s expansion is only going to be a plus.

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