Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Who do Google think they are?

I'm not sure what there is to say about Google and their digitisation project, except do they think the rules don't apply to them? I don't think I've ever seen such blatant disregard for the law.

Whether or not Google intend only to make small portions of the texts available to users, they're missing the point that the very act of making the unauthorised copy is illegal. Now they seem to think that out of print and out of copyright are the same thing.

Maybe I should start downloading pirated films from the internet. Using Google's logic I could justify my actions by publishing a small amount of my illegal download on this website and claiming it was all good publicity for the film. I could announce it in press releases and make sure the whole world knew about it, and surely all the film companies would be falling over each other to thank me.

I used to have a great deal of respect for the way Google operated, but now they seem to be just another faceless corporation, bulldozing their way through the law and common decency in pursuit of money.

Don't get me wrong. I don't equate illegality with immorality, and I don't think copyright law is perfect, but it's there and it's there for a reason. Authors have a right to protect their work from exploitation, and to that end to be able to control who is authorised to make copies of it and for what purpose. Google need to acknowledge that authors have that right, if only because it's the respectful thing to do.

It's not about money. As far as I'm concerned, all they have to do is ask. Or is that too much effort?

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