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Microsoft Slams Google Book Search RRS feed

  • Question

  • In yet another clash between tech titans, Microsoft is accusing Google of copyright infringement. Redmond claims Google's Book Search project robs publishers and authors of due profits by reprinting their content online for the world to view free of charge.

    In prepared remarks delivered at Tuesday's Association of American Publishers annual meeting in New York, Thomas Rubin, Microsoft's associate general counsel for copyright, trademark, and trade secrets, called Google's business model "troubling" and said the search giant "systematically violates copyright."

    Rubin lumped Google in with companies that create no content of their own and make money solely on the backs of other people's content by selling advertising.

    "What path will we as a society choose in making the world's books and publications available online? Will we choose a path that nourishes creativity and innovation over the long term and that preserves incentives for authors to offer their best works online? Or will we choose a path that encourages companies simply to take the works of others, without any regard for copyright or the impact of their actions on authors and publishers too?" Rubin asked. Microsoft, he said, has chosen the former path.

    Microsoft's Read

    Like Google, Microsoft is scanning thousands of books and making the tomes searchable online in a project dubbed Live Search Books. But Redmond has chosen only to scan works that are no longer protected under copyright law, or newer titles that publishers give express permission to reprint.

    Google, on the other hand, includes portions of copyrighted works under what it claims as "fair use," a portion of the United States Copyright Act that allows the use of copyrighted materials for certain purposes, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.

    Microsoft is not alone in its take on the matter. The Association of American Publishers and the Author's Guild are suing Google over its stance. Google's track record of protecting copyrights in other parts of its business is weak at best, according to Rubin, who pulled the YouTube card: "Anyone who visits YouTube, which Google purchased last year, will immediately recognize that it follows a similar cavalier approach to copyright."

    Google Writes Back

    Google responded directly to Rubin's assertions. The company assured copyright owners that it is committed to complying with laws. Google continues to tout the benefits to copyright owners of its approach to book scanning.

    "The goal of search engines, and of products like Google Book Search and YouTube, is to help users find information from content producers of every size," David Drummond, Google's senior vice president for corporate development, wrote in a statement. "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."

    Which Company Is Right?

    Charles Baker, an intellectual property attorney at Porter & Hedges, said Google's book scanning project isn't necessarily protected by fair use, but it might not be direct copyright infringement, either.

    Some legal experts have questioned whether Google's practices amount to secondary copyright infringement according to a new theory of liability that emerged following the MGM v. Grokster case. Baker defended StreamCast Networks in the landmark decision in which the Supreme Court unanimously held that peer-to-peer file sharing companies like Grokster and StreamCast could be sued for inducing copyright infringement.

    "Even the Supreme Court has said that there's got to be more than just offering a product out there that may or may not allow copyright infringement," Baker noted. "Google has plenty of defenses here such that they are not directly tied to the underlying acts of infringement."

    Considering Microsoft's own book scanning project and Rubin's captive, agreeable audience, Baker suggested that Microsoft might be attempting to play the good corporate citizen in the eyes of irate publishers who have lobbying power. "At the end of they day," he concluded, "Microsoft is trying to make its competitor look bad."

    Wednesday, March 7, 2007 5:42 PM

All replies

  • really nice article to go through, i appreciate that, and plz keep posting latest on this news in future threads.
    Wednesday, March 7, 2007 6:01 PM
  • hahahh google has been the competitor to beat for microsoft no dought microsoft is doing this
    Wednesday, March 7, 2007 7:02 PM