…I did read law, haltingly, at university. I can’t remember much of it, apart from what a card Lord Denning was, and how obvious it was that none of the Criminology module lecturers had ever been burgled or mugged.
Among the many things I can’t understand about the law is the Google book-scanning case. I think the facts are that Google has scanned and made available several million books without consulting the authors or publishers, or having any regard to copyright law.
For some reason, perhaps not unrelated to lawyers and their need to pay for second homes/divorces/skiing holidays, this apparently fairly open-and-shut case has been dragging on for seven years.
It seems to have settled partly with the Association of American Publishers (AAP).
According to the BBC
The row blew up in 2005 over Google’s plan to scan and digitise books for a vast digital library.
The AAP said that the project could involve massive copyright infringement because it could make available digital copies of copyrighted works.
The settlement lets US publishers decide which works should, or should not, be in Google’s library.
This settles one of the main objections to the library project which planned to scan every book unless publishers and authors specifically objected.
Reuters points out that authors are still suing.
“Google continues to profit from its use of millions of copyright-protected books without regard to authors’ rights, and our class-action lawsuit on behalf of U.S. authors continues,” Paul Aiken, executive director, Authors Guild said in a statement.
The heart of the issue with the publishers involved Google scanning millions of copyrighted books making them available to anyone. The publishers contend that Google violated copyright laws when it failed to seek their permission.
Google has scanned roughly 15 million books in what it has said was an effort to provide easier access to the world’s knowledge.
I’m even less of a software engineer than a lawyer, so I really don’t know the answer to this, but are all of Google’s search algorithms and other proprietary software available on an open-source basis? Because sharing the secrets of the biggest search engine would seem to me to be a major step on the way to providing easier access to the world’s knowledge.