Harvard-Google Project Faces Copyright Woes

This Harvard Crimson article discusses concerns that the Google Print lirary project to digitize books at Harvard’s libraries (among others) may infringe copyright law. The debate is whether Google’s digitization efforts fall within “fair use” or are “illegal duplication” (note this appears to concern only those books not yet in the public domain).

“The law does not permit wholesale copying (which is what digitisation is) by a commercial organisation of works that are still in copyright,” [Sally Morris, chief executive of the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers] wrote. “It is also illegal to make those works available digitally once they have been copied.”

Morris wrote that Google needs to obtain permission from publishers before using their work. While she wrote that it may be impractical to ask every publisher, Google should ask permission through collective licensing organizations.

But Jonathan Zittrain, faculty co-director of Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, wrote in an e-mail that he believes the pilot project is not a copyright infringement.

“This is what fair use is designed for,” he wrote. “By showing only snippets, the market for the books themselves is not harmed.”

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