Last month we posted a bit about the copyright debates surrounding the Google Print library project. Noted Washington DC copyright lawyer Jonathan Band has just published an article entitled "The Google Print Library Project: A Copyright Analysis" in the August issue of E-Commerce Law & Policy (a copy is posted on his website at PolicyBandwidth.com).
The article does a very good job of (1) actually explaining what Google is doing, and (2) discussing the copyright law principles that might apply. His conclusion?
In the Print Library Project, Google is relying on fair use just as it and its search engine competitors rely on fair use when they copy millions of websites every week. Moreover, by giving publishers the opportunity to opt-out of the Print Library Project, Google is replicating the exclusion header feature of the Internet. Most authors want their books to be found and read. Moreover, authors are aware that an ever increasing percentage of students and businesses conduct research primarily, if not exclusively, online. Thus, if books cannot be searched online, many users will never locate them. The Print Library Project is predicted upon the assumption the authors generally want their books to be included in the search database so that readers can find them. But if a copyright owner does not want Google to scan her book, Google will honor her request.
Contrary to the AAP's assertion, this opt-out feature does not turn "every principle of copyright law on its ear." Rather, it is a reasonable implementation of a program based on fair use.
Recommended reading for everyone interested in this issue.