Mass Digitization: Google’s Book Theft Exposed by Watchdog Group

“[Google]………….with tentacles reaching around the globe seems bent on becoming the keeper of all knowledge— and not necessarily with benign intentions.”

“One company should not have control over the body of world literature.”

By Mark Anderson, American Free Press

In H.G. Wells’s novel The Time Machine, the scientist who rides his time travel machine far into a dystopian future finds himself among a docile, childlike, post-human race called the Eloi. (There’s another one called the Morlocks.) The Eloi show the English inventor the “rings of knowledge.” The rings speak when placed on a table in a manner that makes them vibrate. The inventor hears, if you will, a record of all the world’s knowledge. What few actual books remain crumble to dust in his hands.

Well, critics of the Internet search giant Google—which AFP has scrutinized along with other big players in the information surveillance-state matrix—say the California-based company with tentacles reaching around the globe seems bent on becoming the keeper of all knowledge— and not necessarily with benign intentions.

Mindful of Google’s tendencies, critics are hailing a decision March 22 by U.S. District Court Judge Denny Chin in New York, who ruled against Google’s attempt to digitally copy millions of books without the permission of authors or publishing houses. “One company should not have control over the body of world literature. [This] victory hopefully is the beginning of more scrutiny over Google’s business practices and use of its monopolistic position online,” Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog (CW), said in a prepared statement. “It’s not every day you beat one of America’s biggest companies in court. . . .

[A] federal judge agreed with Consumer Watchdog’s strong anti-trust arguments and prevented Google from gaining a monopoly over digitized online books.”

CW’s Court added: “Consumer Watchdog was of the one first to call for the U.S. Justice Department to block the Google Books deal where Google

scanned most of the books in the world without asking for permission from the authors. A digital books library should be available only with the consent of all


A more recent Consumer Watchdog bulletin posted on the California-based organization’s website added: “Judge Chin ruled that the

agreement would ‘grant Google significant rights to exploit entire books, without the permission of copyright owners’ and would ‘give Google a significant

advantage over competitors, rewarding it for engaging in wholesale copying of copyrighted works without permission, while releasing claims well beyond the


“Google’s entire business model is to never ask permission, but to seek forgiveness if necessary,” John M. Simpson, director of CW’s Privacy Project, was quoted as saying on his organization’s website. “Judge Chin has ruled simply that you can’t take other people’s property and use it without asking. This should send the message to the engineers at the Googleplex that the next time they want to use someone’s intellectual property, they need to

ask permission.”

As Google continues mapping the Earth, collecting pictures of everyone’s property and overlapping its functions with intelligence agencies—in a digitized culture where there are few limits on what corporations can do—perhaps this ruling can start a sorely needed anti-trust trend to also include the financial giants foreclosing

on Americans’ homes and individual freedom. But total victory can be elusive. Simpson, while walking a California beach the afternoon of April 5, told AFP by phone, “In fact, Google is still scanning books,” and that this six-year-old lawsuit may not be totally over, since Google maintains that posting

“snippets” of books online is “fair use.” Simpson added, “They’ve got deep pockets.” He recalled that the suit, which started in 2005, evolved into a class action lawsuit after the initial filing by plaintiffs that included the American Publishers Association, a national authors guild and a number of individual authors. Consumer Watchdog filed two amicus briefs to try to “bust the trust” Google represents.

RTT News, an online source, added that back in 2005, the plaintiffs objected to Google’s “mass digitization of millions of books, on copyright violation grounds. Google began scanning books in 2004.”

See also:

Google book scanning: Cultural theft or freedom of information?

February 8, 2010 — Updated 1451 GMT (2251 HKT)

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