Skip to Content

Google is in the news again, and the company which famously promises to “do no evil” seems once again to be on the wrong side of the issue. This time the contretemps is over copyright issues. Google, which a while ago announced they wanted to scan copyrighted books from some of the world’s largest university libraries and index the material in their search engine, has halted the project until at least November. Seems copyright owners have problems with the effort, and who can really blame them–copyright protection is, after all, one way publishers make their money. Somewhat amazingly, Google wants copyright owners to opt-out of their program, instead of Google having to do the work of contacting copyright owners to get them to opt-in.

Google wants publishers to notify the company which copyrighted books they don’t want scanned, effectively requiring the industry to opt out of the program instead of opting in.

That approach rankled the Association of American Publishers.

“Google’s announcement does nothing to relieve the publishing industry’s concerns,” Patricia Schroeder, the trade group’s president, said in a statement Friday. “Google’s procedure shifts the responsibility for preventing infringement to the copyright owner rather than the user, turning every principle of copyright law on its ear.”

It would be one thing if Google offered royalties to copyright owners, but so far the company hasn’t promised to share any profits they make off the project.

Google is looking more and more like just another large corporation which tramples over anyone who gets in their way. As someone who cares about copyright, and who would also like to be able to download scanned books from these major libraries, I’m hoping the project goes forward–but only in a way that considers the rights and needs of publishers as well.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

A Roomba recorded a woman on the toilet. How did screenshots end up on Facebook?

Robot vacuum companies say your images are safe, but a sprawling global supply chain for data from our devices creates risk.

A startup says it’s begun releasing particles into the atmosphere, in an effort to tweak the climate

Make Sunsets is already attempting to earn revenue for geoengineering, a move likely to provoke widespread criticism.

10 Breakthrough Technologies 2023

Every year, we pick the 10 technologies that matter the most right now. We look for advances that will have a big impact on our lives and break down why they matter.

These exclusive satellite images show that Saudi Arabia’s sci-fi megacity is well underway

Weirdly, any recent work on The Line doesn’t show up on Google Maps. But we got the images anyway.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.