Google vs. Authors

In the digital age, anything that is more easily found online can be more easily sold. I note you do not mention Amazon’s “look inside” feature, which works similarly, and with which the Authors’ Guild has also quarrelled. Perhaps the Guild would prefer search companies to pay them for the right to build book search services.

But the reason why the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the Guild was that not doing so would have been an attack on the doctrine of fair use, which doctrine has been vital in facilitating literature and learning for as long as copyright has been around. The Court recognised the commercial aspect here specifically. To quote from their judgment:

Many of the most universally accepted forms of fair use, such as news reporting and commentary, quotation in historical or analytic books, reviews of books, and performances, as well as parody, are all normally done commercially for profit.

This is also why the case will almost certainly not go to the Supreme Court.

I do not dispute that authors’ incomes have declined. But the reasons for this are varied. Simply railing against “theft” and implying that somehow copyright has been eroded by search engines is not only counter-productive but quite ludicrous in the face of successive legislation extending copyright terms ad infinitum.

The profits of print publishers have fared well over the last ten years, while the profits of music publishers are at least interesting, and film publishers have risen to record levels.

You would do better to turn your attention to the publishers of your works to understand where that money is going.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.