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The Ethics of Private Property: Google & the Courts

 
 
Foxfyre
 
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Reply Tue 4 Oct, 2005 09:37 pm
Okay let's go with Copyright Law as the basis. If the Google attorneys petition the courts to rule on whether the 'benefit to the public' outweighs the strict interpretation of Copyright Law--in other words, if they just post the stuff but rig it so it can't be copied and pasted--will they prevail in being able to put anything whatsoever into their data base? Against the express wishes and consent of the writers or publishers of the material?

This is the heart of the intellectual property issue. In Kelo, the court ruled that the 'public benefit' overrode the rights of the property owners. Could the same thing happen with intellectual property?
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Steppenwolf
 
  1  
Reply Tue 4 Oct, 2005 09:39 pm
Foxfyre wrote:
Okay let's go with Copyright Law as the basis. If the Google attorneys petition the courts to rule on whether the 'benefit to the public' outweighs the strict interpretation of Copyright Law--in other words, if they just post the stuff but rig it so it can't be copied and pasted--will they prevail in being able to put anything whatsoever into their data base? Against the express wishes and consent of the writers or publishers of the material?

This is the heart of the intellectual property issue. In Kelo, the court ruled that the 'public benefit' overrode the rights of the property owners. Could the same thing happen with intellectual property?


Probably! But you need a government actor for a takings claim (see my last post).
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Foxfyre
 
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Reply Tue 4 Oct, 2005 09:44 pm
I just read your last post, Step. You wrote THAT while four sheets in the wind? Without a single dangled participle or misspelled word? I'm impressed. Very Happy
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Steppenwolf
 
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Reply Tue 4 Oct, 2005 09:45 pm
I'm only about three sheets right now. I'm working on four.
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Foxfyre
 
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Reply Tue 4 Oct, 2005 09:46 pm
Oh, and in this case the government actor would be the court itself ruling in favor of Google being able to override the intellectual property rights of the writer/Publisher.
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fishin
 
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Reply Tue 4 Oct, 2005 09:57 pm
Foxfyre wrote:
Okay let's go with Copyright Law as the basis. If the Google attorneys petition the courts to rule on whether the 'benefit to the public' outweighs the strict interpretation of Copyright Law--in other words, if they just post the stuff but rig it so it can't be copied and pasted--will they prevail in being able to put anything whatsoever into their data base? Against the express wishes and consent of the writers or publishers of the material?


I doubt Google would use "public benefit" as their primary argument. They don't need to because even with a strict interpretation fo copyright laws they are still pretty safe. The laws allow for fair use of copyright materials and the factors that any court would look at are listed on page 1 of this thread. (Those are a cut and paste directly from the statutes.)

I doubt any court will see the displaying of a few paragraphs from a several hundred page book as being "substantial" and I don't think any reasonable court will see any future loss of income to a publisher or author from having a few paragraphs of their work publicly displayed. Google will argue (as Amazon did) that someone that finds and reads those paragraphs would be more likely to buy the book than if they had no way of locating it to begin with.

Quote:
This is the heart of the intellectual property issue. In Kelo, the court ruled that the 'public benefit' overrode the rights of the property owners. Could the same thing happen with intellectual property?


The Court said no such thing in Kelo and that question was never raised. The question in Kelo was whether or not the City of New London and the State of CT had the authority to decide what was or wasn't of public benefit. The Court sided with New London and said that that deciding what the criteria was for what was or wasn't of public benefit was best left to the state and local authorities.
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fishin
 
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Reply Tue 4 Oct, 2005 09:59 pm
Foxfyre wrote:
Oh, and in this case the government actor would be the court itself ruling in favor of Google being able to override the intellectual property rights of the writer/Publisher.


No can do. A party can't sue another party in court and then claim the court is at fault for making a decision on the case they brought before it. lol
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Foxfyre
 
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Reply Tue 4 Oct, 2005 10:24 pm
Yeah, I knew that last one was a stretch. But then I'm on a personal campaign against activist courts and no doubt grasp at a few straws here and there in that endeavor.
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joefromchicago
 
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Reply Tue 4 Oct, 2005 10:36 pm
Steppenwolf wrote:
Foxy's connection is not entirely lacking in merit, but the initial post is missing a few steps. A theoretical takings claim might be alleged against the public libraries (or other public entities) that supply Google with copyrighted works (but not against Google directly, as Google is private).

Perhaps, but I don't think anyone is suing the libraries.
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nimh
 
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Reply Wed 5 Oct, 2005 04:54 am
How does the "activist courts" argument fit into your position, Foxfyre?

I mean, since the Constitutional Fifth amendment, way I understand it from Joe and Fishin', only deals with actions by governmental entities, wouldn't it take an activist court exactly to take your side of the argument, and extrapolate its original meaning to private entities as well?

As for copyright law, since it already allows for fair use, how would according the case to Google on the basis of that fair use imply an activist court?
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dyslexia
 
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Reply Wed 5 Oct, 2005 06:36 am
I think Foxfyre has just demonstrated an old axiom of my grandfather, "If it don't fit, get a bigger hammer"
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Thomas
 
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Reply Wed 5 Oct, 2005 08:17 am
Re: The Ethics of Private Property: Google & the Courts
Caveat: I have written the following in direct response to Foxfyre's initial post. If I had bothered to read the rest of the thread before I did that, I could have spared you my post and have simply stated: "I agree with Fishin.'"

Foxfyre wrote:
. . . .Consider the ongoing battle between Google and the U.S. publishing industry over whether Google can, in the name of making searchable information available to the public, ignore copyright law and make an author's work available through its search engine, regardless of the author's wishes and without paying royalties for doing so.

This is not what Google is planning to do. They are planning to create a searchable index of books and to display a page or two from a book you google for. The complete book, however, would only be displayed to a paying customer, with the consent of the copyright holder. Google is arguing, plausibly, that this constitutes fair use, which has always been enshrined in copyright law. You might agree or disagree with their argument, but it is simply not true they are ignoring copyright law.

Foxfyre wrote:
The problem is that, with the exception of books that are "out of copyright" and therefore in the public domain, the scheme involves taking the intellectual property of hundreds of authors with neither permission nor compensation … something that the authors who labored to create the works are understandably not all that happy about.

Says who? I would have said that obscurity is a much greater threat to most authors' revenue than intellectual property theft. I can understand why the publishing industry would claim something like that because Google's search engine would remove them as a squeeze point in the dissemination of ideas. But that "the authors" as a collective reject the idea is a contention I won't believe without supporting data.
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Foxfyre
 
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Reply Wed 5 Oct, 2005 08:26 am
If it is all so harmless and up-and-up, even beneficial to book sales, then why are publishers and authors in court in an attempt to stop it?
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Thomas
 
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Reply Wed 5 Oct, 2005 08:45 am
Foxfyre wrote:
If it is all so harmless and up-and-up, even beneficial to book sales, then why are publishers and authors in court in an attempt to stop it?

By the same logic, you might ask: "If Blacks are really just normal people, why are there so many racists?" Sometimes people get worked up and passionate about things even if they have no reason to. I think this is the case with the authors in question -- assuming we are really talking about a significant share of authors, which you haven't yet shown we do.

As for the publishers, Google's search engine would reduce their control over what books are available. New books are routinely competing with old books already available, and publishers routinely taking old titles out of print even if the authors continue to want them published and the readers continue to want to read them. This gives publishing houses an opportunity to enrich themselves at the expense of readers and authors, an opportunity which Google would remove. Hence, my current take, fairly tentative at this point, is that this fight is for real on the side of the publishers, but not on the side of the authors.
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dyslexia
 
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Reply Wed 5 Oct, 2005 08:54 am
Foxfyre wrote:
Yeah, I knew that last one was a stretch. But then I'm on a personal campaign against activist courts and no doubt grasp at a few straws here and there in that endeavor.
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Thomas
 
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Reply Wed 5 Oct, 2005 09:14 am
Foxfyre wrote:
Yeah, I knew that last one was a stretch. But then I'm on a personal campaign against activist courts and no doubt grasp at a few straws here and there in that endeavor.

If you believe in interpreting statutes according to their original meaning, why are you pretending there are no fair use exceptions in copyright law even if there are? Why are you applying the constitution to a case that presents no constitutional question? I admit I'm getting a little impatient here, because you are making originalists such as myself look like idiots. (Which might actually earn you some praise from joefromchicago. Razz )
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Thomas
 
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Reply Wed 5 Oct, 2005 09:37 am
For your convenience, Foxfyre, here is what the fair use clause of the Copyright Act says:

Quote:

§ 107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use

Source

In your strict constructionist application of that clause, how would it make a court 'activist' if it found that Google's application constitutes fair use? (Can you believe it? I'm making the same point as nimh! The end of the world must be imminent.)
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Foxfyre
 
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Reply Wed 5 Oct, 2005 10:42 am
Well, ignoring those who are participating here just to take shots at me, I will admit to not being at all complacent or trusting of the courts to make the right decisions where either our rights, including property rights are concerned. I do not think the author of the thread starter is either a wild-eyed rightwing fanatic nor is he ignorant of copyright law and he cited what he saw was an issue, though he did not quanitify it in any way.

Years ago I edited a regional newspaper for the Episcopal Church. It was distributed without subscription fees both to the people in the region and to interested persons nationally--a few copies even went overseas. For years after I bequeathed my pica stick to others, I received written requests from people all over the country wanting to reprint something or other I had written for our newspaper. Permission was always given. In the world of writers and publishers, this showed respect for intellectual property and was the way it was supposed to be done.

You all seem to be sure that Google only plans to publish excerpts along the lines that Amazon.com publishes excerpts. The writer of the thread starter implied that what Google wished to publish was more than that. Also, Amazon.com is a retail outlet for a product and has a vested interest in selling the product. Google is not and does not.

There is one other somewhat unrelated potential stumbling block to this issue: do we want one source to become 'indispensable' as the repository of the world's information? An unregulated monopoly has not proved to be beneficial to the rank and file in the past.
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Thomas
 
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Reply Wed 5 Oct, 2005 11:01 am
Foxfyre wrote:
You all seem to be sure that Google only plans to publish excerpts along the lines that Amazon.com publishes excerpts. The writer of the thread starter implied that what Google wished to publish was more than that.

Sure or not, this is the issue that is currently on the table. And while the writer of the thread starter implied that what Google wished to publish was more than that, he made no effort to establish that his implication was true, nor to ask the question as a hypothetical (such as: "What if Google decided to go beyond what it is currently planning?") I have no interest in discussing an insinuation that may be no more than a smear for all I know.
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Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Oct, 2005 11:13 am
Sheesh, you're missing the big picture with Google; they are looking to take over a whole host of functions relating to our information age; and moreover, they are already on the path to doing so.

Even more, people love Google; fantastic brand recognition and loyalty, intergration into browsers, servers, and desktop searches; I fully expect Google to supplant microsoft within 5 years.

Scary? Well, at least it works well, and reliably. And they seem to have the best repositories of good ideas and minds out of any of the leading internet companies....

Cycloptichorn
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