Blown To Bits

Another Monkeywrench in the Google Books Settlement

Thursday, April 8th, 2010 by Harry Lewis

Representatives of photographers have filed suit against Google for digitizing their photos without permission, in the course of scanning books to create the Google Books library. For a long time, the photographers (and several other groups, whom I lump together as “the photographers”) have been annoyed that they aren’t getting any of the revenues from the settlement; they told the court that in no uncertain terms. The Authors and Publishers, in the course of working out their proposed settlement with Google, completely ignored them, and they are now following through on their threat to make trouble.

The interesting thing about this suit is that the complaint is not that the photographers are being deprived of revenues. In fact Google blacks out the copyrighted photos in the digitized books.

The photographers are complaining that the very act of scanning the books creates an illegal copy of the photographs, even if it is never displayed to a Google Books user. Kind of  logical, or would be in a looking glass world.

In its suit, p. 20, the photographers make quite modest demands:

Hmm. $150K per image, times how many images in how many books? You do the math.

James Grimmelmann has a quick analysis of the merits. Whither now the settlement?

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