Victory for Google Books, larger victory for the public

Have any of your Google searches turned up pages from a book? Google began to experiment with scanning books in 2002 and announced plans to establish a digital library, now known as Google Books, in 2004. The project quickly became mired in controversy as the Authors Guild, some individual authors, and several major publishers sued Google for copyright infringement. The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently upheld a 2013 district court ruling on Authors Guild v. Google that Google’s activities constitute fair use under copyright law. The Authors Guild plans to appeal to the Supreme Court. … Continue reading

Why you’re not allowed to hear most old recordings

The U.S. Constitution empowers Congress “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” In 1976, Congress set the limit at 75 years or the life of the author plus 50 years. In 1998, it extended both terms by 20 years. At least that’s true for most of what comes under the copyright law. For some reason, sound recordings do not fall under the federal copyright law. Instead, they fall under, and are crushed by the weight of a tangle of federal … Continue reading

Libraries uphold the public interest in copyright issues

Copyright is a part of intellectual property law and is explicitly mentioned in the US Constitution (Art. I, Sec. 8, Clause 8): “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”Libraries have a great interest in copyright issues, and librarians (not individually, but at the national association level) are among the major voices trying to influence the interpretation of just what the clause means. When a work is under copyright protection, only the copyright holder is allowed to use it to make … Continue reading