By Jennifer Farley

Photographers & Graphic Artists Sue Google Over Book Scans

By Jennifer Farley

The American Society of Media Photographers have filed a class-action copyright infringement lawsuit against Google. The ASMP are joined in the lawsuit by the Picture Archive Council of America, Professional Photographers of America, the North American Nature Photography Association and the Graphic Artists Guild, as well as several individual photographers and illustrators.

The reason for the lawsuit is the ASMP’s objection to Google’s attempt to build an online library and store of millions of books. The ASMP is not happy with Google’s scanning and online distribution of books, often without permission from the owners or copyright holders. ASMP is concerned with the visual art and photographic work in the books. In 2005 the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers  first opposed Google’s library project on copyright grounds.

Victor S. Perlman, managing director of the ASMP said

“We are seeking justice and fair compensation for visual artists whose work appears in the twelve million books and other publications Google has illegally scanned to date. In doing so, we are giving voice to thousands of disenfranchised creators of visual artworks whose rights we hope to enforce through this class action.”

James McGuire, of law firm Mischon de Reya which is leading the case, said: “This case is about fairness and compensation. It’s only right that if someone uses something you create, you should be paid for it.”

GoogleBooksLogoAccording to CNN, Gabriel Stricker, a Google spokesman said “We are confident that Google Books is fully compliant with U.S. and international copyright law. Google Books is an historic effort to make all of the knowledge contained within the world’s books searchable online. It exposes readers to information they might not otherwise see, and it provides authors and publishers with a new way to be found.”

You can read the ASMP press release here. And more on the New York Times blog. No doubt this case will take quite a bit of time but it will be interesting to see what happens.

  • Anonymous

    Google could care less about the little guy anymore. People are starting to forget that Google is turning into a monopoly. Wouldn’t be shocked if they figured a way to jam ads in e-books too.

  • Q.E.D.

    I work at an institution that has several publications that appeared on Google Books. When we contacted them to remove the content, they essentially gave us two choices: 1) give us permission and get a cut of the ad revenue or 2) sue us (BTW we have more money than god).

    My institution decided that it wasn’t worth pursuing.

    As an ALA accredited librarian, I feel it is my duty to point out that “Fair Use” as laid out in U.S. Copyright Law prohibits the use of materials for profits. The fact that Google puts their ads next to the content means they are in violation.

    Google’s use of this material is like someone who rips an MP3 and blasts it on a homemade radio transmitter and then sells ad space to companies. They are not licensing the material as is required by law, nor are they repaying the originators of the content.

  • Google thinks everything should be free except for the ad space they sell..

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