Long-Term Questions Around Google and Content

Martyn Daniels offers long-view questions around Google’s copying of content from publisher books:

Publishers have in many cases argued it is healthy to give them [Google] content as they drive up sales, others that they are stealing it. Whatever your viewpoint the question that must be answered is what do they intend to do with it tomorrow? Will they always us it as they do today? Can they re assign it to others, either in part or whole? Can the copyright owner revert rights, given or taken, if the copyright ownership of the original work changes? Can the originator object? History is littered with cases where the result was not what people expected to happen at the beginning and where market dominance created a new venture not previously envisaged.

Publishing is a rights business yet we often seem to struggle managing them and the older the content the murkier rights become. Today is the right time to revisit the question of Google’s Book programme and not continue to go blindly forward as if nothing has changed.

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