updated 11:59 pm EDT, Mon August 6, 2012
Documents from 2004 show primary goal of making money
In a court filing by writer's advocate group The Authors Guild, the motivation for Google's nearly decade-long scanning of books and documents was revealed to be contrary to its stated purpose. Rather than creating a massive "card catalog" of out-of-print books, the internal Google documents show that the primary goal of the scanning was making money.
An internal 2003 Google document described in the filing claims that searchers interested in book content should be directed to come to Google, not Amazon -- demonstrating that the scanning was never intended as "fair use" preservation. The "fair use" argument is the basis for Google's entire defense and public statements about the book-scanning project.
To execute the scanning, Google used hundreds of contractors in Boston, Ann Arbor, and Mountain View to run more than 300 machines. Libraries such as The New York Public Library, Harvard, Columbia, and Princeton only allowed Google to scan public domain works. Other libraries, including Wisconsin, University of Virginia, and Cornell, amongst others, showed no discrimination between public domain and copyrighted works. Google contractors made no specific judgement concerning the copyright status of any given book for scanning.
The Authors Guild has asked a US Federal District Court in New York to force Google to pay $750 per book it scanned for distribution, claiming that Google's effort does not constitute "fair use" under copyright law. Google told Reuters in an email that it believes Google Books "constitutes fair use by allowing users to identify interesting books and find ways to borrow or buy those books, much like a card catalog for the digital age." Google has argued for dismissal of the suit on "fair use" grounds.
A $125 million settlement was reached in March 2011 between Google and The Authors Guild, but was rejected on legal grounds by Judge Denny Chin, despite his saying publicly that he sees tangible benefits to libraries from both the scanning effort and technology developed to scan the books.
Judge Chin said the agreement overreached because it gave Google a "de facto monopoly" to copy books without permission from rights holders, and served to increase its market share in online searches. The United States Justice Department, Amazon.com, and Microsoft had all expressed antitrust concerns about the settlement.
Google Books Statement of Facts Aug 2012