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Elsewhere – New Google digital library hits copyright roadblocks

The Stanford Daily (Stanford)

(U-WIRE) STANFORD, Calif.-Last December Google announced its plan to team up with leading universities and public libraries around the country, including Stanford, to provide instantly searchable copies of library books to all of its users. Along the way, however, this digital library ran into some legal roadblocks.

Publishers have argued that by scanning copyrighted material, Google is violating U.S. copyright law. Google, however, argues that their use of the copyrighted material falls under the “fair use” doctrine.

Colette Vogele, also a fellow at the center and head of the firm Vogele and Associates, explained that fair use is a murky area in copyright law.

According to Vogele, there is a four factor balancing test used to decide if something falls under the fair use clause. These criteria include how much of the work was used, the nature of the use, whether the use was for commercial or non-commercial purposes and whether the use will interfere with the potential market of the copyrighted material.

To adhere to these factors, Google will not make the entire text of copyrighted materials available to the public. When a user searches for a term in the text of such copyrighted books, Google will only show the specific passages in which the term is found, along with links to where the user can buy or borrow the book.

September 27, 2005

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