Google Right or Wrong?

 

 
It is common knowledge that Google is making a full-court press to scan as many in- and out-of-print books as possible to make them available to anyone who wants them. This dubious goal is at the heart of copyright and copywrong debates.
 
But books are not the only target: Magazines are the next frontier. As Jeffrey Peng notes on the blog Inside Google Books, “I’m a software engineer on Google Books. One of my main projects is adding magazine content and features to the site.” And he has done so, including old and new material. However, this collection is not without its problems or protests. 
 
For one, the illustrator Laura Ljungkvist recently discovered that the illustration (above), which she did for a 2008 issue of Prevention magazine, had been tampered with to fit the Google format. “To my surprise, my art had been altered!” she recently wrote me. “If you look at the sun behind the woman in my illustration, and compare it to the images from Google Books (below), you can see that my art was clearly altered.” In her case, the change was minor. Still, as she asks, “But are they also making changes in texts? Novels, news, laws, statistics… Is Google becoming a ‘Big Brother’?”
 
Ljungkvist learned from a lawyer that the phrase “copyrighted material” is inserted by Google on all scanned pages as a “courtesy” to the copyright holder. Amazon started the practice with its “Look Inside” the book feature. Nevertheless, Google has infringed her copyright by scanning her art without permission. The Google Book Search settlement specifically excludes both periodicals and visual art. Yet, according to the lawyer, unless someone sues Google (an expensive proposition) for illegally scanning and making available periodicals without a license, this practice will continue without consequence to Google.
 
 
 
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Daily Heller, Imprint: Print Magazine's Design Blog

About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.

3 thoughts on “Google Right or Wrong?

  1. typesett

    I am a artist and content maker myself, so I completely understand all the misgivings about the issue. HOWEVER, I don’t get how artists are willing to turn away extra publicity and more eyes on their work in a context where somebody is archiving rather than reprinting and reselling. If I was in Laura’s position — I would be happy that my old work found some new eyes and I can link to it from my website and social outlets. If I was concerned about money, I’d inquire about it with the publisher and make sure my new work is protected but I would not be surprised and nitpick that my art was altered (especially if it was minor). In this specific situation, I think it’s more important info and data be archived for posterity and not lost rather than everybody having a cow about outdated and old content.

  2. typesett

    I am a artist and content maker myself, so I completely understand all the misgivings about the issue. HOWEVER, I don’t get how artists are willing to turn away extra publicity and more eyes on their work in a context where somebody is archiving rather than reprinting and reselling. If I was in Laura’s position — I would be happy that my old work found some new eyes and I can link to it from my website and social outlets. If I was concerned about money, I’d inquire about it with the publisher and make sure my new work is protected but I would not be surprised and nitpick that my art was altered (especially if it was minor). In this specific situation, I think it’s more important info and data be archived for posterity and not lost rather than everybody having a cow about outdated and old content.

  3. typesett

    I am a artist and content maker myself, so I completely understand all the misgivings about the issue. HOWEVER, I don’t get how artists are willing to turn away extra publicity and more eyes on their work in a context where somebody is archiving rather than reprinting and reselling. If I was in Laura’s position — I would be happy that my old work found some new eyes and I can link to it from my website and social outlets. If I was concerned about money, I’d inquire about it with the publisher and make sure my new work is protected but I would not be surprised and nitpick that my art was altered (especially if it was minor). In this specific situation, I think it’s more important info and data be archived for posterity and not lost rather than everybody having a cow about outdated and old content.

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