Google bristles at Microsoft lawyer speech

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Google bristles at Microsoft lawyer speech

Search giant accused of committing huge copyright infringement

Shaun Nichols in California, 07 Mar 2007

Comments made by a top Microsoft lawyer about Google are drawing
criticism from the search giant and third parties.

Thomas C. Rubin, associate general counsel for copyright, trademark
and trade secrets at Microsoft, made the comments in a speech to the
Association of American Publishers.

"Companies that create no content of their own, and make money solely
on the backs of other people's content, are raking in billions through
advertising revenue and IPOs," he said.

Rubin later directly addressed the search giant when he described the
Google Books Library Project as "the wrong path" for respecting
copyright laws on the internet.

Google Books is an effort to digitise the entire collections of many
of the largest public and academic libraries on the planet.  

"Concocting a novel 'fair use' theory, Google bestowed upon itself the
unilateral right to make entire copies of copyrighted books not
covered by these publisher agreements without first obtaining the
copyright holder's permission, " said Rubin.

Rubin's comments are simply not true, according to Google. "In the
publishing industry alone, we work with more than 10,000 partners
around the world to make their works discoverable online," said Google
chief legal officer David Drummond.

"We do this by complying with international copyright laws, and the
result has been more exposure and in many cases more revenue for
authors, publishers and producers of content."

Google's stated policy is not to provide entire volumes for free. The
Google Books Library Project currently shows only public domain books
in their entirety.

Other works are shown only as a short passage and the listings intend
only to tell the user where the book can be obtained.

Other groups are also crying foul over Rubin's comments. Ed Black,
president of the Computer & Communications Industry Association, said
that the speech was a " mischaracterisation of copyright law".

"Contrary to Microsoft's suggestion, every unauthorised use of a
copyrighted work is not infringement," said Black, who pointed out
that Microsoft's own search engines follow a similar practice when
indexing and caching web pages.

"Microsoft would do well to consider that its own business depends on
fair use before brushing aside that important doctrine."

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