To the Editor:
Google may be getting a little too big for its britches. Google.com Corporation is heading for some serious legal trouble with its recently announced plan to scan, copy, digitize and store the massive holdings of many major university libraries which include thousands of books that are currently protected by federal copyright law.
This copying, scanning, digitizing, storage and subsequent re-publication on their Google.com web site will be a serious violation of federal copyright laws. No internet search engine, or anyone else for that matter, has the legal right to scan, copy, digitize and store on computer hard disks or in any other electronic storage media any books, essays or letters that have been written and published in the last half century or so without first obtaining explicit written permission from the authors and publishers of the works involved.
From the moment that you first create, write down or publish any and all of your written work is automatically fully protected by federal copyright law.
Just read the federal copyright laws. These laws are designed to protect the creative works of authors, playwrights, artists, photographers, musicians, poets and others. The purchasing of a published book by a university library or a public library does not alter the applicability of the federal copyright laws to these published works.
In 1996, I wrote and published my first book, North American Bird Folknames and Names, under the imprint of Bottlebrush Press. Copies of my book now grace the shelves of several hundred university and public libraries across the United States and abroad. On the copyright page is written, "This book may not be reproduced in whole or part, by any means or in any form, mechanical or electronic, including copying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now existing or invented hereafter, except for brief quotations for the purposes of reviewing, without the express permission of the publisher."
Since this book is now eight years old, obviously no new book reviews are likely to be forthcoming, so no one including Google.com has any right to copy or scan my book without the express written permission of Bottlebrush Press.
James K. Sayre,
14 December 2004.
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