Well, it looks as if Google’s legal bills will continue to rise. I bet this is not the only country that will be heard from. From Globes:
A lawsuit has been filed against Google Books with the Jerusalem District Court, with a request to recognize it as a class-action lawsuit. The petitioner, Yonatan Brauner, the author of “Things you see from there” (in Hebrew), claims that the project infringes authors’ copyright “on the greatest scale in human history”.
Brauner claims that Google continuously scans, collects, copies, and makes publicly available millions of books, thereby grossly and systematically infringing copyright without first obtaining the authors’ consent. He said it was not yet possible to estimate the damage caused to authors because he lacks precise figures about the quantity of creations affected or the extent of the copyright infringement for each work, but he provisionally estimates the damage at “tens of millions of shekels or more”. …
Brauner claims, “However fantastical it may sound, Google, one of the world’s largest and wealthiest corporations, is infringing the copyright of books like a thug, and knowingly uses the Google Books project, whose basic purpose is to present books without receiving permission from the copyright’s owner or publisher, and without paying a penny for it.”
The statement of claim says that, as of the date the lawsuit was filed, over 15 million books from over 100 countries in 400 languages had been scanned and stored. Thousands of books (and possibly tens or hundreds of thousands) of these books are in Hebrew, by Israeli authors, which were published in Israel and are protected by Israeli copyright law.
Google has probably been hoping that, since the settlement has been rejected by the court, they might be able to slip quietly away, not facing the music for all the millions of in-copyright books they’ve scanned and posted. It’s probably true that the Author’s Guild doesn’t have the heart for another court fight. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be others who take up the issue, like this Israeli author.
Long before there was a Google Book Settlement, I told Google’s chief lawyer on his blog that what Google wanted to do had to be done by changing the international treaties that govern copyright. We’re halfway there with discussion now centered on congressional action. But those who want to change our copyright laws will soon find that they’re constrained by treaties such as the Berne Convention. Its basic principles date back to the late nineteenth century and it hasn’t been updated since 1979, but until it is revised, our copyright laws can’t change that much.
And until we change those treaties in ways that are fair to everyone, no one should be violating the laws as they currently stand, least of all someone as driven by its own self-interest as Google. They should be working to change those laws. It’s not the end of the world that some researcher has to get an obscure book via intralibrary loan rather than finding it online.