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Who Owns Books? Technical & Legal Questions Remain

Mon, 08 Jul 2013 09:36:22 CDT
By: Jim Browne

While cheering efforts to create a global free library, an ISU instructor says he's also concerned about authors getting paid for their work. Steve Halle teaches publishing at Illinois State. He says the court battle between Google and authors could hinge on writer's rights to act as a class in a pending suit. A court decision this month stalled the suit by the Writers Guild, which is seeking to represent all authors:

   
"It sort of shifts the burden from people who are seeking to use copyrighted material to the copyright holder in order to pursue action against any kind of copyright infringement. So it's sort of turning the law on it's head"

Halle says that could be problematic because few authors can muster the finances Google has at it's disposal. Halle also agrees there could be great societal benefits to denying payments to authors IF the books were offered free. Google's already copied over 20-Million books, and offers free samples to entice people into buying the e-books.

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