Scanning paper is scanning paper, so there should be little surprise that Google has already moved past just books and gone into magazines
. (Thanks to Randy Hecht for pointing this out to me yesterday.) As I write this, there seem to be just under 90 titles available, including many that you've heard of. The number of issues varies. For example, in one case I noticed that the most recent issue was a year old, whereas for Popular Science, up to March 2009 was scanned in, going back to only 2000. Various issues of Mother Jones from the 1970s up through 2000 appeared, though not the whole run and nothing more recent.
That makes me wonder whether the magazine publishers have even known that this was going on. Remember that the book publishers were taken by surprise. As I understand copyright, depending on what permissions publishers may or may not have given, the question of whether anyone owes money to writers can be pretty confusing. National Geographic has been successful in arguing that reproductions on CDs of actual pages of past magazines are an extension of the original publishing, and so may be covered under the rights they licensed, even if writers or photographers granted only limited rights. Would inclusion in such a format also be governed? I have no idea. I know offhand that a number of the titles have never asked for all rights, exclusive or not.
And what if the publishers didn't
know? Are we going to see another class action suit? Will any of the writers' organizations get involved? Will anyone other than the publishers have standing to sue? I see a lot of questions and few clear answers.
Labels: copyright, Google