Google bristles at Microsoft lawyer speech

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Google bristles at Microsoft lawyer speech

Search giant accused of committing huge copyright infringement.

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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