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商业 - 传媒与文化

谷歌扫描图书被判定无罪

Andrew Nusca 2013年11月18日

美国法院判定,谷歌可以扫描受版权保护书籍的片段,即便没有事先获得著作权人的许可。这是否意味着你无需付钱,就能够在谷歌图书上阅读《五十度灰》的全部内容?不完全是。

    “不作恶。”

    这是经常被引用的谷歌公司( Google)座右铭。但近些年来,越来越多的人认为这家总部位于加州山景城的高科技公司的某些行为与这种理念相抵触。总之,无论是被控抄袭【苹果公司( Apple)发出的这项指控直指谷歌开发的安卓移动操作系统(Android)】、感觉迟钝(许多虔诚的用户指责谷歌近些年来关闭了不少服务),还是令人毛骨悚然(广告过于个性化,是不是大家都有此感受?),这家公司的一世英名已经遭受重创。

    近日,这家科技巨头终于扳回一城。

    一位联邦法官已经驳回了一项旷日持久,发轫于2005年的版权侵权诉讼。美国作家协会(The Authors Guild)声称,谷歌公司扫描受版权保护书籍——这仅仅是谷歌自2004年以来扫描的逾2,000万种图书的一部分——侵犯了著作权人的版权,因为这家营利性公司没有事先获得每位权利持有人的许可,就上传文本图像,从而使得全球用户通过该公司备受欢迎的搜索引擎就可任意获取相关内容片段。

    有待解决的是“公平使用”这一概念。根据这个灰色的法律地带,人们可以出于一些狭窄的理由(教育、批评或评论、戏仿等)合法复制不被他们拥有的内容。比如,何为评论,何为再版,就是一个引发激烈争论的问题。

    美国巡回法院华裔法官陈卓光在纽约驳回了作家协会的申诉,并做出了有利于谷歌公司的即决判决。

    “在我看来,谷歌图书( Google Books)提供了意义重大的公共利益,”陈卓光法官在判决书中写道。“这项计划有助于推动艺术和科学的进步,同时充分尊重了作者和其他创造性人才的权利,它并没有对著作权人的权利产生不利影响。它已成为一个非常宝贵的研究工具,可以帮助学生、教师、图书管理员和其他人更有效地识别和查找图书。它让学者首次获得了对数以百万计书籍进行全文检索的能力。它有助于图书的保存,尤其值得指出的是,它让那些被遗忘在图书馆幽深之处的绝版旧书获得了全新的生命。它为那些无法获得印刷品,身处边远或图书馆服务欠发达地区的人们提供了一条读书捷径。它生成了新的受众,为图书作者和出版社创造了新的收入源泉。事实上,谷歌图书计划对社会的方方面面都有利。”

    这是否意味着你无需付钱,就能够在谷歌图书上阅读《五十度灰》(Fifty Shades of Grey)的全部内容?不完全是。但这项裁决可以帮助一个其他方面依然云里雾里的法律领域确立一定的清晰度。“公平使用”原则的存在,正是为了推动社会的创造力——一个由一家硅谷商业企业执牛耳的项目,令人惊讶地催生出了一个如此高尚的意外后果。

    换句话说,谷歌扫描图书并非邪恶之举。(财富中文网)

    译者:叶寒

    "Don't be evil."

    That's the oft-cited informal corporate motto of Google, the Mountain View, Calif.-based technology company whose perception in recent years has run afoul of that idea. Whether through accusations of plagiarism (by Apple, directed at Google's mobile operating system, Android), insensitivity (by dedicated users of the many services it has shuttered over the years) or creepiness (too-personalized advertisements, anyone?), the company's once-sterling reputation has taken a beating.

    Today, score one for the big G.

    A federal judge has dismissed a long-running copyright infringement lawsuit brought against Google (GOOG) in 2005. The Authors Guild argued that Google's actions scanning copyrighted books -- a subset of the more than 20 million tomes it has scanned since 2004 -- infringed on those copyrights, because the for-profit company did not request permission by each individual rights holder before uploading images of the texts and making snippets of that content available on its popular search engine.

    At issue is the concept of "fair use," a legal gray area that allows people to legally reproduce content they don't own for a number of narrow reasons: education, criticism or commentary, parody, and so forth. What is defined as commentary and what is merely republication, for example, is a matter of (rather heated) debate.

    U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin in New York rejected the Guild's argument, granting Google's motion for summary judgment.

    "In my view, Google Books provides significant public benefits," Chin wrote. "It advances the progress of the arts and sciences, while maintaining respectful consideration for the rights of authors and other creative individuals, and without adversely impacting the rights of copyright holders. It has become an invaluable research tool that permits students, teachers, librarians, and others to more efficiently identify and locate books. It has given scholars the ability, for the first time, to conduct full-text searches of tens of millions of books. It preserves books, in particular out-of-print and old books that have been forgotten in the bowels of libraries, and it gives them new life. It facilitates access to books for print-disabled and remote or underserved populations. It generates new audiences and creates new sources of income for authors and publishers. Indeed, all society benefits."

    Does that mean you'll be able to read Fifty Shades of Grey cover-to-cover on Google Books without ponying up some dough? Not quite. But the decision helps to establish some clarity in an otherwise still foggy area of the law. The fair use doctrine exists to grease the skids of societal creativity -- a surprisingly noble side effect for a project helmed by a commercial enterprise in Silicon Valley.

    In other words: not evil.

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