[Corpora-List] Google Books, copyrights, and corpora

Mark P. Line mark at polymathix.com
Thu Jun 15 00:33:00 CEST 2006

Dominic Widdows wrote:


> Well, nobody ever made any money suing poor people. "Google / Amazon /

> Yahoo are already doing something like this, so if anybody gets sued,

> they won't come after the corpus linguists first, not if they want to

> make any money."

That's true, but it's not really that simple since your exposure can
conceivably extend to criminal infringement (17 USC 506) if you lose the
"fair use" test. All it seems to take in that case is the distribution of
copyrighted material having a retail value of more than $1K, which you'd
have pretty quickly with 100 downloads from a book worth $10.

Napster poked around at recording label companies with a pointy object,
and the results are well known. Something similar might happen to those
who choose to rile up the book publishing industry. (How many
fourteen-year-olds does it take to write a Python script to reconstitute
concordanced texts for a file-sharing network?)

After Napster was shut down, many outfits sprang up to replace it. The
recording industry's strategy today is to go after individual downloaders
by the thousands. Can corpus researchers rebut a charge that they're using
this kind of free online service so they don't have to buy the books?


-- Mark

Mark P. Line
San Antonio, TX

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