The Book Industry vs. Google

The Google Print Library Project, whose goal is to scan books to be posted on the Internet, has many authors and book publishers troubled. Former Congresswoman Pat Schroeder, president of the Association of American Publishers (AAP), spent a few minutes to detail the project as it relates to permission and copyright concerns.

GREENLEE: Why does the Google Print Library Project represent an important time for publishers?

SCHROEDER: Google has created a marvelous search engine, and [AAP] wants to partner with Google. People forget that publishers and authors don’t own paper companies and don’t own printing companies. They are interested in reaching people with their story. The reason we are now crosswise with Google is because Google has a great search engine, it seems they don’t want to honor the creators at all. It’s like they’re going to take everybody’s property for free, and they say, “This will be so good for you.” The law says that Google doesn’t get to decide that. The author and the publisher get to decide whether it’s good for them. [The authors and publishers] could make a mistake, but they get to decide — not Google. So we kind of have Google engaging in eminent domain – where they take this stuff, put it out there, and do it under the name of fair use. People have to remember this is not Mother Teresa — this is Google. They are selling ads all around the stuff. If authors weren’t writing this stuff, there wouldn’t be anything for them to search.

GREENLEE: That’s a very good point. This raises a bigger topic with the attitude Google has about content online. I think Google has gotten used to being able to wrap ads around other people’s content for years now, and I think it might just have this perspective that it has the right to do that with all content.

SCHROEDER: I think that’s right. They started with the Web site – and all of our publishers have Web sites, too. But people put up Web sites so folks will find them, so that’s a little different. But when you write a book, you’re hoping that people will buy the book so that you can pay the mortgage. It’s not like someone can copy the whole book and give it away, even if they say they’re only giving away snippets. Nevertheless, they have the full copy of the book and weren’t given permission. So if Google can make a full copy of the book in the library, so can everybody else.

GREENLEE: When I look at online blogs, some people are talking about this. I’m just wondering if it’s a reflection of a much bigger problem.

SCHROEDER: Many people say they want content free. And you know what? I want college tuition free. I want a new car free. I want my rent free. Now, what we’ve said is “Look, it’s not even that you’re going to do pay-per-view.” Google is making so much money selling advertising around everybody else’s content that it seems to me logical they should either share the advertising or, if you decide you’re not going to do advertising, then you might have to do a subscription or pay-per-view. There are a lot of business plans. Part of the reason people don’t get involved in the debate is that they like having stuff free, so they figure they’ll let Google go out and do it without thinking. In the end, if Google really does get all the world’s information — as it says its goal is going to be — that’s a very scary option.

DANA GREENLEE: Do you miss being in Congress? What’s your perspective on it after all these years?

PAT SCHROEDER: Well, I loved being there while I was there. But 24 years was quite enough. It’s gotten to be a lot more rough-and-tumble, so I’m really happy working with book publishers. I think they’re nicer than some politicians.

GREENLEE: Is this a good time to have a woman in the Oval Office?

SCHROEDER: I hope so. I think it’s wonderful there is this show on TV [“Commander in Chief”, ABC-TV] because I think it helps people visualize it. Since we’re not a country that ever had queens, it’s a little harder for us to visualize someone coming in and taking over. We’re now 58th in the world, I think, on the position of women in government, so it’s time to catch up. Maybe the TV show will help.

Dana Greenlee is co-host/producer of the WebTalk Radio, a Tacoma-based radio and webcast show featuring technology news and interviews. The full audio interview with Pat Schroeder can be heard at