Cooking with Google Print

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Google Yourself Some Dinner

Google continues to wow me with the new applications that they develop. From finding your house in the satellite imagery of Google Maps to searching your own images in Picassa, Google continues to provide web applications for free.

Tonight I rediscovered the Google Print service, which allows you to search and view a large growing collection of books. This collection includes many exciting cookbooks, with most of their recipes in full view! One such recipe I found is a dish I prepared back in the winter months, Gnocchi with Roasted Beets and Cherry Merlot Reduction from the Artful Vegan.

I blogged this recipe in the first month of my blog, and didn’t print the recipe as I was closely following the cookbook, and still unsure about my stand on reprinting recipes from cookbooks. Searching for this recipe in Google Print yields the entire recipe, as well as the cookbook’s stunning photograph of this dish and the nutritional breakdown that is thoughtfully provided with each recipe.

Why does Google provide free access to books like this?

So go Google yourself some dinner and have fun searching for new favorites!


posted July 24th, 2005 at 4:52 am

hey, that is cool! google never ceases to amaze me. thanks for the tip!

posted July 24th, 2005 at 6:29 am

that is soooooooo cool! thanks so much for sharing :)

posted July 24th, 2005 at 12:40 pm

Thanks for the link, but for different reasons. I discovered at least one book of is up there without my agreement or knowledge. Since I am the copyright holder this seems illegal–well, actually it doesn’t just seem illegal, it is.

While I think it’s amusing to be able to get your hands on a recipe here or there, I’d urge you to try one or two then buy the book if you like it enough to use a third recipe. Otherwise, there’s little to differentiate this from any other illegally copied movie or CD.

  • As pointed out in the Google quote, this is not free-wheeling book access. It’s a preview and the books are put up supposedly with the publisher’s consent, which isn’t the same as author consent.

    Are you afraid of a lack of sales? Are your books not available in libraries? I don’t intend to get personal, but am finding this to be an interesting case to dissect. Google Print isn’t the same as what is wrong with the media empires of the music and movie industry.

    These aren’t illegally copied. Not all the book’s content is available. Links are provided to the purchase of brought up books- and Google doesn’t make money from these book sales.

    This could launch into an interesting discussion on making money from the dessemination of information vs the information itself.


posted July 24th, 2005 at 6:07 pm

Thanks for turning me on to this service! It is just like browsing in a book store but online. I forsee my pocketbook getting lots of use!

posted July 25th, 2005 at 4:05 pm

Don’t worry, I wouldn’t have brought it up if I didn’t think it was worth discussing.

This is really simple, at least in my case. I own the copyright, thus the publisher can’t give Google permission to include it. That makes it an illegal copy. Period.

It doesn’t matter how many people/companies gave them permission, it was not theirs to give. Determining who does have the right to give them permission is as simple as reading the copyright page–that’s why it’s there. Had they asked, I could have decided. They did not ask. That makes it copyright infringement.

Imagine that you wrote an article and gave me permission to publish it as part of a printed anthology, but only that. Specifically that, and only that; maybe because it ws a lot of information that you had worked hard on creating and could continue to use as the basis for other work. Then imagine that Google called me and asked if they could distribute your article for free to anyone on the Internet. In perpetuity. And I said yes. And you found it one day because someone mentioned Google’s free book search. Mightn’t you be a bit miffed at the person who said yes when they knew you would have said no and the company that didn’t bother to check with you since it had your name right there on it?

As for libraries, they bought a copy. And as part of the deal, they can loan that one copy to one person at a time. They can’t make endless copies and give it to everyone who wants it.

You were kidding about Google not making money on this right? Here’s a bit of an article about the program.

“A key difference is that the new program provides an automated account-based service for publishers to manage what’s included in the program plus a share of ad revenues. In addition, the program scans thefull-text of books, not just small excerpts.”

Full text of books are included, and of course they make money. Google is a business, they don’t do stuff that doesn’t make them money. That they make it from ads rather than book sales makes little difference to me. Actually, on second thought, it does. If they thought that book purchases would be significant, they would have made their money on sales, not ads displayed when people *don’t* buy the book. Would have made a better press release too, “Google will not be generating ad revenue from the display of your book–we only make money when you sell a book so our focus will be on helping you sell copies.” But they choose their revenue stream, and thus their motivation/focus for Google Print, and it’s not book sales. So where is their incentive to *sell* books?

I don’t object to people making money on the dissemination of information. As long as they have been given permission to do so by the owner of said information.

posted July 29th, 2005 at 12:54 am

This is really simple, at least in my case. I own the copyright, thus the publisher can’t give Google permission to include it. That makes it an illegal copy. Period.

To be truely honest, I think Google is not where your anger should be directed… yeah they may have played fast and loose with the copyright, but I would suggest that perhaps Google just bought the rights to use a database of print material built by another company, which is responsible for the content of that database. You really don’t know until you ask.

Another possibility is that your publisher gave someone the go-ahead to reprint your book electronically (maybe by accident). If your publisher presented themselves as able to grant use they did not have rights to offer, that is where your anger should be directed, IMHO.

It likely goes without saying but: The simplest way to resolve this would be to present yourself to Google’s service folk as a copyright holder who has not given permission to have your work reproduced, and ask where they bought the source data and/or who they contacted about the right to republish your work electronically so that you can politely clarify your rights with those parties.

One way would be to start on Google’s contact us page, or through the “other questions” form for “All other questions about Google.” Notice on that second link there is a specific button for “Alert us to a legal matter.”

my $0.02.

posted July 31st, 2005 at 11:15 am


My frustration is directed towards the organization that is violating my copyright. At the moment that appears to be Google, and their lame response to my *polite* mail (which was sent by the time my comment was posted here) does nothing to convince me they will be useful in removing it promptly.

Google has a legal responsibility to ensure that they have the legal right to use what they use. They didn’t. They did pull the copyright info our onto its own page, so they could have checked with the listed copyright holder had they wished to do due diligence. They failed to do so. That’s not how it’s supposed to work, and from here it certainly seems to make it a violation of copyright law.

Google is also digitizing the contents of multiple libraries, without any apparent thought to copyright.

My publisher has been good so far about not releasing the book contents to anyone without my knowledge and consent, but I am also getting in touch with them to see if they know anything.

Given what I know of the two companies involved, I am angry with the most likely culprit: Google. And let me repeat, the current state of things is that Google has posted a book that they have no legal right to post. Were an attorney asking the question, it’d be Google’s butt on the line. Maybe the publisher’s as well, but in no way would Google be off the hook.

I have to say that I am surprised at responses (public and private) that are essentially telling me to chill. This is theft of intellectual property folks, and if it would be okay with you for your work to be swiped, fine, but it’s not okay with me. And since the IP in question belongs to my company, I have no choice but to “vigorously defend” the copyright when I find it breached.

Imagine spending a year or two writing “Sweet’s Big Book of Sweets” only to discover it was being given away–by a huge company with a big legal department, so they hould have known better–without your knowledge or consent. Would you be so sanguine?

posted August 4th, 2005 at 7:59 pm

Sorry it has taken me so long to get to a reply…

I don’t mean to dismiss either your legal rights or your emotions on this matter. I hope this struggle ends for you without too much more of a fuss. Life is too short to spend it on distractions like this. I’m sure you would rather be working on new work rather than having to “vigorously defend” your IP.

Incidentally, my understanding is that you don’t have to “vigorously defend” this, that your copyright will not be jeopardized but rather trademarks must be “vigorously defended,” but IANAL. (*cough*: I Am Not A Lawyer- for those who needed that interpretation – McAuliflower, who still thinks that would make for a funny license plate)

Would you be so sanguine?

I am a bad person to ask. :) I’m a professional software geek, so have some familiarity with IP laws and their role in the digital realm.

As it happens, I am a very strong opponent of IP laws, as they currently stand.

  1. Firstly, they stifle innovation and empower mega-corporations to the detrement of small businesses, individuals, and cooperatives. That isn’t smart economics.
  2. Secondly, they just don’t make sense. Algorithms, the ‘recipes’ of the programming world, are the applicaiton of mathmatical laws–products of “nature”–and cannot be owned any more than your DNA *should* be something that ADM can own.
  3. Thirdly, it is illogical. While cookbooks are protected, IP laws don’t apply to ingredient lists or recipes by themselves. Cookbooks are greater than the sum of their recipes, providing more than just a collection of instructions, they give the instructions context. Software is nothing more than a recipe written in the language of abstract maths: do this; now do this. Programs are the sum of their parts, and their parts are not IP, so why is the sum IP?

Further, if I were to write a cookbook I wouldn’t be doing it for money (or fame). I am not a skilled writer. The income from sales would never pay for the investment of time and energy it would take. I don’t like money and I don’t like what it does to people. When I want to make money, I try to do it efficiently so I can get back to my life sooner. Writting software and surrendering the IP rights to a mega-galactic corporation (who incidentaly does publish cookbooks, among other things) helps me do that. Ironic, but the irony gives me something to grin at each morning.

So where that leaves us is that I would have provided the contents of “Sweet’s Big Book of Sweets” on the Internet for non-commercial use under one of the licensing agreements you may find by browsing Creative Commons. It would be available on the web and indexed on Google and Yahoo and MSN Search. I might have a link to an on-demand publisher who would sell you a bound copy for a minimal fee above the price the publisher asked for production–a dollar or two per copy in ‘royalties’ maybe. Of course you would also be able to download the entire book in a free format such as PDF and print it on your own printer if you wanted–the ‘royalty’ would strictly be your option, and for your convenience.

So, I’m a bad person to ask that question. :)

posted August 13th, 2005 at 6:45 pm

Ahhh, but I write for a living, which is oh so different from writing for the love of it. And the book in question is nothing like a cookbook, it’s all detailed technical explanations of a technology that had not been explained decently before this book was published.

Incidentally, a human Googlite finally answered and totally blew me off; said they got it from the publisher and they didn’t care that the listed I, not the publisher, is the registered copyright holder. And since eneryone else has deep pockets, and I don’t want to spend a bunch of money on attorneys, the book is staying up for the moment.

So how do you see writers and other creators of original works making money if we can’t copyright it and sell it? From the perspective of the creative person, the lack of pay is more likely to stifle innovation–even starving artists have to eat.

It’s fine if someone who has a “regular” job (one that pays regularly and such) and is not a professional writer (etc) wants to write (etc) for the love of it, but some of us do this for a living. And while I do work on your model at times–work-for-hire where some corporation owns my work–you don’t want to live in a world where the only books are either commissioned by Mega Corp. or written as an act of love.

  • Have you caught the recent news reports? Goggle has halted its scanning of library books because of objections from copywrite holders. Here’s a link to the boing boing report of Google’s blog and various reactions from other blogs. Still gotta wonder about the publishers involvement in all of this…


posted August 14th, 2005 at 8:15 pm

Fascinating discussion. I’m surprised I haven’t heard of Google Print before now. (But that’s what I get for being too busy to read Boing Boing!) I have to agree with kitchenmage on this one, but then I also make at least some of my living as a writer and I would prefer not to starve.

I don’t know if anyone’s sat down and compared the economics of software engineers vs book authors, but I’m sure the results would illuminate why one group supports IP laws as they are and the other doesn’t. Both of us groups are trying to survive in this economy as best we can, but we’re in two very different markets and what works for software geeks most decidedly does not work for authors.

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