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Non-display uses of digital works: Google Books and beyond

Borghi, M. and Karapapa, S. (2011) Non-display uses of digital works: Google Books and beyond. Queen Mary Journal of Intellectual Property, 1 (1). pp. 21-52. ISSN 2045-9815

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To link to this item DOI: 10.4337/qmjip.2011.01.02


With the advent of mass digitization projects, such as the Google Book Search, a peculiar shift has occurred in the way that copyright works are dealt with. Contrary to what has so far been the case, works are turned into machine-readable data to be automatically processed for various purposes without the expression of works being displayed to the public. In the Google Book Settlement Agreement, this new kind of usage is referred to as ‘non-display uses’ of digital works. The legitimacy of these uses has not yet been tested by Courts and does not comfortably fit in the current copyright doctrine, plainly because the works are not used as works but as something else, namely as data. Since non-display uses may prove to be a very lucrative market in the near future, with the potential to affect the way people use copyright works, we examine non-display uses under the prism of copyright principles to determine the boundaries of their legitimacy. Through this examination, we provide a categorization of the activities carried out under the heading of ‘non-display uses’, we examine their lawfulness under the current copyright doctrine and approach the phenomenon from the spectrum of data protection law that could apply, by analogy, to the use of copyright works as processable data.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Law
ID Code:29566
Publisher:Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd

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