"Companies that create no content of their own, and make money solely on the backs of other people's content, are raking in billions through advertising revenue," wrote Thomas C. Rubin, an associate general counsel at Microsoft, in the speech he planned to give at the annual meeting of the Association of American Publishers in New York.
Google and Microsoft are both scanning libraries' worth of books, then making the tomes searchable on the Web, but the two companies take different approaches. Microsoft is scanning works no longer covered by copyright law, plus newer titles publishers give Microsoft explicit permission to use.
Google isn't excluding copyrighted works from its scanning project, and has said the snippets of books it displays on the Web should be considered "fair use," a principle that allows limited copying of protected works for certain purposes.
The Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild, a writers' trade group, is suing Google over its book-scanning plans. To support its defense, Google in January subpoenaed information related to book scanning from Microsoft, Yahoo, Amazon.com and other companies.
"But Google's track record of protecting copyrights in other parts of its business is weak at best," wrote Rubin. "Anyone who visits YouTube, which Google purchased last year, will immediately recognize that it follows a similar cavalier approach to copyright."
According to a copy of the speech, the lawyer for the Redmond, Wash.-based software maker also planned to touch on ways to reduce what it costs to negotiate with copyright owners and protect the companies that display "orphan works"whose copyright holder cannot be found.
Google responded to Rubin's remarks Monday, saying the company complies with international copyright laws when it helps users find information from housands of content providers of every size.
"The result has been more exposure and in many cases more revenue for authors, publishers and producers of content," said David C. Drummond, senior vice president of corporate development and Google's chief legal officer.