Your IP: does Google care?

 

A search for my name on Google Scholar [1] shows, at the top of the resulting list, my book Object-Oriented Software Construction [2], with over 7800 citations in the scientific literature. Very nice (thanks, and keep those citations coming!).

That top result is a link to a pirated version [3] of the full content — 1350 pages or so — at an organization in Indonesia, “Institut Teknologi Telkom”, whose logo bears the slogan “Center of Excellence in ICT”. The text has been made available, along with the entire contents of several other software engineering textbooks, in a directory helpfully called “ebooks”, apparently by a user with the initials “kms”. I think I know his full name but attempts at emailing him failed. I wrote a couple of times to the site’s webmaster, who does not respond.

Needless to say, the work is copyrighted and that online copy is not authorized. (I realize that to some people the very idea of protecting intellectual property is anathema, but I, not they, wrote the book, and for the time being it is not public property.)

At least Google could avoid directing people to a pirated text as the first answer to a query about my publications. I was able to to bring the issue to the attention of someone at Google; that result is already something of a miracle, as anyone who tries to interact with a human being regarding a Google-related problem can testify. The history of that interaction, which was initially about something else, might serve as the subject for another article. The person refused to do anything and pointed me to an online tool [4] for removing search results.

Navigating the tool proved to be an obstacle course, starting with the absence of Google Scholar among the Google products listed (I inquired and was told to use “Web Search”). Interestingly, to use this service, you have to be logged in as a Gmail user; I do have a gmail account, but I know several people, including a famous computer scientist, who refuse to open one out of fear for their privacy. Think of the plight of someone who has a complaint against Google results affecting his privacy, and to lodge that complaint must first register as a Google user! I did not have that problem but had to navigate the obstacle course. (It includes one of those “Captchas” that are so good at preventing automatic tools from deciphering the words that humans can’t read them either — I have pretty good eyesight and still I had to try five times. Fodder for yet another article.) But I succeeded, sent my request, and got an automatic acknowledgement. Then…

Then nothing. No answer. The search results remain the same. No one seems to care.

Here is a little thought experiment. Imagine you violated Google’s IP, for example by posting some Google proprietary code on your Web page. Now I have a hunch that they would respond faster. Much faster. This is all pure speculation of course, and I am not advising anyone to try the experiment for real. Pure speculation.

In the meantime, maybe I can at least use the opportunity for some self-promotion. The book is actually pretty good, I think. You can buy it at Amazon [5] for $97.40, a bit less for a used copy. But why pay? Google invites you to read it for free. Just follow the link they obligingly provide at [1].

References

[1] Result of a search for author:”b meyer” on Google Scholar: see here.

[2] Bertrand Meyer: Object-Oriented Software Construction, 2nd edition, Prentice Hall, 1997. See the book’s page at Eiffel Software here and the Wikipedia entry here. Note that either would be appropriate for Google Scholar to identify the book.

[3] Bootlegged version of [1] here.

[4] Google: “Removing content from Google”, page available here.

[5] Amazon book page for [1]: here.

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5 Comments

  1. Peter Gummer says:

    Musicians have similar problems:

    http://www.digitalmusicnews.com/stories/101311cc

    “You will appreciate that there is huge difference between someone inviting a guest into their home (where they have a choice in advance) and someone moving into your home uninvited and then giving you the chance to evict them. Particularly if that same uninvited guest returns every day until they are evicted again – at your own expense.”

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  2. colin-adams says:

    My copy of OOSC2 has a CD at the back with the full contents of the book provided as separate PDF files for each chapter. Access to the CD is protected by a copyright instructions that need to be torn before getting at it. I assume that it is this that is the source of the pirated copy?

    “But why pay? Google invites you to read it for free. Just follow the link they obligingly provide at [1].”

    I assume that last sentence was meant sarcastically? If so, and if you intend to pursue the organization for damages, you had better make it clear, as otherwise it could be construed as permission to freely download the book.

    Several years ago, the company I work for purchased 4 copies of OOSC2 for use by staff in our London office. I don’t recall, but I guess they must also have CDs inside their back covers. Would we be entitled to load these onto our company intranet? I presume not, and each one could only be mounted on a local CD drive.

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  3. packetslave says:

    This is fairly interesting, actually. Scholar shows your DMCA complaint at the bottom of the search results, indicating we got it and processed it successfully. It shows 1 link removed, and if you do an ordinary web search for [site:www.ittelkom.ac.id "bertrand meyer"] you’ll note that the PDF doesn’t appear (but the DMCA complaint does). However, Scholar is still attaching the PDF link to the citation.

    I smell a bug. Will report this to the Scholar and/or takedown-handling people internally on Monday.

    (as an aside, it’s somewhat ironic that I had to register for a random WordPress account AND solve a Captcha just to comment on this post).

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  4. packetslave says:

    Actually, strike that, I was mistaken. We removed the ittelkom.ac.id PDF from Scholar as well. The PDF that’s currently linked in the search results is a *different* one, hosted at http://www.stttelkom.ac.id/staf/apk/ngajar/... different domain and path than what is listed in your complaint.

    If you submit a DMCA complaint for that one using the same process, I imagine it will be reviewed and removed the same way.

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  5. redman says:

    One might wonder how many citations the book would have received had there been no free copies available for downloading. Just food for thought…

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