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The Google Print controversy fits the same pattern. The Authors' Guild claims that Google Print "seizes private property." Yet in reality, the excerpts of copyrighted books shown by the service would be far too short to be of use to anyone looking for a free copy. And under copyright law, the use of short excerpts has traditionally qualified as fair use. If the Authors' Guild prevails, it will leave copyright owners with much greater control over how their content is used than they have traditionally enjoyed in the pre-Internet world. And even if they lose, readers will still have to purchase the full book if they want to read more than a few sentences.
By lumping together the very real threat of the government taking people's land with an imaginary threat of IP anarchists abolishing intellectual property, the copyright industry and its allies hope to portray themselves as defenders of traditional property rights. The problem is that their own copyright agenda is a radical departure from America's copyright traditions. If there really is a good case for expanding the rights of copyright holders, they should be able to make it without misleading analogies to the Kelo decision.