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Technology Corner: Throwing the Book at Google

abstract:the massively successful search engine that has become a household name and appears in dictionaries as both a verb and a noun, has been pushing the buttons of publishers and writers in their quest to digitize everything in print libraries. It’s an interesting dilemma and one that readers, who are the ultimate consumers and beneficiaries, are watching with close attention. Does Google have the right to digitize all the books and journal in libraries?


October 22, 2005
— What impact will that have on the intellectual property rights and royalties of writers and publishers? How will the ever increasing desire for instant access to information and searchable databases, at the press of a return key compensate the original stakeholders?

Lit Agents Back Google Lawsuits

Publishers Weekly reported today that "Google has been having a bad week – at least in print. Two days after the AAP (Association of American Publishers) filed a copyright infringement lawsuit over Google’s Print for Library program, the lit agents jumped on the Google Library-bashing bandwagon. Gail Hockman, AAR president said that her organization believes Google’s digitization project poses “an egregious violation” of copyright law that is “an affront to the rights and integrity” of both authors and their books."

Initital Authors Guild Filing

The initial filing against Google was announced last month by the Authors Guild. As part of its Google Print Library Project, the company is working to scan all or parts of the book collections of the University of Michigan, Harvard University, Stanford University, the New York Public Library and Oxford University. It intends to make those texts searchable on Google and to sell advertisements on the Web pages.

"This is a plain and brazen violation of copyright law," Nick Taylor, president of the New York-based Authors Guild, said in a statement about the lawsuit, which is seeking class action status. "It's not up to Google or anyone other than the authors, the rightful owners of these copyrights, to decide whether and how their works will be copied."

In response, Google defended the program in a company blog posting.

"We regret that this group chose to sue us over a program that will make millions of books more discoverable to the world--especially since any copyright holder can exclude their books from the program," wrote Susan Wojcicki, vice president of product management. "Google respects copyright. The use we make of all the books we scan through the Library Project is fully consistent with both the fair use doctrine under U.S. copyright law and the principles underlying copyright law itself, which allow everything from parodies to excerpts in book reviews."


Panel Discussion at the Frankfurt Book Fair This Week

The Frankfurt Book Fair is the largest of its kind and the panel discussion getting the most attention, now in its third day asks, “Who Will Digitize Our Books?”  Google’s Jim Gerber has been fielding most of the questions from a forum of publishers whose fears are coming sharply into focus. The desire is for more legal contract arrangements between the pub houses and digitizers of  libraries; a separation of church and state (between sales and searching) and more respect for the copyright differences between countries.

It isn’t that publishers are against the concept.  It is moreover an issue of the process. “Trust isn’t enough.  Good intensions aren’t enough,” said Richard Rudnick, speaking from the audience. In his closing statement Hermann Spruijt said, “What is clear is that there are no clear views.” 

Difference Between Google and Gutenburg

The Gutenberg Project is a huge archive of free e-texts of works that are in the public domain in the USA. The only difference seems to be that the Gutenberg project makes available only works on which the copyright has expired.

Further Links

Bio of Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin:



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