Saturday, November 12, 2005

Even More on Google Print and Copyrights

There was an article in USA Today on 11/8/05 by Kevin Maney, their technology reporter. The article was entitled "Critics Should Grasp Google Projects Before Blasting Them."

Maney starts out by saying, "May Google give the book publishing industry a collective ulcer. Mostly because the publishers are being so stinkin' dense."

Doesn't sound very objective, does he?

He's not. Kevin Maney is seriously torqued. He's angry over the "orgy of angst" provoked by the Google projects. And that's the main thrust of his article. The Google projects as in more than one project.

There are, Maney says, "two book-related projects. One is Google Print [GP], Google's program to scan books--with the publishers' permission--and make a limited number of those copyright-protected pages available online. The other is the Google Print Library [GP/L] project . . . That's aimed at making all books in the world searchable online."

The differences between the two projects is what has Maney so exercised. He says that authors and publishers are lumping the projects together and making assumptions about one based upon knowledge of the other.

You can see how it could happen. The words "Google Print" are included in the names of both projects. An author whose publisher has agreed to join GP and who sees pages and pages of her work made available to the public could naturally assume that GP/L would do the same without permission. This is not the case.

The GP program will allow readers to do a search and then pull up two pages on either side of the search terms in a book with publishers' permission. This is almost exactly what has been doing with their "Search Inside" program. In fact, it may be helpful to think of GP as a "Search Inside" program. Again, with the publisher's permission.

"Yes, Google Library [GP/L] is scanning books from libraries without first seeking publishers' or authors' permission. But Google is only making the text searchable, so you can find whether what you're researching is in a book somewhere. At that point, you'd have to buy a physical book or go to a library to see the information." GP/L "gives you only card catalog-like information and a couple of lines of text--nothing more."

I said last night that I couldn't see Harvard and Stanford and the three other libraries involved in GP/L joining a project that would violate copyright laws. Maney's article makes it clear that there would be no copyright violation.

I've been following the press and stories on this subject for months now. I understood the concepts, but must admit that I, too, have been guilty at times of blending the two programs together in my mind. No more. I'm clear. Crystal.

Maney closes with this warning: "Publishers and authors had better get on this bandwagon, because the drive toward putting books online is not going away. Yahoo and Microsoft have jumped into book scanning. The book industry needs to get out in front of this and be a part of it--and benefit from it."

Nuff said.

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