Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Google Book Project - good or bad?

Found this via the Chronicle's Wired Campus blog - First Monday Cultural historian, media scholar, author Siva Vaidhyanathan discusses how the Google Book Project threatens copyright.
(available as MP3 and transcript)

So what does this learned man have against the oh so popular Google Book Project? Well the following for starters:

...Google’s copyright argument is problematic in the following ways. Google wants courts to rule that their project of scanning in millions of copyrighted books and then placing them on their search service in highly cut up form, in other words offering merely snippets of the entire book should qualify as a fair use of the copyrighted work. That requires a pretty big leap in terms of what fair use means, for a couple of reasons.
So I have a number of problems with that legal argument, but it basically comes down to this: Fair use is one the few aspects of copyright law that protects and preserves the rights of individuals to use copyrighted works freely and easily and without anxiety and without permission or payment. It brings breathing room into copyright. It allow copyright to work without cracking down on basic and necessary uses like education and criticism and commentary and parody...

The fact is this is a massive privatization of a public good. It is a massive privatization of years of collection development, years of choice and investment by the public and by librarians in these collections. And Google is getting all of this stuff essentially for free without any sort of quality control built into the system.

Google’s not required to ensure that the search engine that would guide people to these books actually delivers good results. Google is not required to make sure that the scanning process actually gets every page of every book and makes it all clear. There are no requirements that Google use metadata effectively or the metadata certainly already attached to books...

It's a really good read (or listen) so take a few minutes and see if he sways you one way or another.

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