Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Latest on Google Books

I have commented here on Google Books and the recent the recent settlement of the lawsuit brought on by the AAP and the Author's Guild against Google Books, particularly with respect to an article in The New York Times Book Review by Robert Darnton, the director of Harvard's Library, who claims that the settlement makes Google the largest book publisher and distributor in the world. While this is still debatable, the amount of literary turf appropriated by Google as a result of this settlement is enormous, even as the exact dimensions will continue to be mapped.

There is a synopsis of the effect in the current (and hopelessly irregular) Google Librarian Newsletter, but I'll highlight here:

- Expanded access to millions of in-copyright books:
The agreement dramatically expands the reach of Book Search Library Partners<> by enabling readers across the U.S. to preview<>millions of in-copyright out-of-print books preserved in their collections. Readers will be able to search these books through Google Book Search and where previously they have only been able to view bibliographic information and a few snippets of text from the book, they will be able to view a limited preview (up to 20%) of the book to find out
if it suits their needs.

- Free online viewing of books at U.S. public and university libraries:
Through this agreement, public libraries, community colleges, and universities across the U.S. will be able to provide free full-text reading to books housed in great libraries of the world like Stanford, California, Wisconsin-Madison and Michigan. A newly-created Public Access Service license will allow full-text viewing of millions of out-of-print books to readers who visit library facilities. Public libraries will be eligible to receive one free Public Access Service license for a computer located on-site at each of their library buildings in the United States. Non-profit, higher education institutions will be eligible to receive free Public Access Service licenses for on-site computers, the exact number of which will depend on the number of students enrolled.

- Institutional subscriptions to millions of additional books:

Imagine never having to ask a patron to wait until a book is returned or arrives through interlibrary loan. Beyond the free license described above, libraries will also be able to purchase an institutional subscription to millions of books covered by the settlement agreement. Once purchased, this subscription will allow a library to offer patrons access to the incredible collections of Google's library partner when they are in the library itself as well as when they access it remotely.

- Services for People with Print Disabilities:

One of the advantages digitization presents is the opportunity to enable greater accessibility to
books. Through the agreement, the visually impaired and print disability community will be able to access millions of in-copyright books through screen enlargement, reader, and Braille display technologies.

- New Research Opportunities with the Creation a Research Corpus:
The vast database of books that Google is digitizing is not just a resource for readers, but also a one-of-a-kind research tool. The agreement allows for the creation of two research centers that will include a copy of almost all of the books digitized by Google. These research centers will enable people to conduct research that utilizes computers to process or analyze the text of the books. Examples of the types of research they will facilitate include automatic translation, analysis of how language has evolved over time, next generation search technology, image processing research and others.


Bill Borneman said...

Here's another view of Google I happened to read today:

I don't have an opinion

And as for Lady Gaga? Not really concerned about her either

I'm close to what Frank London writes in his essay, "Copyright is Theft" (Arcana III, edited by John Zorn, 2008 Hips Road) (Which you can probably access somewhere on Google, I don't know--but the series of books is great!)

London discusses the appropriation of "tribal" music for popular ends, for example, Solomon Linda's "Mbube" which became the Weaver's "Wimoway" which morphed into the Token's "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"--suffice it to say Solomon Linda never saw a dime from anybody in the music "industry."

I'm wondering if the whole concept of copyright isn't a historical relic, running roughly from 1921 to 2021.

Now that everything is music, to suppose to copyright it is like copyrighting access to sound itself. Next they'll be charging us for air. Good thing I've got the patent for sunlight--now if I can just get an army to enforce my claim.

(I like that Dead clip, too. Hey, I thought the Dead were, like, dead? Long live the Dudes!)

piper said...

Hey, I have the patent on sunlight! At least that's what my lawyer told me. Copyright, a British invention (along with Syphilis) was originally 6 or 7 years, enough to give the writer a few cents, and then it was to be released into the public domain. In today's world, 7 years would translate into, what, about 6 seconds? That's enough to give John Grisham or sold-out-rock-concert-artists their due.

I'll check out London, the blog and anything else you throw out of Helena towards the coast.

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