As of this posting, we can only point to the press release, because no news source has written a story yet (though, I'm sure plenty will be coming), but Amazon.com today launched the ability to do full text searches of books. For example, want to know what books mention Techdirt? There you go. This seems like it could be quite useful in some areas (though, less useful if you're searching for anything too common). Once you've found the books that mention the word in question, you can also see a scan of that page. Update: Wired Magazine had an article coming out with lots of details about the system, and it looks like they just rushed it live, to take advantage of the launch. It appears that this is the first result that came out of Amazon's A9 search subsidiary that got so much publicity last month. There's an interesting legal question raised in the article. Amazon claims they didn't need to get copyright holders permission to scan in thousands of books, because they're not actually offering up an archive of books. You can see an image of the scanned page, but not download the whole thing. They're also pointing out that this is likely to get more people to buy books, so copyright holders should be happy. Of course, this sounds vaguely similar to the argument MP3.com made many years ago when they tried to create their huge library of MP3 files. It will be interesting to see how copyright holders react. Update 2: Well, now, despite what the Wired article claims, the press release says that they only scanned books where they had the publisher's permission, so it's possible the legal issue won't come up.
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