The debate over the Google Print (now Google Book Search) programs has gone on quite a bit -- usually with both sides talking over the other side without either taking the time to understand what's really going on. The book publishers have been the worst -- repeatedly saying things about Google's program that simply aren't true (they're not just books online, as the publishers imply). However, following a debate in NYC last week, there were a few more thoughtful posts on both sides of the issue that seem worth discussing. Tristan Louis posted his thoughts in which he basically switches sides from being in favor of Google's project to being against it. He's worried that the project isn't open, like the other book scanning project backed by Yahoo. His fear is that Google is basically building this private database -- though, he never actually explains why that's really a problem. After all, they're doing all the work, and they are sharing the results in the form of book search. Building large databases of information has been a business for years, and people don't complain about them. Meanwhile, Larry Lessig posted his views, where he basically says his problem with the publisher's viewpoint is that every one of their arguments as to why Google's efforts don't fall under fair use would basically mean nothing falls under fair use. The biggest one -- and one that many people seem to struggle with -- is the idea that it's somehow wrong, illegal or immoral to profit off the work of others without paying them. That's not true at all -- as we've discussed in the past. If it were, than the business of reviewing books would be illegal. Both pieces have some ideas worth thinking about.
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