Harvard Bails Out On Google Book Scanning Deal; Disagrees With Settlement Terms
from the and-here-come-the-problems dept
I’m on the record as being opposed to Google’s decision to cave in to authors and publishers with its book scanning project. Many people I normally agree with have taken the other side, claiming that Google’s agreement keeps the company out of court and creates a win-win solution. However, I still think, over the long term, this agreement is quite problematic — and we’re already seeing it at the margins. For example, Harvard has now dropped out of the scanning program, noting that it teamed up with Google because the program was going to make the library content freely and widely available. Yet, the settlement will impose charges and will greatly limit the usefulness of the library’s collection. From Harvard’s standpoint, this goes against what the library stands for.
I would argue that it goes directly against what Google used to stand for as well. Rather than making the world’s information accessible and findable, this move is an attempt to lock up the world’s information in Google’s proprietary format, so that Google can charge people for it. It sets in place a forced business model that actually diminishes the potential usefulness and value of books, and sets a bad precedent for just about everyone else. It’s still difficult to see any positives from this deal. It’s good to see Harvard stand up for what’s right, rather than giving in.