by Mike Masnick

Debating Google's Right To Scan Books

from the stuff-to-think-about dept

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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  • identicon
    theStorminMormon, 21 Nov 2005 @ 11:20am

    what could possibly be wrong with this?

    I understand full well why some people don't like Google's project - they are jealous and they want some of the money. Or perhaps the don't understand what Google is doing and are afraid Google will somehow allow people to forego actually reading books.

    But all things considered I can't fathon any argument for what Google's doing being illegal. They allow people to search books and see snippets. The only possible use for this is reserach (in which case people are never going to buy the book anyway) or finding new books to buy. There's just no conceivable way Google's project could take away from revenues, and many ways in which it could add to revenue for both authors and publishers.

    Let Google finish the project. It's going to benefit everyone (including Google - otherwise they wouldn't be doing it!)


    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    jayrtfm, 21 Nov 2005 @ 4:00pm

    No Subject Given

    Over on Jerry Pournelle's site there's some insightfull comments from working authors. One senario lays out how what is currently an author's $50,000 income from a book could be reduced to only $500 (or less) with the advent of ebook rentals.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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