(Mis)Uses of Technology

by Mike Masnick

HarperCollins Will Scan Its Own Damn Books... And Pay For It Too

from the so-buzz-off dept

The oddities surrounding the Google Library offering continue. As authors continue to completely misunderstand what they're talking about as they trash the idea, it looks like at least one publisher is trying to do something. HarperCollins has announced that, rather than let Google scan all of their books, they'll scan all of their own books into a digital repository and then let various search engines search off that centralized database. They're apparently willing to spend millions of dollars in their own money to do it, even though Google was going to do it for them for free. HarperCollins' explanation is that by doing it themselves, they'll somehow better protect the authors' rights -- though it's not exactly clear how that works. It seems like a typical response from a content provider -- saying all they need to do is to control every aspect of their content, and everything will be fine. That sort of defeats the purpose. In the meantime, none of the articles on this announcement say whether or not HarperCollins is paying the authors anything extra to do this. Since many of the authors complaining about Google say their complaint is that Google is scanning these books without them getting any additional cash out of it, isn't HarperCollins facing the same issue? Yes, the publisher owns the rights to publish the book, but if the end result is identical, what were the authors complaining about in the first place?

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    nonuser, Dec 12th, 2005 @ 7:28pm

    publishers are paranoid...

    but not necessarily crazy. They're wary of letting Google or Yahoo! or Microsoft innovate with their content, because they realize that big money will flow to those who come up with innovative ways of packaging and presenting content, at the expense of those who rely on the old channels of media distribution. Nobody can imagine all the possible ways published works can be analyzed, sliced, and diced to meet consumer demand, but they probably fear that if they don't stop Google now, some of the more marketable portions of their IP may fall into the public domain.

    I agree that a service that uses a full-text search index to tell you that a book called "The Hobbit" matches the words "Frodo Baggins", probably represents fair use of the book. But does anyone think that Google plans to stop there, and not proceed to push the envelope with scanned content?

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

  2. identicon
    Andrew Strasser, Dec 12th, 2005 @ 9:39pm

    Scans are fine and dandy...

    Still too hard to read. They are getting closer and will continue to. You can't expect everyone to stay dumb forever. Though, I must say our current president and his gas buddies seem to have some master plan that seems to be working. How did it get more expensive to send natural gas through pipelines from our own mountains?

    Totally off subject, but as I said earlier:

    This task seems best suited to a (ahem tax writeoffable) public library type of system.

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

  3. identicon
    Jake Lockley, Dec 13th, 2005 @ 1:57am


    The first smart company to come along. The smart companies know Google makes their money off their ability to scan content, write search algorithms, and sell targeted advertising based on those algorithms. The smart companies will protect their data from Google and sell it themselves. Harper Collins is owned by Rupert Murdoch who owns Newscorp, Fox, BSkyB, IGN, Gamespy, MySpace, TVGuide... so needless to say they have the capability to sell their own ads and targeted marketing data.

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

  4. identicon
    giafly, Dec 13th, 2005 @ 3:13am

    Re: Brilliant!

    I agree. Also they'll own the copyright on each new digital version and can in effect restart its "copyright clock", whenever they like, by replacing it with an "improved" one.
    This is the same trick as music companies play with "digitally remastered" CDs.

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

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2005 @ 6:58am

    Re: Brilliant!

    well... HarperCollins said they'll give search engines the ability to search the databases anyway... so, assuming they do scan the entire books, Google will have the same access to the content as before. HarperCollins just gets to say its theirs and not Google's. The only power they'll really have is whether they pull some books out of the database. To me, it sounds like a stupid move. Google would have done it for free while HarperCollins now paid millions to do so. Google is coming out ahead of this. HarperCollins just did all the work for them.

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

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