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Google's book initiative gets mixed reviews

Discussion in 'General Webmaster Helpdesk' started by ovi, Oct 30, 2005.

  1. ovi

    ovi Guest

    For a recent comparative literature class paper, Brendan Draper wanted to quote a phrase from a novel he had read, but he couldn't remember what page it was on.
    He typed "nervous condition" into Internet search giant Google's index of books. Within seconds, he found the phrase and page number of the book. "It was extremely helpful," says Draper, 20, a student at West Chester University of Pennsylvania.
    Situations like his are exactly what Google had in mind a year ago when it unveiled the Google Print project at the Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany. Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, on hand for the event, told publishers they wanted to scan their books, at no cost, to make them searchable online and to help sell copies to consumers.
    A year later, Google finds itself in the position of having to defend itself to the industry.
    The Google Print homepage -- www.print.google.com -- lets users search for a phrase, character or other term to turn up a link to a related book title.
    The entire contents of public domain books are available for viewing; for books under copyright, just a few pages or in some cases, only bibliographic data and snippets.
    Content in Google Print comes from two sources: publishers and libraries. Google infuriated publishers after it announced an alliance in December with five libraries, including Harvard and the University of Michigan, to scan their entire collections. Google said its objective was to build the world's largest online card catalog.
    Some critics in the book industry fear the library program will spark the kind of piracy problems that have beset the music and film industries. To appease publishers, Google suspended plans to scan copyrighted books until Nov. 1, although it still is scanning books at the request of copyright holders.
    "Google is taking our property and not paying for it. It's burglary," says Nick Taylor, president of the Authors Guild, a New York-based association that has filed a copyright infringement suit against Google. The Association of American Publishers supports the suit.
    Google won't say how many books are in its index, but you are more likely to find older titles than best-sellers. Ninety percent of the books at Google Print are from the publisher program, Smith says. He says more library books will start to show up in the coming months.
    Publishers from some of the bigger houses participate in Google Print, as do small tech-book houses such as Peachpit Press and O'Reilly Publishing.
    "We're in favor of any program that can give our books more exposure," says Adam Rothberg, a Simon & Schuster vice president.
    Like other publishers, he is opposed to Google scanning books without permission. "It's not right to take the attitude, 'Copy now and ask permission later,' " he says.
    One of the main sticking points is Google's controversial "opt out" policy, in which it asks publishers to specifically request that a work not be included.
    For Google to scan books "without our permission is a clear violation of copyright law," says Douglas Armato, director of the University of Minnesota Press.
    Jed Lyons, CEO of independent academic press Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, recently pulled all titles from Google Print to protest the library initiative. "I view Google as a massive threat to our intellectual property," he says.
  2. great idea of google's but everyone can see that there was going to be problems. perhaps it should be like cinema to video. a certain waiting period for the book to sell (once its out of print it is submitted by the publisher to google?
  3. ealex

    ealex Guest

    I don't know I tend to disagree with the writers who are protesting this. As long as Google doesn't make the copies physically downloadable from the site, I would find it a great asset to be able to read a few pages here and there from a book before I buy it, in order to see if I like the way it's laid out, the way the authoer expresses himself, so on so forth. And indeed it would bring on a lot of free publicity and in my opinion extra income for writers.

    Honestly, noone is going to sit and read a 3-400 page book on his computer. As long as google makes it's system hack-proof, I see no problems

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