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Google Print For Libraries Proves Challenging

Google Print For Libraries Proves Challenging by: Jason L. Miller

Details, details-such is the Achilles’ Hell of the visionary temperament. When Google put forth a massive online literary digitization effort, the scholar, the literati, the purist self-educator, the mousey, bucked-toothed, four-eyed little girl in all of us cheered the soon-to-be nearer reach of all those words. But visions, especially the grandiose, face the speed bumps, the hurdles, of real world logic-or worse, lawyers.

Two major associations of publishers have sent letters to Google demanding the cessation of the digitization project that involves scanning the entire text of copyrighted material until all pertinent questions are answered and a collective copyright agreement can be reached.

One letter, written by Peter Givler, executive director of the Association of American University Presses (AAUP) on behalf his organization and several others, claims that Google Print for Libraries was sneaked in under provisions for the enthusiastically received Google Print for Publishers. But, goes the letter, the library project was never mentioned in meetings about the Print for Publishers program and news of the project was a huge surprise to everyone.

“?News of Google Print for Libraries came as a complete surprise. It had not been mentioned by Google representatives during any of the discussions they were having with our members, and Google’s subsequent explanations of Google Print for Libraries have only increased that confusion and transformed it into mounting alarm and concern at a plan that appears to involve systematic infringement of copyright on a massive scale.”

The letter outlines 16 pointed questions the respective associations would like answered.

The Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP), a non-profit trade association representing 300+ publishers in more than 30 countries, wrote their own nasty letter to Google. In it, Chief Executive Sally Morris contends that the project is not covered by Fair Use/Fair Dealings, and requests a collective agreement with publishers. Less detailed and more pointed than the AAUP letter, the letter contains some chastising remarks.

“We cannot believe that a business which prides itself on its cooperation with publishers could seriously wish to build part of its business on a basis of copyright infringement,” wrote Morris.

Quick Overview of Google Print for Libraries

Announced in December of 2004, Google plans to digitize the entire collections of several prominent US libraries and one English library. A ten-year, $200 million project, the online material would be donated for scanning from Harvard, Stanford, Oxford, Michigan University, and the New York Public Library.

Google says the goal is to provide a “virtual card catalog of all books in all languages,” while respecting authors and publishers’ copyrights.

The search giant addresses copyright issues with self-described “conservative” measures. All books published in the US before 1923 will be considered books in the public domain. The entire text of these books will be available online without worry of copyright infringement. Because of various international copyright laws, all books published outside the US before 1900 will be considered public domain.

As for books published after 1923 in the US and after 1900 outside the US, Google plans to provide “snippets” of text related to a search term. If a searcher wishes to have a complete copy of the book, the service will provide links to libraries and booksellers where the book can be found.

So What’s All The Fuss About?

At first glance it would appear that Google has its bases covered here. They cite a precedent ruling, Kelly v. Arriba Soft, which allows search engines to index copyrighted images already on the web. And as only snippets of copyrighted material are provided along with a link to where the book can be purchased, one may conclude that the library would be good for business in the same way that Google Print for Publishers is good for business. After all, they use the same search-snippet-to-vendor-link method.

About the Author:
Jason L. Miller is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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Camilla Todd
Camilla Todd is Head of Digital Marketing at WNW Digital and manages Search Engine Optimisation, PPC, Social Media campaigns and Brand Awareness for WNW Digital SEO clients. You can follow her on Twitter @camilla_wnw, email her at or phone on 01392 349580

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