Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Ruling Could Shut Down Google Book Project This Thursday

Posted by Tom Foremski - February 17, 2010


Bobbie Johnson at Guardian.co.uk writes that a ruling is expected on Thursday in the dispute over Google's plans to digitize millions of in-copyright books. [Ruling due on Google's book plan | Technology | guardian.co.uk]

It's not looking good for Google. It is facing opposition from the Department of Justice, the Open Book Alliance, and prominent authors.

...including Ursula Le Guin, who resigned from the Authors Guild amid accusations that it was making a "deal with the devil" and selling its members "down the river".

Google's position:

"Approval of the settlement will open the virtual doors to the greatest library in history," it said. "To deny the settlement will keep those library doors locked."


Foremski's Take: Google should have made this project 'open source,' in the sense that a shared digital repository could be produced by many parties and held in common, open to all.

Google, (and anyone else), can then apply their search algorithms against the digital text, whoever does a better job, wins.

In this way, it could avoid all the fuss and legal mess, and still fulfill its mission of making all the world's information searchable. After all, Google's value is in the algorithms that produce its index, not in the content itself.

When Google indexes the Internet, it doesn't own the content. Why does it insist that it hold the content of millions of books?


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