I’ve had a passing interest in Google Books, Google’s project to scan and make books easy to search through. Amazon and Microsoft and others are working on something similar as well. The problem comes, as it always seems to, down to copyrights. Publishers both love and hate the idea of this project. It can draw users into finding books they want to buy that they wouldn’t have normally, but then they can’t stand to have someone making copies of all of their precious copyrighted work, even if it’s out of print!
Found by a link from kottke.org, where I seem to find a lot of interesting links these days, is this great piece in The New Yorker – Google’s Moon Shot – By Jeffrey Toobin. It’s great on it’s history of the project, as well as pointing out the ramifications of the lawsuits that Google is facing from authors and publishers.? From the article:
In other words, a settlement could insulate Google from competitors, which would be especially troubling, because the company has already proved that when it comes to searches it is not infallible. ?Google didn?t get video search right?YouTube did,? Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School, said. (Google solved that problem by buying YouTube last year for $1.6 billion.) ?Google didn?t get blog search right?technorati.com did,? Wu went on. ?So maybe Google won?t get book search right. But if they settle the case with the publishers and create huge barriers to newcomers in the market there won?t be any competition. That?s the greatest danger here.?
Well worth the time to read.