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Friday, 28th August 2009

Press Round-Up: UC Berkeley Conference Regarding Google Book Search Settlement

UPDATE: We've learned that the video of today's conference will be online in the next week or two. It will be linked on the conference homepage.

Much more material here including tweets, live blogging, recent interviews with Peter Brantley and Dan Clancy, and news of another upcoming Google Book Search event (free).

More stories as they are filed.

+ Google Book Search - Is it The Last Library? (The Register)

With its Book Rights Registry, the settlement also gives third parties the opportunity to negotiate access to the books whose rights holders have indeed come forward - and given their approval. But Google will still control the scanning and the cataloging of the books, and [Geoff] Nunberg questions whether the company is prepared to get things right. He spent a good 20 minutes questioning the quality of Google's scans and metatagging, pointing out error after error in its catalog - from books on Jimi Hendrix dated before his birth to a book on copyright categorized under drama.

"I wonder if this is Google's idea of a joke," he said, referring to that last snafu.

Predictably, Google Book Search engineering lead Dan Clancy (PDF) takes issue with The Last Library characterization. He acknowledges that some of the works Google has scanned will never be scanned again. But he's adamant that although Google has a 10-million-book head start - and a monopoly-building boondoggle of a settlement with authors and publishers - others will compete.

+ Sigmund Freud Is A Tech Writer! (via Forbes)
A look at some metadata and other issues Geoff Nunberg mentions in the previous post.

UPDATE: 9/3/2009: PowerPoint slides used by Geoff Nunberg at Berkeley conference. NOTE: The slides appear to no longer be available. More from Geoff Nunberg at the bottom of this post.

+ Internet Archive stares down Google book mine (The Register)

As part of his ongoing campaign against Google's $125m book-scanning pact, the Internet Archive's Peter Brantley has warned that even if authors opt-out of Google's Book Search service, the web giant will still have the power to mine their book data for use in other services.

"There is value in the comprehensiveness [of Google's digital collection of books]. It's something we need to think about, that scholars and researchers need to think about: whether or not they want to entrust this single comprehensive collection to a single corporate entity," Brantley said Friday during a conference dedicated to the Google Book Settlement at the University of California, Berkeley. As part of his ongoing campaign against Google's $125m book-scanning pact, the Internet Archive's Peter Brantley has warned that even if authors opt-out of Google's Book Search service, the web giant will still have the power to mine their book data for use in other services.

"There is value in the comprehensiveness [of Google's digital collection of books]. It's something we need to think about, that scholars and researchers need to think about: whether or not they want to entrust this single comprehensive collection to a single corporate entity," Brantley said Friday during a conference dedicated to the Google Book Settlement at the University of California, Berkeley.

Commentary by Quentin Hardy: How Google Is Leveraging Our Culture (Forbes)

Books were always objects of conveyance for chunks of that knowledge; market forces and copyright law alone have made them the markers of value. Now collective linking can be in one thing, and it can reside in Google's corpus with access granted to "approved" researchers. It would be closed off to Google's competitors, however, or others hoping to make an independent business from Google's digitization.

In other words: On behalf of Western Civilization, Google, you're welcome.

"We have grown to know books as discrete objects," says Peter Brantley, an official with the Internet Archive. In an age when books exist both as individual works and one element in an overall mine of data, he notes, "our notion of books is changing."

Dan Clancy, engineering director for Google Book Search, says Google has no objection to "non-consumptive research"--looking at bits and links in the corpus--but only by researchers. Even as Google presses for a final legal judgment that will grant it power of this corpus, he adds, "we still don't understand all the ramifications."

+ Internet Archive Director: Don't Jump at the Google Books Settlement (Bay Newser)

Researchers shouldn't jump at the Google Books Settlement, just because it offers unprecedented access to a vast trove of books, Peter Brantley, director of access of the Internet Archive and organizer of a coalition that includes Microsoft, Yahoo, and Amazon to share resources to oppose the settlement.

+ Google Book Search Settlement Plan Questioned (via SF Chronicle)

Peter Brantley, director of access at the Internet Archive, argued the settlement gives Google a de facto monopoly over these materials, granting the company unchecked control over pricing that could raise costs for public universities like UC Berkeley, which hosted the panel discussions.

"We don't have to grab the cookie offered to us before dinner," he said in reference to the settlement. "We can think about other ways of opening up this data as a society."

[Snip]

Dan Clancy, engineering director of Google Book Search, said the constraints of class-action law prevented the company from extending licenses to these works to third parties. But he said Google is an advocate of legislation that would allow other companies to commercialize access to orphaned works in the near future.

+ Privacy Missing From Google Books Settlement (IDG News Service via NY Times)

But now, as more and more titles become available in Google Book Search, it's not clear whether digital readers will enjoy the same privacy protections they have at the library. "Which way are we going to go?" said Michael Zimmer, a professor from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. "Is this service going to be an extension of the library, or an extension of Web searching?"

Zimmer spoke at a panel discussion at the University of California, Berkeley, on Friday. He was one of several panelists who called on Google to make a stronger privacy commitment as it develops the Google Books service.

+ Google Book Search settlement plan questioned (via SF Chronicle)

Angela Maycock of the American Library Association said a person's ability to freely select reading materials and research topics requires an expectation of confidentiality.

"The settlement as it exists now is absolutely silent on user privacy," she said. "We see statements about the importance of privacy, but they're informal statements, and we need to make sure those informal statements and assurances get codified into policy."

+ Why It's So Hard to Get a Handle on the Google Books Settlement and Figure Out If Google's Doing Right By You (via Bay Newser)

Paul Duguid, an adjunct professor at the UC Berkeley School of Information and a research fellow at Queen Mary, University of London, made that point today:

I find the Google project to be one of the most remarkably chameleon affairs I've come across. Sometimes it seems to claim—or people claim for it—that it's a library. That brings with it a great deal of our warm feelings toward libraries. But when you look at it and say, "Will you behave [like a library]?", they suddenly say, "Well we're not really a library. You can't think we're a library." And then they become a commercial database. Or they become a bookstore. And that's their interest. Or they become some kind of general philanthropic trust concern, but then they'll move back from that again once more and become cold-headed business people....

I think there are times when we need to put Google's feet to the fire and say, "Well, what are you trying to do?"

+ The Single Best Question Asked at the Google Books Settlement Conference (via Bay Newser)

At today's conference, which examined myriad aspects of the settlement, Louis Trager, a reporter for Warren Communications News' Washington Internet Daily, asked the million-dollar question:

When you look at this in relation to peer-to-peer [file sharing], what is the lesson for the kids about who does and doesn't get away with the "copy first and answer questions later" policy?

+ More questions than answers on Google Books (via News.com)

Google's Dan Clancy had patiently answered question after question regarding Google's' Book Search settlement with publishers and authors until late in the afternoon Friday, when he was finally left speechless.

A young man from the University of California at Berkeley's School of Information asked Clancy what kind of message was sent when Google decided to "copy first and answer questions later." The question--for which there's no safe answer, if you're in Clancy's shoes--perhaps underscored the core of the opposition to the settlement, reached in October, after Google was sued in 2005 for scanning out-of-print works without explicit permission.

+ UC Berkeley Librarian Wants Google Books to Nail Down Privacy Commitments (via Bay Newser)

The University Librarian of the University of California at Berkeley says he believes Google when it says the Google Books product will protect users' privacy, especially in light of other privacy policies Google already has, "but I would like to believe them more."

"What we all need is for Google to move forward in articulating and finding new narratives to reassure" those who have concerns about the privacy implications of the Google Books service, said Tom Leonard, pointing to the Center for Democracy and Technology's proposed privacy recommendations (PDF) as a possible plan.

Note:
+ Google's plan for biggest online library: philanthropy or piracy? (via The Guardian)
Note: Although this article does not directly discuss the conversation at Friday's conference, we thought it was worthwhile to include in this roundup.

UPDATE: 8/29: Google Books: A Metadata Train Wreck (via Language Log)

UPDATE: 9/3: Google's Book Search: A Disaster for Scholars (via Chronicle of Higher Education (via TeleRead)

See Also: Google, “The Last Library,” and Millions of Metadata Mistakes (via LJ)
Jon Orwant from Google responds to the articles listed above.


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