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Monday, 21st September 2009

The New Yorker on Google and the Judge

Note: This following article from The New Yorker was posted BEFORE the U.S. Department of Justice sent a letter to Judge Chin. More about that in this press review.

From a New Yorker Blog Post by Anthony Graton

Even the libraries that have provided Google with its raw materials are not all happy with the result. The out-of-print books Google has digitized come from nonprofit institutions that built their collections as a public good. In return for pocket change—Google will contribute $125 million to create a nonprofit rights registry—these public treasures will now be monetized for the benefit of a private corporation. True, Google will give every public and university library one terminal where readers can access its entire collection. But these machines won’t be able to download or print texts—and you can imagine the lines. Libraries that want full access to all the books in Google will have to pay for the privilege, as well as for every download.

Google, with its mission “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” plans to turn itself into the biggest bookstore the world has ever known, and to make libraries pay for acting as its agents. It’s troubling that the libraries that already have the richest collections will also be the ones that can offer their users the full Google service. Harvard was one of Google’s original partners. But Robert Darnton, Harvard’s librarian and a fan and creator of digital projects, has ceased supplying books still in copyright to Google. As he has written, “To digitize collections and sell the product in ways that fail to guarantee wide access … would turn the Internet into an instrument for privatizing knowledge that belongs in the public sphere.” Other Google partner libraries, however, support the settlement and have criticized Darnton’s decision.

Source: The New Yorker


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