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ERIC Number: EJ846676
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-May-15
Pages: 1
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
Scholars Are Wary of Deal on Google's Book Search
Howard, Jennifer
Chronicle of Higher Education, v55 n36 pA12 May 2009
Google's Book Search program mines the holdings of research libraries for texts to digitize. Some of that material is out of copyright; a lot of it isn't. A lawsuit came about when some authors and publishers decided that Google's project exceeded the bounds of fair use. As part of a settlement, the parties have proposed creating a Book Rights Registry, a kind of rights clearinghouse, and a system of payments to authors and publishers. Users--readers, that is--would be able to purchase access to the full texts of copyrighted works. What hasn't been talked about much is the idea that the settlement may benefit certain groups of authors more than others. A professional writer and an academic author often have different notions about when and how to make work available. One counts on revenue from book sales; the other cares more about spreading ideas. That distinction is made loud and clear in the letter sent to Judge Denny Chin. Organized by Pamela Samuelson, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law, the group points to "widespread ignorance about the agreement and its implications for the future of scholarship and research" among their academic colleagues. There's the big question: Will the deal, if approved, help create a universal library--millions of digitized books truly available to anyone--or a dangerous monopoly that puts knowledge seekers at the mercy of Google? For the open-access-minded, there's no mention of Creative Commons licenses "as alternatives to registration for payouts from Google" through the Book Rights Registry. Nor is there a clear definition of orphan works, those for which rights holders can't be found. Privacy is a big concern; scholars' use of books in the Google database could be monitored. The list goes on. Academic librarians are also plenty worried about monopoly and invasion of privacy. They love the idea of access to millions of books but argue that "many of the features of the settlement, including the absence of competition for the new services, could compromise fundamental library values, including equity of access to information, patron privacy, and intellectual freedom." Authors, academic and otherwise, have four more months to decide whether to opt out of the settlement.
Chronicle of Higher Education. 1255 23rd Street NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-728-2803; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A