Column: Let Google scan…

Here’s a column I just posted at globeandmail.com about Google resuming its Library scanning project:

Google, the search-engine giant that has become so ubiquitous its name hardly even sounds stupid any more, has started scanning and indexing library books again under its contentious Google Print Library project, despite the fact that the company is being sued by several groups of authors and publishers. Under the project, Google has plans to scan millions of books from the collections of several university libraries, including Harvard, Stanford and the University of Michigan. The groups that have sued — including the Authors Guild, which represents several thousand U.S. writers, and the Association of American Publishers — argue that by doing so, Google is infringing on their copyright and therefore it must stop.

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Debate over Google Print

Cory over at boingboing.net points to a great discussion of Google’s library book-scanning project that was conducted on computing guru David Farber’s invitation-only “interesting people” mailing list. Tim O’Reilly, who took part in the discussion, has a description on O’Reilly Radar. For example, Sid Karin notes that mp3.com lost a lawsuit launched by the record industry after the company set up a CD library that would let you listen to streaming digital music files, provided you could prove you owned the original CD they came from. The suit was fought in part on the principle that mp3.com was violating copyright simply by making digital copies of the CDs, much as publishers are arguing that Google is infringing on their copyright simply by scanning books, even though it will not be making the full text available online. Also on the list, Seth Finkelstein points to a wide-ranging discussion about the subject over at the Scrivener’s Error blog.