Just another Google post

Posted this as a comment on another blog.

Followed the link from Sivacracy. I don’t 100% agree with everything Siva writes, but I still think he’d be a good guy to go to lunch with. šŸ˜› He really does know a LOT of librarians and talks to them regularly. He isn’t particularly friendly with the publisher perspective, either, though.

Personally, I’m torn on the subject of Google’s digitization project. I’m not a librarian, but I’ve got my MLIS, I work at a library school, and I’m a doctoral student there as well (studying, among other things, copyright and its effects on the missions of cultural institutions). I’m also one of the ALA copyright scholars. I can say with complete certainty that the librarians that are members of the copyright scholar group and ALA’s own copyright committee, representing librarians from around the country, are not completely behind Google’s actions in this case. We’ve been pretty divided, actually. In that setting, I actually usually defend Google in that I believe their use should be fair- but I also think that there are downsides to the Google project as well. I’m glad that Siva at the very least brings some of these issues to our attention. I don’t completely agree with his fair use analysis, although I am familiar with the Tasini, MP3.com, and Arriba cases.

From a copyright perspective, I think it would be great if Google’s use was considered fair use. I agree with part of your statement. Digitiziation is not an either/or proposition. If Google’s use is fair- well, that would just make it all the easier for other groups, including libraries, to take similar actions. Just because Google is doing it does not mean that libraries, or other interested parties, can’t also digitize. Google does have the resources to take action now, and most libraries certainly do not, but I don’t think that immediacy is necessarily a positive thing in this particular situation. It kind of depends on the end result, doesn’t it? Digitization for digitization’s sake isn’t necessarily good.

That being said, I don’t think that what Google is doing is not necessarily good for libraries and information users. In the short term, I think it is. I agree that visibility is a good thing; my gut reaction to the project, when I first heard about Google Print a couple of years ago, was very positive. I think the ability to keyword search for particular books is great. I started having my doubts when I read the contract that Google worked out with the universities. I don’t know that it’s particularly good for users in those systems. I also think that “the choice is ‘Google digitizes everything’ or ‘libraries digitize less than 1%'” is just as much a false dichotomy as Google digitizes everything or libraries digitize everything. There are many ways that libraries or other institutions can participate, and there are better ways for Google or other for-profit institutions and libraries to work together. The contracts could be much better for the university libraries than the existing one with Google, I think. The libraries can’t do some things that would really make this project worthwhile, I believe, due to Google’s control of the digitized forms. I find this ironic, given that libraries that meet copyright law requirements actually do have more leeway to work with copyrighted materials than Google does.

The benefits I see in this project are the general benefits of digitization- additional gains of use such as searching and indexing, and the potential of increased access to material. I agree with Cory Doctorow that it would be in the publisher’s best interest to work with Google. I don’t necessarily know that it’s in the users’ overall best interest. DRM and proprietary formats are problematic. I don’t automatically believe that big corporations are a bad thing, but I do believe that big corporations do not necessarily have the public’s best interests paramount. Nor do all libraries, either, but most public libraries do tend to have missions and mandates that reflect the public interest, while corporations tend not to. (I hope to be studying the missions and laws related to cultural institutions more when I start my dissertation.) When serving the public interest might harm a corporation financially, they may be very well obligated to act against the public interest. Libraries, museums, and archives often have legal mandates to act for the public, and are I think the public’s best advocates in these situations over the long term. On a somewhat related note, I don’t know how Google’s cataloging is- and I do not believe that keyword searches are a replacement for good cataloging, which is increasingly a view that I disturbingly find cropping up.

I read Sivacracy and Madisonian.net pretty regularly. I don’t particularly agree with either one about this particular case all of the time, but I really respect what they have to say. I’ve been quoted on both of them briefly (“not a librarian after all” from Sivacracy, and Madisonian’s misunderstanding of my argument about making a fair use argument rather than a library exemption argument, which was my fault). The Google issue has been very interesting- it’s the first time that people I read and agree with regularly actually disagree with one another in some pretty strong terms.(On a complete side note, if you’re looking for a blog representing what I think is the author’s perspective, Scrivener’s Error is also an excellent one!) I’m glad that they’re engaged in the conversations that they are engaged in, though.

Geez. So overall, I think Google’s use should be fair, but that libraries still have a responsibility to digitize as well, and are probably better stewards of information than Google is.

Wow, this got long, sorry!

Original message on Not Liz.

Comments (69) left to “Just another Google post”

  1. Alvin Spinner wrote:

    For me, google indexes too much things that are suposed not to be indexed. Like David said many webmasters donā€™t know how to use the robots.txt and to protect directories with some old good .htaccess . That open certain pages to the world, which were suposed not to be shown.

  2. Replica Watches wrote:

    Personally I am torn as well on this issue , as the writer is .
    Digitizing libraries by google is good , and yet google is a corporation with its own interests at heart.
    But then again , you cannot stop progress and google has acted responsibly and without abuse, such as you see with microsoft.
    Look at newspapers as an example of how technology moves on in life – well. When newspapers were pointed out the advantages of technology and the potential effect on ad revenues the answer was ā€œWe are the New York Times , We are the L.A. ā€¦ā€ And the newspapers dismissed such identities as ebay and Craigā€™s list as small potatoes. Furthermore the newspapers kept acting as if they were immune and kept charging high advertising charges.
    Such is no the case today . However to keep the ball rolling , and not recognize the issues , the newspapers are generally dealing with falling ad revenues by hiking ad costs even more.

  3. Mark Briody Website Designer wrote:

    Hi, I see Google do as they want always. As one who works with SEO and optimising peoples websites I’ve see Google change and do what ever they want without any notice to paying members…I’m ure everyone has heard of the almighty Google slap.

    Google Slap is when Google raises the bids on keywords to $5 or $10, basically disabling your keywords for those terms. The cause is a low quality score, basically meaning your landing page or website is not relevant enough to the terms you are bidding on, or they don’t like your landing page because it doesn’t meet their criteria. Fair enough but came totally by surprise for many honest website owners just trying to make an honest living.

    Google also takes what likes as far as content form any website it wants as I see. If they want it they take it and you or I can’t stop them as we are only the little people.

    My thoughts on Google is the big power play utisising the common law juristiction to its best

  4. d60pc wrote:

    Collection building in the digital era presents challenges that libraries and archives have never before faced. They vary from having to work within licensing agreements in order to acquire serial publications, to having new, not yet well-defined options for providing service of analog items through digital conversion and dissemination. What role does the digitization of research collections play in a library?s efforts to provide resources to its patrons when, where, and how they prefer to use them?

    I agree that ā€œDigitizationā€ is inevitable and even desirable in some instances. However our learned reader above who refers to ā€œDigitalizationā€ will find that this will NOT occur, as there is no such word:

    ā€œApologies to English purists, ā€œdigitalizationā€ is not a word. Though maybe it should be. It is yet another example of the creeping of new artifacts into our ā€œliving languageā€.ā€ (Partha Dasgupta is on the faculty of the Computer Science and Engineering Department at Arizona State University in Tempe.)

    Cheers
    The Windows Softwares

  5. History of Video Games wrote:

    As long as Google stays on top of search engines, online marketers will rely heavily on it. That is why they do what they want, regardless of what we think about it. They know people will continue to favor them as long as they monopolize the market.

  6. Nashville Graphic Designer wrote:

    It seems like mass distribution of this sort is the wave of the future. From mp3s to books, it is a rolling wave that is too wide spread to be stopped. Regardless of whether we want it, projects like this are only going to grow. Remember when they tried to shut down mp3 distribution by suing Napster? It didn’t stop anything. It was like throwing a rock into a massive river. The water will always find a way around the rock.

    The question now is what we do with this new form of distribution.

  7. TV shows wrote:

    Google’s an unfair monopoly.It gets its way most of the time.

  8. Quality Cheap Flowers wrote:

    We cannot shop progress, but nothing beats sitting in an armchair with a book in your hand and falling asleep!

  9. Adventure Holidays wrote:

    I think having a mega reference on line is brilliant. When the Library is just too far away and expensive to get to, online reading is for me.

  10. markus wrote:

    Collection building in the digital era presents challenges that libraries and archives have never before faced. They vary from having to work within licensing agreements in order to acquire serial publications, to having new, not yet well-defined options for providing service of analog items through digital conversion and dissemination. What role does the digitization of research collections play in a library?s efforts to provide resources to its patrons when, where, and how they prefer to use them?

    I agree that ā€œDigitizationā€ is inevitable and even desirable in some instances. However our learned reader above who refers to ā€œDigitalizationā€ will find that this will NOT occur, as there is no such word:

    ā€œApologies to English purists, maroc annonces ā€œdigitalizationā€ is not a word. Though maybe it should be. It is yet another example of the creeping of new artifacts into our ā€œliving languageā€.ā€ (Partha Dasgupta is on the faculty of the Computer Science and Engineering Department at Arizona State University in Tempe.)

  11. Angela wrote:

    I’ve conducted searches before and come up with the “Google books”. You get a portion of the book to read online, but not all of it. In a lot of cases, this can cause a person to either purchase the book or to check it out from the library. My choice would be the library, of course. I’ve always been a bookworm. šŸ™‚

  12. Joe wrote:

    Personally I am torn as well on this issue , as the writer is .
    Digitizing libraries by google is good , and yet google is a corporation with its own interests at heart.

  13. Joe wrote:

    Personally I am torn as well on this issue , as the writer is .
    Digitizing libraries by google is good , and yet google is a corporation with its own interests at heart

  14. insider wrote:

    but i hope,,google always keep on the right track..

  15. Big Ben Patton wrote:

    Google is at this point both the internet’s one last true hope and at the same time its eternal damnation. This may seem like quite the ignorant statement, but be honest most companies founded by trendsetters eventually are required to satisfy certain requirements by shareholders. Google is no exception. We are getting closer to the day that google is the largest monster of a problem, and who is going to fix it? Surely not the US Goverment, and which other search engines are even able to stand in the same tier as google. Zero.

    I hope that this all turns out to be better than I hoped, but with history constantly repeating itself, I cant hold on forever.

  16. Jay wrote:

    I think Google sincerely is trying to serve the greater good in this instance as I am pretty sure they go to great lengths to protect copyright holders, but of course they are a company whose revenue is derived by search. It might be interesting to see the fine print here on how open Google will allow the scanned information it has indexed to be archived and searched by competitive S.E’s like Yahoo, Ask or Live?

  17. vector wrote:

    You’re right , absolutely! No way should anyone think that google, or even wilko, can be regarded as reliable souces of information.
    Tony Blair stated that school chilren should be using wilko and google as their main source of knowledge and reference for school work! Has he read any pages from there? Wilko especially is riddled with inacuracies and poor writing! How does online articles writing ( by potentially unqualified , plagerising authors compare to writers publishing books on their lifes’ work? It can’t!

    Yet he has now dismantled the public libraries , no joke , they are huge buildings with many computers and less than 1000 books ( I counted) .I went to get some books for a Roman history website I was writing , and I found 2 books , 2 visit Rome guides, and 2 childrens books , and that was it ….I asked the librarian “where are all the books?” , and she gave me this story! I am asked to write a web site based on the information I find on the net , how silly is that?
    Can you see what happened, and the damage one guy made to our society.Libraries accross the country without books , children all spouting the same speech from wilko, because they have no other information to reference , and let’s face it , how many sites just copy straight out of wilko?
    Will the internet lead to burning books ? , or has that already happened? All that old information is lost , maybe never found again, isn’t that so sad?
    Maybe by restricting our access to books they can control our attitude better !!
    V.M.

  18. Barry Burroughs wrote:

    To digitize or not to digitize? When it comes down to it, Google is the 800 lb. Gorilla at the tea party. They’re going to do what they want, even if decorum might indicate another course.

    Discussion? Forget it – Gorillas don’t converse, do they?

    Whether it’s good, or not good, or even approaching evil is a moot point. It is being done and it shall be done. So we all get to live with it.

    And, likely, we’ll end up using it with no remorse.

  19. cbcommissions wrote:

    Personally I am torn as well on this issue , as the writer is .
    Digitizing libraries by google is good , and yet google is a corporation with its own interests at heart.

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