Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Conservative defense of Google against publishers

Timothy B. Lee, Don't Stop Google, Cato Institute, July 23, 2005. Excerpt:
Wouldn't it be great if you could conduct a full text search of books the same way you search the web? You'd sit down at your computer, type in some search terms, and get a list of every book at your local library that contains those terms -- complete with brief excerpts that show the terms in context. It sounds like science fiction, but Google is now working to make it a reality. The Google Print project aims to scan digitally and index every book ever written, creating a search engine for books just as powerful as its industry-leading search engine for the web. Unfortunately, the biggest obstacle Google faces isn't technological, but legal. Publishers are accusing Google of copyright infringement, and they're demanding that the company get individual permission from each publisher before it scans their books. So far, Google has resisted the demands, insisting that building such a search engine is a legal fair use under copyright law. There's a strong case for that position, and given the tremendous benefit Google Print would bring to library users everywhere, Google should stick to its guns. The rest of us should demand that publishers not stand in the way....The Constitution states that the purpose of copyright is to "promote the progress of science and the useful arts." In other words, intellectual property increases public access to creative works by giving authors the incentive to produce them. Given Google Print's tremendous potential to help readers find the books they want to read, it would be perverse to invoke copyright law to strangle the service in its cradle.