Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Monday, May 21, 2007

Google will digitize 100,000 ancient Indian texts

Charles Huckabee, Google to Digitize Ancient Texts at University in India, Chronicle of Higher Education News blog, May 20, 2007.  Excerpt:
Google has agreed to digitize some 800,000 books and manuscripts at the University of Mysore, in Karnataka, India, the Indo-Asian News Service reported. Some of the documents are written on palm leaves, and some on paper. Among them are India’s first political treatise, the Arthasastra, dating from the fourth century BC.

J. Shashidhara Prasad, vice chancellor of the university, said the project would “restore and preserve this cultural heritage for effective dissemination of knowledge,” according to the news service....

Of the 800,000 texts Google will digitize from the Mysore library, about 100,000 date from the eighth century.

PS:  The Indo-Asian News Service adds that the works will be "patented" after they are digitized and before Google may link to them.  Did it mean "copyrighted"?  Either way, will Google display full-texts (as it may do with public-domain works) or limit itself to fair-use snippets (as it must do with works under copyright)?

Update. Library Journal Academic Newswire reports that early reports of this project have been exaggerated:

...[R]eports circulating on the Internet are...claiming Google has struck a deal to digitize more than 800,000 books and manuscripts at the University of Mysore, Karnataka, India....There's just one catch --that agreement is news to Google. Google officials confirmed they were in discussions, but that there was no agreement in place with Mysore.