Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Google Books vs. open libraries

Brewster Kahle, Time Well Spent in our Digital Evolution, Open Content Alliance, September 3, 2009.

... I would like to emphasize what is the most important issue [of the Google Book Search Settlement] to me: I believe the proposed Settlement will have a chilling effect on building free and open digital libraries. Should the Settlement be approved, Google Book Search becomes a commercial digital library without serious competition. There is certainly a place in the world for its digital library, but, to me, thereís an even greater place in the world for free and open digital libraries that are numerous, de-centralized, distributed and, most importantly, continuous with the values of our public library system.

This Settlement will not help to create such a system. It nurtures and deepens a licensing culture that is harmful to the library system ...

One of the positive outcomes of the past nine or so months is that awareness has been raised, coalitions have been formed, fervent discussion has occurred, and much ink has been spilled on the very knotty problems around the digital stewardship of our cultural heritage. Given all that Iíve seen and heard in the past year, I am now vastly more hopeful that we all might come together to work toward a truly open library system for the digital age. ...

Google has helped us all by showing how achievable and inexpensive mass digitization is. Maybe somewhat in reaction to Google, hundreds of libraries are digitizing in ways consistent with the tradition of libraries. I am optimistic that we will prevail in building free and open digital libraries.