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Google Offers Scanned Books To Rival Stores 150

Posted by Soulskill
from the take-two-they're-small dept.
eldavojohn writes "Yesterday we covered Microsoft's jabs at the Google book deal, but today Reuters is reporting that the scanned books will be available to Google's rivals. Google said in a surprising statement, 'Google will host the digital (out-of-print) books online, and retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble or your local bookstore will be able to sell access to users on any Internet-connected device they choose.' They made this statement today at the US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee that had been called to discuss criticism of a 2008 settlement between the Authors Guild and Google. Well, I would bet this has caught more than a few people by surprise. The Authors Guild offers a history and the fine print of the agreement."
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Google Offers Scanned Books To Rival Stores

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  • by Yvan256 (722131) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @05:06PM (#29382963) Homepage Journal

    Google: Google will host the digital (out-of-print) books online, and retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble or your local bookstore will be able to sell access to users on any Internet-connected device they choose.
    Microsoft: Well, the Jerk Store called, and they're running out of you.

    (yes, that stupid joke works with almost any topic)

    • by Quothz (683368) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @05:42PM (#29383307) Journal

      Google: Google will host the digital (out-of-print) books online, and retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble or your local bookstore will be able to sell access to users on any Internet-connected device they choose.

      Oh, joy. So what they're saying is that they retain their questionably-obtained monopoly over publishing these titles, but instead of paying them for a copy of the book, I can instead choose to pay both them and a retailer surcharge for a DRM-protected copy of the book? Exciting!

      It's awful nice of Google to open up new channels of income for themselves. Why, I can't imagine why anyone would want to be allowed to compete directly. Anyone who does must be evil.

      • Bend over.

        It's a good thing we have antitrust laws to stop this kind of thing from happening. Now if only the U.S. DOJ would enforce them.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Zencyde (850968)
        Really? What is this bullshit? Perhaps you have a better suggestion on what we should do in order to bring these books back from the dead. Be fucking happy that Google is a pro-competitive company and stop being a damned douchebag.

        And before you decide to fire back, how many companies do you know of with the spare resources, manpower, or motivation to do this thing properly?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Quothz (683368)

          Really? What is this bullshit? Perhaps you have a better suggestion on what we should do in order to bring these books back from the dead. Be fucking happy that Google is a pro-competitive company and stop being a damned douchebag.

          The same suggestion as always: Lobby Congress to open rights to orphaned works to publishers, with residuals going into trust via the WGA, the US Copyright Office, or a new administrative organization. And I'd hesitate to call "allowing others to buy from us, then resell" pro-competition.

          And before you decide to fire back, how many companies do you know of with the spare resources, manpower, or motivation to do this thing properly?

          Lexis-Nexis comes instantly to mind. Penguin Books, Del Ray Publishing, Microsoft, Ballantine Books, the Gutenberg Project, Yahoo!, AOL, Borders Books and Music, and plenty of others could pull it off, albeit some at a smal

          • You've got a nice list of companies capable of hosting the works. In fact, I've praised the Gutenberg project for their efforts. But, apparently, none of the nominees in your list have been both capable and willing to do the job on the scale that Google is doing it.

            My one single question regarding Google's arrangement is, whether they have an "exclusive" deal, or not. Can Gutenberg still scan and distribute a public domain book that Google has scanned? If so - there is NO PROBLEM with Google's arrangeme

            • Re:Microsoft's reply (Score:5, Informative)

              by Quothz (683368) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @07:39PM (#29384551) Journal

              My one single question regarding Google's arrangement is, whether they have an "exclusive" deal, or not.

              It's exclusive in the sense that anyone wishing to publish electronically, other than Google, must have copyright contractually assigned by the copyright holder, but Google is no longer bound by copyright laws when choosing to publish books which are not currently being printed (including future books).

              The exception is that, if Google rejects a book, the Registry may assign the electronic printing rights, under the same terms, to someone else.

              There's a bit (a lot) more to it - copyright owners may, with limitations, stop Google from publishing their books, and with limitations, may set the price of the books. But it binds current and future authors and publishers to file specific forms in specific ways at specific times if they don't want Google sellin' their stuff.

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by Fizzol (598030)
                It's a horrendous abuse of copyright, on par with the Sonny Bono Public Domain Theft Act.
              • by houghi (78078)

                Since when was opt-out a good alternative to opt-in. And since when does the Berne convention does not apply anymore. And if the Berne convention does not apply anymore, why can I still be convicted for whatever if I copy something?

                Oh yeah, because Google is a big company and am just some poor schmuck. Companies are above the law. People are guilty.

                The do-no-evil can still be true by changing the law. Neat.

                • by zehaeva (1136559)
                  I agree with you that an opt-in is better than an opt-out .. however if it were opt-in then we'd be in the same position we were before google even tried, making the whole exercise moot. we'd still have millions of books that no one could publish because the authors have orphaned the works, either don't care or have dropped off the face of the planet or died and didn't leave any clear manager of their estate, if anyone even cares about their estate.
                  i'm pretty sure that i saw even google say that this is pr
              • At first you kind of feel that Google has pulled a reach-around on copyright law and you feel that this is unfair. Then... after a while, you realize how ridiculous copyright is and that makes you feel good again.

                I see this settlement as excellent evidence for copyright reform.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by DrEldarion (114072)

              [quote]My one single question regarding Google's arrangement is, whether they have an "exclusive" deal, or not. Can Gutenberg still scan and distribute a public domain book that Google has scanned? If so - there is NO PROBLEM with Google's arrangement. If so, the I can see a problem.[/quote]

              Yes. There is nothing stopping people from:

              1) Scanning public domain books and distributing them.
              2) Creating similar deals with the Authors' Guild and scanning the exact same books Google does and distributing them.
              3) Pu

          • Opening up the copyrights won't quite solve the problem. Someone then search for all these books and scan them and put it in a central database. This is the step that cost money.
            Without the database the local bookstore can't publish it. Gutenberg is the only guys who could possibly step in and do that step. Microsoft won't do it (obvious) and neither will the book companies (or else they already would have).
            Anyway, as long as Google does not charge for internet access, I don't really care what they d
          • >>>The same suggestion as always: Lobby Congress to open rights to orphaned works to publishers

            A better idea is to make these orphaned works expire and fall into public domain. This is how that Christmas movie "It's A Wonderful Life" became so popular - it had fallen into the public domain, and that allowed TV stations to air it free or run-off VHS copies for free. Copyright is not intended to be forever; it's intended to be a temporary stimulus for artists.

          • Better yet - let copyrights expire if they are not used. Trademarks do, make copyrights the same.

            You don't sell that book you own the rights to for a period of, oh... 14 years? BAM, it's now public domain.

            Copyright is granted to works to encourage them to be made available to the public domain. In return you get a limited monopoly. Don't use that monopoly for a period of time, thus making it unavailable to the public at cost? Fine, you lose your copyright.

            In the past this may have been bad because it could

        • Perhaps you have a better suggestion on what we should do in order to bring these books back from the dead.

          Well, the right way to do this is to change the copyright laws for everybody, but that's not going to happen in a realistic number of lifetimes.

          The problem Google has is that they *have* to settle since the lawsuit isn't going away for them, and since this is a class action it *will* affect everybody in America. But the result of settlement will always be that Google is immune against infringemen

      • I'm pretty sure that they just said "We are going to sell these on the internet. If you like, you can sell devices that connect to the internet." Perfectly fine; but not exactly news.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anachragnome (1008495)

        More middlemen. More slices out of a pie that has already been dished up.

        A significant portion of "businesses" today are simply middlemen doing exactly the same thing.

        Right down to the apple on my desk, a lot of someones are getting a slice of the pie. The grower, the trucker, the distributor, the vendor, the government inspector, the company that makes the pesticides and waxes that cover it, the fertilizer supplier, the taxman, the dude that made the box it was shipped in, etc, etc, ad nauseum.

        Now, I real

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Dare nMc (468959)

        I can instead choose to pay both them and a retailer surcharge for a DRM-protected copy of the book?

        Isn't that how most retail sales work? (they are often the same price, just the OEM takes a smaller cut for the retailers service) I can buy the same book from oreilly.com [slashdot.org] or amazon.com [slashdot.org] heck soon you will have the choice, buy a kindle DRM'd version, or a non DRM'd version from either as well. The kindle is a great example, you can buy a DRM'd book from amazon and have it loaded onto your device automatically for $9.99, or go to oreilly, buy it without DRM for less, ($7.99) then transfer it to a memory ca

        • by Quothz (683368)

          Isn't that how most retail sales work?

          Yes, which is why I don't see why folks are hailing it as some sort of beatific concession on Google's part.

          The difference between your example and what Google's doing is simply the deal under which they gained exclusive publishing rights of orphaned works, no more or less.

          • by Dare nMc (468959)

            Seams like a fair reply to the situation. Google simply got the necessary rights to recoup their costs for scanning in works, that without the agreement would have been lost to all but a very very small handful of people. Google also cleared the way for anyone else to follow the same path. The complaints all seam to flow from 1 of 3 lines either a) These works might compete against our copyrighted works b) we hate google because they are successful c) why didn't we think of that.
            So googles response along

      • By "questionably-obtained monopoly," do you mean by offering a service that no one else wants to offer? Yea, how dare they...

        I also don't know why you're mentioning DRM as the article makes no mention of any DRM technology. In fact, if any DRM were to be involved, it would be at the request of the Authors Guild and others opposing Google Book Search. I mean, is Google supposed to be bad because they're against restrictive copyright policies or because they're for restrictive copyright policies?

      • Monopoly? How TF is that a monopoly, when anyone, willing to invest the money and time, can do it?

        Oh, you mean, the others were too lazy and too cheap? Sucks for them, but that doesn't make Google a monopoly.

  • by nametaken (610866) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @05:07PM (#29382965)

    Being less evil again.

    • by WindBourne (631190) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @05:09PM (#29382981) Journal
      Google is basically moving us to the digital era. Companies like IBM, MS, Xerox have worked to keep us locked into a dual economy and make as much from it as possible. I think that if I were other nations, I would be BEGGING google to set up shop in their nations.
      • by GradiusCVK (1017360) <(originalcvk) (at) (gmail.com)> on Thursday September 10, 2009 @05:39PM (#29383275)
        If you were other nations, wouldn't you be begging Google to set up shop inside you? Sounds... inappropriate.
        • It wouldn't hurt, though. He could be frozen for the trip home. Nobody would know about the empbryo until a passing Company ship answered the call from the distress beacon.
      • If you made as much profit as IBM selling giant printers (for printing things like bank statements) you would prolong their life too. And Microsoft.. if they didn't have printer drivers as an easy way to royally screw a system up, blue screens, reboots, crawling slow for no reason, then nobody would upgrade to vista or windows 7. Google can't search paper. So they don't care.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by shentino (1139071)

      Agreed.

      It's my understanding that only orphan works are being included in the settlement, so the only people who are being hurt are

      1) Incapable of protecting their rights anyway
      2) Too lazy to do so, or
      3) Copyright trolls looking to pounce on innocent infringers.

      Mind you, I'd rather have the opt-out deadline be replaced by a zero-liability cease and desist option where someone who proves copyright can have google stop providing access, but can't claim damages.

      But this isn't half bad even not considering t

      • It's my understanding that only orphan works are being included in the settlement, so the only people who are being hurt are

        1) Incapable of protecting their rights anyway

        Wait, I thought we were discussing copyrights? Despite the name, it's not a right; it's a privilege.

      • by wordsnyc (956034) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @05:44PM (#29383321) Homepage

        The Authors Guild represents 8,000 writers (I used to be one of them). There are millions of "orphan" works still covered by US and international copyright law. The Guild has no standing to negotiate for anyone except their members.

        Google has made absolutely ZERO attempt to ascertain the identity or whereabouts of the rightsholders of these "orphan" works. I'm one of them. I have been notified by Google about each of my in-print books (five in all), but NONE of my parents' books, even though they were published by HarperCollins, who used to send me royalty checks for those books and would no doubt be happy to tell Google how to reach me.

        The fact that, in desperation, Google agrees to share the fruits of its theft does not make everything OK. They have no right to share what was never theirs in the first place. And the Authors Guild are a bunch of useless whores who stand to make a pot of money off this rotten deal.

        • by shentino (1139071)

          Now you know why I don't like class action suits.

        • by UCSCTek (806902) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @06:09PM (#29383627)

          I won't claim intimate detail with the status of the "orphan books", but if what I've read is accurate, these are generally books that are out-of-print and not actively managed by the publisher or author. In this case, I say Google is doing a service by bringing to light a wide body of literature that would otherwise either remain unused or even disappear. Insisting on strict enforcement of copyright law leaves everyone worse off: the authors and publishers are still not getting anything because they have abandoned the works, and those who might have actually been interested in the material remain without access to it.

          • by caitsith01 (606117) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @08:07PM (#29384765) Journal

            I won't claim intimate detail with the status of the "orphan books", but if what I've read is accurate, these are generally books that are out-of-print and not actively managed by the publisher or author. In this case, I say Google is doing a service by bringing to light a wide body of literature that would otherwise either remain unused or even disappear. Insisting on strict enforcement of copyright law leaves everyone worse off: the authors and publishers are still not getting anything because they have abandoned the works, and those who might have actually been interested in the material remain without access to it.

            But this is effectively going to be 'strict enforcement of copyright law' - only Google will have the rights to electronically reproduce these works, unless of course they generously licence them to third parties (for a fee, naturally).

            A much, much better solution would be to change copyright law so that if no rights holder can be identified after reasonable efforts, a work is deemed to be out of copyright.

            • by UCSCTek (806902)

              I don't disagree; I bet most of us agree that copyright law is out-of-date. This solution seems to be rather hard to implement though: lots of interested parties, some with deep pockets. What these temporary solutions, such as what Google is doing, can do is bring the issue greater attention and urgency.

              One additional point, while Google would have the rights to its scanned copies, I don't recall it being true that they have exclusive rights to the content itself. Other companies would then be free to re

              • One additional point, while Google would have the rights to its scanned copies, I don't recall it being true that they have exclusive rights to the content itself. Other companies would then be free to replicate Google's activities, making their own databases of scanned books. I may be wrong...

                I'm pretty sure that the deal is that anyone else who wants to do the same would have to come to terms with the writer's guild, which may or may not be on the same terms that Google's deal is on.

                To my mind a much better solution (ignoring the problems with copyright law and the question of why the guild gets to negotiate these rights in the first place) would be a public schedule of fees that anyone can pay to reproduce any of those works electronically. That way the playing field is automatically level an

        • by shentino (1139071)

          Are you sure it was Google and not Harper Collins that dropped the ball wrt. your parents books?

        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 10, 2009 @06:19PM (#29383739)

          In what way do you think Google is going to get rich off this deal? Under ideal circumstances, it might take 50 years to recompense the enormous cost of scanning every single book in the United States. Can you even imagine the amount of work that goes into that? There's a reason nobody else is involved in this so-called gold mine. And uh, sharing their entire library with all competitors? Money, meet toilet. Flush.

          And yet you're telling me they're doing evil here because they haven't managed to personally track down the heir of two presumably dead writers? And this heir has apparently not even bothered to contact Google himself. Cry me a fucking river. How about you stop and realize how much Google is already doing to support one of the greatest knowledge-preserving enterprises the world has ever seen, and get off your couch and do your own miniscule part to direct the enterprise as it concerns you.

        • by Tacvek (948259)

          AFAICT the real results of the settlement is (AFAICT):

          The creation a a new organization, the Book Rights Registry. Out-of-print books will now essentially have a compulsory license, with the BRR as the royalties collection agency. This is not quite a compulsory license system, because rights holder can opt out, but otherwise acts similarly.

          Any organization can scan out-of-print books, and provide limited access to the books[1], and sell full copies of the book. The organizations will need to work with the B

        • by QuantumG (50515) *

          Oh, so *you* are one of those bastards who claims inherited royalties. Die now please and have no children.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by wordsnyc (956034)

            Too late, my spotty little friend. Tell me, should my son be allowed to inherit the business I started, or should it be seized the day after my death and distributed to the masses? If I rent out my house, should he be allowed to collect that rent after I croak? What is so special about intellectual property?

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Fian (136351)

              Copyright was established to *encourage* production of intellectual or creative works such that ultimately society as a whole benefits. The carrot to producers of such works was a limited ability to make money through sales of copies. Where does the original intent of copyright say that your son is entitled to make money off your creation? If your son simply inherits your works, where is his incentive to produce? Where is the benefit to society?

              Unlike your rented house, which is a non-copyable physical

            • by dissy (172727)

              Tell me, should my son be allowed to inherit the business I started, or should it be seized the day after my death and distributed to the masses? If I rent out my house, should he be allowed to collect that rent after I croak? What is so special about intellectual property?

              It is different because copyright law requires that the work must fall into the public domain, in exchange for the exclusive right to copy that work. That is why it must be distributed to the masses.
              You don't get to pick and choose which parts of the law will apply to you and which parts don't.

              To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries

              I am assuming your parents are no longer with

              • by nametaken (610866)

                While I generally agree with you, the "carrot" of exclusivity works for the author, even if it's extended to the children.

                For instance, I'd love to know that if I write a book, my children could profit from it. That might be wrong, but it works as an incentive to the original author to create.

            • by zehaeva (1136559)

              Let us take this to an insane extreme.

              Do you honestly believe that all of the works of Shakespeare should still be controlled by his great great (how ever many) grand kids? Should everyone need to ask him(or her) for permission to use, or modify, 400(ish) year old plays? Should we have needed to track down the scion of Homer to make that movie Troy?

              When is the story old enough that it can be in the public domain? Do you see where treating copyright as an eternal property that can be passed down through the

        • Google has made absolutely ZERO attempt to ascertain the identity or whereabouts of the rightsholders of these "orphan" works. I'm one of them. I have been notified by Google about each of my in-print books (five in all), but NONE of my parents' books, even though they were published by HarperCollins, who used to send me royalty checks for those books and would no doubt be happy to tell Google how to reach me.

          This about this rationally for a bit. Google is trying to scan every book that's ever been creat

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by CodePwned (1630439)

          Actually the only "whore" (using your words) here is you who are profiting off of work YOU never did (your parents books). That's exactly the kind of thing that has copyright screwed up. The Authors Guild realizes that it's impossible to stop the digital movement. They can either go with it, or go down kicking and screaming like the RIAA and MPAA. The only difference is that they don't have the vast resources to pool from in order to take that stance.

          Fact is, if you make something worth paying for people wi

        • by blhack (921171)

          As I understand it, Google is trying to help you keep getting those royalty checks...

          A lot of these books that they're scanning are out of print, and sitting in the basements of libraries gathering dust. Google has come in and saved them from the recycling bin. They aren't getting copyright on the book, they're getting distribution rights to the scan of the book.

          I seriously do not understand who an Author could *not* like this? If anything, this is going to help your book get into the hands of more peopl

    • again ... or for once or now and then perhaps?
    • Being less evil again.

      I dunno, obtaining a private court settlement which somehow gives it a private monopoly over works to which neither it nor the other party has any rights sounds pretty damn evil to me.

  • Comebine this with (Score:2, Interesting)

    by UltimApe (991552)

    the new asus ebook reader http://images.google.com/images?q=asus%20ebook%20reader [google.com] and it looks like books are on their way of the floppy.

    • by WindBourne (631190) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @05:11PM (#29383005) Journal
      About 15 years ago, I got rid of the printer. I figured that the ONLY way to walk away from paper was to not print any (zaurus and newton are wonderful tools). ABout 7 years ago, I quit buying paperbacks. ALl of my new books were either hardcover or leather bound (easton press; great group). Now, I will go only with leather bound/acid free. I figure that top end books will go up in price, while everybody is moving to e-books.
      • by CannonballHead (842625) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @05:30PM (#29383183)
        I take it you don't play musical instruments (with sheet music) a whole lot. :)
        • Cornet in the 70's, piano every so often.
      • I wouldn't even know where to *find* a leatherbound book, I thought that was something they stopped making in the 1800s. Sounds really cool though.
        • by Jared555 (874152)

          I think barnes and noble and amazon sell them. (Of course not for every book, it is usually collectors editions, etc.)

        • by timbck2 (233967)

          Easton Press [eastonpress.com]. Their books are hella expensive, but very good quality. They're sold on a subscription basis.

          Barnes & Noble (and probably other publishers) have a few here and there, but they're of inferior quality, in general.

        • You can always get a regular book rebound in leather. It's nice, but pricey.

      • I figure that top end books will go up in price, while everybody is moving to e-books.

        I think so as well - paper books will not go away, but they will become expensive, high-quality collector items, like vinyl records.

    • Surely you are joking right? The Asus Ebook reader isn't E-ink which means two things, one is shorter battery life and the other is more eye strain. Plus the Asus Ebook reader isn't cheap. Yeah, its cheaper than some with E-ink displays but it is by no means a game changer.
  • Interns? (Score:2, Funny)

    by swanzilla (1458281)
    Who in the hell is actually going to do the scanning? I'd be wary of accepting an internship at the Googleplex right about now.
    • Who in the hell is actually going to do the scanning?

      Google has been scanning books into their system for several years using automated scanning mechanisms. I'm not sure exactly how it works, but I can tell you that it is definitely not intern-powered.

      ..... did you honestly think that people are sitting at their desk running books through flatbed scanners one page at a time?

      • Re:Interns? (Score:5, Informative)

        by noidentity (188756) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @05:44PM (#29383319)
        Google's book scanner is indeed robotic [slashdot.org], and it doesn't need to press the pages flat. It uses two cameras and a light pattern projected on the page so that the curvature of the page can be determined, and thus eliminated via software.
      • did you honestly think that people are sitting at their desk running books through flatbed scanners one page at a time?

        no...with a decent scanner, they should be able to get two pages at a time.

      • A couple years back I was involved with some people doing digitization and at the time there were basically two options:
        a) unbind the book and just feed it through an automatic scanner. This is fast but not good if you are dealing with old, rare books.
        b)use a special table that is shaped like a V: you put the spine in the bottom of the V, and open to the first page, then a piece of plexiglass (also shapped like a V) drops down and holds the pages flat while two cameras each snap an image of each page. Th
    • Who in the hell is actually going to do the scanning? I'd be wary of accepting an internship at the Googleplex right about now.

      Don't worry. Asok is used to it by now.

  • by Hatta (162192) * on Thursday September 10, 2009 @05:14PM (#29383033) Journal

    Will libraries, project gutenberg, etc also be allowed access to these out of copyright files?

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Was there anything keeping them from having to those out of copyright files in the first place?
      • The scanning activity is labor and the data in scanned form -- meaning pixels, not text, and text as a product of OCR, not the text of the book (even though, ideally, those are one in the same) is Google's property.

        I therefore doubt that Gutenberg can have the files. They can link to them, though.

        Can someone else answer this definitively?

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by cpt kangarooski (3773)

          The scanning activity is labor

          Well, in the US at least, mere labor is insufficient for copyright to arise. Rather, a copyrightable work (or the copyrightable portions thereof) must be original and creative. Here, Google is engaged in slavish copying; they are copying extant works, so their scans are not original, and they are copying as exactly as they can, so they are not creative.

          and text as a product of OCR

          Again, though, they are copying as exactly as they can manage. This means the machine readable text

    • Google has already agreed to provide access to libraries. The plan is to set up a google terminal in libraries so that people can access them.
      It seems unlikely that they will allow Project Gutenberg any access though.
    • by HiThere (15173)

      Only some of them are out of copyright. And we don't know what proportion that "some" is.

      Anyway, the answer is "NO!". Google signed deals with the libraries that had the books to only allow Google to scan the books. (Possibly not all the libraries, but at least some of them.)

    • Will libraries, project gutenberg, etc also be allowed access to these out of copyright files?

      Note: Orphaned works are not the same as out-of-copyright works (considering the latter is pretty much impossible anymore. Thanks Sonny!). They are still under copyright, but they're out of print and whoever DOES hold the copyright is unknown.. sort of. I'm not explaining it well, but these aren't PD books we're talking about.

  • Imagine if this kind of behaviour catches on in corporate America. There would be nothing left to criticize. This could very well be the end of slashdot.

    • Google saw the writing on the wall, they were going to lose, and they were taking a huge beating in the press while losing, and an even bigger one when they would eventually lose. So they did what most companies do, try to find a settlement.

  • From reading TFA it seems that Google is doing this voluntarily. Is there any guarantee that google will do this indefinitely and won't make any associated feeds unreasonably large?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Saysys (976276)
      No, but voluntary regulation is always preferable to the innovation destruction inerrant in top-down regulation. It is only when voluntary regulation isn't working that top-down regulation becomes a necessary evil. That someone could use something for evil doesn't mean we need to keep them from using it for good.
    • It would be better if they kept their advantage of having scanned all those books themselves but negotiated a deal allowing anybody to do what they have done!

  • by mpapet (761907) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @05:55PM (#29383449) Homepage

    Don't you guys and girl get it?

    Google is circumventing copyright law and capturing works that are in the public domain. Going forward, they monetize a previously free work eternally.

    If information wants to be free, then how *exactly* is that freeing books?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by UCSCTek (806902)

      To me, information freedom includes diffusivity. If no one actually sees the information, e.g. a pile of books sitting in a disused corner of a library, it is not "free". Google is allowing these books to be seen, through digitization and online availability, and asking to be reimbursed the labor cost.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Tauvix (97917)

      If a work is in the public domain, then it is no longer protected by copyright law in regards to the possibility of circumventing it. What they are doing is creating a derivative work of a public domain work (which they are free to do, as the original owner no longer has rights in regard to how the materials are used), which they will then own copyright on until such time as that expires and their scans/ocr of the original text enters the public domain, at which point you are free to use their materials to

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fan777 (932195)
      Maybe free as in liberating rather than price? I don't mean to threadcrap but I thought Google's intent was to take books that basically nobody have access to anymore and making them available. What use is a previously free work that nobody can read? Ideally, publishers should take the initiative to make all out-of-print, rare, orphaned books available.
    • by samantha (68231) *

      Quite a leap there. Out of print books are not available digitally for the vast majority at all. Someone makes them available digitally and charges a fee to some commercial users. That it no way says the fee will always be there or that it will apply to those who are merely readers. Actually I would be very suprised if they did not drop this fee and only proposed it to have something else to give away as a negotiation point. I am continually amazed when people do not see a step toward much better as

    • by Alascom (95042) on Friday September 11, 2009 @12:42AM (#29386123)

      How can one circumvent copyright law for books in the "public domain"? If they are in the public domain, they are free to anyone.

      What you meant to say, was they are making previously unavailable books that are still under copyright available to everyone. They are even providing competitors with access to the works that Google spent a fortune to scan. Nothing prevents Amazon or Microsoft from scanning these books themselves and working out a similar agreement with the authors guild, but they don't want to invest the money since they are already so far behind.

      In the end, everyone (including the authors) benefits because these books will once again be available to the public as they were intended.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by pandymen (884006)
      Mpapet: Per the settlement, Google has "non-exclusive" rights. If works are actually in the public domain and not copyright protected, anyone else can use the information and profit from it. The issue is not pertaining to true public domain works. The issue is that actual copyright holders have no rights unless they go through potentially convoluted procedures to object. If they do not spend time and money to object to their works being digitized, Google can keep on truckin. Google can profit off thei
  • Google's goal is to make all the world's data accessible computationally - indexable, searchable, findable and available to any other computation that can be performed on it such as data mining, concept extraction, knowledge extraction, translation, and so on. It in no way needs to be the sole access path to the data in order to do this. So there is no logical reason it would not offer access te the digitized books through non-google channels. Its plan is much broader and not nearly so evil as trying

    • Exactly.

      The Vatican hiding centuries of mankind's history in it's archives is evil.

      Google scanning all our knowledge to be accessed and stored by anyone and everyone seems a lot less evil.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by pandymen (884006)
      While that sounds awesome, Google is still gaining access to vast quanitities of copyrighted material without the explicit permission of the copyright holder. For every other company in the world, they need to obtain permission first before potentially profiting off of a work (Google will profit from subscriptions to their service). For Google, somehow, they do not need to obtain permission. Rather, a copyright holder needs to go through a process in order to object and have their material removed. Whil
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Syniurge (1550185)

        Part of copyright, yes.

        But it's also ridiculously impractical to negociate with hundred of thousands of copyright holders when you're going into mass digitalization of out-of-print books. The traditional way pointlessly restrains access to knowledge, and makes it more expensive.

        The laws should be changed so that anyone is free to make works that have been unavailable for a certain amount of time (e.g out-of-print for 1 or 2 years) available again (ideally for free, but if we allow profit making taking the t

  • What I really want is digital versions of all books in my library and all books I will ever care to read. I have no use anymore for dead trees and unsearchable text. I hope someone offers a reasonable price on digital versions of all books I already own.

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