Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Google Books Library Project -- and rascals

Some of you may be familiar with the awesome thing Google has been trying to put together for years: amass millions of out-of-print books in electronic form and make them available to everyone in the world. Here's how Google explains it:

"In October 2008, Google announced a settlement agreement with a broad class of authors and publishers to make the world's books even more accessible online. If approved, the agreement will help readers access millions of hard-to-find, out-of-print books; it will provide new opportunities for authors and publishers to sell their works; and it will further the efforts of our library partners to preserve and maintain their collections while making books more accessible for people on their home computers, in their academic institutions, and in public libraries across the U.S.Authors, publishers, students, teachers, librarians, and civil rights organizations have voiced their support for the agreement over the past months. This site provides a snapshot of their views and some of the ways the settlement will increase access to information."

But not everybody is happy with Google, with the usual accusations of antitrust being leveled at Google, who has signed contracts with the appropriate people and settled suits with The Author's Guild and the Association of American Publishers to ensure that its project goes forward.

The "Department of Justice" (apostrophes are mine) has weighed in on the matter and demands changes to the agreement, and a district judge is looking at the matter now. The district judge says that the agreement (which is contractual) "raises significant issues" (hmm, wonder what they might be?), but even more troubling, the district judge sort of likes the project because it "would offer many benefits to society."

Well, thank you, Mr. Collectivist. Glad you think Google is offering benefits to society. Hey, while you're at it, rascal, you might look up the meaning of "contract."

Thank you, Google, for being so fricking kick-ass! Luv ya, baby!

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