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Saturday, November 5, 2005

Google Print, Cache, and Copyright


Steve Baker on Slashdot regarding Google Print – they recently resumed scanning of books – wrote (used with permission):

“I don’t see any difference between what Google are doing here and what they do to index web sites.

[They] roam the web – they take local copies of every web page – they index those pages – then they display a ’snippet’ of the page in response to a search query.

Same deal with the books. Scan them into a private archive, index the archive – display the title and a sentence or two of content to provide context. I see no problem with that.

What is problematic (both with the Web indexing and Book indexing) is the Google ’cache’ – where you can get the content of the web page from [Google’s] cache if the original web page is missing or slow. That is (in my opinion) a breach of the Web page owner’s copyright – and would be a breech of the book’s copyright too.

However, the indexing service that Google (and others) provide for the Web is the only thing that makes the Internet useful. Doing that for books would be of HUGE benefit to mankind and absolutely must be allowed – even if copyright law has to be changed to make it happen.

Let’s think carefully about the ’Google cache’ thing though – that’s dubious because it allows people access to content without going through the content provider’s access mechanisms. That’s the thing that deprives the author of value. Indexing actually increases the value of a work because it allows people to find it – and therefore increases the pool of potential purchasers by an enormous factor.

Google indexing should be the savior of printed media and authors should support it.

Google caching is morally dubious.”


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