Brewster Kahle of the Internet Archive criticizes the Google library digitizing project [WMV] in an interview with Mario Sixtus of the German Elektrischer Reporter.
I’m very glad that people are starting to pursue book digitization and the like – I just hope that it’s done with the right balance. Publishing and libraries have always worked in parallel, but there are some organizations that are specifically making libraries very, very difficult.
Google, for instance, is digitizing some great libraries. But their contracts (which were actually secret contracts with libraries – which is bizarre, but anyway, they were secret until they got sued out of them by some governments) are under such restrictions that they’re pretty useless... the copies that go back to the libraries. Pretty much Google is trying to set themselves up as the only place to get to these materials; the only library; the only access. The idea of having only one company control the library of human knowledge is a nightmare. I mean this is 1984 – a book about how bad the world would be if this really came about, if a few governments’ control and corporations’ control on information goes too far.
So, there’s a great deal of urgency to build an alternative; one that has corporate interests protected, as well as the public interest. We’re working with Yahoo, Microsoft and the Open Content Alliance, to do digitization that does bring a balance. It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing, where “yes, it’ll be corporate control of our libraries,” or “it will be completely public.” Balances can be struck, it’s just not being struck by a couple of companies that are going at it now.
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