Let me give you one example of why I’m apprehensive—and I am—about companies like Google. This post over at Coyle’s Information (which Patrick Murray-John recommended a while back) should be read in its entirety, but here is a snippet that frames the deal Google made with the Association of American Publishers (AAP), and how it impacts libraries who had been invited by Google to help them digitize their libraries for free (or a deal with the devil):
The deal that Google and the libraries had was that in exchange for working with Google to digitize books in their collections, the libraries received a copy of the digital file. After that, it was up to the libraries to do the right thing based on their understanding of copyright law. Participating with Google has been an expensive proposition for the libraries in terms of their own staff time and in the development of digital storage facilities. Part of the appeal of working with Google was the assumption that partnering with the search giant gave the entire project clout and provided some protection for the libraries. With Google and the AAP now in cahoots, the libraries must join them or try to stand alone in an unclear legal situation; an unclear situation that Google invited the libraries into in the first place.
This is classic bait and switch. And it is bait and switch with powerful commercial interests against public institutions. There is no question about it…
THIS IS EVIL
Why should schools be any different than libraries? And as Tony Bates notes in his post about “Googleopoly”, anyone who has published, or intends to publish, should be looking into the implications of the Google Settlement regarding their right to copy and distribute published books. He refers to a couple of quotes from Grace Westcott’s article “Googleopoly” in the Globe and Mail, which frames the implications of Google’s settlement with the AAP for other countries, and it looks just as bad for them as small libraries in the US:
‘The settlement is astonishing in its scope. If approved, it will permit Google, on a non-exclusive basis, to continue to digitize books from any source, and to maintain, expand and sell access to its enormous digital library in a number of specified ways.’
‘One implication you won’t find mentioned in U.S. summaries is the effect on libraries in Canada and the rest of the world. Unable to get access to a Google institutional subscription outside the U.S., Canada’s university libraries will be unable to compete with the more comprehensive offerings in the U.S., or, for that matter, with the offerings of even the smallest of its public libraries, each of which is entitled under the settlement to free access on one terminal to the entire Google database. Because the settlement does not address Canadian rights in books, Canadian users don’t get the benefits; outside the U.S., Google Book Search remains unchanged.’
I can’t see a more compelling case for pushing personal publishing with the tools we now have ever more vehemently, it is time for us to take back ownership of our ideas. All of us!