UPDATE 9/28/05: The New York Times gets it right:
Op-Ed Contributor: Search and Rescue
By TIM O'REILLY
AUTHORS struggle, mostly in vain, against their fated obscurity. According to Nielsen Bookscan, which tracks sales from major booksellers, only 2 percent of the 1.2 million unique titles sold in 2004 had sales of more than 5,000 copies. Against this backdrop, the recent Authors Guild suit against the Google Library Project is poignantly wrongheaded. [read on...]
NEWSgrist posted earlier this year about the problems encountered by Google Print , and then again when the print hit the fan in August. Various experts have weighed in; now read what Lawrence Lessig has to say:
reBlogged via Darknet:
Lessig on the Google-Authors Guild dispute
By JD Lasica on Digital rights & copyright
Lawrence Lessig has come down on the side of Google (as have I) in the dispute between Google and the Authors Guild. Writes Lessig:
I've been waiting to offer my opinion on this whole mess until I've thought it through, I've been reading a lot of other, much more informed peoples' opinions, and this is what I come up with.
First, information is power. If Google does not get this information out, someone else will. ...
Second, it's a fair use issue. Google is not talking about publishing the entire works of a particular author; just a tiny snippet, maybe some bibliographic information, and that's it. Think of a card catalog here in your public library. From the Official Google Blog:
"Let's be clear:Google doesn't show even a single page to users who find copyrighted books through this program (unless the copyright holder gives us permission to show more). At most we show only a brief snippet of text where their search term appears, along with basic bibliographic information and several links to online booksellers and libraries."
Thirdly, anything that is legitimately attempting to give people more access to literary works is all right by me. As an English major, I plan on using Google Print to search authors past works, find connections I hadn't thought of, and yes, probably buy some books. I'm not going to be reading whole works on my 'puter ...
...and more from Mr. Lessig:
It is 1976 all over again. Then, like now, content owners turned to the courts to stop an extraordinary new technology. Then, like now, copyright is the weapon of choice. But then, like now, the content owners of course don’t really want the court to stop the new technology. Then, like now, they simply want to be paid for the innovations of someone else. Then, like now, the content owners ought to lose.
This is the best case to illustrate the story I told at the start of Free Culture. Property law since time immemorial had held that your land reached from the ground to the heavens. Then airplanes were invented — a technology oblivious to this ancient law. A couple of farmers sued to enforce their ancient rights — insisting airplanes can’t fly over land without their permission. And thus the Supreme Court had to decide whether this ancient law — much older than the law of copyright — should prevail over this new technology.
The Supreme Court's answer was perfectly clear: Absolutely not. "Common sense revolts at the idea," Justice Douglas wrote. And with that sentence, hundreds of years of property law was gone, and the world was a much wealthier place.
[read his full post, with comments from readers]