December 14, 2004 12:13 PM PST

Google adds major libraries to its database

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Google will expand its ability for searching books by working with Stanford and Harvard universities, among others, to digitize out-of-print and copyrighted works.

On Tuesday, the Mountain View, Calif.-based search giant announced relationships with five major libraries, including those at the University of Michigan and Oxford University, as well as the New York Public Library, to create digital copies of some books so that they may be searchable using Google. Also on Tuesday, the company began sampling some works already scanned for Google Print, the company's searchable index of books that it formally unveiled in October.

Susan Wojcicki, Google's director of product management, said the project will evolve over several years.

"Libraries have been the keepers of information for centuries," she said. "We're excited to unlock that wealth of Information."

For now, the scope of Google's relationship with each institution varies. For example, Harvard Publications director Peter Kosewski said the university is in a pilot program with Google to scan only 40,000 randomly selected books from its collection of 15 million, the largest academic library in the United States and one dating back to the 1630s. By going through the process, Harvard will be able to vet issues such as care of the books and copyright concerns and determine whether it's appropriate to proceed, he said.

Google has long said it plans to make the world's information accessible and searchable, and a cornerstone to its mission would be to bring libraries to life online. Google itself was born out of a library digitization project at Stanford, Wojcicki said, and its founders had planned all along to build a vast searchable index of books. Only now has the company found the technology and resources to work with libraries to scan their volumes, she said.

Faced with increasing competition from Microsoft, Yahoo and others, Google is also trying to continually differentiate itself in Web search and make its service vital to consumers in new ways. The task is not only in making it easy for consumers to find an obscure travel site on Zimbabwe or track a UPS package, but now it's also in helping a visitor call up and read a work of Shakespeare.

Still, the company must navigate tricky issues of copyright. Because libraries own only copies of copyrighted books and don't hold the rights to reproduce those works for wide distribution, Google will likely have to deal with publishers to share revenue on advertising, excerpt only a small portion

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This Is A Great Thing, But Reveals A Problem
it's fantastic that this is going to happen, not because others haven't been pursuing it, but because this will be so expansive in scope.

but, it reveals the real problem with modern copyright law thinking (that copyright is to allow the owner to wring out every last cent of profit from a work). for almost all documents, there is a huge gap from the time a work is "profitable" to sell, until copyright law expires. during this time it can be very difficult to find copies of the document. copyright law needs to be changed such that failing to publish a work causes that work to move to the public domain after some reasonable, set time. that way, these works will be available to all in a timely fashion once the copyright owner fails to maintain it in publication.

mark d.
Posted by markdoiron (1138 comments )
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different views
You know corp america and civil america have 2 different views on coptyright.

Civil view - you can take a book, movie, music and replicate it and share it. While being legal (in the mind) not asking for $$$ in return.

Most ppl believe as long as you give the author credit and don't make money off there work it is legal.


Corp view - thinks every single copy should be paid for, doesn't believe in backups.

Most corps would love for there products to be like food and have to be replaced every so often.


Corporations have a problem, they love money. if they made 10 million profit last year, they got to make 11 million profit this year or they feel there loosing money. why can't they just be happy making a profit.
Posted by simcity1976 (136 comments )
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