Or is that, Glorious Google?
Two Congresscritters–Demopublican Pat Schroeder and Republocrat Bob Barr–are attacking Google’s Print Library Project (discussed here) in Reining in Google. They claim they are “joining together to fight a $90 billion company bent on unilaterally changing copyright law to their benefit and in turn denying publishers and authors the rights granted to them by the U.S. Constitution.”
Woo, look at the scare words–a big $90 billion company! Ummmm, I hate to break it to you–but you guys spend that much about every two weeks…. Compared to you, Google is a mom and pop shop.Whine our friendly Congresscritters,
Internet behemoth Google, plans to launch their Library project in November. [These geniuses don't even realize you don't put a comma after the opening clause here.] It plans to scan the entire contents of the Stanford, Harvard and University of Michigan libraries and make what it calls “snippets” of the works available online, for free.
What I found amusing were these lines: “Not only is Google trying to rewrite copyright law, it is also crushing creativity.”
Yeah, only Congress has the right to rewrite copyright law and crush creativity! Who do these upstarts think they are?!
And: “Just because Google is huge, it should not be allowed to change the law.” Ummm…. hey fellas, you do realize you work for Congress, right? How about shining that light on yourselves?
I also like this comment: “Google’s position essentially amounts to a license to steal, so long as it returns the loot upon a formal request by their victims.” Hey, if only the IRS would adopt this policy!
Google’s idea is this. The ‘fair use’” provision in copyright law allows Google to scan copyrighted books and put them on their Web site without seeking permission.” They will only offer snippets–to get the full work, you have to buy it legally. Any author can “opt out” of this if they just notify Google they don’t want their works online. In my view, Google’s gambit is courageous, brilliant, audacious, bold, and visionary. Yeah, they are taking a risk, but they have a shot at succeeding, and the payoff will be enormous.
It seems fairly clear to me that most authors will not opt out of the Google Library. I would love for my books to be available on the Google Library. Why? Because more people will stumble across my books as a result of a Google search, who would otherwise be unaware of it. Will it hurt sales of my books? Hardly at all–maybe an occasional browser will find a quote or fact he could not have obtained without buying the book in the 20th century type of paper book world; but then, most such people would simply have been unaware of my book’s relevant passages in the first place. And no doubt some of the people who do stumble across the book and find it of possible relevance will buy a copy. And, regardless of all this, it increases dissemination of my ideas–the book might be cited now in another book where it otherwise would not have been. For these reasons, I am sure that well over 90% of all authors would want their books up on the Google Library. And eventually, cantankerous, misanthropic, holdout authors will be like technophobes today who have no fax machine or email address–they will be marginalized and swept away. And this is what dinosaurs like Schroeder and Barr fear: that most authors want the Google Library, and the holdouts will sound increasingly like Luddites.
P.s.: My old friend, Objectivist Robert James Bidinotto, has a post endorsing the Schroeder/Barr piece.