Wednesday, November 24, 2010
The Good, the Bad, and the Possibilities with the Google Book Scanning Deal
At its simplest, the Google-French Book Scanning deal involves Google scanning thousands of French books, usually out-of-print, and Google will have the rights to use these scanned documents commercially.
At one end, this is alarming to publishers who invoke copyright protection, with the exception of Hachette Livre (that’s Publisher No. 2 to you) have in fact sued Google in court for copyright violation, and have won.
On the other end, the Lyon Library welcomes this innovation. One of the first books scanned was a rare 16th century collection of doomsday predictions by Nostradamus himself. The Ministry of Culture cries cultural theft, but the Library remains optimistic with the project’s noble objective: the promotion of heritage and culture. The Director was quoted saying, “By putting them on the internet, much larger circles of society, including non-specialists, can read these works and enjoy them and find them useful”.
The French Government made an attempt to build its own scanning facility, aptly-named Gallica, but as of the moment, it is nowhere near Google’s capabilities.
If by some chance, Google offers a deal like this in-country, I think we should go through with it, despite any copyright debate that may arise.
In-country, the problem has never been copyright protection. Publishers, especially the foreign ones, are already amply protected thanks to their lobby. Our problem has always been access, and we have very little of it.
Imagine the possibilities if works were made available online, then every Juan, Jong-Jong and Jing-Jing with access to DOTA and Facebook to all this knowledge. This is in the hope that we will be able to create a culture of book-readers, which we have never been, because we seem to find local noon time shows more entertaining.