And Then There’s Reality

November 9th, 2005 · No Comments
by Booksquare

What with all the brouhaha over the notion of Google Print, it nearly went unnoticed that the actual service went live this week. Now is the time for friends and countrymen to actually check out the service; there is a rumor that facts help with the decision-making process. While we don’t subscribe to this notion, we understand that others enjoy having real information.

So yes, the service is live. It’s cool. It requires a login for certain searches. You get limited results. You can’t grab text. You have links to purchase the book. You can read the cover copy, flip through a few pages, the whole thing. The look and feel is similar to Amazon’s look inside this book (or whatever it’s called) service with search phrases highlighted.

The key thing to remember, from our perspective, is that digitizing libraries is not a someday-maybe sort of thing. It will happen. Given the dearth of public funds, it’s probably going to happen at the expense of private entities. One imagines libraries turning to this service in lieu of paying for other catalog services. One also imagines that the future will include enhanced librarian-only features as well. One tends to have a vivid imagination and far too much time on her hands.

From today’s detailed analysis at Salon:

On hearing of Google’s effort, one librarian told the New York Times, “Our world is about to change in a big, big way.”

So what happens next? The battle will change. While interested parties edge toward a compromise, various entertainment industries are grappling with the same issue, different perspectives. As we noted yesterday, this story illuminates gaps in our current copyright laws. If done right, the laws can be updated to meet the needs of a changing world while protecting artists and the people who hold their copyrights. Where to start? Well, let’s just say we know who holds the rights to The Da Vinci Code. While the answer isn’t easy, the issue rests here:

Indeed, in many cases the publishers and rights-holders of these books are unknown. There is no national registry of copyright holders in the United States, as there is a national registry of patents. Any book published is automatically granted a copyright, and if a book publisher goes out of business, or an author dies, the copyright to the work may well be buried in contracts that long ago turned to dust.

File Under: Our Continuing Fascination With Copyright