File Under: Lawsuits Versus Manna

September 22nd, 2005 · No Comments
by Booksquare

We like to think that someone at the Author’s Guild agonized over their decision to sue Google for copyright infringement. And while many will disagree with us, we believe this is a shortsighted reaction, if only because Google is doing something libraries can’t do — creating a modern, digital version of the card catalog. While an elegant solution in its day, the card catalog, even as it migrated to electronic versions, was lacking. Little things like searching by keyword and assessing relevancy are hard to accomplish.

Google’s solution may not be the perfect answer either, but at least it’s providing a way for consumers to find relevant information. This, in turn, will likely lead to increased sales or borrowing of books. We agree that if the Author’s Guild has a purpose, it’s this:

The Author’s Guild, a New York-based non-profit organization, said its primary purpose as the nation’s largest organization of book authors was to advocate for and support the copyright and contractural [sic] interests of published writers.

The various accounts we’ve heard have indicated that Google has respected the doctrine of fair use. We also find it interesting that the Guild has chosen this route while the publishers (to the best of our knowledge) have not. Instead of continually waving the copyright flag — and it’s no secret that copyright has become a tool of corporations rather than individuals — we believe the Author’s Guild should work with Google to move the card catalog and research experience to the next level. After all, if a book turns to dust on a library shelf, will anyone hear it collapse?

File Under: Square Pegs