As expected, the proposed Google Book Search settlement has led to a lot of scrutiny, criticism and questions. Here is a link to the 125 page Settlement Agreement(without attachments; pdf). Here is a link to the page that holds the full agreement which, with attachments, is over 300 pages long).
Both Larry Lessig (“IMHO, this is a good deal that could be the basis for something really fantastic”) and Wade Roush(“Book Search settlement contains some major disappointments”) have taken a first crack at trying to decipher this settlement (Roush – “exhaustive, labyrinthine”) and figure out who, amongst the many stakeholders, are the winners and losers.
Here is a particularly interesting paragraph from Wade Roush’s article:
. . . [T]he devil . . . is in the details. If you read the agreement, you’ll see that it restricts each public library to exactly one Google terminal. Tens of millions of books online—but at any given moment, no more than 16,543 people are allowed to read them without paying. (That’s how many public libraries and branches there are in the United States, according to the American Library Association—one for every 18,500 Americans.)
So, America’s librarians will be hearing these words for generations to come: “Excuse me, where is the Google Terminal?” Or perhaps the librarians will receive phone calls asking: “Hi, how long is the line for the Google Terminal?”
Much more to follow.
[n.b. It appears that Harvard is unhappy with the terms of the proposed agreement, and is withdrawing in-part from its participation in the scanning project]
In November 2005 I wrote an article about Google Book Search and the legal efforts of copyright owners to stop Google from achieving its goal of digitizing the world’s books and making them searchable on Google. The lawsuit filed by the Author’s Guild described there has dragged on with little visible activity and no apparent end in sight, but in the meantime Google has been digitizing books like nobody’s business. Although Google won’t disclose how many books it has scanned (why is this a secret? certainly not because of the lawsuit – the answer would easily be discoverable), word on the street is that as of a year ago Google had scanned a million books. If true, and if they are going full steam, they may be approaching a million and a half by now. Probably more than both you and I could read in a lifetime.
Searching and browsing this collection is awkward, but interesting to a book lover. While Google only displays “snippets” of copyrighted works, there is a vast collection of books whose copyright has expired. Presumably, these unprotected works are constantly expanding in number, as copyrights expire with the passage of time. Absent some truly extraordinary action by Congress, which can’t be ruled out entirely, it’s only a matter of time before every book is free of copyright rights.
Google displays uncopyrighted books in “full view.” You (the user) can create your own “collection” of books (basically bookmarks maintained on Google Book Search), see information about the book (publisher, publication date, and so forth), view the book either in its original format or in plain text, and search the full text.
You can also embed snippets on other web pages, as I’ve done below. Here are a few notable or interesting books that I dug up, both beginning and ending with what some claim to be the most published book in human history. You can “click through” to get the full work on Google Book Search.
The Federalist Papers, published in 1864:
The Federalist A Commentary on the Constitution of the United States : a Collection of Essays By Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, James Madison, John Church Hamilton
Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al-Madinah & Meccah, by British explorer and polymath Sir Francis Richard Burton. published in 1906:
Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al-Madinah & Meccah By Richard Francis Burton, Isabel Burton, Stanley Lane-Poole
And lastly, the Old Testament in Hebrew (“Bible Hebrea”), or what fragments are left of it, published in 1280 and from the collection at the Complutense University of Madrid, which itself traces its history back to 1293.
Of course, you may have digital images of millions of books, but you still don’t have everything. I’ll bet Google is anxious to get its hands on the Codex Sinaiticus (image below).