Thursday, October 20, 2005

Has Google become the new Napster?

Has Google become the new Napster? Will I, or should
I, become the Lars Ulrich of the library world?
(bloggers note: Lars Ulrich is the drummer of
Metallica who successfully sued to stop the free
downloading of music by Napster). Though, I guess I
did not need to explain that, you could have googled

At first read, of course I agreed with the publishers,
but after thinking about it....aren't public libraries
essentially doing the same thing? Libraries buy books
so that we (the general public) don't have to. I know
there are differences, the authors and publishers make
some money when libraries buy books, but wouldn't they
make a lot more if there were no libraries? I am
always amazed at the books in the collection of the
Chicago Public Library. Just last month I wanted some
mindless entertainment and thought I would read a
celebrity autobiography. Looked it up on Amazon,
almost bought and then on a fluke looked it up on the
CPL website....they had it! More than one copy of it
too! And it was even at my local, northwest side
branch! I thought there was no way the CPL would
carry such "fluff" material, but there it was. I
checked it out, read it and returned it. And saved
myself $20 in the process!

So, what is an agreeable solution to the Google vs.
the Association of American Publishers? How many
people want to read 200+ page books on their computers
anyway? And it's not like you can curl up on your
couch with a 200 page print out of your book. I don't
know, but I don't see the same problems for authors
that musicians faced with Napster. Should we
librarians join forces with the publishers and authors
and do a Lars Ulrich? Who would be our Lars?

Which brings me to another issue.......what is the
goal or desire of an "artist" (be it a musician,
author, painter, etc) anyway ? Is it a way to emote,
to express themselves? To share their vision of the
world? To leave the world a better place? To seek
fame and approval? Or, to do all the the above and
make a buck in the process? What was it Deep Throat
(of Watergate fame) said?..........FOLLOW THE MONEY.
But that is a another debate for another time.

From the October 19th issue of Chicago Tribune:

"Google Sued by Publishers Over Online Library Plan
> Bloomberg News
> Published October 19, 2005, 1:23 PM CDT
> An organization of book publishers including Pearson
> Plc's Penguin unit and McGraw-Hill Cos. sued Google
> Inc., the most-used Internet search engine, over its
> plan to create a digital Internet library of printed
> books.
> The Association of American Publishers sued today
> after talks broke down with Google over copyright
> issues raised by the Google Print Library Project.
> Publishers say Google will infringe copyrights
> unless it gets advance permission for the scanning.
> "While authors and publishers know how useful
> Google's search engine can be and think the print
> library could be an excellent resource, the bottom
> line is that under its current plan Google is
> seeking to make millions of dollars by freeloading
> on the talent and property of authors and
> publishers," Patricia Schroeder, the group's
> president, said in a statement.
> It's the second time Google has been sued over the
> project. In September, three writers and the Authors
> Guild, representing 8,000 authors, filed a
> copyright-infringement suit, also in New York
> federal court. In August, the company suspended
> scanning copyrighted books after publishers'
> criticism."

Whatever happened to Napster? See for yourself!


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