Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Google and The Road to Evil.

Here is something from The Wall Street Journal: "Google’s Schmidt and Brin on Books, Culture and Evil-ness," when asked about the “orphan works” in the Google books settlement, Google co-founder Sergey Brin said, "...So I think these objections that Google will be the only one [with access to the orphaned works] are pretty ludicrous given that no one else has done this.” [emphasis, me]

Like most librarians, I love Google. I love having access to information and Google does an excellent job of making my searches easier. "You hear me, I love Google," he cries as some googlebot deletes every mention of the.effing.librarian from the interwebs.

That said, the truth is that librarians and researchers have always wanted to do this, but we have respect for property rights and we have a healthy fear of being sued. Yes, we've all thought of scanning every book in our collection. But we err on the side of caution because we assume the owners of these works might take offense. We don't have the balls to just do it and see who complains.

If Google succeeds and wins the right to host, publish, distribute, promote, package, optimize, index, and sell all of these books, then everyone should win the same rights to do the same with the same texts. These orphaned texts should make the fast track toward the public domain.

Now, what Google is doing may not be outright Evil, but it for sure is parading around in a cape and twirling its long, black mustache.