(This column appears in the January 06 issue of PC Advisor)
Book publishers and bloggers have joined the growing band of Google-bashers. A lawsuit has been filed to stop the Google Print Library Project - the company's attempt to create digital copies and an index of millions of books, many of which are still under copyright. Apparently, what Google is doing constitutes blatant copyright infringement.
Google wants us to believe that not only is the law on its side - claiming ‘fair use' - but that it is performing a public service, while undertaking what is at its core a commercial project. Funny how so many authors and publishers don't see how Google's doing them a great favour.
The say it is simply impractical to obtain permission from authors and publishers. Yet competitor Yahoo is in the midst of a similar book-indexing project, and is doing so with the express permission of copyright holders. And let's not forget that Google has the resources to do pretty much anything it considers to be important.
Google has agreed to let publishers and authors decline to have their work included in the project, but why offer an opt-out option if their lawyers are convinced that fair use will hold up in court?
This isn't about fair use. As is the case in virtually every serious legal dispute, this one is all about the money. While Google Print may one day prove to be as valuable a public resource as the local library, there's no getting around the fact that it is first and foremost a commercial enterprise.