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Amazon, MS, and Yahoo Against Google's Library

samzenpus posted about 5 years ago | from the many-against-one dept.

Google 144

anonymousNR writes "From the BBC, 'Three technology heavyweights are joining a coalition to fight Google's attempt to create what could be the world's largest virtual library. Amazon, Microsoft and Yahoo will sign up to the Open Book Alliance being spearheaded by the Internet Archive. They oppose a legal settlement that could make Google the main source for many online works. "Google is trying to monopolise the library system," the Internet Archive's founder Brewster Kahle said.'"

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Open X Alliance (5, Interesting)

ShaggyZet (74769) | about 5 years ago | (#29153035)

1. Competitor is kicking your ass at X
2. Form Open X Alliance
3. Profit!

Re:Open X Alliance (3, Informative)

FooAtWFU (699187) | about 5 years ago | (#29153125)

I'm fairly sure that the Internet Archive is a nonprofit.

oooopps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29153169)

Too late to stop it dudes!

Re:oooopps (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29153525)

niggers are 13% of the population and they're in 90% of commercials. why?

Re:oooopps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29154803)

because they're superior sales-people.

3. Non-Profit (1)

earls (1367951) | about 5 years ago | (#29153257)

:) Cat has my tongue.

Re:Open X Alliance (5, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 5 years ago | (#29153263)

I'm fairly sure that the Internet Archive is a nonprofit.

Yep. Ironically Kahle started it the same year Larry Page started the research project which became google.

But, even if it is a non-profit that doesn't mean MS/Yahoo/Amazon aren't supporting it for their own reasons. I just hope Kahle is shrewed enough to milk as much support out of these new-found 'friends' as he can without giving away the cow.

Google's initiative is remarkably one-sided. But a lot of the opposition seems to be from 'old-media' types who want to keep things locked up in dead trees and paywalls rather than a solution that opens up as much information to as many people as possible. Kahle's got the opportunity to do not just the right thing, but the best thing, I hope he can get away with it.

Good Luck to Internet Archive as M$ Pawn. (1, Troll)

twitter (104583) | about 5 years ago | (#29153557)

Boycott Novell has some interesting insight [slashdot.org] about this deal. The big picture here is that people at M$, with big egos and even bigger bank accounts, want to "Fucking kill Google [slashdot.org] ." Yahoo is also advocating IE instead of Firefox and getting up to other obnoxious stuff.

The best way to create a good public library is to eliminate copyright and let people share. Napster proved the principle by creating the world's best music library and expanding music sales to their all time high. GNU/Linux has proved the way with software that's first class in every category. Journals, books and other information should be created and shared the same way. Do not expect Amazon, Yahoo and M$ [slashdot.org] to deliver anything but an Orwellian [slashdot.org] future of paranoid greed [gnu.org] .

Ugh. NOT INTERNET ARCHIVE. (1)

twitter (104583) | about 5 years ago | (#29153581)

The Open Book Alliance is a distinct organization from the Open Content Alliance, a group with similar goals created by Yahoo, the Internet Archive, and many universities.

It's just like M$ to make a confusing name this way. OOXML != Open Office XML, for example.

Twitter's back! (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 5 years ago | (#29153637)

How you doing, you scoundrel! I thought we'd lost you forever. It's good to see you back.

Re:Twitter's back! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29154109)

Twitter is a very smart guy who has a huge amount of intelligence but too few challenges in his life.

Actually for this (2, Interesting)

symbolset (646467) | about 5 years ago | (#29153669)

I like Bradbury's Farenheit 451 [wikipedia.org] better.

Over the years, the novel has been subject to various interpretations, primarily focusing on the historical role of book burning in suppressing dissenting ideas. Bradbury has stated that the novel is not about censorship; he states that Fahrenheit 451 is a story about how television destroys interest in reading literature, which leads to a perception of knowledge as being composed of "factoids", partial information devoid of context, e.g., Napoleon's birth date alone, without an indication of who he was.[6][7]

The two works do have a lot in common in this regard, but I think there's a subtle distinction between manufactured truth and just disassociating the populace from the culture that gives them reference to make them apathetic.

shill alert (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29154245)

> Boycott Novell

Ah yes, that's the website you shill for [slashdot.org] tirelessly [slashdot.org] and
where you boast to your buddies that you're gaming [slashdot.org] Slashdot:

After some thought, I've decided to keep using multiple accounts on Slashdot

And you even proudly announce you're stalking [boycottnovell.com] people.

You claim Slashdot is "tamed" because they remove [boycottnovell.com] your creative spelling when they choose to promote your stories.

Your friends even claim Slashdot is run by Microsoft [boycottnovell.com] .

Why do you even bother posting here if you hate Slashdot so much?

Re:Open X Alliance (2, Insightful)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about 5 years ago | (#29154709)

They may be but Amazon, MS and Yahoo are not and they stand to benefit from this too. They're not doing it for the non-profit.

Re:Open X Alliance (1, Funny)

AmberBlackCat (829689) | about 5 years ago | (#29153165)

Leave Mozilla out of this.

Re:Open X Alliance (1)

icannotthinkofaname (1480543) | about 5 years ago | (#29153199)

Er, exactly how often do "open" and "profit" coincide, anyway? They appear to contradict each other at first glance.

Or did you just forget the ??? step?

Re:Open X Alliance (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29153223)

They coincide when you're not the one with all the control.

Re:Open X Alliance (1)

ShaggyZet (74769) | about 5 years ago | (#29153295)

Yeah, I wasn't sure where to put the ???. But, I think that "open" doesn't always mean "open" in the same sense that we'd all like it too. Mostly I was poking fun at Google's Open Handset Alliance, which may be "open", but at the end of the day has most of the same restrictions that the iPhone does in practical terms. But that's another topic entirely.

Re:Open X Alliance (0, Redundant)

icannotthinkofaname (1480543) | about 5 years ago | (#29153339)

Yeah, I wasn't sure where to put the ???.

In my experience, it normally comes right before the Profit step.

Mostly I was poking fun at Google's Open Handset Alliance, which may be "open", but at the end of the day has most of the same restrictions that the iPhone does in practical terms.

Ah. I see. Well, that was a giant "whoosh" over my head, then. My bad.

Re:Open X Alliance (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 5 years ago | (#29153305)

Do you mean open as in free, or open as in venus fly trap?

Re:Open X Alliance (0, Troll)

SilverJets (131916) | about 5 years ago | (#29153395)

It may be open as in free right now but with Micro$oft and Amazon involved pretty soon it will be "not-open-at-all, pay through the nose for DRM'd crap that you can only view on their proprietary device".

Re:Open X Alliance (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | about 5 years ago | (#29154295)

1. Competitor is kicking your ass at X
2. Form Open X Alliance
3. Profit!

Hopefully where:

  taking_a_crap X murder

Re:Open X Alliance (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | about 5 years ago | (#29154301)

Err.. hopefully where:

    taking_a_crap < X < murder

Re:Open X Alliance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29154717)

Err.. hopefully where:

    taking_a_crap < X < murder

I don't know... "Open Murder Alliance" might be a good name for a rap music label.

Re:Open X Alliance (1)

Lemming Mark (849014) | about 5 years ago | (#29154907)

Is that where X.org came from? ;-)

This is not about competing to provide books (5, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | about 5 years ago | (#29153045)

It's about depriving us of access to out of print books. That is all.

Re:This is not about competing to provide books (5, Insightful)

Brian Gordon (987471) | about 5 years ago | (#29153103)

This. If Amazon had any intention of selling these books, they'd be selling these books! They just don't like that Google is getting a slice of their market.

Re:This is not about competing to provide books (2, Insightful)

icannotthinkofaname (1480543) | about 5 years ago | (#29153211)

If Amazon had any intention of selling these books, they'd be selling these books!

I thought that was the point of that Kindle thingy. However, I could be wrong; I'm not very familiar with the device

No, wait, I see where I'm going wrong. For all that DRM, Amazon is selling licenses to view the texts, rather than selling the books themselves. Never mind.

Re:This is not about competing to provide books (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 5 years ago | (#29153591)

I happened to be on a plane recently with the unspeakable pundit of SCO fame. The one who's adored throughout slashdot and groklaw for his insightful commentary. Starts with the "End" and ends early, phonetically.

The guy had a Kindle. You couldn't pay me to take the damned thing now. I don't care if it comes with the Library of Alexandria in html with illustrations in PNG and audio books of the great greek philosophers read by the authors themselves. If someone brings one in my house I'm smashing it.

Ah, bitterness. Sometimes it's a warm blanket.

Re:This is not about competing to provide books (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | about 5 years ago | (#29154101)

Uuum... if they're not selling them, it's not their market, is it?

You can't have it both ways. Either they are getting a slice of their market. Or they are not selling these books.

Re:This is not about competing to provide books (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29154533)

Or they're selling them at 0... or giving them away. So, yeah, they're impacting publisher's markets.

Sheesh

Re:This is not about competing to provide books (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29155049)

Google is opening up access to book A which discusses same topics as book B. Amazon makes profit by selling book B. People don't buy book B anymore.

Re:This is not about competing to provide books (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29153175)

Competing for dollars. If people are reading for free why buy 'em?

Re:This is not about competing to provide books (0, Troll)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 5 years ago | (#29153233)

It's actually about a corrupt attempt by Google to have the sole right to make out of print books available. I know the companies in the alliance don't have many fans on Slashdot, but this time they're right.

Re:This is not about competing to provide books (2, Insightful)

broken_chaos (1188549) | about 5 years ago | (#29153459)

Right thing for the wrong reasons, in many ways.

They're doing it so Google doesn't monopolize the 'market' for these books - but I imagine any one of them would do the same thing in a heartbeat if they could. The only saving grace here is having all of them together means they're unlikely to ever get that chance - and having the Internet Archive involved will hopefully keep some sane control over what does happen in the end.

Re:This is not about competing to provide books (3, Insightful)

rtb61 (674572) | about 5 years ago | (#29153493)

It is not the exclusive right to make out of print books that is a problem, you can't claim ownership of publishing writes unless you created the content or those rights were assigned by the person who created that content.

The privacy is the big problem. Should a person not have the same right to privacy, when they access a digital library as has been accepted through out the democratic world when they access a hard copy public library.

Google is really going to shoot itself in the foot and then stick the bloody stump in it's mouth. It claiming to be a public virtual library or at least creating the marketing pretence of being one it should be bound by the exact same expectation that people have when they attend a normal library, privacy, free access, non exclusivity of content and of course a complete absence of off topic advertising.

For authors of course, it means a huge amount of exposure and a huge amount of competition. So while the book now is continuously made available to a global audience it is also buried and obscured by a huge number of competitive titles. The best of 'class' books that get 'honestly' reviewed will get the bulk of the market and all the rest thousands upon thousands of titles will get basically nothing. Big profits for the best of 'class', no absolutely not because nearly as good as but one tenth the price will wipe them out. So the commoditising of books, 99 cents a copy anyone. Now add to that non-exclusivity and you can see why authors, especially publisher and, even retail sales are bitching.

You can also bet google will make 'open' books freely available on that site as well, so even more competition. With a world full of people who are more concerned with the knowledge imparted and of course with establishing a publicly acknowledged level of expertise, you can expect open books will inevitably become best of class because they will continue to be worked on, refined and improved, whilst remaining free.

So stop google, 'NO' absolutely 'NOT', let's just ensure non-exclusivity and, mandated strictly enforced privacy ;D.

Loyalty cards (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 5 years ago | (#29153631)

You do know what those loyalty cards from Borders are about, right? The ones where you get charged extra if you refuse to let them link your purchases to some personally identifying information? Sure, you can pay cash and pay extra, but if you put that "The Catcher in the Rye" on your visa, do you know they're not linking it anyway? What makes you think Amazon doesn't market your preference data?

If you want anonymity for your purchases online buy a prepaid credit card and buy from Firefox in privacy mode, from a remote desktop hosting account in a foreign country you pay for in eGold. If you want privacy from a bookstore pay more, in cash. You won't have as good a selection though.

None of these issues bear on the matter at hand. It's getting harder to manage your privacy. That's not Google's fault.

If these vendors want to scan a million books and put them online at a bookstore that takes eGold, doesn't use cookies and doesn't ask your name, you're a target market. Great. But somewhere in here there's a compromise that doesn't lose us the wealthy heritage of knowledge that are out of print books unavailable from any other source. Those books make up the majority of books ever printed after all.

Skipped a step (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 5 years ago | (#29153691)

And get some offshore services called "remailers" to send the packages to. They rebundle your purchases and forward them to your real address. If you're really paranoid use several in a chain in different non extradition countries and pay extra for notification of warrant service.

If your tinfoil hat is on that tight, that is.

Re:This is not about competing to provide books (5, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | about 5 years ago | (#29153513)

No, they're not trying to prevent Google from having the sole right. They're trying to prevent Google from having any right. That's evil.

I have concerns about the risk of Google having too much power too. A motto only goes so far. But from where I sit they didn't get the market dynamic they have from buying up ideas and forcing people out of business with dirty tricks [theregister.co.uk] like some of these. They get their markets by competing and giving better service - doing what they do very well. That might be an advantage, but I have trouble coloring it an unfair advantage. Others have the chance after all to step up their game if they're able.

Re:This is not about competing to provide books (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29153879)

Am I missing something in this? What is to prevent Yahoo, Microsoft, et al from going to other universities and scanning their own collection of out of print books and reaching a similar settlement with the Author's Guild (my guess is that they would follow the model of the United Auto Workers, and ask for just a bit more than what they got out of the last party they negotiated with). I imagine that the final result cites what library the books came from (prestige being one of the reasons for a library to do this).

There are a fair number screaming "monopoly", but unlike with EBay, I'm am doubtful that network effects would lock Google into being the king of this market if Yahoo or Microsoft offered a better product. For those complaining about ads/tracking, that is the trade-off for Google's investment in doing this - we pay for public libraries via taxes or gifts from donors, and part of me would love for this to have been financed by donation to avoid the ads portion, but I also trust that the usefulness/robustness of searching within texts/for texts will be much better under Google's or Yahoo's direction than a random non-profit. For evidence of this quality difference, just check Wikipedia's internal search - it is about on the level of an encyclopedia index rather than being smart enough to check spelling or synonyms. Let the others compete, allied or not as they find effective, don't allow them to block Google's innovative idea.

That's the thing (3, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | about 5 years ago | (#29154027)

The thing is, any one of these groups has the ability to strike a deal with the author's guild. Google doesn't have an exclusive license. All they have to do is get up in a business Google's adopted and out-compete them in quality of service.

I can see why they'd rather fight it out in court, but that doesn't mean I favor their cause.

Re:This is not about competing to provide books (4, Insightful)

KliX (164895) | about 5 years ago | (#29153271)

We have no access to out of print books. That's kinda the point.

A: because it disrupts the flow of a post (2, Interesting)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 5 years ago | (#29153661)

Q: Why is starting a comment in the Subject: line irritating?

Re:A: Also, it triggers incessant whining. (1)

maxume (22995) | about 5 years ago | (#29154863)

Q: Why is starting a comment in the Subject: line irritating?

But of course (3, Informative)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | about 5 years ago | (#29153055)

Microsoft won't have any complaints about Corbis and its buying up of images and their publication rights. Especially since Corbis was founded by Bill Gates.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corbis [wikipedia.org]

Google does have a bit too much power. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29153075)

Knowledge is power. Letting Google control too much knowledge will give them a lot of power. Power corrupts.

Seriously, I'd much prefer an open database of scanned works rather than letting one company negotiate a deal.

Re:Google does have a bit too much power. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29153191)

Those companies already have an open database of scanned works hosted by the Internet Archive. You are free to use it and ignore Google's larger, indexed library.

Re:Google does have a bit too much power. (5, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | about 5 years ago | (#29153505)

The complaint, though, is that Google alone will have access to in-copyright but unknown-author books, as part of the terms of the settlement. It's a weird sort of legal loophole in that nobody normally would have access, but if Google successfully settles a class-action lawsuit, then the class representatives can give Google permission on behalf of the class members. The only way for anyone else to get similar permission would be to either contact these unknown authors individually, or find a way to get a class-action lawsuit filed against them that would enable them to negotiate a similar settlement.

Re:Google does have a bit too much power. (1)

Kirijini (214824) | about 5 years ago | (#29153779)

The complaint, though, is that Google alone will have access to in-copyright but unknown-author books, as part of the terms of the settlement. It's a weird sort of legal loophole in that nobody normally would have access, but if Google successfully settles a class-action lawsuit, then the class representatives can give Google permission on behalf of the class members. The only way for anyone else to get similar permission would be to either contact these unknown authors individually, or find a way to get a class-action lawsuit filed against them that would enable them to negotiate a similar settlement.

So the only way to compete in this "market" is to do the same thing that Google did to get into the "market"?

Sounds to me like if a bunch of companies who make gadget X got together (ie, colluded) to stop some other company from building a factory that makes widget Y, because widget Y might cut into gadget X's market-space. If gadget X makers want to control the market, they gotta build factories to make widget Y.

Re:Google does have a bit too much power. (3, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | about 5 years ago | (#29153951)

Well, there's no real official way into the market. If they just started violating copyright, it's possible someone might file a class-action lawsuit against them, and possible they might be able to negotiate some sort of settlement similar to the one Google got. But it's not at all clear that that would be the outcome. Google's basically found a very clever way of using the class-action mechanism's preclusion to violate the copyright of people who haven't agreed, because class-action lawsuits are opt-out rather than opt-in.

Re:Google does have a bit too much power. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29153529)

Not so much worried about the ability to develop a database, I'm worried about the legal deal that's been negotiated. When it comes to works simply known to be in the public domain, that doesn't worry me. Google having rights protecting it and its interests over others, who may not even know about the deal, that can be a problem.

Re:Google does have a bit too much power. (2, Insightful)

Stuntmonkey (557875) | about 5 years ago | (#29153955)

Seriously, I'd much prefer an open database of scanned works rather than letting one company negotiate a deal.

It is a nontrivial exercise to obtain high-quality scans of 20+ million books. The scanning must be done non-destructively, since nearly all of these books are out of print. This means someone/something turning pages and taking pictures. It costs most archivists hundreds of dollars to scan each book this way. Which is fine if you're the Brewster Kahle trying to compile a very small collection. If you want to do a complete job of it, it costs hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions -- and that's if you get the scanning technology and QC pipeline right.

The question is: Who pays all that money to do the scanning?

I'm guessing Brewster Kahle would prefer that the US Government fund it. Maybe that would be nice, but I don't think it's particularly realistic. Other than that, only Google has stepped up to this effort. Microsoft quit theirs last year. If Google thought they had no legal basis to use this material, or make any money from it, I guarantee they would stop the scanning in an instant. They aren't stupid after all.

I'm guessing the "Open Book Alliance" has no intent to invest the scale of effort needed to pull this off. They're just trying to shoot torpedoes at Google.

"They're just trying to shoot torpedoes at Google" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29154187)

Open Book Alliance motto: "We not only do evil, we try to prevent good."

monoplizing? (2, Funny)

allcaps (1617499) | about 5 years ago | (#29153077)

They aren't monopolizing anything; they're cornering the market. Huge difference.

Re:monoplizing? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29153219)

do you make love to gaybabies?

what's open? (5, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | about 5 years ago | (#29153081)

So what exactly is "open" about the Open Book Alliance? Or was the name chosen for being a bad play on words.

Re:what's open? (1)

Anonymous Cowar (1608865) | about 5 years ago | (#29153523)

You must be new here, when non-Open Source companies are involved, the "Open" usually precedes a few silent vowels and consonants (spaces too) and that if you were a native speaker of the marketing drone language, you would recognize that "Open " (the space is important), when used in the phrase, really expands out to "Open your wallet and pay for your Book" Alliance, (italics mine). Amazing how a little education goes a long way, eh?

Re:what's open? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29153709)

You open books in order to read them. Duh.

Some has to do it (3, Interesting)

Skinkie (815924) | about 5 years ago | (#29153111)

Personally I don't care if BigCorpG or BigCorpM does it. I mean, all we really want is books to be available to anyone that wants to read, study and enjoy books. Imagine a world of an endless alway-open library system, free and available to anything that can connect to the web if it wants to borrow something new. The scanning effort Google is doing will never come in time for some books, but on the other hand they did hype it. Form an alliance be against Google, but at least show you can do it better.

Re:Some has to do it (3, Interesting)

Rog7 (182880) | about 5 years ago | (#29153147)

/Agreed.

None of the companies in this coalition had the balls to step up and do this themselves. I'm guessing they didn't think there was any money in it. Now that Google is doing it, all they see is an opportunity to take a shot at their competitor in other markets.

Note the wording of the writeup: "could make Google the main source". Not the only source.

Re:Some has to do it (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | about 5 years ago | (#29153189)

None of the companies in this coalition had the balls to step up and do this themselves.

Nobody wants to go up against the G alone, i mean they can fuck with your pagerank then how will people find your website!

Re:Some has to do it (2, Interesting)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 5 years ago | (#29153213)

If Google diddles your page rank, you're probably just totally Bing-ed!

Ya know, I don't recall ever seeing an advertisement on television for Google products. Google is just so good, people talk about them, and everyone starts using them. I've not even seen an advert for their out of print books - it's just viral on the net.

Bing? Why do I need 127 commercials on my television to tell me how good Bing is? Hmmmmm.

Anyway - back on subject. Let them form their little alliance. People won't notice anyway.

Re:Some has to do it (2, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | about 5 years ago | (#29154871)

The ad program was to make sure you knew what Bing! was, not to make sure you use it. They obviously succeeded (though you are likely someone who would have encountered it anyway).

Re:Some has to do it (1)

wfstanle (1188751) | about 5 years ago | (#29153251)

Why won't they mess with your page rank?

Easy! If they did start with messing with the page ranking they would be perceived (correctly) as not being impartial. If they loose their aura of impartiality they loose everything. People will start to look for a better search engine.

Re:Some has to do it (3, Insightful)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about 5 years ago | (#29153713)

None of the companies in this coalition had the balls to step up and do this themselves.

Do what themselves? Get sued and settle?

I don't think that anyone would object if terms of the settlement were universally applied to everyone - so that e.g. Amazon could also go pay some reasonable fee to provide out-of-print books, and compete with Google. But as it is, it's clearly not a level playing field anymore.

Re:Some has to do it (2, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 5 years ago | (#29153771)

And that's the constant non-strategy here. Google does something that no one else thought of, or at least no one else was capable or willing to dump resources into, becomes the early favorite, and all of a sudden, it's "hey they're monopolizing this, they're evil, let's gang up and stop 'em!"

But that's the nature of competition, and being the first one out of the gate doesn't always mean you're the first one across the finish line. Still, my advice to anyone getting into bed with those bastards in Redmond is don't. Microsoft only has marriages of convenience, and will either eat you alive or rip the flesh from your bones and discard you.

Re:Some has to do it (2, Insightful)

martin-boundary (547041) | about 5 years ago | (#29153333)

You should care if BigCorpG or BigCorpM does it. In time, they will put DRM, file version incompatibilities, expiring licenses, margin adverts, "legal" censorship etc on those books.

If these companies are the only ones with the ability to serve most of the world catalog of books, then we will all be the poorer for it.

Freedom requires that out of copyright books and older books whose legal status is unclear (which is what we're talking about) be scannable/distributable by everyone, or else by no-one.

Re:Some has to do it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29153577)

I think most people are missing the bigger picture here. Google has invested time, energy and money into their book scanning project. Any of the "Big 3" could have done the same thing. Maybe some of them have to some extent. Those who invest the money and make a product worth having may eventually be successful. If those who are in power abuse it, then they get called a Monopoly... but if they are big enough and have not abused their power they get called a Monopoly also. The rest of the time people run around like little children about johnny not sharing his toys when all the time they were not sharing either. Anyone can play, but it should not be at the expense of another. Spend the money, time and energy and build or lease the technology that allows you to compete or stop whining.

Re:Some has to do it (4, Insightful)

martin-boundary (547041) | about 5 years ago | (#29154175)

Perhaps you're unaware of the money and energy invested by the Internet Archive, or the scanning projects by Google's competitors and single university libraries?

Not that investing money and energy implies quality. Google's scanned books are very low quality, as a matter of fact. If you'd like to see good quality scans, try pointing your browser at the Center for Retrospective Digitization of Goettingen University [uni-goettingen.de] for example.

The problem though isn't money or energy for scanning, there's plenty of that around. The problem is legal, as in Google have an exclusive agreement with the American Author's Guild, so others are not allowed to play. That's the problem here.

Maybe you believe in capitalism? In that case, don't forget that every time some one company has an exclusive right to exploit a resource, it inevitably leads to low quality, expensive junk passed off as gold.

Re:Some has to do it (1)

mixmatch (957776) | about 5 years ago | (#29153595)

Freedom requires that out of copyright books and older books whose legal status is unclear (which is what we're talking about) be scannable/distributable by everyone, or else by no-one.

Thats are really idiotic statement. I'd rather have restricted access to a resource than none at all. Your little idealistic thought would be great in a world where the books could digitize themselves at no cost or effort to anyone. That is not the case and the books in question are still protected by copyright, which by definition prevents them from being 'scannable/distributable by everyone'. Are you telling me you never access any copyrighted material because copyright restricts your "freedom requirement"?

Re:Some has to do it (2, Insightful)

martin-boundary (547041) | about 5 years ago | (#29154189)

Thats are really idiotic statement. I'd rather have restricted access to a resource than none at all.

I'd rather have competition. If there cannot be competition because of the law, then the law should be changed, or there should be no access until the pressure builds to change the laws.

Your little idealistic thought would be great in a world where the books could digitize themselves at no cost or effort to anyone.

Q: How does one produce a digital copy of a book?
A: One person scans the book, and 50 million people download it.
The cost is therefore negligible.

That is not the case and the books in question are still protected by copyright, which by definition prevents them from being 'scannable/ distributable by everyone'.

Wrong. Google have a "free pass" on scanning anything they like, because they settled a class action with the American Author's Guild. Nobody else gets a free pass, and that's wrong. Either Google should not get a free pass, or everybody should get a free pass.

Information/Knowledge is power... (1)

nulled (1169845) | about 5 years ago | (#29153237)

The more information you have, the more powerful you are.

Plain and simple... Google wanting to quantify everything from Planet Earth (Google Earth), to the Internet (this includes indexing all sites including wikipedia which is a massive store house of human Knowledge ).

You can then govern this knowledge how you like... Google HAS worked with the US government in regards to Terrorists and definetely the horrible child porn... do you think Google did so without a 'Fee'? At least Administrative fees.

Google if allowed to archive everything, even Tangible Items, like paper books, just Adds to the sum total Knowlege power house.

There is also an effort to convert old cassette and other old recordings into text, which can then be search able.

Google of course has already indexed this information, which can be sold to Lawyers.

Google needs competition, no doubt.

Google may be 'good' (as we can tell) right now... but money corrupts absolutely at some point.

Things can 'get out of hand' as you can see.

Re:Information/Knowledge is power... (0, Troll)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 5 years ago | (#29153361)

Google may be 'good' (as we can tell) right now... but money corrupts absolutely at some point.

A-fucking-men.

When Google goes evil, not if, they are going to make Emperor Palpatine look like Barak Obama by comparision. It's going to be apocalyptic. Companies, industries and even nations are going to feel the weight of all their own secrets and knowledge crushing down upon them as it Google squashes all around it into an easily indexed pulp. We are going to see Google Private Eye franchises, Google protection rackets, Google industrial espionage, citizen profiling, financial translation analysis. You name it. Our data will be the end of us all, and Google will be company controlling the databases.

You see when Google turns, not if, It's the not just going to bring the data and apps it currently has to the dark side. It's going to bring a sizeable proportion of its engineers and PhDs with it. And army of Geeks ready willing and able to remould the internet and our very society with the algorithms under their control. There will be no historical precedent for the transition or its ramifications. Microsoft will seem benevolent by comparision.

It's coming. Humans don't stay angels forever.

Day by day old works fade away (5, Interesting)

symbolset (646467) | about 5 years ago | (#29153447)

Their wealth abandoned and forgotten until the last copy is lost. Each was once a treasure, each contains something unique that once lost is gone forever. Who knows what nuggets of wisdom once enshrined in print might enlighten, inform, inspire or entertain a new generation? Nobody knows. We do know from dangling references in works of historical importance that a great deal has always been lost. Amazon knows that if people continue to have access to old books, they won't buy as many new ones. Microsoft knows that they must fight the Google on every front from the Halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli. Yahoo, well, we all know why they're following Microsoft in this. And so this vile crew set their goal not to do it better but to prevent this service to mankind.

Google's effort fights the loss. It struggles to retain as much as possible against the inevitable creep of time. It's great, in my mind, that this goal even occurred to them. If some others want to compete in this worthy cause they should do so. But to fight against it is evil: not potential evil, but actual and active evil.

Count me with the people who don't see the Internet Archive's angle in this. It's basically taking their "archive everything" web idea and applying it to dead tree based data. If preserving the drunken mumblings of every blogger is important, surely preventing the loss of the writings of Arnold J. Toynbee and the host of others like him must be more so. Not everything worth preserving has been published on the Internet. Yet.

Re:Information/Knowledge is power... (5, Interesting)

Artifakt (700173) | about 5 years ago | (#29153565)

You're the second person to post some variation on the 'knowledge is power, and some people want to control that power' theme, and I just wanted to add that there's some real, specific reasons this applies at the present time to out of print books, for those who may think the meme is a little paranoid.
        A few weeks ago, I read a book on higher dimensional geometry (Geometry, Relativity, and the Fourth Dimension - by Rudolph v. B. Rucker). It was published in 1977 in a cheap Dover paperback edition. In the back, there's references to a large number of books and papers on Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, and abstract math, by some of the most famous names of 20th century physics (Einstein, Wheeler, Hawking, Everett, Minkowski, etc.) A tremendous number of these turn out to be out of print and unavailable through Amazon or other common sources. In one case, I was offered a copy of one work for over 300 dollars.
      There are also a lot of books on the 'occult' side of higher dimensions in the references. Rucker isn't pushing an esoteric knowledge angle - He quotes from several of these, but he's often very critical of the misinterpretations of science found in them, and while he sees some interesting features in the works of people like P. D. Ouspensky or J. W. Dunne, he comes down rather harder on Carlos Castaneda. A little checking on these found a surprising number of them were in print or available online at low costs, and most of the rest were being offered free online from various occult groups websites.
      What all this implies is left as an exercise for the astute reader. One example does not, by itself, make much of a trend, but it would be interesting if other such cases exist.

  .

Double-take (1)

SilverHatHacker (1381259) | about 5 years ago | (#29153243)

Microsoft signed up for the Open Book Alliance, to fight a suspected monopoly?
Of course, whenever there is a threat to the free market, we can always count on Microsoft to step up, the fearless defender of liberty and champion of the people.
Oh, wait...

Re:Double-take (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29153393)

Yeah, I had to re-read the whole thing when I read 'Microsoft' there. The irony, huh?

That said, seemingly, google doesn't want to monopolize anything. They're just the first guys to think "hey, I know, let's offer this awesome service to which there is an enormous demand nobody is catering to!". This isn't a monopoly, it's being smart about which markets you expand to, and Microsoft is jealous of not having the infrastructure to do the same, Amazon is pissed because google is cutting into their Book Overlord cake, and yahoo... Yahoo is yahoo.

And guys, get real. "Knowledge is power and power corrupts!", yeah, we got the memo when Google got the top search engine status and we got it again when gmail was launched. While these may be valid concerns for search terms/mail storage, they are certainly not for out-of-print books. What's google going to do with some old dusty tomes (of the non-magical sort) that it can't do with your search terms or your mail? (Before I forget, /s)

Not sure that I would call them tech giants (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29153349)

MS obtain tech generally by stealing it, and lately by buying it.
Yahoo has NEVER had any real decent tech that it developed. For example, yahoo made heavy use of Perl and BSD.
Same for Amazon.

All have ridden on the coattails of real giants.

Mod away your fan bois.

Re:Not sure that I would call them tech giants (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29153485)

Yeah, Amazon are leechers, just like Linux devs! They use all sorts of open source tools and languages to build large systems to run their business. Nice people would have enter the machine code directly, instead of relying on crutches like Perl!

Re:Not sure that I would call them tech giants (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29153569)

Just like your last two assertions ride the coattails of the first two?

Yahoo! specifically has created and released quite a lot of code. Amazon released the Kindle code. Even MS releases quite a bit of open source code.

Re:Not sure that I would call them tech giants (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 5 years ago | (#29153793)

...Even MS releases quite a bit of open source code

If you mean "potentially patent encumbered time bombs" then you'd be correct.

Re:Not sure that I would call them tech giants (1)

religious freak (1005821) | about 5 years ago | (#29153731)

Well, irrespective of how MS attained their 'giant' status, they are certainly a giant. When that elephant moves all the mice take notice.

But I do agree with you about Yahoo! and Amazon, they were the hype companies of the '90s and they're still riding that inertia. Yeah, some of Amazon's business practices are certainly innovative (inventory management comes to mind), but a "giant"? No.

A genuine question (1)

slasho81 (455509) | about 5 years ago | (#29153469)

If I as a customer and citizen get to view whole books or book snippets for free while still having access to books as I used to have in the past, then why should I care if Google "monopolizes" the virtual library market or not?

Re:A genuine question (3, Insightful)

boarder8925 (714555) | about 5 years ago | (#29153521)

Because when you have access so much information controlled by one organization, you are wholly at the mercy of that organization. If Google decides that they don't want you reading some book for whatever reason, then you're shit out of luck unless you've got a hard copy of it. When you have an organization comprised of and accountable to several organizations, then you [ostensibly] have a lesser chance of shit like that happening.

Re:A genuine question (4, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | about 5 years ago | (#29153729)

If Google decides that they don't want you reading some book for whatever reason, then you're shit out of luck unless you've got a hard copy of it.

So.. kinda like if Google did nothing?

Re:A genuine question (1)

nycguy (892403) | about 5 years ago | (#29154963)

So.. kinda like if Google did nothing?

No, not kinda like that. The comparison being made was having a single, commercial organization have sole control, versus a (presumably) non-commercial organization composed of or otherwise beholden to a group of commercial organizations. Google does deserve some "first mover" credit, but so does most any company that establishes a monopoly early on. The issue being raised is the potential for them to abuse their sole provider status for these works and the desire to ameliorate that by spreading the responsibility and control around--no one is saying that it would have been better if Google hadn't done this at all.

Re:A genuine question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29155075)

no kinda like Google did nothing and prevented anyone who was trying to do something. that is monopoly. Being the sole provider is not monopoly. locking out others is.

Re:A genuine question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29154249)

On a similar note as the parent, we have to understand that these books are DIGITAL content. They cannot be read without some sort of hardware to display them and they can't be found without some sort of method to show them. What do you think MS, Yahoo, Amazon are thinking about when they join this group? They want similar access to DIGITAL works so that they can publish them through their distribution channels and/or display them on their (proprietary) hardware. Do you think MS and Amazon believe people will be reading books in the same way 10, 20, 50 years down the line? I would wager they are setting their sights on both DISTRIBUTING books digitally, and DISPLAYING them with proprietary hardware.

Essentially substituting themselves as the publisher/marketer in the current system. Because if Google has access to all the books, and someone else tries to distribute them, what do you think will happen?

I'm all for it. (2, Insightful)

eldridgea (1249582) | about 5 years ago | (#29153487)

I'm all for an Open Alliance as opposed to a closed one, but I want what Google is offering.

University all access passes for their libraries and students.

Access to orphan books.

Easy for authors to claim rights and be compensated.

Easy reading on computers, mobile devices, and e-readers.

If you guys can accomplish all this as quickly and completely as Google will, I'll support you.

Re:I'm all for it. (3, Insightful)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about 5 years ago | (#29153721)

I'm all for an Open Alliance as opposed to a closed one, but I want what Google is offering.

University all access passes for their libraries and students.

Access to orphan books.

Easy for authors to claim rights and be compensated.

Easy reading on computers, mobile devices, and e-readers.

If you guys can accomplish all this as quickly and completely as Google will, I'll support you.

What I want here is for everyone to have the ability to pay fees and provide access to all those things the same way Google can do it now. It really is a very good thing they're doing, but I don't see why they should be the only ones legally able to do it.

If after that happens, Google is still the only one actually doing it - or if they're the ones doing it best (which is quite likely - where Google starts first, it's usually hard to beat them) - I don't mind. The free market will settle it there. But let it be free first.

Re:I'm all for it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29153925)

I'm with you except for the one issue you are a bit ambiguous about - competitors should have to do their own scanning (or license the scans from Google). It is a fairly significant undertaking to scan all that stuff, it is not fair to steal that effort and allow other companies to make use of it without either mirroring or contributing to the costs of scanning.

Reference farm. (1)

mano.m (1587187) | about 5 years ago | (#29153745)

Fending off wild humans living with the Houyhnhnms allied with mythical female warriors, all while battling multiple sclerosis? Only you, misspelt ten raised to the hundredth power.

The Internet Archive has been fighting this (5, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | about 5 years ago | (#29153753)

The Internet Archive has been fighting this, but not to prevent access to out of print books. They want get the same deal as Google - the right to redistribute out of print books unless the author/publisher opts out. What they object to is that the current deal is structured to give Google essentially exclusive rights to charge for access to out of print books. Libraries get one (1) terminal allowed to access the books for free; everything else goes behind a Google paywall.

This is really a legal scheme to make copyright opt-in again, instead of opt-out. Before various revisions to US copyright law, you had to register copyrights and renew them to keep them in force. So out of print stuff slipped easily into the public domain. Under current law, most material is locked up by copyright, even if nobody cares.

One way of looking at this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29153883)

a coalition of the weak...

Article about the subject from Berkeley Law Prof (3, Interesting)

paleshadows (1127459) | about 5 years ago | (#29154221)

Pamela Samuelson, a Professor at Berkeley (with a joint appointment in the School of Information and the School of Law) has written an interesting short article about the subject in the July 2009 issue of the Communication of the ACM, titled "Legally Speaking: The Dead Souls of the Google Booksearch Settlement [oreilly.com] ". She argues that

In the short run, the Google Book Search settlement will unquestionably bring about greater access to books collected by major research libraries over the years. But it is very worrisome that this agreement, which was negotiated in secret by Google and a few lawyers working for the Authors Guild and AAP (who will, by the way, get up to $45.5 million in fees for their work on the settlement--more than all of the authors combined!), will create two complementary monopolies with exclusive rights over a research corpus of this magnitude. Monopolies are prone to engage in many abuses.

The Book Search agreement is not really a settlement of a dispute over whether scanning books to index them is fair use. It is a major restructuring of the book industry's future without meaningful government oversight. The market for digitized orphan books could be competitive, but will not be if this settlement is approved as is.

The sooner google books is retired the better (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29154277)

What is the point of google books really?
They dont make any free books freely available and only link to "buy this now" even for books and scans that are public domain globally.

I can seriously not find any books on google books that are available freely that are published prior to ca 1830. Perhaps 1830 is the cutoff when their "I sell public domain books for profit" partners have agreed on with google?

For example this book:
http://books.google.com/books?id=9zuFXqw12hUC&q=strindberg&dq=strindberg&lr=

This book, published in 1919 is public domain in sweden, the us, europe, australia, ...
I can only find a "snippet view" and a link to where i can buy this book from a google partner.

Why cant i download the scans, as I can from TIA.

Great news that TIA get support from those three companies. TIE does a great job preserving history and books for us. Google books, less so.

GO TIA GO!

Where's my "-1, Ignorant" mod choice? (2, Interesting)

znerk (1162519) | about 5 years ago | (#29154531)

Disclaimer: I will not attack your spelling, grammar, or punctuation in this post. It would waste even more of my readers' time, and be no challenge whatsoever. Besides, I'm surprised I'm bothering to respond to an AC at all, but I wanted desperately to clear up your misinformation.
My rebuttal of your post follows.

Firstly, a link is ridiculously simple to create, and greatly increases your chance of actually having the reader follow your browsing trail of breadcrumbs. Here, let me show you:

http://books.google.com/books?id=9zuFXqw12hUC [google.com]

Secondly, the page you failed to link to has the 1919 version of a book that was actually published in 1950 (twice!) and 1951. The three links at the bottom have access to full scans of all three earlier versions of that text.

Thirdly, There's not even a "snippet" link on the page you're linking to, so it may either have been yanked due to the slashdot effect, or perhaps it's not finished being scanned in? I seem to recall reading that this "digitize everything ever written" project is "in process".

Next, I will wonder why you are upset that you can't find any books prior to 1830, public domain or otherwise. Are you really upset that you can't find any books in this collection written/published more than 200 years ago? 200 years ago, humans didn't have electricity. Books were ineffably physical objects. A "searchable database" might have consisted of an entire library's known collected works, perhaps in a card catalogue - but more likely, catalogued (by hand!) in one of the tomes contained in the very same building as the collection it catalogued (the Network Administrator and "IT Guy" in me shudders at the thought of not having an off-site backup, but I digress). I'm not sure how long we've had mechanized printing, but it can't have been too terribly long in the grand scheme of things (sure, mod me uninformative for not providing a link to the wiki page for the printing press).

I will then continue dissecting this particular snippet of your post, wondering aloud (so to speak (type?)) if you intended to use the phrase "later than", as opposed to your wording "prior to" - the arguments you supply seem to support the latter. Your example, which you seem to be attempting to use to support your claim (ie, being unable to find the text in question) being published nearly 90 years after your "cutoff date" is confusing, otherwise.

To continue dissecting the logic here, you complain that you cannot download a scan of the book in question; I clicked two of the three links I mentioned earlier, to see if the "full scan" was available, and lo: there are links at the top-right side of the page to download the PDF.

Furthermore, I may be putting my foot in my mouth, because I just realized that the work you linked to is volumes 50-51 of the work in question, and since I don't read whichever language it's written in (and don't particularly care what language it's written in, to be honest - I can tell at least that it's Nordic, and were I interested in whatever the subject matter is, I'm sure I could find someone to at least help me get the gist of it (there's over 6 billion of us humans on this mudball, after all)), I can't determine which volumes of "Samlade Skrifter" are linked in at the bottom. I also didn't bother to read the page so I could see if it is described somewhere on the page (again, because I don't care). I'm lazy, whatever. Your example appears to be full of logic holes... My point being that there are easily half a dozen reasons why your whining does nothing to improve or further this discussion.

I'm all for freedom of information, don't misunderstand me. Cheering for someone who seems to be trying to do the same thing is also cool in my book (pardon the pun). Bitching because some obscure work that you're interested in isn't available *yet* (note the emphasis) seems worse than unproductive to me - it's annoying. If anything, we might be upset that no one has run these works through some sort of babelfish yet, since any printed text will, by definition, have a typeface (read "font") that we could use for OCR, followed by translation to any language currently in use on the planet (hint, hint, enterprising coders; this is probably the next step)!

TL;DR version:
You're an idiot, your example is made of fail, I'm a jerk for pointing it out, and we should all be trying to *do more* with the information at our disposal and trying to *get more* information at our fingertips, not fighting to see who gets to be in control of it.

Obligatory meme (this is, after all, slashdot):
I, for one, welcome our new information-overdose overlords, and wish them the best of luck in providing everyone on the planet with easy access to any information that can be digitized (as well as providing us the ability to acquire that which cannot be so transformed).

Hmm (1)

Evil_Ether (1200695) | about 5 years ago | (#29154337)

The words pot, kettle and black come to mind.

Yeah, right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29154429)

will make millions of out-of-print books widely available online \

Google talks, BS walks... (2, Interesting)

dpbsmith (263124) | about 5 years ago | (#29154769)

Much as I admire Kahle and archive.org, people have been talking about putting libraries online for decades, talking and talking and talking. archive.org has put a lot of good stuff online, but it's a grab-bag. Ditto the Library of Congress. Ditto university libraries. There are many places that offer interesting collections that make fascinating browsing.

But as far as I know, if you have the title of a specific oldish book that you actually need or want to read, there are only two places you can go with any serious likelihood of finding them:

a) Project Gutenberg

b) Google Books

I think Amazon, Microsoft, and Yahoo should shut up until they've done as much for readers as Project Gutenberg and Google have.

 

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