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Librarians Express Concern Over Google Books

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the pesky-librarians dept.

Privacy 144

angry tapir writes "Many libraries routinely delete borrower information, and organizations such as the American Library Association have fought hard to preserve the privacy of their patrons in the face of laws such as the US Patriot Act. But now, as more and more titles become available in Google Book Search, it's not clear whether digital readers will enjoy the same privacy protections they have at the library."

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144 comments

Torrents (3, Insightful)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259037)

Ha!

Re:Torrents (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259399)

Exactly, private mirrors, torrents, friends sharing to friends, all that are good cures to this deficiency in privacy.

Re:Torrents (1)

mxh83 (1607017) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259793)

Look what's happening to Mininova and TPB.

Ha!

Question (4, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259043)

Don't these hard copy books still exist after Google has "digitized" them? If you re concerned over your privacy, simply go to the physical library as you would have before the digitization.

Re:Question (4, Informative)

Moby Cock (771358) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259065)

Well, yes, that is an option. The point of the article is that people may have an expectation of privacy where none actually exists. This misunderstanding could be the source of problems down stream.

Re:Question (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29259103)

The "counterview" would be that virtually all internet users by now know that the government is, or should be treated as being, able to look up every keystroke they have made on the internet, if the government ever wants to. I certainly use the internet with that view.

Re:Question (1)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259125)

The "counterview" would be that virtually all internet users by now know that the government is, or should be treated as being, able to look up every keystroke they have made on the internet, if the government ever wants to. I certainly use the internet with that view.

If you are that paranoid buy an offshore VPN or SSH account. And enjoy your Anonymous Coward surfing. :)

Re:Question (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29259219)

Seriously, don't everyone? I did say 'if they really wanted to' - and if they did, obviously it would be a routine job to pull all posts made on every social networking profile, contents of all mailboxes, and if Echelon is in play, automatic copying of all packets sent to your IP as updated when you log on. I would actually be really disappointed in the US intelligence service if this was NOT routinely done. TOR most likely have a large number of government controlled nodes as well, or they're idiots - the cost to run at least 1/3 of the total nodes is miniscule in intelligence terms, but provides full coverage of the number one "anonymity" tool.

Not only governments, but private groups perform internet surveillance as well. Some time ago I was writing in a national newspaper in my home country, Verdens Gang (VG) in Norway. This was on a controversial topic, and knowing the social-political climate in everyday Norway, I made absolutely sure (and not highlighting it either) not to post any personally identifiable information. One day my brother picked up the phone when I was next to him, and someone demanded to speak to (the obscure nickname of another person on the board who debated the same topic). This would have required at least one person in the newspaper itself to look up my IP, and at least one person in my ISP to look up my address. Obviously ideological/nongovernmental, as only private groups are lame enough to harass at home.

I'd be interested in any advice on offshore encryption.

Re:Question (1)

roachdabug (1198259) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259613)

When the Google Deathbot (Beta) robotic army goes berserk and attempts to wipe its creators off the face of the planet, the last thing you'll be worried about is how you accessed your reading material.

Re:Question (3, Insightful)

jafiwam (310805) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259749)

It is my opinion that folk who make this mistake will do so long before it becomes important for books.

Those people will put up pot-smoking in underwear pictures on Facebook or MySpace long before they have any political views worth anything. (At least to the _government_, let's face it, the librarians are worried about _governments_ with this information.)

Then, they will learn the hard lesson by being busted, denied a job, denied a slot in graduate school, or just basically ridiculed.

This will happen years before they get to the point where they might be a) reading interesting books b) that are on some "watch list".

With Google having the information, it's not as bad as one might think. Any jackass county sheriff or otherwise corrupt Barney Fyfe can walk into a library. While at this point the only government folk able to get much out of Google are the feds.

Either way, someone wanting to anonymously get information should use BitTorrent. There are TONS of books out there in PDF and other formats.

Re:Question (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29260991)

>>>.people may have an expectation of privacy where none actually exists.

Correct. And the summary is wrong about libraries deleting private information. I went to the library a few weeks ago, after having not visited the place since 1996, and they still had all my records on file. The question people should be asking:
"Does it matter?" In this case no it doesn't matter if they find-out I borrowed a copy of Judge Joseph Story's Constitutional Interpretation, but this could be dangerous if another Emperor Napoleon came-along and scoured through information to uncover his enemies.

Re:Question (4, Insightful)

ATestR (1060586) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259113)

Yes, but....

Funding for libraries is usually tight. If fewer people are using the library, it will become even tighter. I can foresee a day in the not too distant future when many libraries (especially in smaller towns and cities) can't complete in light of the availability of books from sources like Google Books.

Re:Question (2, Interesting)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259583)

On the other hand, Google Books is also a tool for librarians when the books are not available locally, as many libraries supply internet access to members of their community that can not afford to have it at home. That, and generally librarians are always concerned about privacy issues, whether they directly impact the libraries or not.

I recently looked into possibly going into the field myself, and found that my interest perhaps wasn't as unusual as I first thought, as there is a massive overlap with computer science and information systems, including a concentration in Informatics for people going for their Masters in Library Science.

Unfortunately, most of the work for a modern librarian is focused on acquiring and maintaining funding to maintain the library, and far too many communities face losing these resources.

ALA Bill of Rights (0, Troll)

SgtChaireBourne (457691) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259631)

If they stopped flusing so much of their operational budget on M$ problems and products they libraries would have more money and more time to work with that money. Seriously, nearly every action or function of M$ has gone against the ALA Bill of Rights [ala.org] .

Sure there are potential concerns with Google Books. These are small compared to the ongoing, increasing problems posed by M$ products and methods. Librarians have been standing by and in some cases helping M$ flunkies to increase the Digital Divide [digitaldivide.org] rather than close it.

Then again, Google is a technical or legal problem. Microsoft is a people problem.

Re:ALA Bill of Rights (2, Funny)

GigG (887839) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259937)

Wow... 13 posts before MicroSoft got blamed for something. That may be a new record.

Re:Question (1)

Verunks (1000826) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259777)

Yes, but....

Funding for libraries is usually tight. If fewer people are using the library, it will become even tighter. I can foresee a day in the not too distant future when many libraries (especially in smaller towns and cities) can't complete in light of the availability of books from sources like Google Books.

it's the price of evolution, things change, what about farrier and blacksmith, we don't use horses anymore to go around, hopefully sooner or later we won't use paper anymore too

Re:Question (2, Insightful)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259509)

Don't these hard copy books still exist after Google has "digitized" them? If you re concerned over your privacy, simply go to the physical library as you would have before the digitization.

Yes, in about the same way that pay phones still exist after the advent of cell phones. And in the same way, we can expect the availability to gradually dwindle until the option no longer exists. Let's not wait until that point to solve the problem.

Re:Question (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259863)

"Yes, in about the same way that pay phones still exist after the advent of cell phones. And in the same way, we can expect the availability to gradually dwindle until the option no longer exists. Let's not wait until that point to solve the problem."

First decide which problem needs solving.

1) Libraries disappearing. Good luck - they were going down prior to Google Books. Either legislate against online libraries or subsidize them. We can't take the position that digital distribution has wiped out the **AA's business model and then bitch at the unintended consequences, i.e. libraries business model getting screwed too.

2) Privacy lacking in Google Books? Again, either legislate that their book search info remain private (which would take away the resultant revenue stream and therefore the service would be canceled)or legislate an "OMG!! Ur privacy is at RISK!!!" splash screen at the start of your search (any bets on how long a FF plugin will be developed to bypass that?)

Re:Question (1)

Golddess (1361003) | more than 4 years ago | (#29261871)

Libraries business model? Please explain. I don't know how libraries function where you come from, but where I live they're "free" (ie, paid for via my taxes). Are you referring to something other than the local public library?

Re:Question (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259541)

I take it you've missed the last twenty Slashdot articles about this. The problem is that many of these books are rare (so the library won't have a physical copy) and still in copyright (so the library can't provide a digital copy legally). Google gets around the second point by having settled a class-action lawsuit which allows them to copy any books that they like. No other organisation has this, and until copyright law is sufficiently reformed or the settlement is thrown out under antitrust legislation (it's currently under review) this will continue to be a problem.

Re:Question (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 4 years ago | (#29260013)

No I haven't missed it. The point is that those rare books are still available. If you want to look at that book, you still have the same availability that you always have. Google making it available electronically in no way diminished the availability that was there before.

Re:Question (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 4 years ago | (#29260115)

When eReaders hit critical market numbers many books will no longer be put into print... not a counter argument exactly but a statement you should consider.

Your Personal Data is Google's Revenue Source (4, Insightful)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259109)

Whether it's your G-Mail contact list, your search history, or what books you check out from from their "library," your data is Google's stock in trade. This is the price of "free." For most people, it's a much better than even proposition. For the paranoid and privacy conscious, it's a deal breaker. And the notion that Google is providing this information to the US government is merely an urban myth, so get that idea right out of your head this instant...

Re:Your Personal Data is Google's Revenue Source (4, Insightful)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259209)

But if Google has the data and the government issues a subpoena. . .

Re:Your Personal Data is Google's Revenue Source (1)

GaryOlson (737642) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259369)

[sarcasm] But the government would never issue a subpoena unless sufficient evidence existed to indicate this data was necessary to a lawful investigation ;) [/sarcasm]

Re:Your Personal Data is Google's Revenue Source (1)

Dare nMc (468959) | more than 4 years ago | (#29260663)

Yes subpoena, those are so last decade. Now even a few hundred rubber stamp judges are just too slow. [wikipedia.org] to catch terrorists. (although probably in-admissible in court, they can still lock any American up for life without ever telling a judge, if they are a "terrorism suspect")

Coachmen express concern over motorized trucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29259115)

Of course they do. They desperately try to find a reason why libraries should continue to exist.

"Freedom to read in the privacy of your library" (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259427)

Since Google Books theoretically tracks IP addresses, I guess now if you want to read books and not be tracked you need to go to your local library and use their terminals.

I hope your my local library allows pseudonyms on the sign-in sheet. Remind me to NOT walk in front of the ATM machine as I enter, NOT take the toll road to get there, and NOT use a check or credit card when paying for gas on the way home.

Re:"Freedom to read in the privacy of your library (1)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259499)

If you're that paranoid, you better not even take your own car!

Re:"Freedom to read in the privacy of your library (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 4 years ago | (#29262011)

And to be sure there are other library patrons present before using the terminal.

But yes, the solution is to launder your identity, be it accessing Google Books from a library, a business with free WiFi, or at some random open access point. You could even leave the laptop under the car's seat to automatically download to avoid appearing on surveillance with a computer.

Or just use Tor.

Re:Coachmen express concern over motorized trucks (3, Interesting)

bhartman34 (886109) | more than 4 years ago | (#29261139)

Of course they do. They desperately try to find a reason why libraries should continue to exist.

I'll tell you why libraries should continue to exist: librarians.

Too many people think "Google it" is the answer to everything, but for serious research (i.e., anything where reliability is important) it's not always that simple. It cannot be overemphasized that the Internet is the equivalent of a massive shoebox full of information. There's no real indexing or quality control. Sites like Google and (God help us all...) Bing are doing a better job at the indexing, but just about any yahoo that can use an HTML editor (which means, just about any yahoo) can put up a web page about any topic they like, and become an "expert" if they can manage to get the page hits/links to back it up.

Librarians are the people who fill the gap, explaining to people how to evaluate and cull through the information they get online. (Of course, this is the ideal. I acknowledge that there are librarians who don't have this skill when it comes to online resources, and I don't have any sympathy for them, frankly.)

As background, I'm not a librarian, but I do have a Masters in library science, and I have done professional searching for ~ 13 years.

Many libraries routinely delete information (4, Informative)

will_die (586523) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259119)

I have worked in a few libraries, public and private, both as paid or volunteer help, and don't know of any that deleted user information or information on who checked out books.
They may of archived the information and removed it from the main databases but the information was still available for years after the event.
The most a library really needs to record are who are the last 2 people who checked out material, after that you there is no way of proving someone else damaged it. If you want metrics on the types or specific information on the number of check-outs that can be done without attaching a specific user to a piece of material.
Few places have a legal requirement that libraries store user information and if they did not store if beyond what is needed to track who has something checked out or could of damaged material they would not have problems in proving this information since it would not exist.

Re:Many libraries routinely delete information (1)

esme (17526) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259409)

Most of the commercial library systems store exactly the information you mention: only the current and previous borrowers. When a new person checks out a book, the old previous borrower gets overwritten, and isn't stored anywhere else. So there's no way to get a list of all the people who have checked out a particular book, or every book a user has ever checked out, because the data simply isn't there.

Now web usage is something different. I suspect many libraries store their webserver logs until the end of time. So we couldn't produce a list of who checked out what, but we could probably produce a list of who searched for what on our websites. This is one area where librarians' instincts (keep everything forever) need to be overcome to protect the privacy of our users.

-Esme

Re:Many libraries routinely delete information (1)

bkr1_2k (237627) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259553)

I ask you then, why it is that every library I've been to in the last 10 years can tell me the last 20 books I've checked out. Is it just because it's stored under my name rather than under the book title? Wouldn't that be sufficient enough in a "legal" investigation?

Re:Many libraries routinely delete information (1)

esme (17526) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259789)

I'm guessing it's either:

1. They're pulling this info from the current and previous borrower fields.
2. They've developed their own software and haven't thought about the privacy implications of storing this info.
3. The librarian desire to hoard information has motivated ILS vendors to change their systems to store this info. It wouldn't surprise me if the original current/previous limitation started out as a database limitation and the privacy justification was post-hoc.

It's been a long time since I've worked a circ desk, and my library experience is mostly at large research universities that have the budgets needed to buy commercial ILS software, and the inclination to think about user privacy.

Though when my wife and I were undergrads, my wife worked a circ desk, and FBI agents actually approached student workers and tried to get info without warrants. And the library administration was adamant that they not give out what info was there. She only had access to what a user currently had checked out, but doesn't know if staff had access to anything more.

-Esme

Re:Many libraries routinely delete information (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29260709)

I am the sys admin at a public library. We don't keep any patron history. We do this on purpose as patron privacy is of utmost importance to us. In addition, I regularly meet with counterparts at other public libraries. I would venture to say most (if not all) of them do not keep patron history either.

Re:Many libraries routinely delete information (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29261049)

My hometown library made a big deal about no longer storing this information. Not a representative sample, but then again neither is yours.

Re:Many libraries routinely delete information (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259557)

They may of archived

It's such a shame that being surrounded by books didn't manage to give you a basic ability to write English sentences.

Re:Many libraries routinely delete information (1)

fyrewulff (702920) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259859)

The library I worked at in 2005 made a policy of deleting all records after a year and did not keep check out histories, you could only show up as a "previous borrower" of a book (which got deleted after a year). The only way a book stayed attached to the account is if you had an overdue fee on it or you reported it as lost.

Easy solution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29259147)

... make books downloadable (PDF) and have some sort of obfuscation mechanism, it won't make untrackable but nothing really is. Just existing in the world means you can be tracked if the right pressure is put on the right people and they have the power to get away with it.

Re:Easy solution... (5, Insightful)

Miseph (979059) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259359)

"it won't make untrackable but nothing really is"

QFT. You are not anonymous because you're so smart, you're anonymous because nobody cares enough to track you down. Be very careful not to change that.

Anything to keep the status quo going... (2, Informative)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259149)

"... But now, as more and more titles become available in Google Book Search, it's not clear whether digital readers will enjoy the same privacy protections they have at the library..."

Why not let users decide. If privacy concerns are paramount then users will not use Google Books. I am sure there is a sizable number of users who are not bothered by privacy concerns. These are probably the same folks who put all their lives on Facebook, 250 million strong to date.

Re:Anything to keep the status quo going... (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259233)

Right, and that's what the librarians are doing. Making sure users make an informed decision.

I don't think any librarian on the planet wants Google Books to go away. It's going to be a massively valuable resource for research, in addition to being unimaginably valuable in terms of preserving books that might go out of print and become so rare that no one can ever get access to them. For keepers of the written word, this is as close to a holy grail as they'll ever get.

But it does come at a cost to the end user - there will be a central database containing lots of information on what you read, research, etc. A database owned by a company that's already shown reluctance to give up a scrap of its hard-earned data.

This isn't the Apocalypse, or anything like that, and Google is hardly the worst offender in terms of privacy violation, but they have made a decent business model out of buying your privacy from you. I think the librarians make a good point, "caveat emptor", but go ahead and buy if you are aware.

PS: Before anyone thinks I'm a crazed paranoid, I happily use Facebook, Gmail, Google Docs, Google News, Google Voice, Google Maps, Google Earth, etc. I'm selling bits of my privacy for convenient tools. I'm doing so with the full knowledge of the value of what I'm selling and feel I'm getting a useful service in return.

Know the facts, THEN make your choice.

Re:Anything to keep the status quo going... (3, Insightful)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259249)

PS: Now if my local library could get access to Google Books, allowing me to anonymously get ebooks through them and Google would only be aware of my library's credentials, with my library protecting my privacy, that'd be a serious win.

Re:Anything to keep the status quo going... (1)

Kirijini (214824) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259437)

I'll grant you that it's probably less than a majority who value their privacy prospectively.

But privacy is one of those things where it suddenly becomes a lot more valuable after it's been violated.

The right of privacy shouldn't be likened to a market exchange - where you can "trade away" your privacy in exchange for something - because the fairness of exchanges comes from each party fully knowing the value of what they're giving away. Most people have no idea what their privacy is worth until it's been violated.

Re:Anything to keep the status quo going... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259577)

Google has a monopoly on a large number of rare-but-in-copyright books. Until someone else decides to commit large scale wilful copyright infringement hoping that they will get favourable terms in a settlement or the law is changed, this will continue to be the case.

Re:Anything to keep the status quo going... (1)

steelfood (895457) | more than 4 years ago | (#29261573)

Except users are generally idiots, even the ones who are brilliant.

Hardly possible (4, Insightful)

moon3 (1530265) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259163)

Google is making the books searchable with one intent in mind, to know what you are searching for, so they can offer relevant ads and targeted marketing leads.

Re:Hardly possible (1)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259215)

Google is making the books searchable with one intent in mind, to know what you are searching for, so they can offer relevant ads and targeted marketing leads.

If the data is kept safe I don't mind getting relevant ads from Google, after all since I use AdBlock Plus it's not like I can see them. :)

Re:Hardly possible (1)

RobVB (1566105) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259277)

AdBlock Plus, because drinking your worries away is SO 1990s.

Re:Hardly possible (1)

moon3 (1530265) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259643)

AdBlock Plus will not help your privacy here.

More Nonsense (3, Interesting)

omb (759389) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259167)

I, for one, am getting really fed up with people trying to get in the way of Google, and others making more information available, for free. And on the thinest pretexts. There is a huge difference between protecting the public right to privacy, as has recently ocured here in Switzerland and this endless carping by libraries and copyright holders about orphaned books etc. In the UK a condition of copyright in a requirement to offer a small number of copies to the so called Copyright libraries eg the British Museum.

If we are serious about scholarship in the internet age we must do something similar, allow google and others to scan and index books provide short extracts free for fair use while selling complete electronic copies through retailers. The same for learned journals.

Every time I hear nonsense from libraries, journal providers and content providers (think Murdoch) I smell hipocracy and corruption thick in the air.

Re:More Nonsense (4, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259341)

Then Google should do things the right way, the first time, and then nobody would stand up to criticize them.

In this case, all Google has to do is say that information about who read what book will -not- be stored, and this 'concern' goes away. It's a legit concern, and easily rectified.

"so called Copyright Libraries" (2, Informative)

fantomas (94850) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259495)

The term is Legal Deposit Libraries: http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2003/ukpga_20030028_en_1 [opsi.gov.uk]

"Duty to deposit
1 Deposit of publications

(1) A person who publishes in the United Kingdom a work to which this Act applies must at his own expense deliver a copy of it to an address specified (generally or in a particular case) by any deposit library entitled to delivery under this section. "

Re:More Nonsense (2, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259659)

Your knowledge of UK copyright law is a few decades out of date, but moving past that...

The problem, as I've written before, is that the terms of Google's settlement were non-transferable. No one would object if there was a law passed giving a compulsory licensing model for out-of-print books, allowing anyone who wanted to go to the expense of digitising them to distribute them for a fixed fee. Unfortunately, at the moment Google is the only one who has these terms. Someone could produce something like Google Books and wait to be sued, hoping to get the same terms, but given that the maximum fine for this kind of infringement is $300,000 (statutory penalty, not related to loss of earnings) then it makes little sense for the class to settle. Given that the minimum fine is $750 per work, I and a lot of other authors would probably make more from the lawsuit than for any potential loss of earning if we didn't settle, so this market is impossible for any small players to enter.

Google are not heroes in this matter. They did not lobby for fairer copyright laws. They simply broke the existing laws on a massive scale and got a settlement that benefitted them but no one else.

Re:More Nonsense (2, Insightful)

N1AK (864906) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259661)

I, for one, am getting really fed up with people trying to get in the way of Google, and others making more information available, for free.

And I'm fed up of people not being able to see costs that aren't prefaced by a $ sign. Google is in the fortunate position of having a monopoly on digitising orphaned works, and it got this monopoly by agreeing to pay an organisation which often has nothing to do with the creation of those works and no intention of paying the authors.

There is practically no slashdotter who doesn't like the idea of digitising these works, but most are able to see the wood for the trees, and that means opposing the creation of yet another monopoly.

Re:More Nonsense (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259771)

I don't get it, you don't want people getting in the way of Google making more information available, but you don't want enybody else to make information available?

Maybe I need more coffee, but your statement seems self-contradictory.

Re:More Nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29259791)

Google isn't making the information more free or available. They are instead making it more accessible, then restricting the accessibility via their servers or logs.

If Google digitized everything, then kept it on their servers and wiped any and all traceable material to the end user, I'd be fine with it. Or if they digitized everything then made it available for free, I'd be fine with it. But they are not doing these things, and in turn, you are misrepresenting what they are doing, as well as what the internet age is about.

Google is doing something no different than what dozens of periodical companies do--publish, have the original material disappear or in a limited offering, then offering it for sale and traceable to the end user.

"If we are serious about scholarship in the internet age we must do something similar"

BS. While information may be more accessible, there is still a limited number of people who access and use the material, even with a huge population boom. All it takes is for someone to target them, for whatever reason, and you have the new witch trials, Japanese camps, or religious purge of the modern age.

I'm a Republican, can you imagine a demagogue like Obama from the right wing religous groups coming to power, accessing databases with a subpoena, and compiling a list? Haven't you seen this enough with enemies of the state such as Martin Luther King? Don't you *get* it with computerized health care and what's HIPAA has already done?

Have you not learned anything from the Patriot Act? Have you not learned anything from reading case upon case on /. (and /. doesn't even cover most of them)?

For me, I'm fed up with people like you. You are creating an intellectual class, not of intellectuals, but of people willing to give up privacy for access. This is no different than customers being turned into consumers in the corporate heavy world of today, and we've seen the ongoing, runaway abuses there. You aren't serious about scholarship; you're willing to carpet bomb the landscape to access to the dirt.

Oops (1)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259177)

I misread that three times as "Liberians" and I couldn't figure out why they would care about a bunch of English books being on Google.

Re:Oops - did you also ... (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259221)

... read "privacy" as "piracy"?

Re:Oops - did you also ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29259257)

...and "more titles" as "more titties"?

Really? (1)

MRe_nl (306212) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259379)

"the American Liberians Association have fought hard to preserve the piracy of their patrons in the face of laws such as the US Patriot Act. But now, as more and more titties become available..."

Dyslexia in action.

Re:Really? (1)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 4 years ago | (#29260845)

Exactly. =)

Re:Oops (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259587)

I know you were making a joke, but I should point out that English is an official language of Liberia, spoken by about 20% of the population.

Re:Oops (1)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 4 years ago | (#29260917)

I didn't know that. Good point.

Re:Oops (1)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 4 years ago | (#29260961)

Okay, I now know why they wouldn't care:

-Avg lifespan 50yrs
-Literacy rate 60%
-Internet users .1%

Thank you, CIA factbook.

Re:Oops (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#29261213)

I usually misread it as "libertarians".

I don't see why it matters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29259187)

I don't see why it matters... [recombinantrecords.net]

"What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who would want to read one..."

And he was right...

Nothing to do with preserving jobs, then? (3, Insightful)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259189)

While their altruism is to be applauded: working to preserve people's privacy, I would find this "concern" over Google books more credible if it wasn't being advocated by one of the groups of workers who stand to lose the most from having a vast body of literature made easily available to individuals (or as librarians might call them: customers) without having to go to their local library.

This sounds to me like nothing more than the librarians trying to keep their jobs. While I don't disagree with that, I would appreciate it if they wouldn't take us for fools and try to wrap this up as some sort of "mission" they're on. Some honesty and transparency would get them more support.

Re:Nothing to do with preserving jobs, then? (2, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259275)

I would find this "concern" over Google books more credible if it wasn't being advocated by one of the groups of workers who stand to lose the most from having a vast body of literature made easily available to individuals (or as librarians might call them: customers) without having to go to their local library.

And I would find Global Warming more believable, if it wasn't initiated by climatologists who get more funding when as a scare tactic, this would raise more money in funding for the said group.

You do see that the fallacy of this argument, right?

Re:Nothing to do with preserving jobs, then? (4, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259567)

advocated by one of the groups of workers who stand to lose the most from having a vast body of literature made easily available to individuals

Google Books doesn't return the whole book for you to read, so I don't see how Google Books could do anything but HELP libraries. You remember a passage, look it up on Google Books, you then have the ISBN making it easier to get the book from the library where, unlike Google or Amazon, you can read the whole book for free.

What am I missing here?

Re:Nothing to do with preserving jobs, then? (2, Insightful)

skangas (1611225) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259933)

Google will only find you the books you are asking it to find. Consider a high school student looking for information on a certain event in World War II. Sure, she could google "world war 2", but then what? If she doesn't know what she's looking for, she's completely lost from that point on. A good librarian, on the other hand, could help our hypothetical student and guide her between the different sources of information: encyclopedias, litterature, magazines, maybe even movies. Sure, nobody's perfect, but it's much better to have someone to talk to than to be presented with a prompt for keywords, especially when you don't know what those keywords might be. The job description of a librarian, simply put, is wider than "take keywords, fetch books relevant to those keywords". Google might be good for when you know what you're looking for. Librarians is for everything else.

Re:Nothing to do with preserving jobs, then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29262097)

As a librarian who has done many studies into the subject area, our jobs are actually quite secure. Even if print goes away as libraries do so much more than provide books.
As long as there are barriers for people to get access to computers, Internet and learning to use these resources there will be public libraries.
You assume because everything is available online for free that anyone can get to it?
Try teaching an adult over 50 who has never even touched a computer.
There are plenty.

We've always been honest and pretty blatant with our message. Don't blame us if you're not listening.

More worried about... (1)

frozentier (1542099) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259223)

I think people need to be more worried about ISP's handing over information about the sites you visit and the content/recipients of the e-mails you exchange, rather than what online books you look at. THAT point kind of reminds me of the Who guitarist getting in trouble for visiting a child porn site, then getting off (no pun intended) because he said he was just doing "research".

Whats your sign? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29259231)

My birthday is in early october, and I'm not worried about it. Mind you I don't really think here is any validity in astrology anyway...

Digital Readers will not have the same privacy. (1)

maclizard (1029814) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259259)

To think that a digital user of any product will retain the same or more privacy than the analog equivalent is simply ridiculous.

On free inquiry and expectations of privacy... (5, Interesting)

MRe_nl (306212) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259283)

April 28, 2005, American Librarians Association President Carol Brey - Casiano responds to Oversight Hearing on Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act

"Using the public library is one of the benefits of living in our free and democratic society. The First Amendment promises everyone in the United States a fundamental right of free speech and free inquiry. Every person is entitled to read anything about a topic or opinion without the government looking over his or her shoulder. When there is evidence of a crime or evidence that a crime is about to be committed, law enforcement officers can obtain search warrants and subpoenas permitting them to access the records of the suspected criminal.

"Library patrons use our nation's libraries with an expectation of privacy because in 48 states, laws declare that a person's library records are private and confidential; the remaining two states, Kentucky and Hawaii, have attorneys' general opinions recognizing the confidentiality of library records. All of these laws existed before the USA PATRIOT Act was enacted.

"The USA PATRIOT Act preempts the privacy protections provided by state library confidentiality laws, which balance protection of library patron records with the needs of law enforcement. Because the USA PATRIOT Act does not require the FBI to name an individual or to give specific reasons to believe he is engaged in terrorism, Section 215 has the potential to open patrons' reading and research records to a 'fishing expedition.'

Re:On free inquiry and expectations of privacy... (1)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259319)

I'm worried where the US is going.

Re:On free inquiry and expectations of privacy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29261035)

As well you should be. However, our forefathers, in their infinite wisdom, have already prescribed the cure: ...governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government...

Declaration of Independence

Google Books is not a library (4, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259317)

A library is more than a collection of printed pages. It is a professional that can help you find those pages. It is years of custom that allows a patron to read those pages without undue government interference. Sure, it is paid for the government, but it is paid knowing that an educated populous is critical to democracy. Some would argue that a dangerous person might be planning an attack on their government using the library, or might be planning something that others might not like, for instance researching the facts to prepare for an abortion, but those people who wish to limit the freedoms of the library are trading security for democracy and deserve neither.

Google books, OTOH, is just a collection of pages. The pages you read are part of their database, which they will use to understand and better serve the user, and, if the committee on un-American affairs come knocking, will likely give up quite willingly. Furthermore, while modern database search has become very easy, researching a topic is still not trivial. Serious searches will still turn up more trivia than useful fact. If we confuse google with a library, there is a chance that our educational opportunities might become limited. The child that wants to read about their emerging sexuality, for example, instead of just playing it out through naked pictures, may not be able to do so. This is an unknown thing,and there is nothing wrong with thinking about ramifications, as long as we realize this thing is going to happen no matter what.

Re:Google Books is not a library (1)

bkr1_2k (237627) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259665)

Not to belittle librarians, but I've never found any that could help me beyond the Dewey Decimal System or whatever particular system that library used. Asking for where to get further research was basically, "Here are the tools we have and how you do a rudimentary search using them. Good luck." It's gotten better over the years because now we can search multiple types of materials in one place instead of going to the card catalog, and the periodicals catalog, and the "Academic research" catalog ad nauseum. That has actually made librarians less relevant though, not more so.

I am a far more adept searcher than most of the librarians I've met, simply because I know what I'm looking for, more or less.

Re:Google Books is not a library (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29261845)

I think your experiences are pretty typical of many libraries. There are many different types of librarians and libraries out there. Your local public library is a great place to get questions about genealogy, local history, and childrens books answered. It is not a good place to ask a question about say the effects of different forms of asbestos extracted during surface mining operations on residents within a given distance of the site.

If your question is at the graduate or researcher level you need to be talking with a subject specialist at a university, not your local library.

Re:Google Books is not a library (1)

bhartman34 (886109) | more than 4 years ago | (#29261931)

I certainly feel your pain. I've met quite a few librarians who were stuck in the old technology. Thankfully, I think you'll start to see that die out, though.

Modern library programs (at least, at the graduate level) are mostly about computers and indexing (although they still refer to it as "cataloging", in a lot of places). The more professional systems (e.g., Dialog) aren't as simple to search as Google or any other Web search engine, but they're much more powerful and precise, and they can give you access to information you can't get for free.

And that's the other point people need to remember: When you go to a library (or access it online), one of the things you're getting is access to premium resources. These are things you could get access to yourself, but they'd generally be cost-prohibitive.

The cost to you, of course, is your tax money, plus a measure of your privacy (in most cases). For most people, I think it's a fair trade. I wouldn't want to conduct any business at a public library on one of the premium databases, but presumably if you're using it for business, you've got an account through your company or have budgeted enough to get an account yourself.

Share your precise reading with your friends (4, Funny)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259335)

Google, the world's largest non-evil corporation, has released Google Books Stalkertude(tm) [today.com] , which allows you to share your location, your reading, your DNA and your tastes in porn in real time with your dearest friends from all your social networks and blogs, that guy your friend gave your LiveJournal username to when you were both drunk and anyone you've ever sent or received a message to or from on GMail. And your boss.

Google Books Stalkertude(tm) allows you to broadcast where you are and what you're thinking about at all times. It supports all current smartphones except that stupid iThing from Cupertino. If you're using Google Chrome, you can automatically share your location from your laptop too! The laptop maintains and archives a complete record of your life in text, video and audio form with the twelve built-in webcams and microphones dotted around the casing, plus samples of your DNA from the keys. The data is transmitted to the Google servers for your comfort and convenience and remains absolutely and entirely confidential between you and Google's marketing department. Tasteful and understated text ads are subliminally woven into the display pixels.

Privacy features are important to Google Books Stalkertude(tm). You can trust us with your entire life record, even as we argue in court over Google StreetView that privacy doesn't exist in the modern world. Besides, better we have your complete dossier than Microsoft, right? And we'll only give it to the government if they, like, ask for it or something. That we've gathered so much data on you in the first place is in no way a danger to you. We promise we won't tell your husband, and that's what counts.

And in related news ... (1)

jackspenn (682188) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259383)

Candlestick makers upset with Edison.

I call FUD. (2, Insightful)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259393)

Google doesn't want to have to deal with subpoenas for information any more than libraries do. That's why they anonymize the data [eff.org] after nine months.

Re:I call FUD. (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 4 years ago | (#29261327)

Google doesn't want to have to deal with subpoenas for information any more than libraries do. That's why they anonymize the data [eff.org] after nine months.

Google makes no claims about anonymizing or deleting all of the data they cull and attach to any Google (or Youtube, Chrome, etc.) account you have, and once they have it attached to your identity, not just an IP that could lead to a subpoena that leads to your identity, why should they even care about keeping search IP logs?

artificial scarcity (4, Insightful)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259493)

Librarians are also concerned because they see the writing on the wall. Libraries may not be needed in the near future. We have the technology today to make every book in existence available to every human on the planet, and in an instantly-searchable format. This is the sort of thing a global Renaissance is made of! The only thing holding humanity back, at this point, is politics. We have IP law that relies on artificial scarcity. This is the opposite of what the goal of IP should be.

The purpose of IP law should be to encourage science and the useful arts while making their benefits available to everyone.

Re:artificial scarcity (3, Insightful)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259637)

If Google Books eliminates scarcity, that's a good thing. This was the original purpose of libraries themselves, allowing anyone access to any book they want to read for free, and if Google can become "Library 2.0", great.

It will not, however, eliminate the need for "Library 1.0". I don't know about your library, but ours is a vibrant community center. Sure, they sign out books, but if you eliminated every book from the library they'd still have patrons in there every day. You can hold meetings there in one of the conference rooms, you can access the Internet, there are programs for children and adults there (OK, many of them centered around books, so if you eliminated all the books someone would have to bring some... grin).

And, of course, there are still a few of us 40+ grumpy old curmudgeons who simply prefer the feel of real paper in our hands when we read. Not that I'd mind an e-book terribly, but holding actual dead trees has become part of the reading experience to us.

I'm sure there are some libraries that have turned into emotionless, community-less book repositories, but there are a good number of them that will survive long after the desire for printed book material goes away, if it ever does.

Re:artificial scarcity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29261233)

There is also the fact that a Librarian is more than just a person who checks out and shelves books. A Librarian is an expert in the collection and their subject area (in an academic library at least) and in finding relevant, quality information from reliable sources. I work in an academic library. Yes Google is easy to use but you would weep for the future of the internet if you had any first hand experience with the information literacy skills of the average member of the 'Google Generation.' These kids for the most part trust that search box blindly and without any thought of privacy or reliability what so ever. The notion of simplicity over all else and blindly accepting that Google cannot and will not do evil now and forever... The level of trust the average Slashdot non-reader puts in Google in pure practical terms borders on the religious.

I am happy about the idea of widely available information. I would be sad to see the printed object go away, sure. But what worries me most about this monopoly (and it is a monopoly on these works) is the blind trust the average user puts in Google, and the shocking lack of critical thinking skills they posses. I really can't help but draw the conclusion that they are to an ever increasing extent, related. People don't have to go look any more. They don't have to put forth any effort. At least they think they don't. The just trust the box. Blindly and without question.

Re:artificial scarcity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29260889)

Librarians are also concerned because they see the writing on the wall. Libraries may not be needed in the near future. We have the technology today to make every book in existence available to every human on the planet, and in an instantly-searchable format. This is the sort of thing a global Renaissance is made of! The only thing holding humanity back, at this point, is politics. We have IP law that relies on artificial scarcity. This is the opposite of what the goal of IP should be.

The purpose of IP law should be to encourage science and the useful arts while making their benefits available to everyone.

The near future huh? Is that the same near future with the moon colonies and fusion reactors we've been hearing so much about? The near future where all our problems go away because of The Internet? The future where everything is free and open because it is electronic and no one ever has to pay for anything or make a living?

Maybe we should wait until that technology is a bit more widely distributed before we eliminate every physical object in the world and put everything on a computer. Politics is not nearly the only thing holding us back at this point and the end of the physical book is a long way off... At least for the people outside of Slashdot's digital, affluent echo chamber.

Re:artificial scarcity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29262081)

I disagree that libraries will not be needed in the future. Realistically, libraries are more than just places that loan materials. In addition to providing borrowing facilities, most libraries provide meeting rooms and other topical programs, such as child and adult literacy. Rather than projecting that libraries will disappear (because there are still a large number of individuals who cannot afford a computer or broadband service), we will simply see an evolutionary step where more of the materials are available in a digital format. For what it's worth, there are a number of physical materials that are so old and delicate that scanning might well destroy the original.

I would also speculate that what the librarians may really be concerned about are budget cuts due to an increased volume of digital materials. However, materials will still need to be classified. The MARC format already has provisions for a kind of "tag" field, so there really wouldn't be anything new there.

Privacy advocates oppose Andrew Carnegie (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 4 years ago | (#29259651)

By our staff reporter Patrick Zappala

Yesterday members of Americans United for Privacy of Readership took out a procession in Forbes Avenue, carrying placards denouncing the plans announced by Andrew Carnegie to found a library in each incorporated county in America using his private funds.

The president of the advocacy group Book P Ublisher, owner of a popular bookstore in the Fifth Avenue, said that "Right now, Americans buy a book, they pay cash and there is no record of what anyone is reading. In the new system proposed by Andrew Carnegie, there will be huge amount of record keeping and there will be ledgers which will record who borrowed which book and kept it for how long. And anyone, including the jackbooted thugs of the federal government can see the reading habits of the population and the data will be available from one central location for each county.

Further this system is highly inimical to the interests of the book publishers. They publish books with the expectation that the book will be read by the buyer and his friends and family alone and anyone else wanting to read the book will have purchase a fresh copy. The idea of one person buying just one copy and circulating it to be read by multiple unrelated unknown persons is little more than theft of the intellectual property. The book publishing and selling industry will collapse if the idea of libraries gains any ground.

The Publishing Industry Association of America, claims that a book is never sold, but is only licensed to be viewed by one pair of eye balls. Other people looking at the same book is considered a violation of the Analog Millennium Copyright Act of 1900.

Pittsburgh Gazette, Aug 31, 1903

I would worry less about Google Books (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29259703)

and more about e-books that are being bought. Google book is nothing more than a search engine. But, companies like MSN, Amazon, AOL, etc are giving out the information to the feds per the patriot act.

complete horse poo. proprietary software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29260345)

used by libraries to deal with circulation are,.... just that. proprietary.

you have -no idea- what they are doing on the back end, hidden in their code.

and many librarians dont even know what the programs are doing 'out in the open' in database tables. look at the next issue of 2600 if you want more info.

Isn't clear? (1)

The Second Horseman (121958) | more than 4 years ago | (#29260479)

It's pretty clear they won't. And Google always reserves the right to change the terms.

What privacy at the library? (1)

DDLKermit007 (911046) | more than 4 years ago | (#29261053)

You mean the kind of privacy that gets you on the FBI's watch-list if you checkout books like the Anarchist's cookbook?

Scan Themselves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29261475)

First of all brick and mortar libraries will never go away because homeless people still need a safe place to sleep. That being said, If these orphan books are public domain, Don't they have every right to scan the books themselves? Why not just offer a competing service, instead of complaining about every little thing Google does.

The real issues? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29261919)

I was wondering what the real issues are around all of this privacy nonsense on borrowing books given that there really is no such thing as privacy. Isn't the issue really about how that presenting a digital format for everything impacts the professions of librarians and archivists as well as radically altering the publishing industry?

None of the DRM schemes have prevented anyone who is determined to remove them from doing so in the music and film industries although it has penalized those who wouldn't "pirate" those materials with a slew of unplayable/unviewable content unless the consumer wants to upgrade their CD/DVD player everytime a new version of DRM is released. However, if the materials are freely available with no concern of damage or loss to the materials, then doesn't it follow that costs across the board will be lowered and the need for draconian measures like DRM go away? Authors/artists could be paid royalties based on views or some other metric and the whole piracy argument goes away because it doesn't make sense.

Thoughts, comments, appreciated.

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