Bob Barr and Pat Schroeder jointly wrote a commentary in the Washington Times today against Google’s Print Library Project.
The scope of this project is that Google would like to scan the entire contents of the Stanford, Harvard and University of Michigan libraries and put them online in the form of ‘snippets.’
Both Barr and Schroeder are authors and don’t want to see their intellectual property distributed for free. The aged politicians say that Google wants to “rewrite copyright law” and that Google’s Print Library Project would be “crushing creativity.”
I disagree – the Google project would be similar to going to a library. When I refer to my Webster’s New World Dictionary, it defines a library as ‘a collection of books, periodicals, musical scores, films, phonograph records, etc., esp. a large, systematically arranged collection for reading or reference.’
The difference is that the local library for the average person will never have the resources that can be found at Stanford, Harvard and the University of Michigan. I think this would be a great democratization of information access.
It’s a matter of progress. Some people can access these resources in person, but not most of us.
According to the commentary…
Google Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt has argued the “fair use” provision in copyright law allows Google to scan copyrighted books and put them on their Web site without seeking permission. He compares this to someone at home taping a television show and watching it later. Taped TV show are watched in millions of households every night and is quite legal; rebroadcasting that show to make a buck is not.
Next time Dr. Schmidt watches television, he should keep his ears open for the common disclaimer “rebroadcast of this program without the express written consent of” the broadcaster is “prohibited.” Google’s plans are tantamount to the same thing, profiting from someone else’s work without permission. It isn’t up to the broadcaster to track down someone profiting from their work, why should it be up to publishers and authors to do so?
Psst – don’t tell Bob and Pat that I like to go to the bar and watch the Jets on Sunday afternoons. If it weren’t for their broadcast of the game, I wouldn’t be there putting my money in the till. But that’s a whole different argument. Back to the central issue.
The argument comes down to money. Barr and Schroeder think authors are being fleeced and that Google “will gain a huge new revenue stream by selling ad space on library search results.”
I am not surprised by Schroeder’s opinion on the subject. She’s the President and CEO of the Association of American Publishers, so she has to show that she’s standing up for the people she represents. Hopefully she doesn’t plan to also shut down the dirt world libraries to protect the interests of her organization.
As far as Bob Barr, I’m disappointed. I thought he was something of an ideological disciple of Ronald Reagan. That said, I would think he’d appreciate the variation of supply side economics at work with the expansion of Google’s ad inventory.
As Internet marketers understand and politicians apparently do not, there are lots of folks outside of Google that benefit from the ads they run.
As Google has more ad space, there are more affiliate marketers and small business owners that can leverage this quality, targeted ad space to drive more people to their own businesses.