Op-Ed at San Jose Mercury News: Proposed Google book settlement leaves libraries’ rights in question
Two librarians wrote an editorial for the San Jose Mercury News discussing privacy and the proposed Google book deal.
It’s good news that the U.S. District Court decided to hold off on finalizing the settlement among authors, publishers and Google Book Search, the search engine’s gigantic new online library that scanned 7 million books from major American research libraries. While the concerns of protecting intellectual property rights are getting most of the attention, there are still too many questions about public fair use and privacy that remain unresolved. […]
The problem with the initial proposed settlement is a lack of specificity about how public libraries throughout the United States would be able to provide access to Google Book Search for millions of citizens. […]
Would the public be required to give up anonymity and privacy in order to explore Google’s digitized library? Who would hold this information, and what assurance would library users have that the data would not be used for commercial purposes?
What would be the cost to libraries to access Google’s Book Search — and should they have to pay anything at all, considering that much of Google’s collection is material already in the public domain, and many of the books they are scanning come from publicly funded libraries?
These are troubling questions, and not just for librarians. They get to the heart and soul of what libraries are all about: equal access to information for everyone and a guarantee of privacy.