Thursday, November 19, 2009

Google Library Controversy


The internet search engine company Google launched Book Search in October of 2004. Its goal is to digitize published works and allow searching of their contents online. This provides access for publishers to find more customers, and allow greater access for the public to such works. (Allen, 2006). Publishers and authors are against the Books Library Project and flied two lawsuits, for copyright infringement, against Google in 2005.

Authors and publishers are worried that Google might make the service subscription based, without properly remunerating the copyright owners of the works. The business model is that Google sells advertising space on the search page and pays a share of these profits to publishers under the Books Partner Program contracts.

But no remuneration to copyright owners is planned with regard to the profits derived from the Books Library Project. Google has claimed that all its actions fall under the ‘fair use’ terminology. In September 2009, Google made some concessions to European publishers regarding this issue (Kendall and Harvey, 2009).

There are several questions raised by this issue. One is the different laws and their interpretations regarding copyright and ownership. Google based its policy on a U.S. law, but the materials that they scan cross national and cultural boundaries. French publishers focused on the predominance of the English language and Anglo-Saxon and American thinking, and that this will increase the dominance of this culture on the world stage (Support for EU 'digital library', 2005).

Also, who owns published material online? Is it the public, corporations like Google, publishers, or the authors of the material? Should online users have freedom to access information, copyrighted or not, for free, seeing that the internet is supposed to be a forum for freedom of access to all information?

Incentives for publishers and writers of books, scientific papers and such, would be reduced substantially, and would de-motivate them from producing new works. And most importantly, is Google, a huge multinational corporation, in effect monopolizing all information by incorporating print media into its virtual archives?

I personally feel that more research must be done into this system. After all, digitally scanned works can be manipulated and the content changed. Letting one huge corporate entity control distribution of all forms of information sets a dangerous precedent. It could affect the integrity and accuracy of all information in the near future.


Allen, R 2006, Google Library: why all the fuss?, Australian Copyright Council, viewed 17 November 2009,

BBC, 2005, Support for EU 'digital library' ,, viewed 17 November 2009,

Kendall, N 2009, Google makes concessions to European publishers,, viewed 17 November 2009

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