Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Google and the Library

This situation with Google scanning the world's libraries is pretty interesting. Salon has an interesting article on the pros and cons of what Google is doing (or to be more accurate, the people who think it's cool and the people who think it's wrong). In the middle there is this argument against what Google is doing.
Aiken compares Google's plan to use books with the way Hollywood uses novels as plots for its movies. When film producers first started making movies from books, "They could have said, 'Hey, how does it hurt the author if I make a movie from his book?'" Aiken points out. "You could argue, after all, that more people would buy the book because of the movie." But that's not the way the world works, Aiken says. Hollywood pays publishers for the rights to novels they want to use, and in the same way, Google should pay publishers -- who would then distribute money to authors -- for the right to add books to its database.
That comparison just strikes me as apples and oranges. Yep, it's like some cranky monkey throwing apples and oranges at me. At my head.

See the thing is that movies, even back in the early days, made and make a ton of money. It's hard to imagine Google making a ton of money off of this particular project (the article is pretty murky on where the profit motive fits in here, except in so far as Google wants to retain it's position over Yahoo and Microsoft). The assumption on the part of some publishers and some authors seems to be that Google wouldn't do this if it wasn't going to make a ton of money for them. So the author's and publishers want their share of the pie.

Which, I have to admit, is understandable if not admirable.

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