Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Google's digital library faces key hurdles; San Jose Mercury News, 3/7/10

Mike Swift, San Jose Mercury News; Google's digital library faces key hurdles:

"Sometime in the near future, a federal judge will decide whether Google can proceed with its plan to create a digital library and bookstore out of millions of old books scanned from libraries around the world.

Google Book Search has already spawned a class-action lawsuit, and now, a surge of opposition from scholars, consumer advocates and business competitors who claim the plan gives Google too much control over a priceless store of information. The legal issues are complex. But the impact and implications of the plan, which would create a copyright framework for old books that would persist into the 22nd century, could be huge, some say.

"It really is the most important copyright dispute we're currently facing," said James Grimmelmann, a professor at New York Law School and a former Microsoft programmer. "I would say this whole controversy has the potential to really affect how we access all kinds of media, not just old ones, but also new ones."

If Google is successful in rewriting a major area of copyright law through its proposed settlement of the lawsuit, someone else could try something similar for music or photographs. "It's a really interesting way to break a lot of logjams in copyright law," Grimmelmann said. "But are we opening a Pandora's box?""

No comments: