Google’s Dan Clancy Opens Door to Ads on Institutional Subscriptions of Corpus?

A new, or at least largely overlooked, wrinkle just emerged earlier today at the D for Digitize conference in New York, which is being hosted by James Grimmelman to discuss the state of the Google Book Settlement.

Dan Clancy, engineering director for Google Books, apparently opened the door to the possibility of Google including ads on the institutional subscriptions they propose to sell to libraries.  He was responding to keynote panelist Pam Samuelson, who passionately took issue with yet  another revenue stream exclusively protected for Google in the settlement.  Prof. Samuelson had recently heard that the institutional subscriptions sold to research libraries would come along with advertising.  In her view, this would totally change the research experience for the academic community and is a prime example of why there needs to be more public debate about the specific details of the settlement.

Clancy did not rule out this approach, despite being given the opportunity to do so. “If we do..”, he stated, “…we would talk to…” subscription customers about an arrangement where customers would get a discounted subscription that comes with ads or pay more for no ads. When pressed by Samuelson, Clancy indicated that while Google would talk to the research library customers about these arrangements, they were not expecting to talk to the academic, research and student communities who would use the service – and be served the ads, based of course on what they were reading.

As far as we know, this is the first time this possible revenue stream has been talked about so openly, despite the months of discussions on the matter. All the more reason to have a serious and open debate about the ramifications and details of a revised settlement proposal. Who knows what else Google might be planning to do should it get a new settlement approved?

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