Pam Samuelson on Google Books: It’s Not A Library

Pam Samuelson, UC Berkeley Professor of Law and one of the most respected and cogent voices in the Google Books debate, published a response on Huffington Post to to the New York Times op-ed column by Google’s Sergey Brin.  Samuelson helpfully points out that Brin’s self-made comparison of his company’s efforts to that of famed ancient library of Alexandria are laughable at best.

Samuelson pokes several holes in Brin’s specious argument, including:

  • The Google Book initiative is a for-profit commercial effort, unlike Alexandria or public libraries;
  • Library associations themselves are lining up in opposition to the settlement out of fear of price gouging coming from Google and the proposed Book Rights Registry;
  • The settlement would eliminate the fair use defense and make it realistically impossible for any competitor to do what Google has done;
  • There is a major gap between traditional libraries’ policies on patron privacy vs. what Google has committed to. In fact, Google has opened the door to the possibility of serving ads next to search results for even the institutional subscriptions that research libraries would be forced to buy.

Samuelson’s piece is a great read that should raise significant questions whenever Google professes its desire to create the great 21st century digital library.

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