Google Print Project Is Opening Digitized Pages

March 20, 2006
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LANSING — Search the text of every book ever written — that's the goal of the Google Print project, which was recently endorsed by the Michigan Library Consortium.

Google has agreed to digitize books from the collections of major research and public libraries around the world. The process will make publications more visible and accessible, supporters said. Using the Library Project and the Publisher Program, Google Print would put tens of millions of previously inaccessible volumes into one index.

"It's good all the way around," said Randy Dykhuis, MLC executive director. "It's good for libraries and books, and mainly for the people that use them.

"It provides more access to more information. Much of that access is unavailable to most of the population, and because it's unavailable, it's unknown. Google Print is going to open that up; people are going to find something they didn't know existed before.

"Many of the books are under copyright and will need to be purchased or borrowed from a library, and that's good," Dykhuis said.

Critics of Google Print include copyright holders and publishers. Several members of the Association of American Publishers recently filed suit against Google for its efforts to scan and distribute the books online.

"The publishing industry is united behind this lawsuit against Google and united in the fight to defend their rights," said AAP President Patricia Schroeder. "While authors and publishers know how useful Google's search engine can be and think the Print Library could be an excellent resource, the bottom line is that under its current plan Google is seeking to make millions of dollars by freeloading on the talent and property of authors and publishers."

Google Print costs users nothing, and through a tracking system it protects copyright holders in the display and reproduction of the digitized works.

The work of libraries around the world will be made available to readers and researchers through Google Print.

Eric Schmidt, Google's chief executive officer, wrote in his blog: "By most estimates, less than 20 percent of books are in print, and only around 20 percent of titles, according to the Online Computer Library Center, are in the public domain. This leaves a startling 60 percent of all books that publishers are unlikely to be able to add to our program and readers are unlikely to find."

The protections for publishers are manifold, Schmidt said. They are similar to the way that Google's Internet search allows any Web site owner who doesn't want to be included in the main search index to exclude pages from that site. Copyright-holders are free to send book titles that they don't want included in the Google Print index, Schmidt said.    

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