miércoles, 19 de septiembre de 2007

Copyright and Copywrong

Fist Monday is one of my favourite online journals. One of the kind you still bookmark to browse from time to time, neglecting RSS or feeds customizations.

In the issue of September there are some expressions of Siva Vaidhyanathan about what he calls: “The Googlization of Everything", related to the Google move on scanning everything and the impact on copyright concerns and the future of books -looks rather orwellian, or at least bradburian (:D).

  • Google wants courts to rule that their project of scanning in millions of copyrighted books and then placing them on their search service in highly cut up form, in other words offering merely snippets of the entire book should qualify as a fair use of the copyrighted work.
  • Google wants courts to make a general rule about fair use and accept that the initial scanning of millions of copyrighted books should be irrelevant to the concerns of the court, and that the copyright issue should be based entirely on the user experience.
  • ...what I’m afraid of is that Google will certainly lose in court, and what will happen is courts will generate an indelicate view of fair use, a highly restricted view of fair use and will ultimately reign in a lot of future experiments (...) then every other player is going to be coward away from doing this.
  • Google is not required to make sure that the scanning process actually gets every page of every book and makes it all clear. There are no requirements that Google use metadata effectively or the metadata certainly already attached to books. There’s no guarantee that Google will offer people the best possible results for their queries. And most importantly, Google does not do anything to protect user confidentiality and in the world of book searching this is a really important factor. It is an essential part of librarianship. It is an essential part of the ethics and policies of libraries.
  • It’s nice to believe that a company like Google which has the best possible programmers and some of the smartest people in the world working for it is on top of this. But I think we need more than faith. I think this is too important a project to put into a black box.
To some extent, Mr. Vaidhyanathan scores some points here -and maybe does a little bit of Google paranoia-. The issue here is, no matter if Google wins or not: the point is that little can be said about copyright in the future if the "fair use" mood is allowed in courts. Thus all our ideas about property are changing in a very fast way.

In other words, should I register from now on any of my pretentious posts here? I'd rather not do it.

Resumen en Español:
  • Si Google fotocopia cada libro estamos en peligro porque sienta un precedente en materia de copyright y hay problemas de confidencialidad de quienes acceden a la info.
  • Si Google pierde en los jurados ningúna biblioteca o Google-like intentará hacer lo mismo en el futuro.

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