Friday, August 25, 2006

Google Contract Released

The contract between the University of California and Google for their joint large-scale book digitization project has been released, thanks apparently in part to a request from the Chronicle of Higher Education. Text here. The Chronicle points out the key condition:

Both the university and Google will get digital copies of the scanned works, but there are some restrictions on how the university can use its copies. The university can offer the digital copy, whole or in parts, "as part of services offered to the university library patrons." But the university must prevent users from downloading portions of the digital copies and stop automated scanning of the copies by, for example, other search engines.

For those who support making library contents available to the broader community, this is not good news. As Brewster Kahle of the Internet Archive and the Open Content Alliance said, "We want a public library system in the digital age, but what we are getting is a private library system controlled by a single corporation . . . Microsoft, Yahoo, the Sloan Foundation, and dozens of libraries are funding a public and open system, but this is made more difficult by UC's agreeing to spend millions of taxpayers' dollars to benefit a single corporation's interest in building a private library," he said. "Needless to say, I am disappointed and hope it does not undermine others' interest in pursuing broad public benefit."

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