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Discussion Starter #1
Has anyone read about this?
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/04/technology/internet/04books.html?_r=1
Google is attempting to get the digital rights to millions of so called orphan books. These are books which are out of print (OOP) and the rights holders are unavailable. Most of these books are from an era when digital rights were never even thought of. They are heavily made up of obscure and academic texts, but valuable none the less. There are many gems among them I am sure, the estimate is over 7 million texts. Google wantd to claim the sole digital rights to these books...
Anyone have any thoughts on this? I am still torn over my excitment to have access to so many unavailable texts, but should Google be able to claim the rights to them? They have scanned them at their own expense and collected and cared for them...but was anyone else even given the chance? Thoughts? Ideas? Anyone?
 

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Honestly, I think its fantastic. If a book is out of print, and the publisher refuses to do anything with it, tough. Use it or lose it. Same thing with patent rights. You have to defend them to protect them. So if a publisher chooses to let their content languish for decades and no longer even has the ability to reprint them, I fail to see why everyone should just let them slowly go away for good [which is happening.] According to the article, Google tries to reach the various stakeholders for everything they scan - most are unreachable.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Good point Patrick, but I wonder what is spelled out in the 134 page agreement. I like that all libraries will have free access, and universities can buy access. They will be made available to the public as well online for a price. I would just like to know what the definition of "Ophan book" will be, and what exactly they can claim.
 

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MAGreen said:
Google wantd to claim the sole digital rights to these books...
That's the part that bothers me. If you really care about the books being disseminated as widely as possible, push to have them released to the public domain so anyone could have them. Seems a little evil to me.
 

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I don't think that Google should have exclusive digital rights to the texts.
Once they are in the public domain, they should stay there.
Google should be able to encrypt the copy they created and have rights to it's distribution.
But others should be able to digitize them too.
Just Sayin.......
 

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geoffthomas said:
I don't think that Google should have exclusive digital rights to the texts.
Once they are in the public domain, they should stay there.
That was my point; they are not in the public domain, and google is attempting to commandeer the rights only for themselves. IMO, it should either be everybody's, or nobody's.
 

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marianner said:
That was my point; they are not in the public domain, and google is attempting to commandeer the rights only for themselves. IMO, it should either be everybody's, or nobody's.
Agreed. Who says that Google has anyone's "best interests" at heart, other than their own? They're big, rich and powerful, and have the same potential for selfishness and domination as any other corporate entity.

Let them control the digital scans of books they've made, but make the books available to others, as well. IMHO....
 

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Playing devil's advocate for a moment. . .if the publishers have let the copyright languish, and the Google people go to the trouble to acquire it, why shouldn't they then 'own' it.  I'd certainly rather have everything declared as public domain and free for me, but I can certainly understand Google's stance:  they've done the work to get the books cleared for e-publishing so why should they give that away for free.

Having said all that, I am not completely up on the situation and freely admit there may be other considerations of which I am not aware.

Ann
 

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Discussion Starter #10
If they are made public domain, Google can still sell the ones they have scanned, but others will still have access to the original works and be able to make their own copies.
 

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Ann in Arlington said:
Playing devil's advocate for a moment. . .if the publishers have let the copyright languish, and the Google people go to the trouble to acquire it, why shouldn't they then 'own' it. I'd certainly rather have everything declared as public domain and free for me, but I can certainly understand Google's stance: they've done the work to get the books cleared for e-publishing so why should they give that away for free.
I've been thinking about this, and I'm a big devil's advocate, but I still disagree. This paragraph from the article says it better than I:
Most of the critics, which include copyright specialists, antitrust scholars and some librarians, agree that the public will benefit. But they say others should also have rights to orphan works. And they oppose what they say amounts to the rewriting, through a private deal rather than through legislation, of the copyright rules for millions of texts.
 

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Too many "sweet deals" in the news right now to really be in favor of another one.
 

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Just remember, these are scanned texts, probably in PDF, and essentially worthless on the Kindle and other eink devices.  At best, some one may attempt an OCR, but those would have many, many errors.  There may be value in making digital copies of obsolete books, but any reading will almost certainly be done on a desktop or laptop that can display the full scanned text.
 

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Geemont said:
Just remember, these are scanned texts, probably in PDF, and essentially worthless on the Kindle and other eink devices. At best, some one may attempt an OCR, but those would have many, many errors. There may be value in making digital copies of obsolete books, but any reading will almost certainly be done on a desktop or laptop that can display the full scanned text.
Exactly. If they were released to the public domain, they could be used in different forms.
 

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Sounds like "orphan books" are something that needs to be addressed in the copyright legislation. 

I'm assuming that the authors of these out of print books are deceased and never left publishing rights, electronic or otherwise, to an estate to handle. 

I think Google is on very shaky ground. 

 
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