Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Google Controversy

Today's Washington Post has a good article on the Google digitization project, and the copyright controversy in particular:

If it is really true that Google is going to digitize the roughly 9 million books in the libraries of Stanford University, then you can be sure that the folks who brought you the world's most ambitious search engine will come, in due time, for call number E169 D3.

Google workers will pull Lillian Dean's 1950 travelogue "This Is Our Land" -- the story of one family's "pleasant and soul-satisfying auto journey across our continent" -- from a shelf in the second-floor stacks of the Cecil H. Green Library. They will place the slim blue volume on a book cart, wheel it into a Google truck backed up to the library's loading dock and whisk it a few miles southeast to the Googleplex, the $100 billion-plus company's sprawling, campuslike headquarters in Mountain View. There, at an undisclosed location, it will be scanned and added to the ever-expanding universe of digitally searchable knowledge.

Why undisclosed?

Because for one thing, in their race to assemble the greatest digital library the world has ever seen, Google's engineers have developed sophisticated technology they'd prefer their competitors not see.

And for another, perhaps -- though Google executives don't say so directly -- the library scanning program already has generated a little too much heat.

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