Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Google and the Orphan Brats

Had I but world enough and time.... I'd write a LOT about the Google Books Settlement! Especially since it's all over the news (well, the kind of news feeds and newsletters I subscribe to), so there's a lot to think about and comment about. But I do find this piece especially interesting, which was in the most recent New York Times Book Review. It discusses the Google Books issue in the context of orphan works, a copyright-related topic that fascinates me.

One of the most fascinating parts of this article is just how many orphan works are out there. And even more fascinating is just how many of the works Google has scanned happen to also be orphans. Read the essay through to the end and you'll see just how cunning Google really is in terms of establishing a monopoly, especially in regards to these orphan works.

To this day, I still don't know how I feel about Google digitizing all these books. I love the idea of a universal library, but I want authors to be fairly compensated. I've listened to Google reps talk about Google Book Search and how much positive outcome it has for authors, but I'm still wary. I still feel uneasy. As someone who writes (granted, not currently for an income, but perhaps someday!), I just don't know how I feel about my words being out there on the internet, in perpetuity, accessible and usable by anyone in any way. I know that there are restrictions to what people can see and use in the Google Book Search for copyrighted works, but still. Just can't shake the uneasy feeling, just can't feel 100% right about it all. We'll see what other interesting tangents develop in this sordid tale!

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