Author Topic: Google book scanning discussion from EP215: Mr. Penumbra’s Twenty-Four-Hour Book Store  (Read 4808 times)

Praxis

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I mean, if they are going to monopolise any and all books not nailed down...

oh!  don't get me started with this argument again.  google is not monopolizing books.


Well it was only a semi-serious comment but, since you did (re?)mention it......they are creating a monopoly in that, after scanning, no other person or organisation or whatever would be able to create their own, scanned, copy of that book. 
(unless they are the owner of course, but then it wouldn't necessarily have to stay with Google anyway)

I *DO* think the scheme is tremendous.  Hugely so - like mapping the genome it is one of those things that benefit everyone in countless ways....

...but it's not being done to create an open database of knowledge (e.g. a scientific journal back issue that is now freely available), Google are seeking to keep sole ownership of the scanned content. 
Which seems at odds with the ideal of trying to make sure that the content is as widely available and survivable as possible.



deflective

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it's probably mostly a deterrent, another version of rule three.  a hurdle put in the way to make sure that students are devoted to the lesson... on the other hand it does make the whole immortality thing something of a pyramid scheme.  to buy in you have to devote large amounts of money supporting the guy above you.

yeah, i like your theory actually.


they are creating a monopoly in that, after scanning, no other person or organisation or whatever would be able to create their own, scanned, copy of that book. 

not to put too fine a point on it, this is simply wrong.  i'd be curious where you heard it since this misconception has become incredibly entrenched.

when google goes to a library they offer to scan the books & give the library a free copy to use but, as a condition, the library must limit access to the scanned version and not mount it to the internet for download.  google is trying to protect their investment of millions of dollars & years of time since once they've done the work any competitor would be able to download the entire database for nothing.

this in no way prevents a different library from scanning their copy of the book and presenting it for free download if they wish.  as far as i know, the same library may even be able to scan a new digital version of the book and mount it so long as they don't use google's version.

i had an online talk about this.  my position is a little muddled as i figure out the issues but the information is there for anyone interested.



eytanz

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they are creating a monopoly in that, after scanning, no other person or organisation or whatever would be able to create their own, scanned, copy of that book. 

not to put too fine a point on it, this is simply wrong.  i'd be curious where you heard it since this misconception has become incredibly entrenched.

http://www.informationweek.com/news/internet/google/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=219501086

Note that I don't understand this issue well enough to know who's right - this is a matter of one huge corporation vs. other huge corporations, discussing fine details of copyright law and the details of a lawsuit settlement, and the spin on both sides is overwhelming. Since I'm not a lawyer, it comes down to "who do I trust more? Google or Microsoft and Amazon?" which is the same kind of question as "would I rather be bashed on the head with a baseball bat or a lead pipe?" - I don't trust either one bit.

Mod: I've been trying not to split off this discussion, because most of it has been in the same posts with comments on the story.  If this is going to go on much further, please put it in separate posts, so I can make a new thread.  You probably noticed it's been split off.  Not every reference has been moved, but oh well.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2009, 08:42:14 AM by Russell Nash »



deflective

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they are creating a monopoly in that, after scanning, no other person or organisation or whatever would be able to create their own, scanned, copy of that book. 
not to put too fine a point on it, this is simply wrong.  i'd be curious where you heard it since this misconception has become incredibly entrenched.
this is a matter of one huge corporation vs. other huge corporations, discussing fine details of copyright law and the details of a lawsuit settlement, and the spin on both sides is overwhelming. Since I'm not a lawyer, it comes down to "who do I trust more? Google or Microsoft and Amazon?" which is the same kind of question as "would I rather be bashed on the head with a baseball bat or a lead pipe?" - I don't trust either one bit.

the article that you linked to doesn't actually support the situation that Praxis describes.  i'm guessing the media is spinning it that way because it's scarier and makes a better narrative.  maybe.  what part of the article do you think says that google will acquire exclusive rights to books so that no one else is allowed to scan them?

all this was covered in that discussion i linked earlier but it's understandable if you didn't want to read through all of it.  of particular relevance here is the post why google started proactively scanning and what amazon & microsoft is trying to accomplish (at least partly) with their lawsuit.

besides all that, it surprises me a lot that you would find microsoft just as trustworthy as google.  i suppose that not everyone is in the industry or knows the history behind these companies.  generally, microsoft has behaved extremely poorly (compete by actively opposing their competitors, buying resources or slowing down protocol agreement just to hurt other companies) while google has not (compete by competence, putting out a product that's undeniably better than the competition).

there's no doubt that google is scary big and as soon as they start acting poorly (such as going riaa & suing individual users for putting a book on bittorent) i will drastically revise my opinion but until then they've earned some leeway.



eytanz

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they are creating a monopoly in that, after scanning, no other person or organisation or whatever would be able to create their own, scanned, copy of that book. 
not to put too fine a point on it, this is simply wrong.  i'd be curious where you heard it since this misconception has become incredibly entrenched.
this is a matter of one huge corporation vs. other huge corporations, discussing fine details of copyright law and the details of a lawsuit settlement, and the spin on both sides is overwhelming. Since I'm not a lawyer, it comes down to "who do I trust more? Google or Microsoft and Amazon?" which is the same kind of question as "would I rather be bashed on the head with a baseball bat or a lead pipe?" - I don't trust either one bit.

the article that you linked to doesn't actually support the situation that Praxis describes.  i'm guessing the media is spinning it that way because it's scarier and makes a better narrative.  maybe.  what part of the article do you think says that google will acquire exclusive rights to books so that no one else is allowed to scan them?

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The settlement, Amazon's legal filing states, "is unfair to authors, publishers, and others whose works would be the subject of a compulsory license for the life of the copyright in favor of Google and the newly created Book Rights Registry. It is anticompetitive and violates antitrust laws because it provides Google an effective monopoly in the scanning and exploitation of millions of works whose copyright holders cannot be located or choose not to involve themselves in this class action. It also creates a cartel of authors and publishers -- the Books Rights Registry -- operating with virtually no restrictions on its actions, with the potential to raise book prices and reduce output to the detriment of consumers and new authors or publishers who would compete with the cartel members."

I realize that I'm quoting Amazon's spin here, but that's where the idea comes from. Note that the concern is not that Google is acquiring exclusive rights. Rather it is that by agreeing to the settlement with the publishers, Google is legitimizing the publisher's business practices and allowing them to essentially block anyone else out of the competition. Amazon and Microsoft are concerned because that means they'll have to pay, but poorer institutions, like libraries, will be cut off entirely. Or, at least, that's what the anti-Google camp is saying from one side of their mouth; at the same time, they complain about weakening copyright laws and so forth.

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it's understandable if you didn't want to read through all of it.

I'm not really interested in this debate - I was just trying to answer your question of where the idea of Google's book scheme being evil comes from. The answer: Google's competitors (but also, the ACLU and privacy groups, though for different reasons. One additional useful link - though again, from a source quite hostile to Google - http://www.librarystuff.net/category/google-books/)

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besides all that, it surprises me a lot that you would find microsoft just as trustworthy as google.  i suppose that not everyone is in the industry or knows the history behind these companies.  generally, microsoft has behaved extremely poorly (compete by actively opposing their competitors, buying resources or slowing down protocol agreement just to hurt other companies) while google has not (compete by competence, putting out a product that's undeniably better than the competition).

Oh, I do know the history. Microsoft didn't do anything different than any other big corporation in the tech industry - what sets them apart is that they were caught. Which means that Microsoft is under more scrutiny, both from governments and private individuals, than most of its competitors. Which means that these days, they find it very difficult to get away with stuff. Google, I am 100% certain, is getting away with as much stuff as it can now, before the scrutiny catches up.

I find it much safer, in general, to just assume the worst of any corporation the size of MS or Google. The fact that in Microsoft's case there is a history to back it up does not mean I will lower my guard regarding Google.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2009, 08:23:52 AM by eytanz »



deflective

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I realize that I'm quoting Amazon's spin here, but that's where the idea comes from. Note that the concern is not that Google is acquiring exclusive rights.

aye, that was pretty much my point.  there are some very valid concerns here and debate is necessary but it gets horribly muddied when made up issues capture the public eye.  google buying exclusive rights to books is misinformation equivalent to the death panels in american health care.

I was just trying to answer your question of where the idea of Google's book scheme being evil comes from. The answer: Google's competitors (but also, the ACLU and privacy groups, though for different reasons.

again, it wasn't so much the groups opposed to google i was trying to find but the source of misunderstanding/misinformation that's making a lot of people believe that google is buying exclusive rights to books.

Microsoft didn't do anything different than any other big corporation in the tech industry - what sets them apart is that they were caught.

it's more than that.  publicly, as international html & internet protocols were being established, microsoft would actively pursue inefficient algorithms just because they owned the rights or didn't want to change their aging software.  effectively they wanted to hurt the industry as a whole to save themselves some  effort.  when people tried to work with microsoft products they would find the interfaces changed for no apparent reason, creating pointless busywork for any microsoft competitors.

they don't play well with others and not just in ways that get them sued.  they're getting better but it's a long hard road if they want to earn the industry's trust.

google not only doesn't do these things, they actively go out of their way to make sure their position helps the everyone in the long run.

Google, I am 100% certain, is getting away with as much stuff as it can now, before the scrutiny catches up.

you live in a cold, hard world my friend =)  i play tit for tat.  live cautiously but don't believe the worst of people until they give you reason (though i'm ready to consider many thing a reason.  in other threads, you might have noticed my tendency to read into patterns).



Mod:You probably noticed it's been split off.  Not every reference has been moved, but oh well.

aye, well split that way.  when in doubt leave it with the original thread.
i'd still appreciate a notice & link to the split threads in the original post.  there's been a few times i've wasted effort trying to figure out what was going on in a thread before finding a notice buried in page three that the thread was split.



eytanz

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Microsoft didn't do anything different than any other big corporation in the tech industry - what sets them apart is that they were caught.

it's more than that.  publicly, as international html & internet protocols were being established, microsoft would actively pursue inefficient algorithms just because they owned the rights or didn't want to change their aging software.  effectively they wanted to hurt the industry as a whole to save themselves some  effort.  when people tried to work with microsoft products they would find the interfaces changed for no apparent reason, creating pointless busywork for any microsoft competitors.

As I said, nothing different than any of the other big players.

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google not only doesn't do these things, they actively go out of their way to make sure their position helps the everyone in the long run.

No, not everyone. Google's tactics are different than Microsoft's had been, but don't confuse that with altruism. Where Micorosoft (and it's competitors at the time) tried to keep everything closed so that no-one but them can get an inroad to the technology, Google opens things up selectively, making sure it's always a better deal to use Google products. The consumer gains in the short run, but in the long run, the effect is the same (compare to Wal-Mart, another company that got its start by undercutting its competition and being more attractive to a lot of people).



Heradel

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Google's stated aim is to digitize all the world's information, which inevitably will happen because it needs to. Google has the cash and resources right now to do it, and they're probably the least evil company to try to do it. They're also, as of less Thursday, saying that other people can sell the out of print books that they've digitized. Amazon could probably do it fairly well, but Google has a better track record of being cross platform.

Microsoft didn't do anything different than any other big corporation in the tech industry - what sets them apart is that they were caught.

it's more than that.  publicly, as international html & internet protocols were being established, microsoft would actively pursue inefficient algorithms just because they owned the rights or didn't want to change their aging software.  effectively they wanted to hurt the industry as a whole to save themselves some  effort.  when people tried to work with microsoft products they would find the interfaces changed for no apparent reason, creating pointless busywork for any microsoft competitors.

As I said, nothing different than any of the other big players.

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google not only doesn't do these things, they actively go out of their way to make sure their position helps the everyone in the long run.

No, not everyone. Google's tactics are different than Microsoft's had been, but don't confuse that with altruism. Where Micorosoft (and it's competitors at the time) tried to keep everything closed so that no-one but them can get an inroad to the technology, Google opens things up selectively, making sure it's always a better deal to use Google products. The consumer gains in the short run, but in the long run, the effect is the same (compare to Wal-Mart, another company that got its start by undercutting its competition and being more attractive to a lot of people).

Google's a younger and more nimble company than Microsoft, but Microsoft has still been a lot worse at stagnating development (See: Internet Explorer). That said, Microsoft and IBM fund a lot of basic R&D, which is pretty rare in these days of short-term market outlooks. Google has basically  monopolized the search markets in a lot of the world (though they're fighting a pretty tough battle in China to get on top). Google is a for-profit company, this is really just them doing what they're supposed to. They've pushed the market in other ways (for example, forcing Microsoft to do an online version of Office), but they've also never done the petty things Microsoft does (for example, Hotmail doesn't let you forward emails to a non-hotmail account, so if you switch services your only recourse is to keep the vacation responder on for a few weeks until everyone gets the message). Microsoft has also bullied the standards bodies at times, and been generally not played well with others.

Other companies do this too; Apple for example usually breaks non-iTunes iPod integration every time they do a new software release. But they've also played nice when they use open source software, though they've had to be called on it a few times (Webkit, some of the Unix modifications).

These are not non-profits, they have a capitalist motives and have toed the line and been beaten back by regulators, though the EU is a lot better about it than the US (China, as always, is in it's own ballpark).


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deflective

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As I said, nothing different than any of the other big players.

you're gonna have to support that with something.  i don't need citations (not worth the effort in an informal debate where neither side has been shown to be untrustworthy) but it'd be handy to have some examples that show why you believe this.

don't get me wrong, i know that google is in business and will take the advantage when possible.  i just don't know of a situation where they slowed down the industry for purely selfish reasons.  plenty of times i've disagreed with their reasoning (eg, national search engine filtering & non-opensource video codecs) but there is always a larger reason behind their position and they may even be right.  

The consumer gains in the short run, but in the long run, the effect is the same (compare to Wal-Mart, another company that got its start by undercutting its competition and being more attractive to a lot of people).

i'm not sure that being so good at your job that other companies can't compete is really a bad thing.  if you can show me an example where google (or walmart for that matter) jacked up prices once establishing a monopoly i can support your position.



eytanz

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As I said, nothing different than any of the other big players.

you're gonna have to support that with something.  i don't need citations (not worth the effort in an informal debate where neither side has been shown to be untrustworthy) but it'd be handy to have some examples that show why you believe this.

Well, I had Intel specifically in mind when I wrote the above - I know that they've been up to all sorts of shannanigans with peddling old chip technologies and strangling their competition. But I'm pretty sure there are plenty of other examples, even if I can't think of specific cases offhand.

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The consumer gains in the short run, but in the long run, the effect is the same (compare to Wal-Mart, another company that got its start by undercutting its competition and being more attractive to a lot of people).

i'm not sure that being so good at your job that other companies can't compete is really a bad thing.  if you can show me an example where google (or walmart for that matter) jacked up prices once establishing a monopoly i can support your position.

Prices aren't the only way a company can hurt a consumer. One of the main problems with Wal-Mart (ignoring the way they destroy local economies by crushing smaller stores) is that they are powerful enough to control other markets. Companies that produce all sorts of products, from books to clothes to music CDs, are influenced by "what will Wal-Mart agree to sell". The end result is less customer selection, and lower quality goods, as higher quality (and therefore, more expensive to produce) items can't be sold on Wal-Mart and with no small shops to carry them they just disappear. Google could easily end up in a simlar position.




deflective

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I'm pretty sure there are plenty of other examples, even if I can't think of specific cases offhand.

no doubt about it.  sony alone would give you plenty of material and if we start looking at oil companies it's gonna get machiavellian.

lots of companies, probably most, have done nasty things but i'm not ready to dismiss all of them because of that.  my opinion of google is affected by google's actions.

One of the main problems with Wal-Mart (ignoring the way they destroy local economies by crushing smaller stores) is that they are powerful enough to control other markets. Companies that produce all sorts of products, from books to clothes to music CDs, are influenced by "what will Wal-Mart agree to sell". The end result is less customer selection, and lower quality goods, as higher quality (and therefore, more expensive to produce) items can't be sold on Wal-Mart and with no small shops to carry them they just disappear. Google could easily end up in a simlar position.

if there's enough demand for the items that walmart doesn't carry then stores will open to sell them.  if not, they will be available online.

it's definitely not an ideal situation but it's balanced against reducing the cost of basic household necessities and freeing up a workforce from a rather tedious retail industry (though nobody will thank them for that short term).

google scares me in the long run.  it's currently run by college geeks that have some idealism but we tend to lose that as we age.  i'm definitely hoping that some sort of solid competition will build over the next twenty or thirty years to offer an alternative by the time that the controlling ceos at google change.



Planish

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this in no way prevents a different library from scanning their copy of the book and presenting it for free download if they wish.  as far as i know, the same library may even be able to scan a new digital version of the book and mount it so long as they don't use google's version.
Sounds like the thing with the Mona Lisa being in the public domain, but somebody's published photograph of it is not.
If you buy the plane ticket to Paris, and make all the arrangements with the Louvre, you can take your own photographs and do whatever you want with them.

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Heradel

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this in no way prevents a different library from scanning their copy of the book and presenting it for free download if they wish.  as far as i know, the same library may even be able to scan a new digital version of the book and mount it so long as they don't use google's version.
Sounds like the thing with the Mona Lisa being in the public domain, but somebody's published photograph of it is not.
If you buy the plane ticket to Paris, and make all the arrangements with the Louvre, you can take your own photographs and do whatever you want with them.

This is actually not a settled area of case law. It may be that if the image isn't sufficiently derivative of the original artwork (and it's hard to argue that a straight photo or a scan of a painting is very derivative) that the image isn't actually a copyrighted work in its own right. Everyone treats them as copyrighted now, but it hasn't appeared before the Supreme Court or EU equivalents.

The flipside of this is that it may be copyright infringement for a photograph to include a still-copyrighted work within the photograph. Which would make city photography or photography or people in clothing with logos nearly impossible.

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Russell Nash

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Which would make city photography or photography or people in clothing with logos nearly impossible.

This is what makes stock photography so hard.  No recognizable places, logos, or items.