As you undoubtedly recall, months ago Google launched their Google Print Library Project scanning thousands of books from the country’s libraries for potential search, putting up whatever fair use or the publisher would allow.
Publishers, in typical copyright-holder paranoia fashion, worried that perhaps the two line snippets Google would be providing of their books would spell the end of the world for their entire industry. They wrote articles attacking Google for their cruelty and finally, today, Google announced it would back down.
That’s right: Google won’t even scan any book copyright holders ask them not to, even though doing so is perfectly legal. It’s as if copyright holders got to dictate what books get placed in libraries. Their short-sighted selfishness will cost us all, depriving us of our heritage in our online Library of Alexandria.
Details at the Google Blog, under the Orwellian title Making books easier to find.
UPDATE: the EFF’s Jason Schultz attacks publishers: “This is a clear example of copyright failing the public in the digital age. Google isn’t selling the books; they just need to scan them to help Internet users find what they’re looking for. The fact that publishers are able to hold up this process works against consumers and the marketplace, not in their favor.” And copyfighter Siva Vaidhyanathan attacks me.