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google booksWell, the lengthy legal battle over Google Books may be coming to a close. According to cNet, U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin in New York rejected authors’ arguments against digitizing books without copyright holder permission, and he granted Google’s motion for summary judgment.

I’m sure Chris Meadows will chime in on this since he’s more up on copyright law and this sort of thing than I am, but I did find this quote interesting:

In my view, Google Books provides significant public benefits. It advances the progress of the arts and sciences, while maintaining respectful consideration for the rights of authors and other creative individuals, and without adversely impacting the rights of copyright holders. It has become an invaluable research tool that permits students, teachers, librarians, and others to more efficiently identify and locate books. It has given scholars the ability, for the first time, to conduct full-text searches of tens of millions of books. It preserves books, in particular out-of-print and old books that have been forgotten in the bowels of libraries, and it gives them new life. It facilitates access to books for print-disabled and remote or underserved populations. It generates new audiences and creates new sources of income for authors and publishers. Indeed, all society benefits.

I tend to agree with the judge. Any way to help readers find books is valuable. I was researching angel lore for a book I’m writing, and thanks to a combination of Google and Wikipedia, I found what looks like a great book for my research, The Books of Enoch. It’s not the sort of thing I would have known to look for in an Amazon search. But by searching through other sources, I found it. (And made the happy discovery that the Supernatural language, Enochian, was not something Eric Kripke made up.)

In an earlier cNet article about the case, Judge Chin “noted that people have bought books after finding information about them online, suggesting that authors are compensated by increased sales.” My example is certainly anecdotal evidence of that.

One of the persistent problems with book discovery is that its difficult to search for something if you don’t know it exists. I believe that Google Books can go a long way to fixing that.

 
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