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Google Makes Public Domain Books Live (BETA)

 2:46 pm on Nov 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

Mountain View, Calif. Nov. 3, 2005 Today, Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) announced the availability of the first large collection of public domain books on Google Print. This collection, scanned as part of the company's book digitization project with several of the world's largest libraries, includes works such as U.S. Civil War history books, government documents, the writings of Henry James and other materials.


Although, it's got the usual BETA on it.




 9:22 pm on Nov 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

to me it seems it didn have ads in the morning, but now its showing adwords... lucky google shareholders :)


 9:30 pm on Nov 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

Actually, the more you think about it - it really is cloaking, and in it's worst form.

Why index content that can not be looked at for the purpose of creating a click through to a service?

There is no justification for that - otherwise I could steal copyright content from every website (disable cache) and then forward the pages to content that I could monetise.

Again - clearly not an accepted search engine practice!


 12:39 am on Nov 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

If I copied two/thirds of a book and put it online and the author filed a DMCA, Google would remove it from their index.


 1:58 am on Nov 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

wow! I saw a page and a half of a 2004 book, not just a snippet
Big gamble google


 4:18 am on Nov 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

I'm entirely lost trying to figure out what everyone thinks is so terrible about books.google.

Regarding infringement...

I can go to a bookstore right now and read any book there from cover to cover without paying for it... You can't even get the whole book at Google.

The same applies, only moreso, to libraries where I can take the book home and read it. Additionally, I suppose card catalogs and book indexing in libraries is copyright infringement?

Using the rationale from many of the posts in this thread it would sure seem to be... Libraries even sometimes charge a fee for access. Even Google isn't that twisted!

Has anyone noticed that you can search the book indexes at some libraries online and it's obviously a growing trend?

Suppose some of these lawsuits win... It then becomes entirely reasonable to go after every search engine on the web for indexing any part of the web that decides it doesn't like the idea. Any original work becomes copyrighted on it's first publication after all.

Regarding it being a bad idea for other reasons...

Bad idea in the sense that it will undoubtedly evolve into an incredibly valuable resource while at the same time making lots of money for Google?

It should be noted that Microsoft and Yahoo are already moving to create their own version of this bad idea.

To sum it up, who would want to be able to search the text of the worlds cumulative printed knowledge in order to then check the information you're found out at the library or buy it online? That's not a good idea, that's evil!

Sure, Google books needs some tweaking, but the venomous response from WebmasterWorlders is bizarre. Unless I'm missing something?

[b]Edit:[/b] Had Google in place of Yahoo

[edited by: IanKelley at 4:31 am (utc) on Nov. 4, 2005]


 4:27 am on Nov 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

Ian, who was it who said recently..?

"It's public. If you publish something on the internet then you're publishing it to the public. If you don't want it to be public then publish it on your INTRAnet, not the internet."

Thats the difference between the internet, and books too. One is freely available, and one is conditionally available.

There is also a difference between looking at something and copying it illicitly. Copyright is there for a reason and that is to protect the financial interests of those who create.

The romantic notion of the artist as being someone who only ever creates for love and is happy to starve, is a myth put about by those leeching off the artist, generally speaking. It is not a view usually held by the artists themselves.


 4:34 am on Nov 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

I was under the impression that offline, as online, the word publication was used for a reason.

Google is not copying and distributing or copying and selling books. The books never become fully available to the public. I thought that much, at least, was clear?

Revisit libraries and book indexing.


 4:41 am on Nov 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

Legally, you 'publish' something if you only show it to one other person.

>The books never become fully available to the public.

And show me the library index card with three quarters of the book on it. Why don't you go copy three quarters of Windows XP, plaster your ads all over it, then give it away for free? See how far you get.


 5:01 am on Nov 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

>> I can go to a bookstore right now and read any book there from cover to cover without paying for it

bad example. The book is at the bookstore because the publisher wanted them to have it, it is something they agreed upon. They dont approve of what Google is doing.

The main copyright question will be (I think) whether one can scan and store entire books on their servers to begin with, forget about showing it.


 6:21 am on Nov 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

It should be noted that Microsoft and Yahoo are already moving to create their own version of this bad idea.

No, they are involved in a much better effort, the Open Content Alliance.

From the FAQ on their site:

Will copyrighted content be digitized or placed in the OCA archive without explicit permission from rights-holders?

No. OCA contributors must secure the permission of all concerned copyright holders prior to submitting materials to the OCA for digitization or inclusion in the archive.

Why wouldn't the 'do no evil' company think of this first?


 9:01 am on Nov 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

There seem to be some misconceptions about print.google.com. One misconception is that people think the links to Amazon or BookSense are affiliate links. They are not affiliate links and Google does not make money from them.

wow! I saw a page and a half of a 2004 book, not just a snippet

I think this is another misconception. If you do a search like [weaving] and click on a random result, you'll see something at the top of the page like

Early American Weaving and Dyeing
by J Bronson, R Bronson
Provided by Courier Dover Publications through the Google Print Publisher Program

with a link for more info. There are two programs: the Print Publisher Program and the Library program. The Print Publisher program means that the publisher gave us permissions to search that book and show results from it.

I don't know how far along scanning is, but it doesn't surprise me to see more results from the Print Publisher program to start with. I did a search for Don Quixote written before 1920:
and found a result from 1893, which seems pretty nice to me.


 1:54 pm on Nov 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

>> There are two programs: the Print Publisher Program and the Library program

thanks for clarifying it. The title, "Google Makes Public Domain Books Live" is somewhat misleading then.

As far as affiliate links: you guys should run soem numbers and that maybe enough to pay the book publishers.
Why send free traffic to Amazon or BN, when they are willing to pay for it?


 2:40 pm on Nov 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

They are not affiliate links and Google does not make money from them.

So why are they there? I believe the point is more that there is a relationship or partnership of some form that is being fed here.

When I do a search on Amazon, I see:

"Search results enhanced by Google."


 3:44 pm on Nov 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

Arhhh, and there comes a spin-GoogleGuy, putting up a "look, I found this cool Don Quixote book" comment instead of REPLYING TO THE REAL ISSUE AT HAND.

Anything but spin's been coming out of the 'Plex lately? NO? What else is new...


 4:05 pm on Nov 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

See that?


"Obviously, we are disappointed that Google has done this. It could deprive the charity of potential income" - Great Ormond St Children's Hospital"...

"A Google spokesperson today told Times Online that the online copy "looks like it has been provided ...via the Google Print Publishing Programme which means the book has been submitted by the publisher". This was emphatically denied by the spokesman for the charity, who pointed out that the book is under copyright in the US until 2023, although it is out of copyright in other territories, including Canada and Japan.

"We are not going to put Peter Pan on the internet because we wish it to be used for the benefit of children in the hospital," Mr Cox said."

I told them to write that and I alerted the Hospital too.

So Googleguy. Google had permission to put Peter Pan up there did it? The owners don't seem to think so. Makes a very nice story about deprived little sick children. You should just be grateful the Times isn't the sort of paper to put pictures of their deprived little faces about.

Lets hope non of the tabloids pick it up or you might not be so blessed.


 4:15 pm on Nov 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

Like IanKelly, I find it difficult to understand what the fuss is all about. This is what Google says to publishers:
Your books would be purchased in far greater numbers if more people knew about them. Fortunately, we've got a way to do just that with Google Print. Whether you're a large publisher or a small press, think of Google Print as a free worldwide sales and marketing system that matches people who are looking for information with the relevant words and phrases inside your books.

Seems like a pretty reasonable sales pitch. If I were a publisher with hundreds of titles out of print, not knowing if the market is big enough to risk new print runs, I would definitely sign up for this. Google supplies online statistics to the publishers, giving them the facts that they need to decide (not to mention what Amazon et al. will say when they are flooded with requests for unavailable books.)


 4:23 pm on Nov 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

>>I find it difficult to understand what the fuss is all about.

The fuss is about that fact that Google doesn't have permission to copy all of the books they are copying. Pretty simple. Google saying "this is good for you" just doesn't cut it.

Regardless of whether it is legal or not, (that is still to be decided) Google ignored the wishes of copyright holders. In short, Google said, "we don't give a rip whether you like it or not, we're going to copy your work".


 4:39 pm on Nov 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

Google doesn't have permission to copy all of the books they are copying

How can you know this? Google says they do (above). And when it comes to the library project this is what they claim:
What does an in-copyright book in Google Print look like?
If you are in the United States and you search for Books and Culture by Hamilton Wright Mabie, for instance, you'll be able to page through as much of it as you like, because its 1896 copyright means it's now in the public domain in the United States. These public domain books look very similar to publisher-submitted books except you will be able to click through all the pages of the book.

A book such as the 1924 True Stories of Pioneer Life by Mary C. Moulton, on the other hand, may still be in copyright in the United States, and we treat it as such. So, when you preview it on Google Print, you'll only see snippets of text directly around your search term. This snippet view is designed to help users find the book in their search results and make a decision about whether to go find a physical copy of the book with just bibliographic information and a few short sentences around their search query.

Assuming this is true, it certainly sounds above board to me.

As to Peter Pan, the copyright notice in the book says that the publisher is "New American Library", so one would have to assume that they have given Google the necessary permission.


 4:44 pm on Nov 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

Well rencke, if you had been following this from the beginning, you too would know that they don't have permission from all the copyright holders. A few lawsuits mention that fact as well.

One Lawsuit [news.com.com]

Google has also said they will allow copyright holders to 'opt-out'. In short, they have permission from some, and no permission from others. Yet they don't seem to care either way.

[edited by: digitalghost at 5:02 pm (utc) on Nov. 4, 2005]


 4:54 pm on Nov 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

>As to Peter Pan, the copyright notice in the book says that the publisher is "New American Library", so one would have to assume that they have given Google the necessary permission.

Not to publish here, I suspect. That would be 'ultra vires' (beyond their powers). If they had given permission it would therefore be meaningless as they had no such permission to give.

So Googleguy, whats it gonna be? Are you going to remove it or are you going to pay the children's hospital $50 million per year?


 5:30 pm on Nov 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

It's beta so like someone said earlier, I guess I'm supposed to pretend that its utter uselessness is just fine. What garbage. I put in "It was the best of times" which by any measure at all should bring up the Tale of Two Cities #1 or at least bring it up somewhere on the first page. The #1 result? "Learning GNU emacs" with, of course, a link to sell. Only on page 2 do you get "A Tale of Two Cites" but it turns out to be the Cliff Notes (different brand, same idea) and, of course, for sale.

Shouldn't the famous contextual algo see that every other book mentions "Tale of Two Cities" and Dickens when mentioning the quote, except one book, which is *called* Tale of Two Cities and is *by* Dickens?

I tried some other obvious phrases for books that should and should not be in the public domain and still didn't find much of use.

"I saw the best of my generation" (at least got a Ginsburg related book)

"Call me Ishmael" (did figure out that it's from Moby Dick and brought up some lit crit)

"Penfield mood organ" (again, figured out that it was Dick (not Moby), but have yet to find a phrase that actually finds the book that made it famous.

[edited by: ergophobe at 5:33 pm (utc) on Nov. 4, 2005]


 5:31 pm on Nov 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

So what if I make books.mydomain.com and scrape everything on books.googgle.com and put up adsense on it? All good? I mean what's the differince? Google scanned it from hard copy and I used software?

As far as I can tell, they don't own the content anymore than I do. The concept of a website putting up a ton of content they did not write or own and putting adense on it isn't a new idea. I report sites like that to google often.


 6:52 pm on Nov 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

aleksl, what didn't I reply to? AlexMiles, I'm not up on the Peter Pan question, but I asked about it here. walkman, I agree the title of this thread is somewhat unfortunate. We are making public domain books available (e.g. for the U.S. limit the date search to before 1923), but print.google.com also includes more recent books, including books that publishers gave us permission to show more from.


 3:01 am on Nov 5, 2005 (gmt 0)


Mystery solved. You're the Borg from Star Trek!


 3:15 am on Nov 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

GG ..this dissinformation must be as embarrasing for you guys in PR to put out as it is for us to read it ..call the plex ..tell them you are sick ..stay home and email your CV to yahoo..

even redmond is behaving more ethically than the plex at the moment .


 10:18 am on Nov 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

The fuss is about that fact that Google doesn't have permission to copy all of the books they are copying. Pretty simple. Google saying "this is good for you" just doesn't cut it.

Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL, Jeeves, etc... all do not have permission to copy the websites they copy. The above all maintain verbatim copies of a very large part of the the internet, without which they would become useless. Shall we do away with internet search as well?

Personally I can't wait until this technology has evolved to the point that I can get a list of every book on the planet with information related to the topic I'm researching.

If it's evil, count me in on the dark side. :-)


 3:09 pm on Nov 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

You've changed your tune. Earlier simply looking at something was a breach of copyright, wasn't it?

It is true Google's cache has a questionable legal status, but it is not beyond someone who built a website to make a "nocache" tag or even a "noindex" tag. When you make a website it is reasonable to suppose someone will link to it and someone will spider that link as this is fundamental to the way the internet works. It is reasonable to expect anyone who does not want to be indexed when indexing is the default, to know they should opt out and know how to do this.

This is the fundamental difference between the internet and things printed on paper.

When an author signs a publishing deal they work out who gets how much exactly on the basis of the reasonable expectation that the work will be available in certain territories only. An author might have one deal in one country and another deal in another and the amounts are decided on the basis that access to the work is controlled.

What is not reasonable is to expect an author or their beneficiaries - who might have never seen the internet, or never want anything to do with it even if they had, to anticipate Google illicitly helping themselves to the copyright works.

Copyright isn't something someone has only if they choose to opt into it! It is a legal right.

You don't have to opt in to not being burgled.

Sure you can ask the burglar for your stuff back, but have a nice long think about why that doesn't make burglary OK, and you will get the idea.

Google has taken it upon itself to change the media upon which a work is stored to one where the law has yet to properly develop, then use the resulting confusion to drive a ten ton truck through the copyright legislation our lawmakers passed to protect us.

If they do that to books and long-cherished legal rights, what do you suppose they might do next?

Its been obvious for a while that Google, as an entity, is sociopathic. It thinks rules don't apply to Google, because, well.. its Google. It acts in neither good faith nor bad faith, but as an entity with no concept of ethics at all.

It is finally stealing from sick little children in a hospital, in a way your granny can understand.

This was inevitable. And so is me having its head on a plate.


 3:09 am on Nov 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

You've changed your tune.


The only way for Google, or any other service, to make books searchable is to index them.

Google isn't copying copyrighted books and then re-distributing them. The public never gets full access to anything. In my opinion copyright shouldn't even be an issue here.

My point is that the same concept applies to the internet as a whole. Search engines have to index (copy) it in order to make it searchable.

We can either completely cripple a useful tool (which is what the general consensus in this thread seems to be) thereby paving the way for the crippling of an even more useful tool (the internet) or we could... not.

We'll just have to wait for the courts to decide.


 4:26 am on Nov 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

And in the meantime the Do No Evil Empire gets to drive a truck throught long established offline copyright legislation.

After they've set that precedent, what makes you think you'll ever own a website again?

Furthermore, I don't think you are right, but understand that even if you are, thats not how you get things done. If being right mattered we'd live in a very different world. This is about perception.


 10:50 am on Nov 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

AlexMiles ...agreed totally.:)

Ian Kelly
The only way for Google, or any other service, to make books searchable is to index them.

So if google thinks that your bookmarks need to be placed on the web ..even if you don't want this ..it will be ok will it ..'cos someone might want to search them ...
Whats next for you to allow in your rush to help them tell us what is for our greater good ..letting them rummage through and index your wifes underwear. post photos and then make their aff links lead to pron sites ...,

The authors did not wish for this so google should not be doing it ..and in the run up to this going live they consistantly lied as to how it would be implemented and what was their reason for doing it in order to get somefolks like you on their side ..

I find it very hard to see the distinction between the attitude of google on this one and those who place webcams in toilets and then feed them onto the net ..sure it might make them blue movie stars ..but they did'nt sign up to be that ..and didn't now it was going to be argued that it was a great idea ..and that some of you would go along with the argument ..


 4:28 pm on Nov 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

read this (RIAA vs MP3. Yes, I know it's not exactly the same but still):
"Simply put, it is not legal to compile a vast database of our members' sound recordings with no permission and no license," Hilary Rosen, CEO of the RIAA..."

"There is a long line of cases that say you can use your own copy machine at home to make a copy of a book you own. But you can't take the book to Kinko's and do the same thing, or Kinko's will get sued and it knows that,"

"Without seeing the complaint, it's fair to say that DiMA members generally agree that the reproduction of sound recordings for commercial purposes without a license is problematic," said Jonathan Potter, DiMA's director.


as I said above, I think that merely scanning them will be the biggest issue.

>> The only way for Google, or any other service, to make books searchable is to index them.

This is the weakest argument: who said that Google has to offer this service, and go about this way (no permission)?

This 73 message thread spans 3 pages: < < 73 ( 1 [2] 3 > >
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