Monday, December 15, 2008

Has Google's settlement with the AAP hurt libraries?

Thoughtful op-ed by Library Journal EIC Francine Fialkoff on how the recent Google settlement with the American Association of Publishers may actually impact libraries:
Clearly, the public had little standing in the negotiations that led to the recent agreement in the class-action lawsuit against Google for scanning books from library shelves. An author friend, a strong advocate of public libraries though not a current user of them, naïvely wondered how could this happen. Well, the suit was never about the public interest but about corporate interests, and librarians did not have much power at the bargaining table, no matter how hard those consulted pushed. While there are many provisions in the document that specify what libraries can and can't do and portend greater access, ultimately, it is the restrictions that scream out at us from the miasma of details.

Even the libraries that were initial partners (or those that become partners) in the Google scan plan don't fare well. They get a single digital copy of each book from their collection—mind you, they've paid for these books already—and can print a replacement copy only if a new copy isn't available at a “fair price.” They can allow faculty and students to “read, print, download, or otherwise use five pages of any book in its LDC” (library digital copy set) for books “not commercially available,” but they can't use the LDC for interlibrary loan or e-reserves. There are all kinds of potentially costly, nightmarish administrative minutiae, including a security plan and annual audits of usage and security.
Read the entire piece here.

1 comment:

JL Riffe said...

Public libraries are, in my opinion, bastions of civilization. They collect, tend, cherish and protect books while providing them at no charge to all who come seeking knowledge and/or entertainment.
Should civilization collapse, it'll be the libraries that'll be there to bring us back from the inky abyss of desperate savagery.....

Libraries aren't out to make an illegal buck on other people's work. They should be allowed the discretion of doing with their collections as they see fit and as technology allows.