Karen Coyle has done an excellent write up of this so I will refer you there.
The full impact of this ruling is impossible (for me) to predict, but there are many among us who are breathing a great sigh of relief today. This opens the door for us to rethink digital scholarship based on materials produced before information was in digital form.
Folks can read the actual ruling (pdf) if they’d like. This is a very big deal. Thanks to folks who worked so hard on getting us to this place. I’ll add a few links here as they come in.
- Kenneth Crews, Columbia Copyright Advisory Office: “This ruling joins court decisions about HathiTrust and electronic reserves in demonstrating that even extensive digitization can be within fair use where the social benefits are strong and the harm to rightsholders is constrained. There will be more to come as we transition into a new era of copyright, technology, and even reading.”
- Brandon Butler, ARL Policy Notes blog; “The decision is a victory not only for transformative, non-consumptive search, but also for serving â€œtraditionally underservedâ€ libraries and their users, including disabled patrons.”
- Paul Alan Levy: “This ruling provides a road map that allows any other entity to follow in Googleâ€™s path.”
- Timothy Lee, Washington Post: “Many innovative media technologies involve aggregating or indexing copyrighted content. Today’s ruling is the clearest statement yet that such projects fall on the right side of the fair use line.”
- Mike Masnick at Techdirt: “It all comes together in making a very strong argument that Google’s book scanning promotes the progress of the arts and sciences just like copyright is supposed to do.”
- InfoDocket also has an updating list of links to discussion of the decision.
So hey this is interesting. I’ve skipped a lot of the Google Books ebookstore stuff lately because I’m honestly not sure what to make of it. And I don’t buy books anyhow. But a friend mentioned this Google Labs Ngram viewer, a fun tool that lets you search the full corpus of the Google Books databases. Here’s a New York Times article about it and data geeks should read the article Quantitative Analysis of Culture Using Millions of Digitized Books (free reg. required – click for PDF ILL) or nose around in the datasets. I did my own dopey search pictures above – Hegel vs. Hitler. And here’s what’s interesting. The big jump in the late 1940’s is fairly predictable, but who was talking about Hitler in 1620?
I clicked through and poked around some and here’s what I found. No one was talking about Hitler. OCR is, as you know, imperfect. So the words that Google Books’ optical character recognition thought of as “Hitler” were actually words like “Ruler” and “bitter” and “herbe.” How about that?
“Jean Nepomucene Auguste Pichauld, Comte de Fortsas, was a man with a singular passion. He collected books of which only one copy was known to exist…. [W]hen he died on September 1, 1839 he possessed only fifty-two books, but each of them was absolutely unique. His heir, not sharing the old manâ€™s passion for book collecting, arranged for an auction to sell off the library”
Compelling no? The auction really happened, the rest of it is made up, the creation of a local antiquarian, having a bit of a practical joke. Read more at blacksundae, or see the auction catalog, itself a rarity, on Google Books.
I’ve mentioned Daniel Reetz’s DIY portable book scanner here before. It’s a great combination of an interesting thing to look at, an interesting project to contemplate and a bit of a gauntlet tossed down as far as bigger questions of why we leave scanning up to the big companies, etc. At the end of my Tiny Tech talks I usually mention it as something in the realm of the possible, even if in a Dream Big way. Daniel was at D is for Digitize last month — a conference I missed because I was in Nevada — and I noticed some interesting back and forth about his scanner project show up in the Library Law blog.
I’ve been scooting around a little bit lately and here are some things that have been crossing my virtual desk. I’ve also dealt with two wordpress issues [a hack! and an outdated sidebar navigation element] and I’ve upgraded to the latest version of WordPress. If you’re on a Summer schedule, I’d suggest upgrading before things get hectic.