Google’s new project to digitize books from five of the worlds largest library is an important step for the digitization of society and the biggest beneficiaries are the world’s poor.
If the primary function of traditional libraries is to store and distribute knowledge, then Google Print Library Project is on enhancing these function rather than competing with it.
Google Print are taking stored knowledge from Harvard, Stanford and the University of Michigan, as well as Oxford University and the New York Public Library and giving all internet users access to it regardless of geographical barriers.
This is good news for the world’s poorest countries who’s limited access to knowledge has hampered their development effort. As demonstrated by the catch-up development of all countries that industrialized after the Second World War, foreign knowledge is not an advantage, its is an absolute necessity.
Currently Google’s endeavor is being delayed by book copyright holder’s protest on the bases that Google’s storage of their copyright protected books is a violation of their rights. Even though Google’s plan for protected books is to “displays only a snippet of several lines of text, plus bibliographic information and, if the book is still in print, giving links to where it might be available for purchase” according to New York Times. Google is in effect offering free publicity for these publishers. Why are they still complaining? According to one the publishers they are not happy because they will not be able to share the revenue gain from advertisement Google display with the search results of copyright protected material.
Get over it!