"Excuse me, where is the Google Terminal?"

by Lee Gesmer on October 31, 2008

As expected, the proposed Google Book Search settlement has led to a lot of scrutiny, criticism and questions. Here is a link to the 125 page Settlement Agreement(without attachments; pdf). Here is a link to the page that holds the full agreement which, with attachments, is over 300 pages long).

Both Larry Lessig (“IMHO, this is a good deal that could be the basis for something really fantastic”) and Wade Roush(“Book Search settlement contains some major disappointments”) have taken a first crack at trying to decipher this settlement (Roush – “exhaustive, labyrinthine”) and figure out who, amongst the many stakeholders, are the winners and losers.

Here is a particularly interesting paragraph from Wade Roush’s article:

. . . [T]he devil . . . is in the details. If you read the agreement, you’ll see that it restricts each public library to exactly one Google terminal. Tens of millions of books online—but at any given moment, no more than 16,543 people are allowed to read them without paying. (That’s how many public libraries and branches there are in the United States, according to the American Library Association—one for every 18,500 Americans.)

So, America’s librarians will be hearing these words for generations to come: “Excuse me, where is the Google Terminal?”  Or perhaps the librarians will receive phone calls asking: “Hi, how long is the line for the Google Terminal?”

Much more to follow.

[n.b. It appears that Harvard is unhappy with the terms of the proposed agreement, and is withdrawing in-part from its participation in the scanning project]

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