Do you want Google to digitize your book?

Here’s a Bookforum panel discussion on the implications of Google’s book scanning initiative. The participants are Nick Taylor, president of the Authors Guild; Allan R. Adler, AAP vice president for legal and governmental affairs; and Lawrence Lessig, Stanford Law School professor and public domain advocate.

I haven’t formed a clear opinion on this issue, save for one thing: I think Google should make it an opt-in process for copyright holders. IOW, don’t touch my book(s) until I tell you it’s okay to scan them. Needless to say, that would make the process much more cumbersome and expensive.

OTOH, Google is the one with the deep pockets. As one of the panelists says in this piece:

Everyone knows most authors don’t make a living as authors. They have some other job or jobs that allow them the luxury of writing. And to be denied a potential source of revenue, whether the purpose is altruistic or not, is both galling and disappointing.

The topic of making a living writing books — or, more precisely, how rare that is — was the topic of a couple of literary agent blog posts this week. So the question is, would Google’s book scanning scheme further reduce writers’ already meagre returns?

[tags] books, copyright, Google [/tags]

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