Darnton on the Dangers of Google

NPR’s All Things Considered interviewed the Director of Harvard University Library, Robert Darnton, about his piece in the New York Review of Books, Google and the Future of Books (click here to listen to the podcast of the interview).

Under the terms of an settlement between Google and publishers and authors last fall, Google will charge for access to the books they have scanned. Darnton says this amounts to the “comercialization of  a gigantic stock of books which  libraries have been building up over the years” and “raises the danger of a monopoly…of access to information” because nobody else will be able to compete with Google.

He’s also concerned about the agreement that libraries can give their users free access through just one library terminal, pointing out that this will be absurd in a large library, resulting in “readers crawling over each other trying to get access to the [free] terminal.”

NPR also speaks to Daniel Clancy, the engineering director for Google’s book search project. He feels the Book Rights Registry, (Roy Blount, Jr., President of the Authors Guild, calls it “the writer’s equivalent of ASCAP”), which was set up by the settlement to control prices will set them, “so that every school in American can gain access to it.”

Library Journal’s Academic Newswire reported on a meeting of librarians last week in Washington to discuss the issues raised by the settlement. Earlier, the Association of Research Libraries published a Guide for the Perplexed: Libraries and the Google Library Project Settlement.

A fairness hearing on the settlement will be held June 11th; the deadline to file an objection or notice of intent to appear is May 5th.

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