U.S. Justice Department Opposes Google Books Settlement
Sunday, September 20, 2009 at 06:25 PM EDT
Wired reports: â€œThe Justice Department, citing anti-trust and copyright concerns, asked a federal court judge late Friday to reject a controversial settlement that would have allowed Google to cut through knotty copyright issues in order to create the library of the future.â€
The Justice Departmentâ€™s concerns mirror some of the sentiments expressed by Harvard law professor John Palfrey when a seminar last spring took up the settlement. As the wiki record of that week notes, Palfrey suggested improvements to the settlement that would allow the immensely valuable resource to come into existence without hurting the prospects for future innovation.
As a researcher, I have already found the Google Books machinery to be of great use. I have used it to access sources I did not have space to bring along while studying in Beijing last summer. I have used the full-text search available for some texts to double-check citations when preparing papers. And I have been able to point friends and family to specific passages of books without scanning or retyping the text by hand.
My additional hope is that the restrictive provisions in the settlement that regulate how the data can be used can be avoided at the library terminals that form part of the public good derived from Googleâ€™s gargantuan scanning project. If the vast amount of information being gathered can be processed in yet unforeseen ways, computation-based research may reveal hidden value in a corpus of text. If we are restricted to search and display applications that replicate traditional reading, however, we will still fall short of the potential this information holds.
This article originally appeared on infopolitics.