Authors’ Guild vs. Google Print, Part 3

I’m still getting email notes about this post regarding the lawsuit that the Authors’ Guild has initiated against Google. This one comes from writer Richard Hellinga, who says:

What Richard Nash and and Anne Fernald forget to take into account is the sole reason Google is doing this. It is not an issue of increasing people’s access to information. That’s incidental. It has to do with the money Google will make selling advertising placed next to the book excerpts they will show when someone does a search. If they didn’t believe this would be a profitable venture, they wouldn’t do it. They’re not interested in selling books. They’re interested in selling ads.

When you go to a library, you are not subjected to ads when you flip through a book, or when you walk through the stacks. Libraries, be they public or university, don’t make money. They provide access to information for the sake of doing so.

If Google wants to scan an author’s works that’s fine, as long as the author and publisher get a percentage of the advertising revenue that Google is going to receive by allowing others to freely search and view excerpts. Fair use keeps culture alive, but profits keep Google, Writers, and Publishers alive. (Though writers have the occasional grant, fellowship, or residency to keep them alive, too, which they often need because profits almost always aren’t enough.)

See also this previous batch of emails for different arguments. If you’d like to share your own thoughts, feel free to email me.