Google’s Manifest Destiny

Also at The Guardian, publisher Nigel Newton (the chief executive at Bloomsbury) rants against Google’s plans to digitize out-of-copyright works and library materials, all the better to sell you those darn ads. Rightfully, I think, he calls those plans a “land-grab” :

There are two aspects to this land-grab. The first involves scanning out-of-copyright work, provided by the great libraries, and surrounding it with such advertising. That’s not illegal, though it is of cultural concern. The second part of Google’s literary predations, in the case of American libraries, involves scanning in-copyright works – for the purpose of publication – without direct prior permission of the copyright holder. That is to say, the author or his or her estate. Google’s decision to scan first and ask permission later with copyrighted works is playing fast and loose. In America, it has already landed Google with a huge lawsuit from publishers.

Newton suggests that, to resist Google, internet users should boycott the search engine and turn to competitors like Yahoo! until Google desists. (Which, of course, won’t work. I mean, how many Google users do you know of who care what happens to authors’ rights?) But the rest of Newton’s discussion on what it really means for a corporation to sell access to someone’s intellectual property without permission makes for a very worthwhile read, so please check it out.