Note to readers

This is a blog that I'm required to keep that's full of unedited, near stream-of-consciousness reactions to similarly required and related readings in a graduate course in N.C. State University's Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media program. The way these posts are written help me interrogate and understand what's going on in our readings. I'm identifying what's troublesome so that I can give it more thought, but the posts aren't written in a style that's productive for audiences outside of our class to read. That's by design. I start with contestation, then spend heavens only knows how long researching, recutting, and reevaluating so that I can try and see what potentially productive readings I can extract from these source for use in my own work's contributions back to the field. Comments encouraged, but please, you'll likely need a thick skin if your work is quoted here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Like books? Google will sell you a subscription

Google settles copyright lawsuits with publishers, authors - Business - Macworld UK:

The wide-ranging agreement calls for Google to pay $125 million and in exchange gives the search giant rights to display chunks of these in-copyright books, not just snippets. This will result in broader exposure for out-of-print books that are, by definition, hard to find.

In addition, Google will make it possible for people to buy online access to these books. The agreement will also allow institutions to buy subcriptions [sic] to books and make them available to their constituents

why don't i like subscriptions? because that means we're talking planned obsolescence -- you don't own the book, you only have the right to view it for a limited amount of time.

google can only sell subscriptions because they're the only game in town when it comes to scanned, in-copyright books. who else would have the cohones to scan in and display so many protected texts? who else has large enough pockets to play ball when the authors' guild comes calling? that is to say, this is not a market that provides easy and fair access. microsoft, google, and amazon are about all i can think of that have the means and interest to put hard to find, out of print, yet copyrighted books online.

but here's the issue for me -- generally i like access to books. but by putting in a subscription service for out of print books -- that is, google has essentially become a publisher of out of print b00k5 -- books -- the copyright on these books is less likely to lapse. now they have clear value. they are being used.

Take this from curmudgeongamer to see where I'm going.

Online subscription service is bad for a public domain that's already quickly becoming a dinosaur. As Michael Palm and Monika Krause say, you really can't wait on the law to make things right.

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