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Re: Google books

This is really pretty far off topic, but as a professional writer it's 
important to me. I'm pretty much with Dann, but it's a bit more complex.

Some of us make part or all of our living from writing. Yes, I like people to 
read what I write, but I also want to eat. When I found a copy of one of my 
books on a file-sharing site, I told my publisher to send them a take-down 

I probably wouldn't care about file sharing if I was a professional 
paleontologist drawing a salary (or getting grants) and publishing research 
papers rather than journalism. If you want to share your research with your 
colleagues and the public, the best way is to publish it in open-access 
journals and post copies on your web site. Books are different; they are major 
projects that take a lot of time, and it's nice to get a financial reward. But 
you have to trade that off against circulation -- the more a book costs, the 
fewer copies sell. 

Google has cut a deal with the Authors Guild and publishers to pay authors (or 
their heirs) of in-copyright books they display a large share (63%) of what 
Google receives. That's controversial with many authors, but it's fine with 
others because it covers books that are out of print but still in copyright, 
and otherwise wouldn't be selling any copies. 

So it's complicated, but the times are changing. In the long term, I suspect 
that most research papers will be published in open-access journals, especially 
if the up-front page charges can be reduced to a reasonable level. That's 
really the best deal for the research community. Scanning out-of-copyright 
books and journals is a good thing for the community, as long as Google doesn't 
try to charge $30-$40 per paper for access, as the big commercial journal 
publishers do. 

At 12:06 PM +1100 1/6/10, Dann Pigdon wrote:
>On Wed, Jan 6th, 2010 at 11:32 AM, Dora Smith <villandra@austin.rr.com> wrote:
>> I'm afraid that, for once, I'm with Google on this one.   Information
>> belongs to everyone and not only to those willing and able to pay big bucks 
>> for it. 
>You might be able to argue that about the raw data. Certainly most journals 
>seem to allow you to 
>download supplimental information for free, even if the article itself isn't 
>freely available.
>However I'd argue that many authors probably wouldn't want their hard work to 
>be just given away. 
>Researching a book can be a long and thankless task, and refining the prose to 
>be as clear and concise 
>as possible - while also being engaging to the reader - is a skill that 
>certainly shouldn't be under-
>valued. If Google were summarising or paraphrasing information then they could 
>legally distribute it as 
>they saw fit (that's basically the premise behind most internet sites). 
>However giving away copyrighted 
>works verbatim without explicit consent is, in my opinion, stealing. 
>There are plenty of publications out there that are out of copyright, and no 
>doubt many authors would 
>have no problem with allowing Google to reproduce and disseminate their older 
>works. Convincing 
>publishers to allow recent publications (or those still in active print) to be 
>disseminated for free would 
>probably be difficult though - and the lawyers they can afford are often 
>little more than pit-bulls in 
>suits. Of course, Google itself isn't exactly stapped for cash when it comes 
>to hiring aggressive lawyers.
>Dann Pigdon
>GIS / Archaeologist                Australian Dinosaurs
>Melbourne, Australia               http://home.alphalink.com.au/~dannj

Jeff Hecht, science & technology writer
jeff@jeffhecht.com or jhecht@nasw.org
525 Auburn St., Auburndale, MA 02466 USA
tel. 617-965-3834  http://www.jeffhecht.com