Academics Fear Google's 'Orphan Books' Plan

Search king accused of rewriting copyright law to get access to out-of-print works
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 4, 2009 5:46 AM CDT
Academics Fear Google's 'Orphan Books' Plan
Rare, fragile books are seen on a cart ready to be scanned for Google Book Search in Ann Arbor, Mich., last year.   (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Google's plan to take millions of "orphan" books under its wing has critics crying foul, the New York Times reports. Google aims to make these out-of-print works—whose rights holders are unknown or cannot be found—part of its mammoth online bookstore and library, a plan some academics say will give the search king an unbeatable advantage over any rival.

A pending settlement giving Google the rights to the orphans "takes the vast bulk of books that are in research libraries and makes them into a single database that is the property of Google," said the head of Harvard's library system, who fears the firm will be "free to raise the price to unbearable levels." Critics agree that the public will benefit, but argue that Google is “doing an end run” around copyright law.
(More book stories.)

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