US Government and Others Trying to Block Access to Books

The US Justice Department is trying to stop Google creating a digital library.  It’s not just the government. Microsoft, Yahoo and Amazon don’t like this either. I just don’t get it.

I mean, I get why the three companies are fighting it. Microsoft and Yahoo don’t like Google having such a large share of the internet marketplace, particularly in terms of searches and results. They want their billions of dollars, too. Amazon is doing e-books and other digital access – in fact, it has had almost a monopoly – and it doesn’t want to see its market share challenged. It seems the only people who want this deal are authors, publishers, the general public, and Google.

Google plans to scan thousands of books that are in the public domain and give everyone free access to them. Microsoft and Yahoo can do the same thing, if they so desire. The books are, after all, in the public domain.

Google has also struck a deal with the Authors Guild to scan millions of out-of-print books that are still under copyright. Authors and publishers will manage their own rights to access and can refuse to allow a book to be used. If they do allow a book to be used, they will receive 67% of revenue generated from it. The revenue they otherwise receive from out-of-print books? $0. £0. 100% of 0.

Every public library will get complete access for free. Every college and university will be able to subscribe to the  same service. Every home user will get free access to 20% of the text of each book, so they can decide whether to buy access to the rest.  These are in-copyright out-of-print books that would otherwise be completely inavailable.

What is Google going to do with the books that are in print? Absolutely nothing. The actual book market as it is today will be untouched. However, millions of books that would otherwise been unavailable will be available again. Not just the odd copy in a used book shop or off the shelves of a distant library.

As the Authors Guild puts it:

Here’s the math: we expect the settlement to make at least 10 million out-of-print books available, which, at an average of 300 pages per book, represents at least 3 billion pages of professionally written, professionally edited text.  20% of that is 600 million pages of text available at every desktop computer in the U.S. as a free preview. (For comparison, Encyclopedia Britannica is about 44,000 pages in print form; Wikipedia’s featured articles total about 5,000 pages. All English Wikipedia articles, including stubs, total perhaps 3 million pages.)

This is the next great step in the information age.

Right to Privacy or Piracy?

For the Left, a woman’s right to privacy extends to the distinct organism that may be temporarily living in her womb, but not to her emails. Well, at least not if she is a Republican. Wait, come to think of it, she doesn’t even get the right to privacy over her womb, either.

There is much ado about the fact that hackers broke into Sarah Palin’s Yahoo account. The Left are quite proud of the illegal activity of their compatriots – activity that if it involved the account of a Democrat would be part of the great Right Wing Conspiracy and just further evidence of the corruption of the Republican Party. Shades of Watergate and all that, I dare say. But since it is the much-hated Mrs Palin, she’s fair game.

The only problem is that Sarah’s email doesn’t divulge a smoking gun. The Left want to regulate what sort of people can say what sort of things in their private email, so if Sarah said anything relevant to her position as governor, they believe the public (meaning left-wing hacks who are looking for ways to chip away at the McCain-Palin ticket) should have access to it. They have therefore tried to insert what they can between the lines to make the emails juicier.  The general tenor of their approach seems to be, “She’s a Republican, she’s conservative, she’s a Christian for pete’s sake. There’s gotta be some muck that will stick to her. If we look hard enough, surely we will find something.” They have, after all, thrown everything at her.

Since the policies and values of the Republican Party generally, and Palin specifically, resonate much more with the American people – the ones denigrated as stupid idiots in left-wing blogs – liberals are left with trying to find scandals. They can’t win on policy. They can’t win on experience. Their empty message of change has been usurped by a substantive message of change – not change for the sake of it, but change to those things that need further reform or adjustment.

And they have to hack into Palin’s emails, because Obama’s campaign made sure we knew that John McCain can’t send them. Why they wanted to make fun of the the fact that he can’t use a computer keyboard because of the injuries he suffering in Vietnam, I don’t know. It’s apparently part of their strategy: “Don’t vote for John McCain, he’s old and he’s crippled.”

Republicans aren’t hacking in Barak Obama’s emails. They don’t need to. It’s pretty obvious there’s not going to be anything in what he says in private. After all, there’s not anything to what he says in public.