9.21.2005CNET News: Authors Guild sues Google over library project
Response from Google Blog.
A bit more background: CNN - Google's digital library tests law
I went to the Chuck D and Hilary Rosen debate last night on file sharing. Rosen's argument was basically the standard "Its stealing guys. Stealing is wrong", while Chuck D's main argument was "CORPORATIONS". Neither seemed to have very strong opinions either way, and both conceeded a lot of points to the other side.
Of note was Rosen's rather condescending criticism of today's youth that, of all the important issues of the day we make stealing our rallying cause. I find that opinion to be very dismissive and unsympathetic to the legitimate complaints of the consumers. Stealing isn't right, and I am saying that as an unapologetic pirate of movies, music, tv, and porn. That doesn't excuse the authoritarian control the media has put over access and availability of their content- things like iPod is only compatible with iTunes, and that most media content isn't available on the net by any legal means.
Chuck D is clearly a business man, and understands that the system has to work to some extent in the way it does; his complaint was simply that the music industry has been horribly mismanaged at the expense of both the artist and the consumer, which is just bad from both a creative and business standpoint- except to the executives at the top who are making truckloads of cash. D made a good point: making music digital (on CDs) made information liquid, and the pandora's box has been opened. But from 1988 to 1998, the music industry made a shit load of money selling and reselling people's record collection back to them on shiny discs. The affect of that quick money making scheme is just catching up to them now.
D also said a few times "Technology giveth, technology taketh away." I dont know if he is a religious man, but I found it very satisfying to hear.
So today Google gets sued by the Author's Guild, over Google Print, which is really just a fabulous resource. Although the cases aren't exactly parallel, the issue of IP rights vs the freedom of information strikes again. This time it isn't a bunch of snotty, poor college students but The Company That Can Do No Wrong. It will be interesting to see how this turns out.
1) Is Google stealing content? Is the digitalization of information inherently dangerous to the means of production? Does the Author's Guild have a legitimate complaint?
2) How will a decision on this case affect copyright laws in general, and IP issues specifically?
3) Is access to information a right? Are attempts to thwart the control of information flow ever unwarranted?
5) Is there a legitimate analogy between the Google case and the file-sharing cases (Grokster, etc), or is this connection just going to be over-played in the media? Will the Grokster decision bear on this case, or vice-versa?