Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Will Google censor books in Google Print

Public Interest Watch seem to think that Google are planning to censor some of the books they scan for the Google Print project. Peter Suber doesn't buy the warning.

" On its web site, PIW describes its mission as "Keeping an eye on the self-appointed guardians of the public interest." OK. But PIW is another self-appointed guardian of the public interest. If I may appoint myself as someone to keep an eye on PIW, then my recommendation is: use less caffeine. The PIW warning is an overreaction. I'm familiar with cases of Google capitulation to the Chinese government and the Church of Scientology and I join PIW in deploring them. But PIW cites no evidence that Google has censored passages from the books in the Library project. Moreover, PIW makes inconsistent recommendations about the risk of book censorship. Libraries can't both (1) withhold their books from Google indexing and (2) demand guarantees of uncensored indexing. PIW also seems unaware that Google's contract with the participating libraries gives the libraries a role in deciding what content Google will index (Par. 2.1) and the right to back out if Google's indexing doesn't live up to the agreed-upon guidelines (Par. 2.4)."

Have to say I'd never heard of "PIW" before. Suber, on the other hand, has a long track record of understanding the open access landscape.

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