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    Location: Aberystwyth, Wales, United Kingdom

    I am the owner and managing director of Information Automation Limited (IAL), a company that specialises in research, consultancy and training for the information profession. We are particularly interested in all forms of electronic information resources (e-journals, e-books, etc) and I teach a course in electronic publishing at the Department of Information Studies in Aberystwyth. Drilling down still further(!), my interests centre on the quality and evaluation of electronic information, and in the thinking that underpins activities in library and information science.


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    Friday, May 25, 2007

    Is Google Book Search locking up public domain works?

    Boing Boing reports that the Google contract with libraries - contrary to previous reports - does not in any way grant them exclusive rights to scan that library's books. Google Book Search was at pains to reassure the industry and even made available a copy of one of their contracts.

    However, Boing Boing is now concerned that Google
    puts restrictive notices on their public domain works (these aren't licenses, just "polite notices") that tell what you're not allowed to do with these books. I know they're worried about their competitors getting ahold of those documents, but that's the deal with the public domain: it doesn't belong to you, period, it belongs to all of us. Just because you scan a public domain book, it doesn't confer the right to control it to you.
    This might be one for the lawyers. The work itself may be public domain, but is it the case that the version of the book digitised and then generated by Google can be subject to controls? I shouldn't have thought so, myself - once a book is out of copyright, it's out of copyright, but do some rights reside in the 'edition', the presentation, the format? Interesting question!

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