Settlement says Google can put books online

October 28, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Readers of the world unite. A historic deal will make millions of books searchable and printable online. It's the result of a class action lawsuit against Google that cost the company $125 million to settle. Nonetheless, Google actually came out on top.

There are two million books stored at the U.C. Regional Library Facility in Richmond.

"Eventually they are going to be lost. They're going to disintegrate," said Scott Miller, from the U.C. Regional Library Facility.

That's why the University of California agreed to let Google scan its entire collection of about 35 million books.

"Our hopes have always been to surface as many of our collections as we possibly can, to public search and appropriate view," said Daniel Greenstein, a U.C. Berkeley Assistant Provost.

However, the Authors' Guild and the Association of American Publishers sued Google. Under a $125 million settlement, Google gets to scan the books as long as it offers the ability to purchase copyrighted material.

"And what's happened with this settlement is, it will become a pay service to get access to books that in libraries used to be free to any users," said Brewster Kahle, from The Internet Archive.

Kahle, runs a non-profit called Open Library in San Francisco, that recently scanned its one millionth book. As we move toward digitizing books, he's afraid Google would control too much access to the library system.

"So if you could become a monopoly of libraries, that could be very good for your shareholders. It just may not be good for society," said Kahle.

U.C. says the Internet Archive, Yahoo and Microsoft are also scanning its books, but it's allowing Google to scan the majority.

"They have set themselves with the task of really creating the world's largest digital library. It's a massive feat of engineering," said Daniel Greenstein.

Stanford and Michigan also agreed to let Google scan its collection of books. Together all three universities hold one of the largest collections in the world and Google has unprecedented control.