October 16, 2007


Filed under: precat — jenny @ 5:26 am

Patrick McDonald let me know he has started a new blog, PHM3. The subtitle is “Information, Libraries, and Provocative Ideas,” and the first one is a doozy: The Google Proposition – Challenging our Identity, Furthering Our Mission?

“Imagine this: Google, whose mission is ‘to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful’, realizes it’s too expensive or just not worth it to fight the fight to scan and make copyrighted books available online. Instead they acquire one or more publishing houses (who perhaps can be had for a reasonable price because their major media parents are disappointed with their contributions to the corporate bottom line) with the intention of providing unlimited simultaneous, free access to texts online while ‘monetizing’ that access via advertising in the same way they have very successfully monetized search results. Then being as resource rich as they are, Google attracts writers and book producers by offering better compensation in exchange for the right make their to-be-published works immediately and ‘universally accessible’ online. In addition to monetizing book access, Google claims it is doing ‘good’ by making this information ‘universally accessible and useful’ free of charge to readers….
Would we protest, perhaps out of a short-sighted desire to preserve ourselves as an institution as we have traditionally existed?


Would we embark on some kind of ‘transformational change’ (as many before me have called it), satisfied our mission of providing freely available information is substantially (if not perfectly acheived – perhaps negotiating electronic and hard copy fail safes to maintain access in case Google and others become ‘evil’) and reorient and redevote ourselves using freed up resources to address other community needs – hosting cultural and/or social centers, focusing on instructing and becoming ‘People’s Universities’, navigating the available information etc….”

Could Google redefine copyright (digital fair use rights really) through behavior rather than law? As Anil Dash notes, “If YouTube has created something fantastic, and it required copyright violation to do so, then copyright law should be changed to make it legal. Laws are ours, people — they’re not carved on stone tablets.” What would digital fair use rights look like in this model? You can remix and re-use content, as long as you keep the ads? Do the ads become part of the copyrighted work?
Provocative indeed – leave your thoughts over on Paul’s blog, and then subscribe to his feed to find out how he tops this post.


  1. […] 16th, 2007 Hmmm…new blog, interesting ideas [shifted]. What if Google became the ultimate publisher, purveyor of all things digital, books, journals, […]

    Pingback by and in this envelope… « snail — October 16, 2007 @ 7:49 am

  2. Google redefine copyright? Gosh, I hope Google will not become that powerful! What a scary thought….

    Comment by Talking Books Librarian — October 16, 2007 @ 1:55 pm

  3. […] Googleright (The Shifted Librarian) […]

    Pingback by The OPLIN 4cast » Blog Archive » 4cast #75: Plugins, Copyright, Taxes, Biblioblogs — December 12, 2007 @ 10:11 am

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