August 9, 2006
UC joins Google book scan push
By Eric Auchard
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The University of California has
joined Google Inc.'s bid to scan the book collections of the
world's great libraries, the organizations said on Tuesday,
marking renewed momentum for a project nearly derailed by stiff
resistance from publishers.
The top Web search company said it will fund the scanning
of "several million" of the 34 million titles in the University
of California's libraries, as part of a year-and-a-half old
project to make major library collections searchable online.
The University of California holds 100 libraries on 10
campuses across the state and ranks as the largest research and
academic library in the world. California joins Harvard,
Oxford, Stanford, the University of Michigan and the New York
Public Library in the Google Book Search project.
Google is working with the U.S. Library of Congress on a
For Google, the new momentum for its Book Search Project is
the latest in a string of high-profile deals it has announced
over the past week in which it signed a major search and
advertising contract with News Corp., the owner of MySpace.com,
and a video advertising and delivery deal with Viacom, owner of
"We know that we will be digitizing several million volumes
but not the entire 34 million" books in the California system,
said Jennifer Colvin, a spokeswoman for the University of
California's digital library arm (http://www.cdlib.org/)
But authors' and publishers' groups sued Google last year
to block scanning of copyrighted library books, arguing that,
akin to Napster's effect on the music industry, the digitizing
of books might tempt consumers to stop buying printed works.
Google has countered that it is creating the electronic
equivalent of a library card catalog for copyrighted works and
that library project only plans to publish the full texts of
out-of-copyright books in the public domain.
For works under copyright protection, Google Book Search
only short snippets, a few sentences on either side of mentions
of words a user has searched for. What online readers see is
similar to Amazon.com's "Search Inside the Book" feature.
SCANNING COPYRIGHTED BOOKS
In response to the legal threats, several of Google's
library backers said last year they would proceed with the
scanning of public domain works, but deferred plans to digitize
copyrighted books in order to steer clear of the controversy.
Michigan was alone in saying it planned to proceed with the
scanning of both in-copyright and out-of-copyright materials.
Colvin said the University of California Libraries shared
Michigan's view that Google's project enjoys "fair use"
protection and had agreed to scan copyrighted works.
"UC and Google are both really committed to respecting
copyrights," Colvin said.
A contract was only hammered out two days ago, Colvin said,
adding that book scanning should begin within several weeks.
The University of California, along with the University of
Toronto, are among the founders of a competing book scanning
project called the Open Content Alliance (OCA), which is backed
by Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft Corp..
In contrast to Google, the OCA has treaded gingerly around
the issue of scanning copyrighted works and is focused on
public domain works. Together with the non-profit Internet
Archive, the OCA, is aiming to create an online clearinghouse
for historic books, audio and films.
The Google Book Search project was a far larger in scope
than its undertaking with the Yahoo-Microsoft funded group.
"OCA is on a smaller scale," Colvin said. "There won't be
as many books as we are doing through the Google partnership."
Google Books product manager Adam Smith confirmed that the
project would scan books numbering "in the millions," but
declined to offer specific targets in terms of the number of
books or the scope of financing Google planned to provide.