Forgive us our hyperbole—but as we’ve already expressed, it’s difficult to resist amping up the excitement factor on what otherwise might appear to be a comparatively boring affair. Sure, the title “Google Books Settlement and the Future of Information Access” might convey extreme tedium, but the conference’s true agenda is in fact positively blood-tingling … that is, if you’re a giant geek, and let’s face it: You know you are.

One of the main foci for Friday’s conference was (as the appellation transparently suggests) Google Books—specifically, the service’s privacy policy regarding the more than 10 million written works already scanned, many without definitive permission. Should Google come out on top in the settlement, it will have won the right to make available out-of-print texts still preserved under copyright.

The arguments for either side of this sticky situation are myriad and complex. UC Berkeley Librarian Tom Leonard is one of many who are calling for Google to better articulate its commitments to users’ rights. While this and the complaints of innumerable authors are easily appreciated, there conversely remain the wide range of potential benefits from an online digital library.

One such advantage, perhaps less apparent than others, is that “one area that does seem to increasingly benefit from scale is translation: the more copies of bilingual books that Google has access to, the more it can perfect its translation algorithm.”

Which you may or may not give a crap about; but it just goes to show that in this case, as always, you can’t judge a book by its cover … Oh yeah. We went there.

Image Source: svenwerk under Creative Commons
More questions than answers on Google Books [CNet]
UC Librarian Wants Google Books to Nail Down Privacy Commitments [MediaBistro]
Earlier: Get Ready for LibroCon 2009


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