Google Answers Complaints About Project to Scan Millions of Books, but Publishers Are Not Won Over, from the Chronicle

It is perhaps unfortunate that this headline starts with “Google Answers,” since that’s not at all what this is about, but maybe I’m being nitpicky.

Responding to concerns from several academic and commercial publishers, Google has made minor adjustments to its vast project to scan library books, and Google officials say they will not scan any copyrighted books until November, while publishers consider the new policies. Google officials say they will make sure they do not scan any book held by a library if the book’s publisher asks that the book not be scanned.

Sounds reasonable enough, for the moment. We’ll see what happens in November. But this is the best part:

[Google] plans to allow users to see the complete texts of books that are in the public domain, but to show only short excerpts from books that are still under copyright. … In recent months, several publishers have complained to Google that the library-scanning project violates copyright, even if Google displays only snippets of a book.

So… I go into a bookstore, & I browse through books deciding what to buy. Is that a violation of copyright? But wait, it gets worse. I could read the whole book right there, & not buy it at all. Does the existence of a physical bookstore violate copyright? I’m sorry, but this just reminds me of the Tom the Dancing Bug cartoon, Library System Terrorizes Publishing Industry. “Mark my words: this ‘Dewey Decimal System’ will be the death of literature!”