An avaricious circle of authors and book publishers are seeking to shipwreck Google Inc.’s Book Search Project (BSP), a research marvel that honors intellectual property rights and the monetary incentive for creativity customarily granted by copyright. Twin lawsuits were filed in the United States last year alleging that snippets from copyrighted books akin to an online version of Bartlett’s Quotations constitute infringing uses despite evidence that the BSP increases rather than diminishes book sales. Moreover, any author traumatized or offended by inclusion in the BSP can opt out. The U.S. litigation folly soon sailed across the Atlantic to Great Britain. In March, Nigel Newton, chief executive officer of Harry Potter publisher Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, crusaded for a boycott of Google with the righteousness of John Knox: “Its quest to monetize for its own benefit the literature of the world must be stopped.” No good deed should go unpunished.
Civilization is a race between education and catastrophe, as H.G. Wells observed. The BSP gives education an edge. Google has partnered with five premier libraries to make digital copies of their collections available to be searched online by its search engine. The University of Michigan, Harvard University, Stanford University, Oxford University and the New York Public Library are the pioneers. Tens of millions of books both in and out of copyright are digitized but not sold. The BSP amplifies on its Web site: “When you click on a search result for a book from the Library Project, you’ll see the Snippet View which, like a card catalogue, shows you information about the book plus a few snippets-a few sentences of your search term in context.”
Students, authors and scholars alike have acclaimed the BSP. A Sacramento, Calif., student effused in a post on the site: “I love Google Book Search because you get to look at the book, check out how the print looks, see if it is the right edition,