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Some libraries close books to Google, Microsoft

Some libraries close books to Google, Microsoft

Indexing on competitive search engines remains an obstacle

Although Microsoft has remained part of the Internet Archive, technically, it is not part of the OCA because it is not operating under the OCA's principle that requires material to be offered to the public without any restrictions.

Brewster Kahle, founder and digital librarian of the Internet Archive, said he has trouble with Google's and Microsoft's positions.

"Google is trying to build a collection themselves, and it's trying to be the point of access for the library in the next generation," Kahle said. "We have no problem with that in general, but we would just like lots of libraries in the future, not just one. Google doesn't want anyone to have a search engine other than theirs, so the material they've digitized they've put restrictions on so they're the only search engine going forward, and we don't think that's right. We think not only should there be many search engines, but many libraries and many archives as well."

Regarding Microsoft, Kahle is a little more forgiving.

"Microsoft is paying for the digitization of books as well, and they allow any research and education use," he said. "They just stipulate that the materials should not be put in other commercial services. They're reacting to Google by tightening down somewhat. Google says nothing is allowed, period. But Microsoft says everything is allowed except commercial services, except for basically Google, so it's a matter of degree."

The Internet Archive, which is doing all the digitizing work, is still working on books funded by Microsoft. When Microsoft said commercial services couldn't index all the material, that made them, strictly speaking, not adhering to OCA principles, Kahle said.

"So there's Google, which is Draconian and very, very powerful, and there's Microsoft, which is 'minorly' restrictive," Kahle said. "This is about locking down our libraries, and the biggie is Google because they're scanning millions of books and they've got these contracts with great libraries that are really kind of problematic -- at least if any of us want to live in an open world, otherwise we could live in the land of Orwell."

Some libraries, including the New York Public Library, have decided to partner with Google to make a collection of their books in the public domain available online. Others libraries that are also using Google include those at Michigan, Stanford, Harvard and Oxford universities. The Library of Congress is also working with Google on a pilot program to digitize some of its books.

The Biodiversity Heritage Library, however, is another group of libraries that has decided to pass on Google's offer to digitize its material and, like the BLC, has decided to partner with the OCA.

"We talked to Google and Microsoft, but we will be digitizing our collection of biodiversity literature and making them freely available on the Net," said Tom Garnett, director of the Biodiversity Heritage Library, a consortium of 10 major natural history museum libraries, botanical libraries and research institutions. "It's not a question of good versus bad, or better than worse. It's what is the nature and aim of your project."

Garnett said what Google and Microsoft are doing will benefit everyone, but the nature of his project with biodiversity literature is heavily driven from the scientific research community. Not only do users have to be able to read the content, he said, but researchers also have to be able to manipulate it using software.

"We want people to be able to download portions of our literature to our own servers and do software algorithms to operate on it to link it or combine with other biological information," he said. "While Google thought that was a good idea, they said it didn't fit in with their business model. They said it wasn't an option -- maybe because there would be a series of exceptions that they'd have to do for our stuff versus someone else's. Our stuff really needs to be available with as few hurdles as possible."


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