COMMENTARY: Your tax dollars at work – “UC Joins Google Book Search Project”

While I’m not exactly Switzerland when it comes to talking about issues involving Google, I’m a little concerned about the University of California dedicating time, energy, and most importantly, its libraries and resources to Googles’ Book Search project.  Millions upon millions of volumes will be scanned, imaged, and indexed into Google Search Indices on Google Servers and effectively become Google controlled information.

Information that my tax dollars are providing exclusively to Google.

Doesn’t it bother anyone else that a state-funded institution is unilaterally giving a commercial company the exclusive benefit of its people and libraries to enhance it’s project to search books?  Doesn’t anyone else consider this to be a blatent abuse of the UC’s powers?  Why isn’t the same benefit being provided to Yahoo?  Ask.com?  Microsoft’s Live Search?  I’m CERTAIN all 3 engines would be happy to provide the necessary back ends to index the same content.

This isn’t altruistic at all, for those of you that are fans of Google’s mantra of "Don’t be evil":  Google blatently states that their agenda explicitly commercial in this quote:  "The company sees the effort as a way to attract more vistors to its Web site, and in turn, sell more ads. Google’s text-based advertising generates the lion’s share of revenue for the company, and ads placed aside scanned works could help increase its profit margins."

Traditionally, assets like the IP and labor being contributed here by a state funded institution are collectively integrated into a shared source in an open standards fashion so that anyone can take advantage of them using things like open standards protocols. No one private entity owns the information being aggregated this way and everyone – Yahoo, Ask, and yes, even Microsoft – could make use of the fruits of the state, while also maintaining competition – not just Google. Google would be more than welcome to SPONSOR an effort again maintained and operated by the UC but certainly not own & control the environment upon which the data resides upon.

If the UC were to state that it’s contributions could be formally extracted and/or repurposed in the same way that Google is – even on Google’s own servers using remote queries – I think that would nix my concern.

Quote

BetaNews | UC Joins Google Book Search Project
http://www.betanews.com/article/UC_Joins_Google_Book_Search_Project/1155149066

http://news.com.com/Authors+Guild+sues+Google+over+library+project/2100-1030_3-5875384.html

http://radar.oreilly.com/archives/2005/09/authors_guild_suit_and_googles.html

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