The problem with Google Print is not the technology but that Google privately owns the digital copies of the books and is running an advertising business using these copies.
Google is working to complete the Google Print service that will make the content of many books searchable and show short citations from the books as results. There are suggestions that Google should add micropayments to Google Print and make everyone happy: users, authors, and publishers.
The problem with Google Print is not the technology but that Google privately owns the digital copies of the books and is running an advertising business using these copies. May be Google will not claim an exclusive right of ownership for the digital copies but nobody else will be able access it without Google’s permission. So, the issue is a bit different from “fair use” or “Creative Commons”. The EU got aware of the private ownership and pushes now for a public project to make the books of European Libraries available on the web. Google has already become a monopoly on the market for ads and the dependency of the society on Google search as a private service is not unlike the problems with the privatization of water. There are three independent search engines left on the market and I would not consider that a stable and sustainable system.
Amazon became an empire as well. Anybody who buys something through Amazon pays the TAX (10%). The micropayment model for Google Print would include paying the TAX to a monopoly as well. And I really mean TAX and not fee for the service because their market dominance gives them the freedom to set the price. This is not unlike the price for music downloads where less than 10% of the revenues go to the musicians. Recently, a computer journal made a transparent calculation with fair fees for the download service and kept the payment for the musicians the same. They ended up with 50 cent per download as a “fair offer”. I think the rest is a TAX to a protected business that was successful lobbying politicians to extent copyright protection more and more.
A few days ago ArsTechnica had an article about a new project: Google Base. In the report it says: “The last sentence there really speaks to what they’re after: eBay, Craigslist, and classified ads. Users will be able upload all kinds of items for sale, and you’ll be able to geo-locate them, compare them, and search them via Google.” I think it even includes Amazon’s service for used books and other items from extern sources.
It seems people start to realize the hidden price tags of monopolies like Walmart and Microsoft. Why not for Google? Is it really to early to realize the risks of Google’s market dominance? Is Google’s PR motto “do no evil” still unquestioned? I think it is time to look for alternatives beyond Google that can generate a sustainable development and without the threads of monopolies. The announcement of the Open Content Alliance to make books available on the web hosted by the Internet Archive, a non-profit organization, comes just in time. Hopefully the Open Source ideas of collaboration rather dominance will spark even more such projects in the future and the neoliberal changes in copyright will be cutback to a balance between creators, distributors, and consumers.
Update: Google Patent for User Targeted Search Results
Google has filed a patent for user targeted, or attention targeted, search results which will change the ranking of Google’s organic results per each individual user based upon that user’s search behavior, location, sites visited, and even ‘typing behavior’. Read more …
Related external articles & blogs:
Security and Privacy Risks of Google’s new Firefox Extention “Safe Browsing for Firefox”
Reining in Google — The Washington Times