Author: Kevin Smith


Of Google, Geese and Librarians

My initial thoughts about the Google Books decision were posted last month on the Scholarly Communications @ Duke blog and are available here, so I won’t repeat any of that.  I do think readers of this site might also be interested in a post by IP attorney and former professor of social psychology Zick Rubin, in which he discusses the possible motivation of the Authors Guild in deciding to appeal the decision.

In this space, however, I want to build on the comments that James and Ariel have made, and to turn the attention for a bit to the impact of the GBS decision on libraries and the kind of digitization academic libraries are most often involved in.

The main point I want to take from James is that we are living through a slow but significant shift in fair use jurisprudence that is adapting that odd doctrine, which is statutory yet remains common law in its ability to change and evolve, to the era of online communication and mass digitization.  From Ariel I am struck by the assertion that even though Google is a player unlike any other in the ecosystem, what is sauce for the Google goose is also sauce for the library gander — that is, that this shift in fair use jurisprudence has potential consequences and offers opportunities for academic libraries as much as it does for giant Internet search engines. Read More