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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Ready for digital stacks?

    If that book you need for your research paper is still checked out at the library, you may soon be able to access it online for free, thanks to a Google lawsuit.

    In October 2008, Google announced that it settled a duo of class-action lawsuits filed in late 2005 by the Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild, which accused the company of copyright infringement after it began scanning millions of books and making them available online via Google Books Search, according to a Google press release.

    Google agreed to pay $125 million to end the lawsuits, part of which would go into creating the “”Book Rights Registry””, which would compensate authors for online access to their works that are out of print but still in copyright. The lawsuit still needs approval by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

    If approved, Google anticipates public and university libraries will participate by making their collections available to be digitized, which would make books more accessible to students, researchers and readers.

    For every 10,000 students enrolled at a university, the company would provide its library with one terminal for free access to the Google Books Database, but if a student wants to access the information on their home computer, there woul d be a fee involved, said Peter Botticelli, assistant professor at the UA School of Information Resources and Library Sciences.

    “”We’re definitely moving towards a situation where students are going to be buying a lot of electronic content for classes, for general reading,”” Botticelli said. “”(Students) are now paying for print books, but (online books) could be an additional or extra cost depending on how economics work out in electronic publishing.””

    According to the UA Office of Admissions, between 38,000 and 39,000 students are currently enrolled, which would potentially grant the UA Library up to four free-access terminals.

    Botticelli predicts the lawsuit will be formally approved later this year and students may begin to start using the service by next year.

    “”(The lawsuit) is basically working out the legal details and implementing a new system to track copyright,”” Botticelli said.

    Concerns about corporation control over American libraries’ collections exist, but digitizing this information could have its benefits, said Dan Lee, director of copyright and scholarly communications at the UA Library.

    “”Just getting all that information out there, available for searching and indexing is a huge boom to what libraries are about, which is access,”” Lee said.

    Pre-business sophomore Annabelle Romero likes the convenience that making books available online would bring.

    “”I think it would be a good idea because (Google) is providing students with a different way of getting a book,”” Romero said. “”It’s easier.””

    But UA theatre production freshman David Krasner prefers to read his books in print rather than over the Internet.

    “”You’ve got the issue of people just going online, copy, paste, and if (books) are online, it’s a whole lot easier to do that,”” Krasner said. “”I wouldn’t use it mostly because I don’t like to go online and pay for stuff.””

    Regardless of the extent to which libraries are digitizing their collections, Botticelli doesn’t believe that print books will be going anywhere anytime soon.

    “”It’s starting to look like the technology, legal environment and user behavior is beginning to converge and promote electronic content,”” Botticelli said. “”It’s going to be many years before the majority decide that they just don’t need to use print books anymore.””

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