As has been widely reported, Google decided last week to hit the pause button on its ambitious Google Print library project to allow publishers to opt-out of scanning. The decision has sparked considerable debate, both about the copyright questions the project raises and Google's strategy for dealing with them. Here, Laura Quilter offers an especially compelling and thoughtful response, arguing that Google should move forward and that "it just doesn't make sense for information activists/copyfighters to start downwardly limiting various users' sets of rights." We couldn't agree more.
Libraries should push fair use in the service and interests of their users, history, and humanity. But libraries are not the sole beneficiaries of fair use, nor should they be. For-profit corporations, not-for-profit corporations, heck, even tax-exempt religions — all should be able to exercise fair use broadly.
Well, Siva [Vaidhyanathan] says Google is not a library. It's true that Google is not the mom-and-apple-pie ALA version of a downtown library, complete with modern atrium and skylights for Mayoral gatherings. But I think we have to push on "library" for a bit. The Internet Archive is certainly a library. My home collection is certainly a library. (It even circulates, and I have remote storage, and I recently began a belated investment in DVDs.) Libraries may be private, semi-private, public; for- or not-for-profit; paper or digital. Why is Google not a library?