CNN published an article yesterday about a lawsuit pending against search engine Google. The search company has been working with great libraries around the world to digitize their collections, essentially to scan the pages of every book in those libraries. This includes both public domain books and copyrighted books.
The lawsuit was filed by publishing houses that see this as copyright violation, though the search results available through Google for the copyrighted material do not show the entire book. Instead, copyrighted searches only show an excerpt from a book with a few lines surrounding the user’s search term.
The issues raised by this lawsuit run deeper than just copyright protection. What will become of the copyright in the Information Age? What limits do we place on our information? Since Google or any other company can provide us with almost instantaneous access to information, why should we hamper that with prickly lawsuits?
Most of all, I think the real question here is, like it was in my short paper in class earlier this year, what becomes of the author? The importance of this role seems to diminish with time, especially as technology allows us free and open access to an author’s (or all authors’) works.
This ties to hyperauthorship as well, but I will take the time to make that connection later. Until then!