Today in Tech: Google video chat arrives
Also: Microsoft reports jump in profits and sales but revenue declines within its Windows division Research in Motion lowers its earning forecasts.
Read more on CNN Money
A couple of days ago, Simon Barron at the Guardian posted a piece that claimed “Google can’t be trusted with our books,” because the company decided out of the blue to shut down Google Videos and pitch all user-uploaded content on the site in order to focus more on its search. A public outcry convinced Google to backpedal to the extent that it would see about preserving the content and making it available elsewhere, but Barron sees the original decision as a sign that Google might choose to dump any content at any time if it wants to.
As a private sector company, the core aim of Google is to make money. The Google Videos situation shows that in order to lower expenditure and adjust its priorities, Google was willing to delete content entrusted to it by users. Libraries have trusted Google with millions of documents: many of the books scanned by Google are not digitised or OCR-processed anywhere else and, with budgets for university libraries shrinking year after year, may not be digitised again any time in the near future. Google acted admirably by listening to users and working to save the videos but entrusting such vast cultural archives to a body that has no explicit responsibilities to protection, archiving and public cultural welfare is inherently dangerous: as the situation made clear, private sector bodies have the ability to destroy archives at a whim.
He goes on to talk about how cultural institutions and the public sector should be enabling access to digital information, bridging the digital divide, and so on, and that we should have a national digital library. While I can’t argue with that, I think it’s a little bit odd the way that he’s singling Google out.
Aside from the fact that plenty of people already didn’t trust Google with books without needing this provocation (which is why Google got sued by the Authors Guild), this really holds true for any commercial institution that has its hands on lots of user-generated content. If social-networking and blogging sites (for instance, the embattled also-ran MySpace which News Corp has just decided to try to sell to some other poor sucker) shut down, a lot of people would lose their stuff too.
And given how many recent cloud-based institutions have been failing all at once lately (speaking of losing user content, Time reports “Some Of the Data Lost in Amazon’s Cloud Outage is Gone Forever”) or getting badly hacked, it seems more and more like nothing digital is necessarily safe, Google or not.
Neowin reports that “a reliable source” has indicated that Google ChromeOS notebooks will be available for purchase around the end of June or the start of July, and that in addition to standard sales, Google will offer them on a monthly subscription basis.
For - per month, Google will replace faulty hardware for the life of the subscription, and will provide hardware refreshes as they become available. This essentially treats notebooks like a cable modem—a device leased from the cable company as part of your monthly fee in return for replacing it if anything goes wrong.
I wonder if the subscription will involve a minimum contract length? If not, it would be interesting to try the device out for a month or two at minimal cost, even if I didn’t want to keep it for the long term.
And if scaled down, perhaps the subscription model could offer a way for people to try e-book readers who didn’t want to pay for one in a lump sum. Would you pay, say, a month for a few months to rent a Kindle if you weren’t sure you wanted to buy one?
From a Chronicle of Higher Ed. Report by Marc Perry:
With the Google project in legal limbo, Indiana University and the University of Illinois are moving forward with plans to set up a similar research center [HathiTrust Research Center for Computational Access to Archives] built around the archive maintained by the HathiTrust Digital Library, which was created by a consortium of universities, in part, to establish a stable backup of the books that Google digitized from their libraries. The new research center will initially focus on works that are no longer protected by copyright—roughly 2.3 million books in HathiTrust’s 8-million-plus collection.
“Right now, the safe path is working with the public-domain materials,” said John Wilkin, executive director of HathiTrust. “That’s a phenomenally large amount of material.”
Here’s a Link to an INFOdocket Post (4/18/2011) With Full Text of Official Announcement
What’s the Buzz: Verizon axes one-year contracts; Google launches new trivia game|Lastest Kindle News]
What's the Buzz: Verizon axes one-year contracts; Google launches new trivia game
Verizon Wireless is eliminating its one-year contract option starting April 17. Beginning Sunday, all new Verizon contracts will have to be two years or month-to-month.
Read more on KRTV Great Falls
Hey, Google: Amazon Just Beat You At Your Own Game
Since we first heard about Google's mobile ambitions many years ago, the theory was that the company would be able to subsidize consumer devices -- phones, tablets, whatever -- with all the ad money that it would be raking in, before anyone else.
Read more on Business Insider
Ipad ebook:Google to Launch eBooks (Google Editions) by Early Summer
Google announced that they will be selling eBooks in the summer...
Well, it looks as if Google’s legal bills will continue to rise. I bet this is not the only country that will be heard from. From Globes:
A lawsuit has been filed against Google Books with the Jerusalem District Court, with a request to recognize it as a class-action lawsuit. The petitioner, Yonatan Brauner, the author of “Things you see from there” (in Hebrew), claims that the project infringes authors’ copyright “on the greatest scale in human history”.
Brauner claims that Google continuously scans, collects, copies, and makes publicly available millions of books, thereby grossly and systematically infringing copyright without first obtaining the authors’ consent. He said it was not yet possible to estimate the damage caused to authors because he lacks precise figures about the quantity of creations affected or the extent of the copyright infringement for each work, but he provisionally estimates the damage at “tens of millions of shekels or more”. …
Brauner claims, “However fantastical it may sound, Google, one of the world’s largest and wealthiest corporations, is infringing the copyright of books like a thug, and knowingly uses the Google Books project, whose basic purpose is to present books without receiving permission from the copyright’s owner or publisher, and without paying a penny for it.”
The statement of claim says that, as of the date the lawsuit was filed, over 15 million books from over 100 countries in 400 languages had been scanned and stored. Thousands of books (and possibly tens or hundreds of thousands) of these books are in Hebrew, by Israeli authors, which were published in Israel and are protected by Israeli copyright law.
Copyright Office submission to Congress: analysis of digitization and legal framework of the Google case
Reading 2.0 has gotten ahold of the Copyright Offices submission to Congress after Judge Chin’s opinion. They have posted it, with permission, on Scribd. You can find the whole thing here. Unfortunately I can’t copy or paste from Scribd, or at least I don’t know how, so you’ll have to go over there. Reading 2.0 posted this snippet:
” Judge Chin’s opinion was very well received at the Library of Congress, as it reflects the significant concerns expressed about the proposed settlement by both the Department of Justice and the Copyright Office. Among these are the basic tenets that exclusive rights afforded by copyright law may not be usurped as a matter of convenience, and policy initiatives, including those that would redefine the relationship of copyright and technology, are the proper domain of Congress, not the Courts.”
That’s the title of an article in Publisher’s Weekly about Readium and Travis Alber. Here’s a snippet:
In an unusual social media venture that brings together Google and Facebook, BookGlutton.com founder Travis Alber is releasing Readum, a new social media application that allows readers to add comments and notes to books in their Google eBooks library and easily post them on Facebook for the general public or to specific groups.Alber called Readum “a proof of concept” project to create a social media connection for readers across different e-reading platforms and devices. “You can’t set up a reading group with someone on an iPhone and someone else on the Kindle,” Alber said, “we’re creating a layer of social connection. Why should we divide our friends and fellow readers up by the devices they use?” Albers said Readum makes use of the ReadSocial API, an application developed by her company to create a single layer of commentary and social connection across multiple device platforms and software reading systems. “We started with Google eBooks which hasn’t got any social media turned on yet; we said let’s get it on there and start seeing what kind of use patterns we get.”