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Google Unveils Tool to Annotate Web Sites

Google is rolling out a new service on Wednesday that will allow users to post notes alongside Web sites that can be read by other users. The service, called Sidewiki, will be a new feature of the Google Toolbar, a popular browser add-on.

Full post at NYT Bits Blog

Google Book Search Hearing to Be Postponed

The parties in the Google Book Search Settlement have asked the court to adjourn the scheduled October 7th fairness hearing, telling the court the parties intend to amend the deal. "Because the parties, after consultation with the DOJ, have determined that the Settlement Agreement that was approved preliminarily in November 2008 will be amended, plaintiffs respectfully submit that the Fairness Hearing should not be held, as scheduled, on October 7," reads a memorandum appended to the parties motion to adjourn.

"To continue on the current schedule would put the Court in a position of reviewing and having participants at the hearing speak to the
original Settlement Agreement, which will not be the subject of a motion for final approval." The court is expected to grant the motion. Publishers Weekly reports.

Google is the librarian for the web?

Matthew Hurst: "To me, a librarian - a good one - is someone who knows firstly about the relationship between information and location and secondly about how to elicit enough information from the enquirer to leverage this knowledge. A really good librarian will actually be able to find you the right information, not just the book in which it is captured. Google's search engine has an entirely different model."

Google Lets You Custom-Print Millions of Public Domain Books

Wired's Epicenter blog details the latest venture to come out of Mountain View CA, public domain books printed on demand.

"What’s hot off the presses come Thursday? Any one of the more than 2 million books old enough to fall out of copyright into the public domain.

And now Google Book Search, in partnership with On Demand Books, is letting readers turn those digital copies back into paper copies, individually printed by bookstores around the world."

What do you suggest?

Plutarch said, "To find fault is easy; to do better may be difficult. "

On that note an article about comments by Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

Google’s Schmidt To Book Settlement Critics: What’s Your Solution?

Google acquires ReCaptcha as book-scanning aid

Google has acquired ReCaptcha, one of those companies behind the distorted text boxes at the bottom of many Web site sign-in pages.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Google plans to use ReCaptcha's technology both as a security measure within certain Google sites and to make its massive book-scanning project a little smarter, the company said in a blog post.

Who Should Control The Virtual Library?

On "Talk of the Nation"

Google stands to be the single repository for millions of the world's books. Advocates applaud the organization and the access a digital library can afford. But critics worry about monopoly and profit motives, and what it means for readers' privacy.

U.S. Register of Copyrights Slams Google Book Search Settlement

In testimony before the House Judiciary subcommittee this morning, Marybeth Peters, U.S. Register of Copyrights, in her first detailed comments on the subject, blasted the Google Book Search Settlement as “fundamentally at odds with the law.” In a blistering assessment of the deal, Peters told lawmakers that the settlement is in essence a compulsory license that would give Google the ability to engage in activities, such as text display and sale of downloads, that are “indisputable acts of copyright infringement.”

More at Publisher's Weekly

11th-Hour Filings Oppose Google’s Book Settlement

After a flurry of last-minute filings on Tuesday, a federal judge must now begin untangling the mountain of competing claims about how a legal settlement granting Google the right to create the world’s largest digital library and bookstore would affect competition, authors’ rights and readers’ privacy.

“The number and quality of opposition filings is very unusual,” said Jay Tidmarsh, a professor of law at Notre Dame Law School. “The court is going to have to look at the public interest in the settlement.”

Full story here.

Google's Book Search: A Disaster for Scholars

Whether the Google books settlement passes muster with the U.S. District Court and the Justice Department, Google's book search is clearly on track to becoming the world's largest digital library. No less important, it is also almost certain to be the last one. Google's five-year head start and its relationships with libraries and publishers give it an effective monopoly: No competitor will be able to come after it on the same scale. Nor is technology going to lower the cost of entry. Scanning will always be an expensive, labor-intensive project. Of course, 50 or 100 years from now control of the collection may pass from Google to somebody else—Elsevier, Unesco, Wal-Mart. But it's safe to assume that the digitized books that scholars will be working with then will be the very same ones that are sitting on Google's servers today, augmented by the millions of titles published in the interim.

That realization lends a particular urgency to the concerns that people have voiced about the settlement —about pricing, access, and privacy, among other things. But for scholars, it raises another, equally basic question: What assurances do we have that Google will do this right?

More from Geoffrey Nunberg at the Chronicle of Higher Education.

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