Academic journal article Journal of Information Ethics

Googled, Screwgled

Academic journal article Journal of Information Ethics

Googled, Screwgled

Article excerpt

There was a time, long ago, when it was easy to respect and even honor Google. It offered good service and claimed, like doctors, to care -by abjuring evil. Slowly but inexorably, its leaders increased the company's goals and hegemony, now doing a lot more than providing a simple search engine to navigate the WWW. From Google Docs, Glass, and Now to Gmail, from book scanning to self-driving cars and innumerable other possibilities, it has made itself indispensible but it has accomplished much of this by encroaching on others and their various rights. So it is with Google Book Search (GBS).

The Authors Guild, which represents 9,000 members, sued, and legitimately, since making books (or portions of books) freely available online abrogates copyright and eliminates royalties. This is especially onerous for those people who earn their living from their writing. This would not have a truly deleterious effect on the well known scholar Pamela Samuelson, who has the benefit of a law professorship at Berkeley with its handsome salary. (Not all scholars are well-paid academics.) Inexplicably, as chair of the board of directors of the recently founded Authors Alliance, she has come to the defense of Google's scanning, favors a court's rejection of the Authors Guild claims, and indicates that her organization will file amicus briefs if the suit reaches the Supreme Court. …

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