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Re: Authors, publishers, settle suit with Google

This is interesting and catches me by surprise.  I was under the 
impression that libraries kept circulation records, that the 
catalogue of collections and the circulation records were in 
digital form, and that librarians analyzed these records.  My 
understanding is that the primary aspect that Google has added to 
this picture was the ability to search on full text instead of 
only on the metadata for titles.  It may very well be that 
full-text searches of out-of-print titles will lead to greater 
circulation (I think it will), but the jury is still out on that 
as far as I know.  I was not aware that librarians did not know 
anything about how patrons are actually using their collections 
until Google came along.

Joe Esposito

----- Original Message -----
From: "Harper, Georgia K" <gharper@austin.utexas.edu>
To: <liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu>
Sent: Friday, November 07, 2008 3:35 PM
Subject: Re: Authors, publishers, settle suit with Google

> The stats that you ask for from libraries are in the process of
> being created, but not by libraries, Joe. Google has stats that
> are astounding reflecting the difference in access and use rates
> for non-commercially valuable (my shorthand for your
> determination that a publisher doesn't see the point of making a
> book available) books that on our library shelves might have sat
> without being checked out for years, even decades...
> Times are changing.
> Georgia Harper
> On 11/6/08 8:15 PM, "Joseph J. Esposito" <espositoj@gmail.com> wrote:
> Georgia Harper is definitely correct in describing the travails
> of clearing rights for orphan works.  It's a nightmare.  But the
> sarcasm of "little things like that" is perhaps better expressed
> as "matters that are not terribly important."
> Orphan works are, for the most part, orphans for a reason; books
> go out of print for a reason.  If there was a large demand for
> these titles, publishers would have researched the rights
> situation.  I know because I have done this.  Many publishers
> have advisory boards whose role is to find "lost" books.  Take a
> look at the impressive catalogues at Dover Publications and the
> growing book program at "The New York Review of Books." Many
> years ago, when I was working in the bowels of what is now Pengun
> Books (it was called NAL back then), former teachers of mine
> would write me to recommend titles.  I recall requests for
> "Flatland", "Three Men in a Boat," and Jane Austen's juvenalia.
> (These all turned out to be P.D.)  I brought George Gissing's
> "The Odd Women" back into print in order to prove to a young
> woman that I was not the sexist pig she thought I was.  I lost.
> The reason that these matters are not terribly important is that
> readers, not greedy publishers, have demonstrated that orphan
> titles are not terribly important.  If libraries have strong
> circulation figures for books that are out of print, heavens!,
> tell somebody.  But for books that rarely circulate or have not
> circulated in some time, the incentives for researching copyright
> status are tiny.
> What troubles me about many mass digitization projects is that
> they are indeed "mass."  They are driven largely by IT and legal
> concerns and do not partake of the culturally demanding, and
> woefully inefficient, tasks of creation, selection, and curation,
> performed by authors, publishers, and librarians.  One could
> imagine a different kind of digitization project whose aim was to
> make what is already in demand more useful.  I believe this is,
> for the most part (yes, there are exceptions), a better course
> than to proceed indiscriminately.  It is indiscriminate activity
> that makes the "little things" of copyright clearance burdensome.
> It is time to reawaken to the old-fashioned virtue of exercising
> judgment.
> Joe Esposito