Microsoft Book Search Much Less Controversial

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This morning, Microsoft released its own Live Book Search service. Similar to Google, Microsoft is scanning books, saving them in PDF format and making the full text available and searchable. What is significantly different is the fact that Microsoft is not following in Google’s footsteps when it comes to copyright material. Instead of scanning any book they feel like and then having publishers opt-out, Microsoft is planning to scan only noncopyright books, while publishers will have an option to opt-in if they want their books listed.

Is this the way to go? Is this a Catch-22 situation? If you don’t scan copyrighted material, your database will be too small to be effective but if you do, you are breaking the law…Personally, I see no room for discussion here. If your intellectual property is not protected, and someone else cripples your ability to monetize on it, there is no reason to create it in the first place. That’s why we have copyright laws. And even a $150 billion dollar company should not be able to disregard the law in the name of “organiz[ing] the world’s information and mak[ing] it universally accessible and useful.”

About the Author

Andrey Milyan was the first editor-in-chief of Search Marketing Standard, the leading print publication covering the search marketing industry. He has been following and reporting on industry developments for over 10 years. Andrey now works in the paid search sector of a prominent search marketing agency.

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2 Comments

  1. chris

    I'm not sure that every author is totally motivated soley by the financial factor. There's more involved in copyright protection than just royalties - a lot of intangibles go along with the creation of something unique that you hope will inform or influence others. Nevertheless, I do agree that Microsoft is going to have a pretty weak offering if they limit themselves to items that are no longer copyright-protected, unless they do some darn good advertising and/or deals to have some other information available.

  2. Andrey Milyan

    Financial factor is just one of the motivators. We can also include fame and recognition, wouldn't you agree?

    So is Google taking away well deserved recognition? Tough call. But there is a parallel with illegal music downloads problem. Do the artists get exposure by having their songs shared on Kazaa? Or is it that they were already famous and would benefit more from actual sales of their CDs? When all of this information becomes so readily available, can it be stopped? Should it be stopped?

    Then again, if we take global perspective on this issue, is organizing world's information even possible? Should it be done by one company? Should we sacrifice copyright laws in order to be able to search for more or search better? How will that affect future inventions and works of literature?

    I think I'm getting too philosophical but these are important questions never the less. I guess what I am trying to say here is that the World Wide Web is the phenomenon (although created by humans) that we understand as much as we do tornadoes or global warming. In reality we have no idea how it will impact our lives, in both positive and negative ways. And Google is the engine of that phenomenon and I guess the most we can do is sit back and enjoy the ride :)