Thursday, January 19, 2006

A possible solution for the Google controversy

I am a bit off with this theory but I'll propose it anyway.
After reading Dave's post (see “Legal distinctions between copies of web pages and copies of books) and Ed's comment I thought; would the Google controversy be effectively extinguished if there could be advertising on viewed pages of copied books found through the Google search?

This way the author’s of books which are regularly read through the Google search would receive revenue from advertising. This is because advertisers would want to exploit the popularity of the text. Those authors would also have control over who advertised on their book's copied pages. I think the financial incentive would lead authors to want to work with Google to create the most efficient book search possible.

This obviously does not cure the debate over Google copying copyrighted works. And, this is similar to the idea that many authors would benefit from the Google search because more books are likely to sell as a result of the search. However, the additional advertising revenue (on top of the possibility of increased book sales) would be a significant financial incentive to every author. After all, in some part, every author writes in hopes to earn income from their work.

I realize this proposition has nothing to do with the current legal argument but it does offer a solution through circumvention of the underlying problem.


Blogger Aaron said...

As a pro-Microsoft person, I am just amazed on how much Google is willing to invest and fight over the copyright issue when other companies, like Microsoft, have in the past given licensing fees. Why does Google feel so strongly that they can overcome past precedence?

12:07 PM  
Blogger ed said...

I guess it might have been unclear from the presentation, but Google actually does offer ad revenue to those who sign up for the partner program somewhat like what you suggest (however I don't think you control the actual ads the way you mention, although I think you can limit categories). Publishers who provide access get not only a link to their site to sell the book, but also ad revenue from the excerpts they provide. See the information on this on the Google Book Search Tour

12:25 PM  
Blogger Syed Ali said...

I am not certain that this really would circumvent the underlying issue. As I mentioned in class, I think that the authors and publishers are looking for more out of Google. Yes, they will have some financial incentive from "potential" increased revenues and the possibility that the advertisements could give them revenue. But I don't think this would satisfy them and, perhaps, rightfully so. They are looking for more financial incentive. They want Google to pay for its use of their books. Whether or not Google should have to is a different story. The authors and publishers want Google to pay for a license. Why? To make more money and also to keep that market alive. If Microft is willing to pay for the license and maybe even other companies, then the authors and publishers are surely going to want to Google to pay. This would increase profits for them. Even more though, if Google is allowed to use their books without paying for license, then the authors and publishers will also lose any profits that they might have gotten from Microsoft etc. Obviously, Microsoft isn't going to pay if they don't have to.

While I still side with Google in this issue, I think we tend to forget that there are other important aspects to this debate than the traditional book sales. Yes, Google's Book Search will not negatively affect the traditional market. It may increase it even. Maybe there could be a financial incentive with the ads. But what about the market that is being destroyed? As Aaron said, Microsoft has given licensing fees in the past, why should Google be able to overcome this precedent? If Google does, then the authors etc lose profits that they used to enjoy through their licensing fees.

12:50 PM  

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