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March 11, 2006

Discussion Thread for Economics Panel

Please comment here on the presentations by Paul Courant, Karl Pohrt, and Hal Varian.

Posted by kimballs at March 11, 2006 08:39 AM


Hal Varian's talk was an admirable common sense parsing of many of the issues at stake in Google Book Search. So many people, even those close to the program seem to have misconceptions about what the program consists of. I was particularly struck by his common sense observation that in Google what is monetized is not the works but the queries. The Google Search not the Google Book. But the publisher fear is about the works being monetized. If publishers really trust the validity of the current copyright law, wouldn’t they be better poised to make a stand against the project when that monetization happens and not as pre-emptive speculation?

Posted by: mbonn at March 11, 2006 09:40 AM

Alicia's question about the real costs of opt-out raises an interesting issue that I wished Hal had addressed. We're seeing an emerging legal discussion about the likely implications of opt-out being accepted as valid in a fair use context. In this sort of scenario, a rights holder would need to persistently and thoroughly scan the Internet for potentially lawful uses of a text so that the rights holder could opt out. There, of course, is a high cost, and something more than just sending an e-mail to Google. There are, of course, ways to address this problem (e.g., requiring registration of such uses), but it's worth raising the question, as Alicia did, and addressing it.

Posted by: jpwilkin at March 11, 2006 09:46 AM

Addressing Paul Courant's ideas about what future solution might dovetail patron desire for instant reading of digital versions of book as well as sometime access to the physical...I have a vision of a physically centralized location, through which our already strong ILL system might operate. Libraries could send their extra/seldom-used copies of books easily available in digital online form to a warehouse location, which would then send out any requested item through the usual ILL methods.

This would save space on shelves at individual campuses, would re-allocate but not waste resources, and would both reassure and reveal true usage patterns for physical items in an increasingly digital environment.

Posted by: celia.white@gmail.com at March 11, 2006 09:54 AM

I think Celia's exactly right about the need for the shared print repository. Paul talked about money that could be redeployed to support archiving and new forms of distribution. I imagine many people thought "ok, what money?" -- but this is certainly an area where we have a lot waste -- we're all paying to store and maintain a lot of seldom used print. Lots of library and institutional cultural barriers to overcome there -- but it's time we did it.

Posted by: mbonn at March 11, 2006 09:59 AM

Participants are invited to download my Commemorative Symposium Edition of Anthony Hope's The Indiscretion of the Duchess, in exchange for discussion of the economics and my motivation for creating it.


Posted by: wtozier at March 11, 2006 10:26 AM

Expanding our concept and use of ILL and resource sharing is imperative. In a deselection exercise I completed in my Collection Development course last semester, I looked at 3 variables in deciding what books to "weed" from the collection: the physical state of an item, its circulation status (had they been taken out in the last 15-20 years?) AND whether or not the item was available through ILL.

Rather than using our scarce resources to build and staff more giant storage facilities (not accessible to our users) why not invest our energies and money into resource sharing initiatives, personnel, and consortia? Why should every library need to have every text? And could the same be done with high priced electronic database subscriptions, which in many ARLs are rapidly subsuming print resource budgets?

In my opinion, part of Google's success here is the exploitation of a system that at times refuses to rethink itself. I am not saying I am against Google as a whole, but I do wonder if we will sacrifice academic rigor or alterate views by going corporate. - Jennifer Graham

Posted by: jenngrahamx@yahoo.com at March 11, 2006 11:05 AM

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