The Webpage FX blog compiled a list of 13 internet "firsts," from the first email sent (1971) and the first spam, sent out to 400 people (1978), to the first photo posted online (1992) and much later, the first Instagram photo, (2010).
The Hathi Trust, a partnership between 66 universities and 3 higher education consortia, is breathing a little easier now that Judge Harold Baer, Jr. of New York's Southern District has found that the Trust was within its fair use rights to allow Google to scan member library holdings, and then making the resulting files available for the reading impaired, and for use in search indexing and data mining. While this is excellent news for the educational institutions involved, it doesn't completely exonerate Google's role in the scanning project. It's notable that just last week Google abandoned it's own fair use claim in settling a different case involving the same book scanning project. Of the four factors used when considering fair use cases, Judge Baer ruled on the side of the Hathi Trust on all four.
The Authors Guild, the Australian Society of Authors, the Union Des Écrivaines et des Écrivains Québécois (UNEQ) along with 8 individual authors (including Fay Weldon) has sued the university consortium HathiTrust over its plans to allow internal institutional access to book scans that HathiTrust members received from Google which HathiTrust believes to be orphaned works. As usual, MeFi's own James Grimmelmann has the best analysis of the suit.
Only weeks after Judge Denny Chin extended the filing deadline, and presumably a final decision, and reflecting the Department of Justice’s own opinion, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected the landmark class-action lawsuit settlement between the Authors Guild, the Association of American Publishers, and Google. And offers some advice for a revised resubmission.
"Then there are the classification errors, which taken together can make for a kind of absurdist poetry. H.L. Mencken's The American Language is classified as Family & Relationships. A French edition of Hamlet and a Japanese edition of Madame Bovary are both classified as Antiques and Collectibles (a 1930 English edition of Flaubert's novel is classified under Physicians, which I suppose makes a bit more sense.) An edition of Moby Dick is labeled Computers; The Cat Lover's Book of Fascinating Facts falls under Technology & Engineering. And a catalog of copyright entries from the Library of Congress is listed under Drama (for a moment I wondered if maybe that one was just Google's little joke)." —Linguist Geoffrey Nunberg on Google's little metadata problem.
"It would be naïve to identify the Internet with the Enlightenment. It has the potential to diffuse knowledge beyond anything imagined by Jefferson; but while it was being constructed, link by hyperlink, commercial interests did not sit idly on the sidelines. They want to control the game, to take it over, to own it. They compete among themselves, of course, but so ferociously that they kill each other off. Their struggle for survival is leading toward an oligopoly; and whoever may win, the victory could mean a defeat for the public good. ...We could have created a National Digital Library—the twenty-first-century equivalent of the Library of Alexandria. It is too late now. Not only have we failed to realize that possibility, but, even worse, we are allowing a question of public policy—the control of access to information—to be determined by private lawsuit."—Robert Darnton on what the proposed Google Book Settlement could mean for the pursuit of knowledge—Google and the Future of Books
Netflix of Books? BookSwim aims to be 'Netflix' of books with a monthly subscription, 3 book-at-a-time with free postage. They are not the first, BooksFree offers a wide selection of 'beach books' and JiggerBug rents a wide audio book selection. Google tried it in 2005, and nearly got burned to the ground. Could libraries and local used book stores be marginalized (though never destroyed) as the local video rental store? Will Border's become the same struggling dinosaur Blockbuster has turned out to be?