Google Book Downloader
September 18, 2009 9:22 AM   Subscribe

This project does not promote any illegal conduct of any kind.

I had that on a sign on my meth lab's door. The cops didn't buy it, either.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:32 AM on September 18, 2009 [3 favorites]

I'm a wee bit confused. This summer, there was a download link available for every full-view/out-of-copyright book on there. Now I see it's no longer there. Moreover, books in my library that used to be full view (from the 1880s and the like) are now displaying as snippet view (although perhaps that's because I'm no longer in the USA? But why would that be?)

Can you fill us in on what changed?
posted by artemisia at 9:34 AM on September 18, 2009

Google is pretending that they haven't just p0wned US copyright laws and created their own private feifdom.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:43 AM on September 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

I still shake my fist that I never bothered to copy the scans of of the Original Dungeons and Dragons books off of Scribd. That is about the closest I've come to being an IP pirate since Napster.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:47 AM on September 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

I may be wrong, but as far as I can tell the only books that allow full book view are in the public domain, and others are just previews.
posted by exogenous at 10:04 AM on September 18, 2009

Hmm, looks like I was wrong, in that the advanced search allows for separate options for Full View and Public Domain.
posted by exogenous at 10:06 AM on September 18, 2009

Seeing this earlier today inspired me to re-check out Google Books. In particular, I tried to find the 1927 monograph Animal Ecology by Charles Elton, the foundational work in my field. Then I remembered that, duh, of course this thing won't be fully available to download from Google books because the copyright term isn't 70 years after publication but 70 years after the author's death. Stupid me. So I guess I'll still have to buy the "updated" version from Princeton University Press for 26 bucks, or wait until 2061 to get it from Google Books. 2061. I'll be long-tenured at that point. Who gives a shit? Copyright law is the stupidest thing in a long history of stupid government ideas. Can't we have a science exception? I don't care if people are allowed to make Mickey Mouse peeing on Ford logo bumper stickers. Outlaw that with penalty of death. Who cares? But if I can't freely access a text that was published over 80 years ago by somebody dead for almost 20 years that has, unbelievably, stood the test of time and that would improve my understanding of the world, then the internet really must be about pornography and evil cats. Oh, but -- redeemers of redeemers -- at least when I search Aldo Leopold I can access the 1913 "Biographical record of the graduates and former students of the Yale Forest School" that tells me that Leopold is now forest supervisor of Carson National Forest, and that his former classmate Joseph Kircher is "a member of the Concatenated Order of Hoo-Hoo," whatever the hell that means. This thing is broken.
posted by one_bean at 10:11 AM on September 18, 2009 [8 favorites]

Um, how is this different from clicking on the PDF download link on the web page?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:17 AM on September 18, 2009

Some books don't have the download link but do have all their pages available. This makes them downloadable as well.
posted by exogenous at 10:27 AM on September 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:01 AM on September 18, 2009

Building on the idea that a "tipping point" has been reached in text-to-speech software discussed in this NYTimes bits article, I think another important part of the paper-to-electronic conversion (and alongside paper-to-digital text) is paper-to-electronic audio, itself a subset of digital text-to-digital audio.

After reading the article which generated the reader queries that led to the bits article mentioned above, I wrote up my own adventures (self-link) in paper-to-digital audio.

I'm curious about the transformation of public-domain digital text into public-domain digital audio. I wonder if Google will go for it on their own or whether another entity will take up this challenge, maybe a group of amateurs. My sense is that the widespread availability of digital audio versions of public domain books will accelerate the acceptance of digital print and audio texts over and against paper print text.
posted by mistersquid at 11:03 AM on September 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

one_bean, actually, copyright term is more complicated.

The work you are discussing may or may not be public domain.
posted by Muddler at 11:29 AM on September 18, 2009

The work you are discussing may or may not be public domain.

You're right, my bad. So (assuming its copyright was renewed, since the 1st edition is not available, but the re-published edition has preview only) that means I can see it online in full in 2022.
posted by one_bean at 11:38 AM on September 18, 2009

Internet Archive houses copies Google Book PDF's pre-1923 (800k+), many of which are no longer available on Google. It's one reason I do all my PD book shopping at IA - GB is just one resource, and not even the biggest, despite common perception to the contrary.
posted by stbalbach at 12:39 PM on September 18, 2009 [6 favorites]

The GBD util is very clever. It's most useful for Limited Preview books. LP books are limited in how many pages can be previewed before an error message comes up "you have reached your viewing limit for this book." Thus even though there may be more pages available, Google will prevent you from seeing them. This utility gets around that and lets you see all the Limited Preview pages that are available, which is often a large part of a book.
posted by stbalbach at 1:20 PM on September 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

robocop is bleeding I still shake my fist that I never bothered to copy the scans of of the Original Dungeons and Dragons books off of Scribd.

Most RPGs are available as torrents, if you want them.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:56 PM on September 18, 2009

I just finished downloading a Limited Preview book and captured about 90% of it. Since it's a non-fiction and the missing pages were grouped into a few chapters, it's almost as good as pirating the book. I don't know if this 90% will hold true for all Limited Preview books, but I'm sure Google will patch this hole, so get the books you want while you can. Very nice piece of software.
posted by stbalbach at 5:30 PM on September 18, 2009

*warning* - Google will block you if you run this app. I'm getting a 403 forbidden error when going to - looks like Google has already caught on, probably even reading this thread.
posted by stbalbach at 5:36 PM on September 18, 2009

Ah.. to avoid being blocked, disable direct channel in the options.
posted by stbalbach at 5:43 PM on September 18, 2009

Copyright law is the stupidest thing in a long history of stupid government ideas.

The current length of copyright law, the erosion of certain fair use rights, the size of some of the civil penalties, and most of all, the introduction of criminal penalties.... these are all problems.

The original copyright bargain still seems like a good idea to me. Somewhere along the line we let another more dubious idea -- the idea that what's good for a small handful of businesses is good for everyone -- upset the balance that was struck.
posted by weston at 9:06 PM on September 18, 2009 [3 favorites]

Copyright was invented to keep publishers from cutting each other's throats and ensuring the widest possible dissemination of works of art to the public. (Frith et al, Copyright, 2001) It's a travesty of the original intention now.
posted by yoHighness at 8:06 PM on September 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

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