About Google Digital Books
Google, in keeping with its goal of organizing the all the information contained in the world and making it accessible to everyone everywhere, set out on an ambitious project to digitize all the world's books. Google's controversial objective of collecting, cataloging and presenting all the books in the world had its routes almost as early as the beginning of Google itself.
A history of Google Books furnished by the Internet giant takes users from 1996 until 2007. The Google Book Search effort began at Stanford, mushroomed into the Google search engine and then began a massive effort toward the creation of a universal library. Google got interested in some of the famous early attempts to digitize books in 2002 and soon learned that technology needed to change if libraries were to be scanned in time periods spanning less than a millennium.
The company pioneered techniques for scanning books quickly and non-destructively and spent much of the first decade of the 21st century making deals to scan libraries and their millions of books into a format that could be easily searched and read online.
Google's project began to slow as its tentacles reached for more recent volumes that had copyright concerns with publishers and authors who were not prepared to surrender their works to either Google or the publish domain. Further stagnating the efforts was the emergence new consortiums such as the Open Book Alliance and the Open Content Alliance (OCA) that sought to make texts publicly available, but with a different approach.
OCA waited for permission from copyright holders. It sought to be more respectful of intellectual property by creating an "opt in" process that was noticeably different from the Google Books program that included everything without getting permission first. Google would, however, allow copyright holders to "opt out" if they objected to their works being included in the Google digital books project.
Eventually, legal action was brought against Google by authors and publishers that eventually led to the famous 2009 Google digital book settlement that allowed Google to move forward with its project while splitting revenues from sales with intellectual property owners.
That all changed in March of 2011 when a federal judge threw out the agreement, sending Google back to the drawing board.
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Enrique Dans