University of California may join Google scanning project too

August 2, 2006 3:13 PM PDT

The University of California is considering joining Google’s controversial book-scanning project, The Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday (registration required).

UC officials are already having books from the 10 campuses throughout the state scanned and digitized as part of a competing project–called the Open Content Alliance–led by the Internet Archive, Yahoo and Microsoft.

While the Open Content Alliance (OCA) is sidestepping copyright issues by only digitizing books that are out of copyright, the Google Books Library Project is digitizing any books it can, but only offering snippets of a few sentences for books that are still protected under copyright. As a result, Google has been sued by groups representing authors and publishers, who allege it violates copyright. Google rejects that argument.

Jennifer Colvin, strategic communications manager at the California Digital Library, which works on digitization projects for the school system, confirmed that UC officials are in talks with Google, but said they had reached no contract or deal yet.

“We really value our partnership with the OCA,” Colvin told CNET “We just really believe in the value of making our open-domain works as open and freely accessible as possible. We’re happy to tal to anyone woh shares those common goals.”

She said she would not characterize the OCA and Google’s projects as being “competing.” “Frankly, there are more than enough books to go around,” she said.

Daniel Greenstein, UC’s associate vice provost for scholarly information, is quoted in the article as saying that Google wants to digitize several million books in UC’s holdings over the next six years or so, much more than the OCA can afford. The university would have to invest between $1 million and $5 million for computer storage and spend more than $700,000 a year on staff salaries for the project, according to the article.

“Google currently works with several major libraries to include their collections in Google Book Search, and we are very interested in exploring additional partnerships to make the world of books searchable online,” a Google spokeswoman said in an e-mail. “We do not have anything to announce at this time.”

No comment from Yahoo on the matter. A Microsoft spokesman said the company does not comment on rumors or speculation.

Posted by Elinor Mills


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