Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Scanned Any Good Books Lately?

Stanley Katz will lecture at Penn State tomorrow on the Google book scanning project:

The public is invited to join Dr. Stan Katz for his presentation, "Why there's no free lunch in cyberpublishing: Take two," on Thursday, March 19, 2–3 p.m., in Foster Auditorium, 101 Pattee Library, Penn State University Park campus.

According to a recent issue of Princeton Weekly, in the late 1980s, Katz went to Congress with a modest proposal: Why not allocate a billion dollars to digitize the contents of the nation's academic libraries? People thought he was crazy. They couldn't imagine why you'd want to do all that digitizing. Even Katz couldn't have projected the revolutions soon to come. Congress chose not to act—but today Google has undertaken the project in collaboration with over two- dozen libraries around the world, including the Penn State University Libraries.

In his presentation, Katz will discuss the proposed Google book settlement and its potential impact on readers, libraries and publishers. The Google book project originally promised to break a legal logjam: partnering with research libraries around the world, Google's effort to digitize their collections challenged strict interpretations of copyright law, especially the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998. The settlement, which proposes to conclude two major class action lawsuits arising from the Google Book Project, will establish new rules governing access to out of print books, new mechanisms for clearing fees and copyrights for those who need digital access to older materials.

A new world is emerging, and it is a world in which decisions made in private commercial negotiation will set the rules for access to large segments of copyrighted materials. Katz asks, "Will this be a world the university community will be happy to live in?"

Katz is lecturer with the rank of professor in the Woodrow Wilson School of Princeton University and president emeritus of the American Council of Learned Societies, the leading organization in humanistic scholarship and education in the United States. His recent research focuses upon the relationship of civil society and constitutionalism to democracy, and upon the relationship of the United States to the international human rights regime.

The Shifting Ground Series is sponsored by the University Libraries Colloquia Committee and is free and open to the public. This presentation will be broadcast via Media Site Live at: This is an open presentation so no log in is needed.

For more information, call Martha Ney (814-863-5447) or e-mail

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