The most ambitious project ever conceived on the Internet: Google's master plan to scan every book in the world and the people trying to stop them. Google say they are building a library for mankind, but they also have other intentions.
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A feature documentary that explores the rise of a new Internet; decentralized, encrypted, dangerous and beyond the law; with particular focus on the FBI capture of the Tor hidden service Silk Road, and the judicial aftermath.
Joshua L. Dratel
The story of the most ambitious project ever conceived on the Internet, and the people who tried to stop it. In 1937 HG Wells predicted the creation of the "World Brain", a giant global library that contained all human knowledge which would lead to a new form of higher intelligence. Seventy year later the realization of that dream was underway, as Google scanned millions and millions of books for its Google Books website. But over half those books were still in copyright, and authors across the world launched a campaign to stop them, climaxing in a New York courtroom in 2011. A film about the dreams, dilemmas and dangers of the Internet, set in spectacular locations in China, USA, Europe and Latin America.Written by
Polar Star Films
Scanning the world's books is just the tip of a double-edged sword representing the increasing domination power of Google and other Silicon Valley players. But copyright is copyright ... it takes precious time for an author or any creative artist to imagine a work, create it, edit it and copyright it. According to the movie, Google digitally hoovered up these books, did not ask proper copyright permission as presented by the writers' reps/library spokespersons featured in the movie, and avoided meting out due compensation to the copyright owners. If this is the case, why should Google pimp out the books for its own commercial purposes at some future time without proper compensation back to the content holders? Once you give up a data scan to another, you cannot put that genie back in the bottle.
One could see how smaller, niche collections might swallow the pitch on how Google's mother-of-all-xerox can enable whole world access to their tomes. And that's the dilemma -- access is a good thing, but at the expense of stiffing copyright owners. The unrealization of compensation for copyrighted material is one of publishing's most enduring plights.
The European response in the movie was pro-writers/copyright owners and ultimately against Google's questionable copyright actions. The Euro response seems to be the thoughtful and correct one; the Google opponents reacted to all the right issues -- compensation, copyright permission, what is fair use, and questioning giving blanket power to one organization.
Libraries can digitize their own collections and index/promote their abstracts to the internet. Each library can control its material, and writers have the right to get paid for use of their material.
This review is regarding this book-scanning project only, it is understood that many benefit from Google's other services. But the movie prompts taking sides. So much power cannot be given to one organization, especially now that we have seen it spread its tentacles outside of its core business search model, including building robot armies and controlling internet backbone. There will be no facet of life that Google does not have its hand in.
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