Feeds

Microsoft hands Google the future of digital books

Here, have a monopoly

Security for virtualized datacentres

While Bill Gates now holds a lucrative monopoly on digital images, his successors don't see the same prosperous future for the digital word. Microsoft is withdrawing from the Open Content Alliance digitisation project and will cease to scan books, the company said on Friday. It's abandoning its Live Book Search venture - a curious decision, since it effectively hands the future of the book to arch-rival Google.

Why? Because the Open Content Alliance is out of money - and Microsoft was by far the biggest financial backer.

Brewster Kahle, whose Internet Archive project is a key OCA member, admitted the financial impact of Microsoft's withdrawal was "significant" and that the Alliance now needed fresh resources to keep the scanners running. The initial $10m was almost completely exhausted.

Google differs from the impoverished Alliance in that it doesn't ask for permission from copyright holders; it simply instructs its stormtroopers - the participating libraries - to rev their machines and start copying.

For this, the ad giant has received lawsuits in the US and France from authors and publishers. Google has fought back using sock puppets of its own. Stanford Law School's anti-copyright centre has been helping out the Google cause - and received a $2m thank you in return.

(Curiously, "anti-corruption campaigner" Professor Lessig omits this relationship in his own, verbose declaration of interests - a taste of things to come, perhaps.)

Yet the policy will be brutally effective, with Google holding a monopoly on the printed word in book form.

Microsoft says it will donate the books digitised by Live Book Search to the copyright holders. Meanwhile, Google will surely never see a monopoly fall into its lap quite so easily. The future of digital books is now entirely in its hands.

(But perhaps not the future of books - given how superior paper technology is to digital. As Simon Jenkins wrote recently, the physical book just looks better all the time.)

Your thoughts, as ever, are most welcome. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Bono apologises for iTunes album dump
Megalomania, generosity and FEAR of irrelevance drove group to Apple deal
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
10 Top Tips For PRs Considering Whether To Phone The Register
You'll Read These And LOL Even Though They're Serious
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.