Feeds

Microsoft hands Google the future of digital books

Here, have a monopoly

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Yes, yes, Steve Jobs. Look what I'VE done for you lately – Tim Cook
New iPhone biz baron points to Apple's (his) greatest successes
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
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?
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.