Feeds

Google patent feeds ebook 'monopoly' infrared 3D

The world is flat. The page is not

Intelligent flash storage arrays

If there were any doubt that Google is in a prime position to establish a legal monopoly in the world of digital books, the US patent office has snuffed it out.

Earlier this year, as spotted by The New Scientist and churned up late last week by National Public Radio, Google patented a book-scanning technology that can digitize the world's texts without subjecting them to the cruel treatment of a flatbed scanner.

Rather than pressing a book and its binding onto a flatbed - which not only damages the book but so often delivers a sub-par scan - Google's method uses an infrared projector and a pair of infrared cameras that can read, and correct for, the curvature of the page.

When a book is placed on the Google scanner - open, facing up - the infrared setup creates a 3D model of two exposed pages. The projector shines an infrared pattern onto the pages, and in reading the pattern, the infrared cameras can determine the curve of each one. Then, after a conventional camera captures an image of the text, Googles use its 3D model to adjust any, well, character flaws those curves may have caused.

As part of its Google Book Search project, Google has scanned over seven million texts from inside several of the world's leading libraries. And it would seem that this patented technology is already in use. Two years back, when The Guardian visited The Bodlieian for a story on Book Search, its reporter was banned from the scanning room and told that Google's machines were considered trade secrets.

So, Mountain View has a leg up in the scanning department. And now, thanks to a proposed $125m (£112m) agreement with the US Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers, who have sued over the project, Google is on the verge of encasing itself in a legal bubble that would protect it from the myriad copyright issues facing would-be competitors.

In a February piece for The New York Review of Books, Harvard University libraries boss Robert Darnton warned that the settlement would grant Google "a monopoly - a monopoly of a new kind, not of railroads or steel but of access to information."

The settlement creates a "Book Rights Registry" where authors and publishers can resolve copyright claims in exchange for a pre-defined cut of Google's revenues. If someone else were to start their own book-scanning operation, they would have to negotiate their own copyright rights - and find a way of duplicating Google's infrared 3D scanner. Which is now patented.

But the settlement may not go through. The Department of Justice has stepped in to review the Author's Guild deal, and it still requires court approval. The deadline for court filings was recently extended to September 9th.

One high-profile filing (PDF) arrived today. The American Library Association (ALA), the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) urged the court to "vigorously exercise its jurisdiction over the interpretation and implementation of the Settlement" and "make clear that it intends to oversee the Settlement closely."

The Library Associations do not opposed the deal. But they do warn of stifled competition. "The cost of creating [a digital library] and Google’s significant lead-time advantage suggest that no other entity will create a competing digital library for the foreseeable future," the filing reads. "The Settlement...will likely have a significant and lasting impact on libraries and the public, including authors and publishers. But in the absence of competition for the services enabled by the Settlement, this impact may not be entirely positive." ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Preview redux: Microsoft ships new Windows 10 build with 7,000 changes
Latest bleeding-edge bits borrow Action Center from Windows Phone
Google opens Inbox – email for people too thick to handle email
Print this article out and give it to someone tech-y if you get stuck
Microsoft promises Windows 10 will mean two-factor auth for all
Sneak peek at security features Redmond's baking into new OS
UNIX greybeards threaten Debian fork over systemd plan
'Veteran Unix Admins' fear desktop emphasis is betraying open source
Entity Framework goes 'code first' as Microsoft pulls visual design tool
Visual Studio database diagramming's out the window
Google+ goes TITSUP. But WHO knew? How long? Anyone ... Hello ...
Wobbly Gmail, Contacts, Calendar on the other hand ...
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
Ubuntu 14.10 tries pulling a Steve Ballmer on cloudy offerings
Oi, Windows, centOS and openSUSE – behave, we're all friends here
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
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.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.