Saturday, March 6, 2010

*Cocaine Pricing: Google Be Darned !

Snort this, Google!

The head of Harvard Library, Robert Darnton, said on The Charlie Rose Show last night, that what he fears about Google's project to digitize all copyrighted books in the world is what has happened with journals in libraries across the world: "cocaine pricing" (to use his words) in which you hook the user on the item at a low price and then incrementally raise the price until it arrives at an exorbitant fee.

Professor Darnton doesn't question Google's high-minded intentions and its laudable motto "Do No Harm": What he questions is the immortality of its owners.

Indeed, he said pointedly: What's to say Google won't be sold to new owners in a few years that don't honor Google's motto and good intentions?

As the interview proceeded and Darnton held his own against the Google attorney and a representative of the American Writer's Guild, I suddenly understood what the big fat multi- billion-dollar-endowment at Harvard (and at Yale, for that matter) is for: to take on the Big Shot when the Big Shot is determined to undermine a principle of American freedom, in this case-- free access to information provided by the public library system.

All the counter-arguments were trotted out: a free computer will be provided to every library in America for the sole purpose of accessing the Google Book Search reservoir; anyone will be able to look at 20-pages around any search term in any book for free ( but not the entire book) and print-out those pages; authors will be compensated for those who access their books; etc, etc.

What was not addressed-----and what stood out like white powder on my televsion screen at the end of The Charlie Rose Show------ was Mr. Darnton's central point: COCAINE PRICING.

Snort that, Google.

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