As well-informed netizens, most of my readership is probably aware that
indexes so that Web surfers can identify works using mere quotations
or character names. The utility of the project is obvious, though the
copyright implications are numerous and complex.
To sort it out, a standard called COCOA
(Copyright Owners' Control Of Access) has been proposed, which would
let authors specify if, when, and which portions of their works could
be included in the index. Not surprisingly, a couple of respected and
tech-savvy sci-fi scribes have weighed in on the debate, only taking
holding to his line that the Google index falls under fair use of
copyrighted works, as only one- or two-sentence excerpts will be
surfaced to the user. This presumes that Google is hack-proof, or is at
least willing to compensate authors should they be denied sales due to
a massive pirating of copyrighted works that they have digitized.
in his blog, or at least the idea behind it, arguing that authors can
and should ultimately retain control of the media under which their
works are republished. (Google, incidentally, is trying to wrangle
deals with publishers, who, while having raised the largest "lost
sales" hackles against the indexing effort, don't actually control the
copyrights they are trying to "protect").
Being someone who tends to default to the "information should be free"
argument—a premise that is argued for wonderfully and wildly in
Stross' novel Singularity Sky—I
guess I'm with Doctorow on this one, but Stross has a point. Authors
are the ones with a dog in this fight.
Postscript—About half an hour after I wrote this entry, sci-fi scribe John Scalzi wrote a very similiar blog post.
His has the added benefits of him being tangetially related to the
development fo COCOA, him being a published science fiction author, and
him being way smarter and more successful than me. Go read his take for
the—whatcha call it—quality.