About Jens Redmer: Jens Redmer, born 1967, studied computer science and medicine at Kiel University, Germany. From 1995 until 1998, he directed various projects in the fields of interactive media within the Axel Springer Publishing Group’s Strategic Planning Department. Last position at Springer was regional MD for a local internet service provider, a Bertelsmann/ Springer/ WAZ joint venture. From 1998 until 2001, he directed Business Development for ricardo.de, a pan-European internet auction site as a member of the Board. Further stations of his development include AOL Germany, where Jens directed Premium/ Paid Services from 2001-2004, and Endemol TV Productions in Amsterdam/ The Netherlands and Cologne, Germany, 2004-2005. Here Mr Redmer directed Endemol’s multimedia department. At present he is responsible for the Strategic Partner Development for Google Book Search in Europe.

INDICARE: Mr Redmer, there are gigabytes of articles about Google Print recently renamed Google Book Search (Grant 2005) and information by Google itself (cf. sources). Nevertheless, let's start with some up to date figures about the Google Book Search Library Project and the Google Book Search Publisher Program to set the scene: How many books have you scanned already? How many books are available online via Google Book Search? How many libraries are actively participating in Google Book Search for Libraries? As there are news (cf. e.g. Charny 2005) that you are giving more attention to the European region than before; who are the European libraries and publishers currently participating?

J. Redmer: We have experienced a tremendous interest in our program so far. Up until today, thousands of publishers have successfully joined Google Book Search. Let me point out that virtually every major US and UK publisher is an active member of the Google Book Search Program. Our commitment to create a truly international product has just been underlined by our recent launch of Google Book Search in many more languages in European countries, including France, Italy, Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands. In the Library program, we currently work with 5 leading libraries, 4 of which are based in the US (Universities of Stanford, Harvard, Michigan, NY Public Library) plus our first European Library partner, the University of Oxford. We continue to explore further partnerships and expect to cooperate with additional Libraries soon. Google is international, so language diversity is key.

INDICARE: As INDICARE is especially interested in DRM from the consumers’ point of view, could you please split the number of titles available in those already in the public domain, those from libraries still under copyright, and those made available by publishers?

J. Redmer: While I cannot disclose the actual numbers within our Publisher and Library Programs, let me explain that right now, most of our books come from the Google Book Search Publisher Program, a program that lets book publishers of all sizes have their book content included in Google's main search results. Publishers send us their books and we digitally scan them and add their content to our search results – all for free. Through our partnerships with well-known libraries, through the Google Book Search Library Project, over time your Google search results should start to show more books from these collections as well.

INDICARE: Please allow me to insist on figures, although I know Google is somehow reluctant to communicate them. The order of magnitude of books covered by the Google Book Search Library Project and the Google Book Search Publisher Program respectively should be no secret.

J. Redmer: These numbers are big. Really big. But, unfortunately, I cannot share the actual number with you. You will get a good indication of the magnitude of the books covered within the Google Book Search by trying it out yourself for a set of search requests by navigating to http://books.google.com.

INDICARE: There are different usage restrictions for each of these types of sources, as explained roughly in the "Google Book Search Help Center" (cf. sources). Could you explain in technical terms how content protection works in Google Book Search, and what is even more interesting, the reason why exactly you have chosen the different sets of usage restrictions.

J. Redmer: Google carefully respects rights of all copyright owners, this is why we restrict usage of the books discoverable on Google Book Search. Google hosts all material on our secure servers. We disable the print, cut, copy, and save functionality on all pages displaying book content, in order to protect the material. Of course, also no downloading is possible. In addition, the publishers can choose how much of a book a user will be able to view over a 30 day period, from 20% to 100%. Adding to these user-focused restrictions, there are also page-level restrictions. Portions of the book will be available to all identifiable users (using the cookie technology), but those users wanting to browse additional pages must additionally sign in with their Google Account to view the full pages. They will still be restricted to the percentage of the book a publisher chooses to make available. At all times, only a part of the book is online since Google makes a significant portion of a book invisible to all users.

INDICARE: Google’s content protection policy may seem to some already exaggerated, for example I wonder why you don't offer a download function or at least a print function for books 100 % out of copyright.

J. Redmer: Again: Google Book Search is a means for helping users discover books, not to read them online and/ or download them. We will neither put Libraries nor Publishers out of business. Because of this, users who want to read the whole book can use the "Buy the Book" links to purchase it. Users can also click through to the publisher’s website where there may be a digital version available. If the book that a user discovered is no longer in print, we link users to libraries where they can find the book to access the book in physical form. Google Book Search supports all parties: It drives publisher sales by leading our users to book retailers including the publisher’s website, and it also helps libraries fulfil their mission better by leading our users into libraries.

INDICARE: I see; in essence Google Book Search is a sophisticated "Online Public Access Catalogue" (OPAC). Last year Electronic Frontier Foundation's Cory Doctorow indicated that Seth Schoen (EFF’s so called staff technologist) had found some avenues toward breaking Google Book Search’s DRM (Doctorow 2004), and more recently Greg Duffy (alias Isometrick) claimed to have written a simple code that can instantly create PDFs of entire books from Google Book Search (Duffy 2005). Do you believe that these hacking tools really do what they promise? Has Google Book Search already been hacked? Have you done anything meanwhile to repair these security breaches?

J. Redmer: Google is in the focus of users trying to get unauthorised access to our services frequently, independent of the Google Book Search Program. Thus, we are used to identifying inappropriate usage patterns for all of our products. As explained above, we have developed sophisticated and extensive technology that strictly limits the access for a single user. Please also bear in mind that at no time, a full book is online since we make a significant percentage invisible to all users at all times. Also, book pages visible within Google Book Search are shown at a very low resolution that is not usable for further processing – high-resolution images are not even connected to the internet. We can identify repetitive usage patterns and react appropriately. Since a book is never online in full, no one is able to view a full book, even with thousands of search requests and multiple machines.

There may be a very small fraction of users trying to circumnavigate access limitations (by the way: that is not "hacking"). Much more importantly, these users are by far outnumbered by thousands, millions of new users that discover – and possibly buy – books that they may not even have been thinking of.

Let me counterask the following questions: Can an offline bookseller guarantee that no-one is reading an entire book on their premises (and not buying it)? Can they guarantee that no-one is taking photos of all those pages of interest to that user, in high resolution, without any limitation? Can a library guarantee that no-one is reading and copying – legally – a full book on their premises? Can a publisher guarantee that one of their books are available on the internet illegally, in full, in high resolution?

Here’s our answer: We do not create new risks here, we minimize them. In addition, we constantly add new security features, for example the page-level login requirement recently launched. Google Book Search is not a threat, it is a fantastic opportunity for both authors, publishers, and libraries - and, of course: new readers.

INDICARE: In a way we might say Google Book Search needs DRM technology to be viable?

J. Redmer: Google Book Search is a book discovery program, not a book reading program. For this, we rather need access limitation mechanisms than DRM mechanisms.

INDICARE: Google has been sued by the Authors Guild (Authors Guild 2005), and more recently by the Association of American Publishers (AAP 2005) for copyright infringement (cf. Band 2005a and b for a neutral analysis of the copyright issues). I don't expect statements on these pending law suits, but I would like to ask you what the real foundations of the controversy are. While you are expanding the commons or better, access to them, you pose a threat to commercial publishers’ business models – that’s more or less what e.g. Lawrence Lessig (2005) assumes. One might add that publishers will fear that Google will be able to derive new value-added services from the database of scanned books without revenue sharing with publishers. How do you cope with publisher concerns?

J. Redmer: Let me point out one very important thing here: Google Book Search does not threaten authors’ and publishers’ business models, it helps drive their businesses. This is very widely misunderstood. Whatever we do is in the interest of both authors and publishers.

We regret that the groups mentioned above chose to sue us over a program that will make millions of books more discoverable to the world especially since any copyright holder can easily exclude their books from the program, so: no law suit required. What's more, many of Google Book Search's chief beneficiaries will be authors whose backlist, out of print and lightly marketed new titles will be suggested to countless readers who wouldn't have found them otherwise.

Let's be clear: Google doesn't show even a single page to users who find copyrighted books through this program (unless the copyright holder gives us permission to show more, like in the Publisher Program where we explicitly sign an agreement with publishers). At most we show a brief snippet of text where their search term appears, along with basic bibliographic information and several links to online booksellers and libraries.

The use Google makes is fully consistent with both the history of fair use under copyright law, and also all the principles underlying copyright law itself. Copyright law has always been about ensuring that authors will continue to write books and publishers continue to sell them. By making books easier to find, buy, and borrow from libraries, Google Book Search helps increase the incentives for authors to write and publishers to sell books.

To achieve that goal, we need to make copies of books, but these copies are permitted under copyright law. For those books still under copyright Google is only showing: (1) bibliographic card-catalogue-like information and, (2) at most very brief text excerpts. For copyrighted books, full text will not be available, and extensive safeguards to prevent copying and excessive access are in place.

Think of Google Book Search this way: it is very similar to web search. In order to electronically index a webpage, you need to make a copy of it. In order to electronically index a book, we have to make a digital copy of the book. As with web search, the copies we make are used to direct people to the books. Our experience with web search is that many people ask to have their web pages included in our search results and very few ask to be excluded.

INDICARE: Google Book Search, as acknowledged by many, could become a milestone towards a true "docuverse" envisaged by Ted Nelson more than 30 years ago. In the words of the National Consumers League (2005) the same vision is present: “If properly constructed and wisely administered, this new venture sets the stage for a quantum leap in consumer access to information”. In the light of this great perspective one may however argue that Google’s approach is not yet open enough. As researchers from OCLC (cf. Lavoie et al. 2005) estimated, the titles of the five major libraries (Google 5) would just cover a third of the entire record of publications. To be really successful building the new Commons there should be ways to offer a more federated approach, and an approach which leaves more autonomy and ownership with the libraries. How does Google reconcile the public interest in a true docuverse (without artificial proprietary boundaries) with the private company’s profit maximising business strategy?

J. Redmer: Thank you for this important question which is easily answered by citing our mission: "To organise all the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful". With Google Book Search, we have just tapped into the vast amount of content that today is not yet accessible online. We will continue to create and improve products to make accessible and useful much more of today’s offline content. Allow me to quote our founders: "We are only at the beginning".

INDICARE: Frankly speaking, I would have expected a less easy answer outlining your strategic ideas about co-operation, sharing, federating etc. I can hardly imagine that the Internet population (whatever this may be in social terms) will ever accept a monopolistic gateway regulating access to its record of information…

J. Redmer: Google is constantly aiming at creating even better products to fulfil our mission to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. As with all products, it is the user who decides if they are helpful and useful. We are very happy with the fact that we are successful with matching user demands with our exiting products, existing and coming.

INDICARE: Thank you very much for this interview.

Sources (in alphabetic order)

Status: first posted 23/11/05; licensed under Creative Commons
URL: http://www.indicare.org/tiki-read_article.php?articleId=153