Google Lets Literature Lovers Download Classics Free

Google Google has added a new feature to its Book Search program that allows users download and print classic novels and obscure books from the public domain — for free.

The program launched Wednesday to give readers the ability to view, browse and read the full texts of books that are in the public domain.

Google’s Book Search service offers searchers free downloadable PDF files of classic titles like Dante’s “Inferno,” Sir Isaac Newton’s “Principia,” and Aesop’s “Fables.” Searchers can also run keyword searches within the book text or print the books to paper. Until now, the service only allowed people to read the out-of-copyright books online.

Google supports the free service by displaying small, keyword-generated text ads on search results pages.

Preserving Copyrights

Google’s latest extension of its books program does not include any books under copyright. For books protected by copyright, users will just get basic background — such as a book’s title and the author’s name, a few lines of text related to their searches, and information about where they can buy or borrow specific books.

Google’s books initiative has much of the publishing industry up in arms. The firm has been the target of two lawsuits since it launched the project last year.

The Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild both filed suit against the search titan, asserting that Google should seek the permission of copyright holders before digitizing books.

Educators’ Support

Google insists the text it displays constitutes fair use. Many educators have sided with the Internet company by supporting its Books Library Project, of which the Google Book Search is a byproduct.

As its name suggests, the Google Books Library Project digitizes books from major libraries around the world and makes their collections searchable on Google Book Search.

Recently, the University of California agreed to allow the company to digitize and make searchable books from collections housed at its more than 100 libraries across its 10 campuses. The University of Michigan, Harvard University, Stanford University, Oxford University and the New York Public Library are also part of the project.

Publishers Watching Closely

Publishers and authors that have taken issue with Google over its Library project do not object to its use of works that are in the public domain, according to Allan Adler, vice president of legal and government affairs for the AAP. However, Adler told TechNewsWorld that the literary work that is in the public domain must be separated from the book in which it is published.

“Works by Shakespeare or Dickens or any of the other classics that are in the public domain are published in new editions every year that are used in literature classes,” Adler noted. “Those are typically critical editions that include not only the literary work itself but additional commentary and analysis that are themselves in copyright and protected as such.”

Google could not immediately be reached for comment.

Google’s Gains

Like its many other software and content initiatives, Google’s books project gives people one more reason to visit the search giant’s site, where they can be exposed to displays from Google’s advertiser network. Google generates most of its profits through paid-search advertising programs.

Google on Tuesday announced that users could also add Google Book Search to their sites by copying and pasting a few simple lines of code. Last week, Google launched Library Catalog Search, a Book Search feature aimed at making it easier for readers to find library books.

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