Behold the Coconut!

So I've been researching Web resources for my Comp II students, Web sites offering free, full-text books and periodical articles (I'm interested in finding such sources for all kinds of subjects, but especially literature, literary biographies, and literary analyses). I've been investigating Google Books and Google Scholar, for instance.

Then, I came across this today in the Times. It's about Google's recent settlement with authors and publishers wherein Google will "pay $125 million to create a system under which customers will be charged for reading a copyrighted book, with the copyright holder and Google both taking percentages":
So while there is a large direct-mail effort, a dedicated Web site about the settlement in 36 languages...and an online strategy of the kind you would expect from Google, the bulk of the legal notice spending — about $7 million of a total of $8 million — is going to newspapers, magazines, even poetry journals, with at least one ad in each country. These efforts make this among the largest print legal-notice campaigns in history.

That Google is in the position of paying for so many print ads “is hilarious — it is the ultimate irony,” said Robert Klonoff, dean of Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Ore., and the author of a recent law review article titled “Making Class Actions Work: The Untapped Potential of the Internet.”

So far, more than 200 advertisements have run in more than 70 languages: in highbrow periodicals like The New York Review of Books and The Poetry Review in Britain; in general-interest publications like Parade and USA Today; in obscure foreign trade journals like China Copyright and Svensk Bokhandel; and in newspapers in places like Fiji, Greenland, the Falkland Islands, and the Micronesian island of Niue (the name is roughly translated as Behold the Coconut!), which has one newspaper.

The almost comically sweeping attempt to reach the world’s entire literate population is a reflection of the ambitions of the Google Book Search project, in which the company hopes to digitize every book — famous or not, in any language, published anywhere on earth — found in the world’s libraries.

Under the proposed settlement, reached on Oct. 28 and still subject to court approval, there must be an effort the court finds “reasonable and practicable” to find authors and publishers — especially copyright holders of so-called orphan books, which are still in copyright but long out of print. So the task means placing at least one advertisement in every country in the world.

Send me any links you think I might find useful.

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