Broadcast: December 18, 2004
I’m Steve Ember with In the News in VOA Special English.
The Internet search company Google plans to put millions of library books online and make them searchable.
This week, Google announced a project with the New York Public Library and the libraries of four universities. These are Stanford, Harvard and the University of Michigan in the United States and Oxford in England.
Stanford University and the University of Michigan have agreed to let Google copy their full collections. Michigan put some of its seven million books on the Web this week. Its full collection is about six years away.
The New York Public Library says it will only provide Google with materials no longer under copyright restrictions. Oxford will offer only books published before the twentieth century. And Harvard University will provide just forty thousand books at first.
The project could take ten years or more. Some librarians say each book might cost about ten dollars to reproduce in digital form. Workers use scanner machines to take pictures of each page. Google says its users will see links in their search results page when there are books that relate to their search.
For years libraries have been making electronic copies, especially of old and rare documents. But the process has often been slow. There are also legal issues.
Google says it will show only a small part of library books protected by copyright. Users might see only pages that contain the words they searched for. The project will expand the Google Print program. This lets publishers make books and other information searchable online. Amazon-dot-com has a competing program.
Google earns almost all its money through sales of advertising. Users see links to products and services next to their search results. People can click on these links to buy things or get more information.
This week, Google won a ruling in a legal case brought by one of its advertisers, Geico, an automobile insurance company. Geico is not happy that links to competitors also appear when people search for information about the company. Geico called this an illegal use of its name. But a judge disagreed.
Google is the most popular Internet search engine. The program currently searches more than eight thousand million Web pages. It is often praised for its ease of use and for finding the information that people want, generally in less than a second. Google faces its strongest competition from Yahoo and M.S.N., the Microsoft Network.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin, two Stanford graduate students, began Google in nineteen ninety-eight. The company sold its first shares of ownership to the public this year.
Google says its library project will increase interest in books. It may also get more people into libraries to see the real thing. The American Library Association says visits are up one hundred percent since the Internet began to get popular ten years ago.
In the News, in VOA Special English, was written by Cynthia Kirk. I'm Steve Ember.