I was in the midst of writing this on Lessig’s recent article on the Google Book Search Settlement when I received the latest “Wired Campus” email from the Chronicle. Oh, the irony. The top 2 news stories were about Stanford expanding their deal with Google and approving the latest version of the settlement; and about UCLA pulling some videos from their course site after being accused of copyright infringement because of some video clips.
Why is this ironic? Well, because in his recent piece in the New Republic about implications of the Google Books Search Settlement, Lessig worries that this debacle of not being able to quote snippets of video is where we are headed with texts. It is a long piece, but much of his argument can be summed up:
The deal constructs a world in which control can be exercised at the level of a page, and maybe even a quote. It is a world in which every bit, every published word, could be licensed. It is the opposite of the old slogan about nuclear power: every bit gets metered, because metering is so cheap. We begin to sell access to knowledge the way we sell access to a movie theater, or a candy store, or a baseball stadium. We create not digital libraries, but digital bookstores: a Barnes & Noble without the Starbucks.
Clearly the folks at the Chronicle didn’t read Lessig’s article.. or maybe they did…