Gail Rebuck, Chairman and Chief Executive of The Random House Group, recently delivered the Stationers' Company Annual Lecture on "New Chapter or Last Page? Publishing Books in a Digital Age." Among other topics in this interesting, wide-ranging presentation, she discussed publishers' digital copyright concerns and Google Book Search, including saying:
Piracy threatens to erode the copyright protection that is the cornerstone of our creative industries and their successful exports. Vigilant policing and joined-up legislation across all countries is essential. Education is vital, too, to show that these crimes are in no sense 'victimless,' however harmless they may seem. Indifference to copyright protection and copyright worth will prove highly destructive. . . .
For texts held in the public domain the project [Google Book Search], seems entirely laudable, even exciting, since it brings an inconceivably rich library to anyone's desktop. But Google's initial willingness to capture copyrighted works without first asking permission was, to say the least, surprising. . . .
Google’s attitude towards copyright is merely a corporate expression of the individualist, counter-cultural attitudes of many of the Internet pioneers. As Stewart Brand, author of The Whole Earth Catalog once declared, 'information wants to be free.'