Make sure you use this link before it gets sued off the web

Last Updated on April 15, 2017 by Dave Farquhar

It never occurred to me to type into a web browser and see what happens. I’ve known for months that Google was digitizing books but I had no idea the service was out where you could get to it.

Visit and search for something. You’ll be amazed.This is a bonanza for genealogists. If there’s someone reasonably noteworthy you’ve had difficulty connecting to your tree, search for that elusive person. My elusive one is Arthur Briggs Farquhar. I’m a Farquhar (obviously). I also have Briggs blood in me. From what I can tell, A. B. Farquhar was born in Ohio (my grandfather was a Farquhar from Ohio) and he was a Quaker, as were my Farquhars until about three generations ago.

Thanks to Google Print, I’ve found the book American Grit: A Woman’s Letters from the Ohio Frontier. I don’t know just yet if this book will have any answers for me or not. But did I ever find a tantalizing line on page 20:

“When a family named Farquhar bought property near her in Ohio, she wrote home asking if they were related to her or not.”

Could this have been my ancestor Dr. Edward Andrew Farquhar’s family?

I can’t read the whole book on Google Print, but I can read enough to get a pretty good idea whether a book is worth pursuing further. And if a book only has one juicy tidbit about an individual, it finds it.

In 2002, Eric Schmidt said, “The speech I give everyday is: ‘This is what we do. Is what you are doing consistent with that, and does it change the world?'”

In this instance, “change the world” could be the understatement of the century.

But will the courts let it survive?

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4 thoughts on “Make sure you use this link before it gets sued off the web

  • September 21, 2005 at 6:59 pm

    Google is proceeding very cautiously, and my understanding is that they’re only digitizing books that the publishers consent to. It’s been some time since I looked into it, so things might’ve changed, but Google is ahead of the game when it comes to anticipating fallout.

    The problem they’ll have is those with nefarious purposes in mind. Google Print allows you to print pages of a book, up to .. ten, I think, from each book. However, there’s already software floating about that basically annihilates Google’s method of tracking your page count, and allows you to print an entire book straight to PDF.

    That could be problematic.

    (First response is – do tracking server side by IP address. Unfortunately, many large companies and schools use a single proxy server for their outside access. Of course would all the same people be looking at the same book? grumble. That’s why I don’t work at Google. :))

    • September 21, 2005 at 8:50 pm

      I noticed today when I was playing with it that basically any time I read more than about three pages it made me enter a phrase that it displayed graphically. It used viruses and spyware as an excuse. That’ll defeat a lot of those types of programs by verifying it is a human reading it. I also noticed it seemed to be leaving pages out at random.

      And I wonder if the legal challenges had something to do with Google issuing that stock to raise $6 billion or whatever it was recently? That gives them a nice war chest. As long as Fair Use isn’t declared unconstitutional I think Google has a case.

      I’m sure all of the powers that be who believe big business is infallible are going to agonize mightily over this one. What we have now is a showdown between old big business and new big business. And I think the only companies who stand a chance of winning a fundamental copyright war these days are Google or Microsoft. And of course Microsoft isn’t gonna fight it–the more onerous copyright law becomes, the more money they stand to make. That leaves Google.

  • October 16, 2005 at 11:49 pm

    Is this google’s counterpart to the Gutenberg project? I suppose they found a way to make money off it like their search engine.

    • October 17, 2005 at 10:07 am

      Sort of. The difference is Gutenberg is entirely public domain texts, where Google is providing restricted access to copyrighted work.

      I suppose they make money off it by placing highly targeted ads and/or through an affiliate agreement. When you bring up a text, there are links to buy it on the left-hand side.

      Google has always been pretty secretive about how they make money, but obviously they’re doing OK.

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