The Book Project Of Alexandria

David Post defends Google:

The Google Books project has the potential to become one of the great information-gathering activities in human history -- every book (just about), at everyone's fingertips, searchable and instantly accessible from any corner of the globe. And we want to deter that?? Because that will decrease "respect for IP laws"? Talk about putting the cart before the horse!! Because it will inflict some sort of terrible "harm" on copyright holders? I'm not terribly sympathetic. Copyright, as Jefferson stressed so long ago, is a "social right" -- given by society because we feel it serves useful ends (incentivizing authors to produce new creative works). When it ceases to serve those ends, it should be eliminated. The Google Books project is another example of how copyright interests, these days, do little more than obstruct useful innovations. There are 7 million (or more) out of print books that Google would like to place on-line where they can actually be accessed and read. I'm sorry if that infringes someone's copyright, but really -- in what way is society better off, exactly, from recognizing the copyright holder's rights in this circumstance?