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Google offers free downloads of public domain books in PDF format

Thursday, August 31, 2006 by: NewsTarget
Tags: free books, global electronic library, health news


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(NewsTarget) As part of Google's initiative to digitize library collections, on Wednesday the company began offering free downloads of books that are public domain. The books are from the collections of their library partners, including Harvard, Stanford, the University of California, the University of Oxford, the University of Michigan and the New York Public Library.

Some of the books that are legally available to download include Dante's "Inferno," Newton's "Principia," and other works that run the gamut from widely recognized to relatively obscure.

While these books have been available for reading through Google Book Search since 2005, this new feature means that anyone with an internet connection can store PDF formats of these books on their computers and make copies.

Many copyrighted books are also available through Google Book Search, in the form of text excerpts that are linked web searches; however these books are not available for download. Nevertheless, the project has caused some controversy. Writers, publishers and other opponents say that Google has no right to store their work without permission, but Google maintains that its actions are protected by the fair-use exception.

Sidney Verba, director of the Harvard University Library, supports Google's service, saying it allows access to previously difficult-to-find historical, geographical, scientific and cultural information.

"What has been tucked away in large research library collections and available only to a few can now be discovered and read by people everywhere," said Verba in a joint statement with Google.

The move by Google was praised by Mike Adams, author of The Ten Most Important Emerging Technologies for Humanity, a report that names a "Global Electronic Library" as one of the most important projects for uplifting human civilization. "Making books more readily available to the people of the world is a noble goal and an important step forward in the history of knowledge transmission," Adams said.

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