University of Michigan President Defends Google Book Search (John Battelle’s Searchblog)

Here is Mary Sue Coleman’s speech (pdf download from Searchblog), given right in the lion’s den of the annual AAP meeting (they are suing Google, you will recall.) Kevin Kelly, who sent the speech to me, calls it eloquent. I have to agree.

From it:

It is this criticism of the project that prompted me to accept your invitation to speak — and explain why we believe this is a legal, ethical, and noble endeavor that will transform our society.

Legal because we believe copyright law allows us the fair use of millions of books that are being digitized. Ethical because the preservation and protection of knowledge is critically important to the betterment of humankind. And noble because this enterprise is right for the time, right for the future, right for the world of publishing, right for all of us. ….

…We were digitizing books long before Google knocked on our door, and we will continue our preservation efforts long after our contract with Google ends. As one of our librarians says, “We believed in this forever.”

Google Book Search complements our work. It amplifies our efforts, and reduces our costs. It does not replace books, but instead expands their presence in the marketplace.

We are allowing Google to scan all of our books – those in the public domain and those still in copyright – and they provide our library with a digital copy. We insisted on this for one very important reason: Our library must be able to do what great research libraries do – make it possible to discover knowledge.