Ciències Socials

Google Llibres o l’acord entre un jutge federal dels EEUU i un monjo de Montserrat

El passat 14 de novembre el jutge nord-americà Denny Chin va sentenciar que el projecte de Google Llibres d’escanejar 20 milions d’obres era legal; d’aquesta manera desestimava la demanada posada per una coalició d’editorials i autors fa 8 anys. En concret, la disputa legal se centrava no en el fet de posar en obert obres completes – cosa que Google només fa si els propietaris dels drets hi estan d’acord o si l’obra pertany al domini públic –, sinó en fer accessibles petits fragments de les obres a partir de cerques específiques fetes pels usuaris. El jutge considera que això entra dintre del fair use (ús legítim que podríem equiparar al dret de citació) i, per tant, és perfectament legal. Els demandants ja han anunciat que recorreran.

Arran de la sentència, la UOC va organitzar un seminari on es va presentar i discutir el documental Google i el cervell mundial, coproduït per TV3 i emès per aquesta cadena fa uns mesos, amb la presència del seu productor executiu, Carles Brugueras. El documental, des del punt de vista formal molt ben realitzat, presenta alguns problemes quant al contingut: bàsicament pateix d’un biaix ideològic considerable.

En primer lloc, gran part del documental – inclòs el seu títol – està destinat a convertir Google, d’entrada, en una mena de nou Big Brother amb objectius secrets i sinistres. I tot això basant-se en un error conceptual monumental: el d’equiparar dades a coneixement (o informació amb intel•ligència). El fet que Google arribi a disposar d’una base de dades gegant amb milions de llibres escanejats, no el converteix en cap cervell universal, de la mateixa manera que tenir molta memòria no és el mateix que ser savi.

El documental presenta tot un seguit d’opinions diverses sobre el projecte de Google Llibres. Dic ‘diverses’ perquè van de les “contràries” a les “absolutament contràries”. Les poquíssimes intervencions d’experts coneguts per defensar la cultura lliure i l’accés obert al coneixement – com Larry Lessig –, han estat deliberadament escapçades i convertides en afirmacions neutres o ridícules. Mentre que hi apareixen contínuament representants d’editorials, escriptors o biblioteques, no hi té ni veu ni vot el grup social afectat més nombrós: el dels lectors i usuaris d’Internet. És certament preocupant sentir polítics com Merkel o Sarkozy afirmant amb vehemència que faran “tot el que calgui” per defensar els interessos dels seus escriptors, però qui defensarà els drets, necessitats i interessos dels seus ciutadans, és a dir, l’interès social general?Google_Book_Search_huck

El documental es converteix en molts moments en un simple (per no dir ximple) al•legat genèric contra Internet: “digitalitzar és robar” o “posar en accés obert és com atracar un banc”, diuen alguns dels entrevistats. Aquestes afirmacions recorden la famosa sentència de l’exministra espanyola González Sinde: “¿Para qué necesitamos todos una línea de ADSL de no sé cuantos gigas? ¿Para mandar e-mails?”

Les biblioteques tenen també un gran protagonisme en el documental. En aquest cas, les actituds fluctuen entre l’arrogància dels que han estat durant molt de temps únics garants de l’accés públic a la cultura (el director de la Biblioteca Nacional de França diu, referint-se als membres de Google que el van anar a veure: “no sabien amb qui estaven parlant”), i l’enveja davant d’una iniciativa que les biblioteques no han sabut o volgut emprendre. Fins i tot, el director de la Harvard University Library, Roger Darnton, amb una gran dosi de cinisme, després de desqualificar el projecte, agraeix a Google que els “hagi donat la idea”. Internet té 44 anys d’història i els ha calgut Google Books per veure que la xarxa és un excel•lent mitjà per compartir i fer pública la informació?

En general les crítiques al projecte es recolzen en dos arguments bàsics. El primer, com en aquest darrer cas, és la pèrdua de protagonisme, influència i poder social d’algunes institucions que, en el nou context digital, veuen perillar la seva funció i raó de ser. El segon són els diners, és a dir, la preocupació que Google pugui treure beneficis del projecte. Aquesta darrera inquietud, molt més justificada atès que Google és una empresa i les empreses acostumen a voler treure rendiment econòmic del que fan, no es presenta com el risc que Google converteixi en benefici privat un bé comú o públic, sinó sorprenentment com el perill que ho faci de forma monopolística o sense repartir els guanys!
monjo
En aquest punt, val la pena esmentar un dels moments més tensos del documental, quan una periodista entrevista un monjo de Montserrat, Damià Roure, director de la biblioteca del monestir, que va signar un acord amb Google Llibres per escanejar el seu fons. La periodista li demana, amb un cert sarcasme atès que ja coneix d’antuvi la resposta, “quant va pagar Google per la digitalització d’aquests llibres?” La sorpresa de Roure i el seu silenci posterior el semblen ridiculitzar davant l’audiència. “El seu silenci, demolidor, es fa etern i és altament revelador. Les fonts del coneixement més selecte del món desvalgudes davant del xuclador d’intel•ligència més cobdiciós del món” ens diu un article periodístic. I, tanmateix, el seu silenci ni és etern ni estúpid; al cap d’una estona acaba responent i dóna una resposta molt sensata: no li importa gaire si algú en fa diners de tot això, el que li interessa realment és que uns quants milers de llibres que ara gairebé ningú pot consultar, siguin accessibles per a tothom! Curiosament, aquesta apel•lació a l’interès general és també la base de la sentència del jutge Chin.

22 comments

  1. Hands down, Apple’s app store wins by a mile. It’s a huge selection of all sorts of apps vs a rather sad selection of a handful for Zune. Microsoft has plans, especially in the realm of games, but I’m not sure I’d want to bet on the future if this aspect is important to you. The iPod is a much better choice in that case.

  2. Sorry for the huge review, but I’m really loving the new Zune, and hope this, as well as the excellent reviews some other people have written, will help you decide if it’s the right choice for you.

  3. The new Zune browser is surprisingly good, but not as good as the iPod’s. It works well, but isn’t as fast as Safari, and has a clunkier interface. If you occasionally plan on using the web browser that’s not an issue, but if you’re planning to browse the web alot from your PMP then the iPod’s larger screen and better browser may be important.

  4. The Zune concentrates on being a Portable Media Player. Not a web browser. Not a game machine. Maybe in the future it’ll do even better in those areas, but for now it’s a fantastic way to organize and listen to your music and videos, and is without peer in that regard. The iPod’s strengths are its web browsing and apps. If those sound more compelling, perhaps it is your best choice.

  5. The Zune concentrates on being a Portable Media Player. Not a web browser. Not a game machine. Maybe in the future it’ll do even better in those areas, but for now it’s a fantastic way to organize and listen to your music and videos, and is without peer in that regard. The iPod’s strengths are its web browsing and apps. If those sound more compelling, perhaps it is your best choice.

  6. Hands down, Apple’s app store wins by a mile. It’s a huge selection of all sorts of apps vs a rather sad selection of a handful for Zune. Microsoft has plans, especially in the realm of games, but I’m not sure I’d want to bet on the future if this aspect is important to you. The iPod is a much better choice in that case.

  7. Zune and iPod: Most people compare the Zune to the Touch, but after seeing how slim and surprisingly small and light it is, I consider it to be a rather unique hybrid that combines qualities of both the Touch and the Nano. It’s very colorful and lovely OLED screen is slightly smaller than the touch screen, but the player itself feels quite a bit smaller and lighter. It weighs about 2/3 as much, and is noticeably smaller in width and height, while being just a hair thicker.

  8. The Zune concentrates on being a Portable Media Player. Not a web browser. Not a game machine. Maybe in the future it’ll do even better in those areas, but for now it’s a fantastic way to organize and listen to your music and videos, and is without peer in that regard. The iPod’s strengths are its web browsing and apps. If those sound more compelling, perhaps it is your best choice.

  9. The new Zune browser is surprisingly good, but not as good as the iPod’s. It works well, but isn’t as fast as Safari, and has a clunkier interface. If you occasionally plan on using the web browser that’s not an issue, but if you’re planning to browse the web alot from your PMP then the iPod’s larger screen and better browser may be important.

  10. Apple now has Rhapsody as an app, which is a great start, but it is currently hampered by the inability to store locally on your iPod, and has a dismal 64kbps bit rate. If this changes, then it will somewhat negate this advantage for the Zune, but the 10 songs per month will still be a big plus in Zune Pass’ favor.

  11. The new Zune browser is surprisingly good, but not as good as the iPod’s. It works well, but isn’t as fast as Safari, and has a clunkier interface. If you occasionally plan on using the web browser that’s not an issue, but if you’re planning to browse the web alot from your PMP then the iPod’s larger screen and better browser may be important.

  12. Hands down, Apple’s app store wins by a mile. It’s a huge selection of all sorts of apps vs a rather sad selection of a handful for Zune. Microsoft has plans, especially in the realm of games, but I’m not sure I’d want to bet on the future if this aspect is important to you. The iPod is a much better choice in that case.

  13. Hands down, Apple’s app store wins by a mile. It’s a huge selection of all sorts of apps vs a rather sad selection of a handful for Zune. Microsoft has plans, especially in the realm of games, but I’m not sure I’d want to bet on the future if this aspect is important to you. The iPod is a much better choice in that case.

  14. If you’re still on the fence: grab your favorite earphones, head down to a Best Buy and ask to plug them into a Zune then an iPod and see which one sounds better to you, and which interface makes you smile more. Then you’ll know which is right for you.

  15. The Zune concentrates on being a Portable Media Player. Not a web browser. Not a game machine. Maybe in the future it’ll do even better in those areas, but for now it’s a fantastic way to organize and listen to your music and videos, and is without peer in that regard. The iPod’s strengths are its web browsing and apps. If those sound more compelling, perhaps it is your best choice.

  16. I’ll gear this review to 2 types of people: current Zune owners who are considering an upgrade, and people trying to decide between a Zune and an iPod. (There are other players worth considering out there, like the Sony Walkman X, but I hope this gives you enough info to make an informed decision of the Zune vs players other than the iPod line as well.)

  17. The Zune concentrates on being a Portable Media Player. Not a web browser. Not a game machine. Maybe in the future it’ll do even better in those areas, but for now it’s a fantastic way to organize and listen to your music and videos, and is without peer in that regard. The iPod’s strengths are its web browsing and apps. If those sound more compelling, perhaps it is your best choice.

  18. This is getting a bit more subjective, but I much prefer the Zune Marketplace. The interface is colorful, has more flair, and some cool features like ‘Mixview’ that let you quickly see related albums, songs, or other users related to what you’re listening to. Clicking on one of those will center on that item, and another set of “neighbors” will come into view, allowing you to navigate around exploring by similar artists, songs, or users. Speaking of users, the Zune “Social” is also great fun, letting you find others with shared tastes and becoming friends with them. You then can listen to a playlist created based on an amalgamation of what all your friends are listening to, which is also enjoyable. Those concerned with privacy will be relieved to know you can prevent the public from seeing your personal listening habits if you so choose.

  19. Between me and my husband we’ve owned more MP3 players over the years than I can count, including Sansas, iRivers, iPods (classic & touch), the Ibiza Rhapsody, etc. But, the last few years I’ve settled down to one line of players. Why? Because I was happy to discover how well-designed and fun to use the underappreciated (and widely mocked) Zunes are.

  20. Apple now has Rhapsody as an app, which is a great start, but it is currently hampered by the inability to store locally on your iPod, and has a dismal 64kbps bit rate. If this changes, then it will somewhat negate this advantage for the Zune, but the 10 songs per month will still be a big plus in Zune Pass’ favor.

  21. The new Zune browser is surprisingly good, but not as good as the iPod’s. It works well, but isn’t as fast as Safari, and has a clunkier interface. If you occasionally plan on using the web browser that’s not an issue, but if you’re planning to browse the web alot from your PMP then the iPod’s larger screen and better browser may be important.

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