Google will pay the Authors Guild and five major publishers $125 million to settle a pair of 2005 suits alleging the company violated copyright laws indexing millions of books for its Google Book Search product.
As part of the agreement, Google (GOOG) is now allowed to index and make searchable millions of copyrighted texts, bringing the company that much closer to its goal of organising all the world’s information. A 2006 New York Times article put Google’s feat in perspective:
The dream is an old one: to have in one place all knowledge, past and present. All books, all documents, all conceptual works, in all languages. It is a familiar hope, in part because long ago we briefly built such a library. The great library at Alexandria, constructed around 300 B.C., was designed to hold all the scrolls circulating in the known world. At one time or another, the library held about half a million scrolls, estimated to have been between 30 and 70 per cent of all books in existence then. But even before this great library was lost, the moment when all knowledge could be housed in a single building had passed. Since then, the constant expansion of information has overwhelmed our capacity to contain it. For 2,000 years, the universal library, together with other perennial longings like invisibility cloaks, antigravity shoes and paperless offices, has been a mythical dream that kept receding further into the infinite future.
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