I just heard Ethan Beard from Google talking about Google Book Search. It's a great project.
But when you search for Lessig's book 'Free Culture' (published by Penguin Books and licenced under the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial 1.0 licence) you can see only excerpts from the book (the 'card catalogue' view). Full text search is not available, even though it is allowed by the licence. Instead, it points to Penguin Books, enabling you to buy the book from the publisher, with no reference to the fact that its free at all.
I asked Beard about this and he said that they are working with Creative Commons but that they won't be able to 'make searches every type of licence in the world'. I hope that they at least start with Creative Commons licenses. With 55 million linkbacks, surely that's a big enough pool?
Questioning the links from each book 'segment' to 'buy the book from the publisher', one member of the audience said, 'wouldn't it be a better idea to point someone to the local library where the book is available, than pointing to the publisher?' Beard said that 'publishers hate libraries' and so I assume that they don't want to upset the publishers.
I hate to be cynical but it seems as though Google is pandering to publishers. I understand that they are trying to work with publishers to get this off the ground, and that is perhaps the only strategy to make this work... at first. But as the head of the International Association of Libraries 'we have to have a sense of urgency' in making books accessible to underserviced communities' otherwise children from developing countries will be left behind forever.