book-cr.gifGoogle's controversial book search service may be tailor-made for China, argues TechCrunch.

so it means that, for once, an internet company has unearthed an
opportunity in China that does not slavishly replicate models
established in the west.

TechCrunch highlights China's “long
literary tradition” as a reason why the service could take off in
China. But I suspect the real reason is China's more “liberal” attitude
to IPRs, which means Google Book Search China is unlikely to run into
the sort of opposition that the service has attracted in the west.

Just to make sure, Google has four Chinese publishers backing the project.

US search giant will make their books available online and grant free
access to a segment of each work, but readers would have to pay to read
the full content. If you read Mandarin, blogger Ken Wong has more on
Google Book Search China here.

once, Google was not first to spot this opportunity. Baidu, its main
domestic competitor in the Chinese search market, got there first and
already has prestigious China's public libraries on its side.

Book Search was launched in the west last November and the company
insisted then that it would scrupulously respect IPRs. The entire text
will only be available for public domain books, while in-copyright
works will be limited to small snippets or simply bibliographic
details. Google explains how Book Search works here.

Nevertheless, the project incurred the ire of publishers and authors in the US and Europe, who fear it may infringe IPRs.

Read this Technology Review story for the low-down on the technical challenges in scanning books on a mammoth scale.

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