I thought MR readers might be interested in my latest blog post: Is Google taking over the government? The Washington Post has an interesting pair of articles on the Google lawsuit. One is written by the University of Michigan head librarian, defending Google. The second is by the president of the Authors Guild. Since theyre the ones doing the suing, you know where they stand. Now neither of these articles is particularly long on substance, but I did want to clear up one bit of misinformation in Nick Taylors article: Taylor seems to be claiming that Google is taking the law into its own hands, deciding for the rest of us what fair use is. If you believe Taylor, by scanning books Google is usurping the role of the U.S. government itself. I think what Taylor has done here is far more than a rhetorical sleight of hand its hypocritical as well. Google has done anything but usurp the role of government, because copyright law doesnt give government the role of determining whether a specific instance of copyrighted material falls under the fair use guidelines. The only way for that to be achieved is by filing a lawsuit. This is one of the ways copyright law was crafted by the big guys in order to crush the little guy. If an average Joe publishes an excerpt critical of a big company on his Web site, the big company can slap Joe with a lawsuit, and unless Joe can afford to hire an army of lawyers to defend himself, he has no recourse but to remove the material. Thats the way the corporate hacks who wrote the copyright laws want it (if you dont believe this, please read Jessica Littmans book Digital Copyright and then get back to me). So far from usurping the role of government, Google is doing the only thing the little guy can do to challenge corporate-sponsored copyright law. The scary thing is, the law may still be on the Authors Guilds side (and now the Association of American Publishers). No one said the publishing companies dont have good lawyers. But as Ive said before, I think Googles got a better chance of winning this lawsuit than changing copyright law to allow their new version of fair use. So heres the prospect were faced with: if you dont want easier access to published information, if you dont want to be able to locate critical bits of knowledge even in the 60 percent of all books that are still copyrighted but now out of print then you should side with the authors. But the authors themselves should also realize something. Starting up lawsuits such as this one, which stifle the ability to find their works in an increasingly electronic age, will only hasten the demise of that thing they so cherish the printed book itself.