Question about public domain works in Google Books with a Harvard library example

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Tue Nov 1 18:38:51 UTC 2011

On Tue, Nov 1, 2011 at 2:24 PM, Garson O'Toole wrote:
> This post is about Universities that have partnered with Google. A
> significant question that affects American Dialect researchers that
> use the Google Books (GB) database concerns access to public domain
> works. Some books in the GB database that are in the public domain are
> in "No Preview" mode, i.e., they are unreadable. Why?
> Perhaps a list member knows why access to public-domain works scanned
> via Google-University partnerships is sometimes blocked. Perhaps
> someone has pertinent information about Harvard or Google policies.

My understanding is that the Google folks must manually approve every
single volume for Full View, in order to ensure that no non-PD
material is accidentally included in the display. Given their legal
woes, this cautious attitude is understandable. The HathiTrust
partners (including Harvard) release PD works on their own track,
which is why you can often find PD stuff there that is still in
Snippet View or No Preview on GB.


Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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