Live Search Books was announced in October 2005 as MSN Book Search with considerable hoopla, plans to digitize the British Library, and verbal fisticuffs with Google over copyright and Google Book Search, but it has all come to nought as Microsoft’s Satya Nadella announced today:
Today we informed our partners that we are ending the Live Search Books and Live Search Academic projects and that both sites will be taken down next week. Books and scholarly publications will continue to be integrated into our Search results, but not through separate indexes.
This also means that we are winding down our digitization initiatives, including our library scanning and our in-copyright book programs. We recognize that this decision comes as disappointing news to our partners, the publishing and academic communities, and Live Search users.
With Live Search Books and Live Search Academic, we digitized 750,000 books and indexed 80 million journal articles. Based on our experience, we foresee that the best way for a search engine to make book content available will be by crawling content repositories created by book publishers and libraries.
The rest of Nadella’s comments can be summarized as "Microsoft couldn’t figure out how to make any money on this stuff." I remarked when MSN Book Search was announced that the business model was rather vague and apparently altruism was not a sufficient rationale.
Microsoft announced that currently copyrighted books have today been added to the beta version of Live Search Books online book search service, based on agreements with a large number of publishers.
It’s one of those inexplicable yet delicious occurrences that set the digerati buzzing (cf. Techmeme, Megite). Microsoft lawyer Thomas Rubin, apparently having nothing better to do, decided to publicly slap Google over Google Book Search while simultaneously touting Microsoft’s competitive endeavor, Windows Live Search Books.
Background: Both Google and Microsoft are scanning and indexing printed books for the Web. Both include out of copyright works and both also include copyrighted works where they have reached agreement with the publishers and either now share ad revenue with the publisher or provide purchase links (Google) or plan to in the future (Microsoft). Google, however, also provides what they feel to be “fair use” excerpts of copyrighted works even if they have not reached an agreement with the copyright holder. This has given rise to lawsuits from aggrieved publishers which are still in the courts.
Microsoft is taking aim at Google Inc.’s rival book-scanning project, saying the search company “systematically violates copyright.”
In prepared remarks he is scheduled to deliver Tuesday to a publishing industry group, a Microsoft Corp. lawyer also said Google is cutting into the profits of authors and publishers.
“Companies that create no content of their own, and make money solely on the backs of other people’s content, are raking in billions through advertising revenue,” wrote Thomas C. Rubin, an associate general counsel at Microsoft, in the speech he planned to give at the annual meeting of the Association of American Publishers in New York.
Sounds like a description that could be applied to all Web search providers, or at least the successful ones. As Matthew Ingram notes, “This is almost a word-for-word transcription of the argument that gets trotted out by everyone from the World Newspaper Association to the Belgian agency Copiepresse…” What can Mr. Rubin be thinking?
“But Google’s track record of protecting copyrights in other parts of its business is weak at best,” wrote Rubin. “Anyone who visits YouTube, which Google purchased last year, will immediately recognize that it follows a similar cavalier approach to copyright.”
I guess we now know what really rankles, although Mr. Rubin apparently doesn’t spend much time at MSN Soapbox which has a similar problem.
The full text of Rubin’s remarks yields more of the same whining boosterism for Microsoft as the protector of copyright holders, but the real question is what purpose is served by this foolishness? Microsoft’s Don Dodge asks the same question on his personal blog and concludes it is all a lame attempt at generating good public relations. That’s about as favorable an interpretation as I can put on it too.
Microsoft released a beta of Windows Live Search Books (formerly MSN Book Search) which indexes out-of-copyright books and a new beta of Windows Live Search Academic (formerly Windows Live Academic Search) which indexes academic journals.
Check out Amazon’s newest service, Askville.
… This is a “questions & answer” site similar to Yahoo, Yedda, AnswerBag, the recently departed Google Answers and even the rarely mentioned Microsoft QnA.
Users turned grumpy over perceived delays in Office 2007 compatibility for Mac Office and Windows Mobile.
Jim Allchin explains Vista Power Management at incredible length since Microsoft has “enhanced” the operating system’s “power off” switch.
Microsoft, HP and other tech firms plan to push for a new US data privacy law next year.
Another strange Zune ad. Don’t worry, you likely won’t have to restrain yourself from filling your shopping cart with Zunes, but you may want a cookie.