How long is a snippet? That is one of more than a dozen questions directed at Google Inc. this week by the executive director of the Association of American University Presses, the trade group representing university presses. At issue is whether Google Print for Libraries, the company's plan to digitize the collections of some of the country's major university libraries, infringes the copyrights of the authors of many books in those collections. The program will allow users to search the contents of books, displaying context-specific "snippets" of the texts of copyrighted works.Well, similar questions apply to Far Outliers, now Kotaji, and other blogs that frequently publish excerpts from printed sources. So it seems appropriate to issue a statement about the policies of this blog with regard to excerpting from printed sources under copyright.
1. Far Outliers is strictly a noncommercial enterprise. I accept neither cash donations nor paid advertising. I earn no revenue and incur no cash expenses, other than the not inconsiderable cost of buying printed books. I buy and read a lot of books, many--if not most--of them from university presses.
2. I try to extract and post stand-alone vignettes that capture passing insights of larger works, many of which have to do with the stated theme of this blog. In other cases, I try to quote passages that add a degree of arms-length historical or extraregional perspective to current debates in the blogosphere.
3. I try to limit my excerpts to the equivalent of about 1 printed page per chapter. If too much of one chapter proves irresistible, I force myself to skip other chapters. I also try to quote much less from brand new titles than from older works.
4. For each extract quote, I provide a full bibliographical citation and include a link to either the publisher's website (especially in the case of university presses) or to an online bookseller that carries the book. If the author has an informative website, I'll often link to that, too. Most larger commercial presses do not sell from their own websites, but university presses often do because they publish such a large number of titles with such meager marketing budgets that they have a much harder time promoting their obscure and offbeat titles, which are often the ones that tend to capture my fancy. In short, I encourage my blog readers to purchase the books I find quotable.
5. If any publishers feel I have overstepped the bounds of fair use, they have only to email me and I will forthwith remove all citations of their works. But I would hope that most publishers recognize some promotional value in my citations from their works.