Google Hits Another Speedbump on Way to Digitizing World

Federal judge says whoa (for now) on Google's digital library agreement

2 min read
Google Hits Another Speedbump on Way to Digitizing World

In late 2004, Google announced plans to digitize a number of the world's major library collections and make them available on-line. Almost immediately, there were questions raised about whether this effort would violate copyright law as well as stretch beyond recognition the principle of fair use.

In 2005, the Authors Guildbrought a class action lawsuit against Google for copyright infringement, which Google vigorously denied. There is a Washington Post article from 2006 that nicely sums up the opposing positions taken here.

However, in 2008, the Authors Guild and Google reached a settlement (here and here) over copyright and payment to authors of copyrighted material that was to be digitized.

That was not the end of the story. Others such as The American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), the US Department of Justice (see PDF here), Amazon, Microsoft Corp., Yahoo as well as the French and German  governments among others, objected to the deal, saying that it was fundamentally flawed because it would still violate author copyrights, give Google too much control over the digitalization of books, and greatly enhance the power of its search engine.

So, back to the courts.

Yesterday, US Federal Judge Denny Chin of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York threw out the aforementioned settlement saying that the agreement would give Google a "de facto monopoly," reports this article in the New York Times.

The Times story goes on to say that:

"Judge Chin acknowledged that 'the creation of a universal digital library would benefit many,' but said that the proposed agreement was 'not fair, adequate and reasonable.' "

However, the story says, Judge Chin ".. left open the possibility that a substantially revised agreement could pass legal muster."

The US DOJ was quoted by the Times as saying that the judge's ruling came to the "right result."

So now it is back to the drawing board, although many of those who fought the settlement have indicated that a more narrowly drawn agreement on how copyrighted material could be used and compensated for might be acceptable, the Times says.

It will likely take months before all the points raised by Judge Chin (read his entire ruling here in PDF) are sorted out, however.

There is another good story on the ruling here at the Financial Post.

So far, Google has digitized some 15 million books, with those with expired copyrights available with their entire texts at Google's Book Search web site.

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Metamaterials Could Solve One of 6G’s Big Problems

There’s plenty of bandwidth available if we use reconfigurable intelligent surfaces

12 min read
An illustration depicting cellphone users at street level in a city, with wireless signals reaching them via reflecting surfaces.

Ground level in a typical urban canyon, shielded by tall buildings, will be inaccessible to some 6G frequencies. Deft placement of reconfigurable intelligent surfaces [yellow] will enable the signals to pervade these areas.

Chris Philpot

For all the tumultuous revolution in wireless technology over the past several decades, there have been a couple of constants. One is the overcrowding of radio bands, and the other is the move to escape that congestion by exploiting higher and higher frequencies. And today, as engineers roll out 5G and plan for 6G wireless, they find themselves at a crossroads: After years of designing superefficient transmitters and receivers, and of compensating for the signal losses at the end points of a radio channel, they’re beginning to realize that they are approaching the practical limits of transmitter and receiver efficiency. From now on, to get high performance as we go to higher frequencies, we will need to engineer the wireless channel itself. But how can we possibly engineer and control a wireless environment, which is determined by a host of factors, many of them random and therefore unpredictable?

Perhaps the most promising solution, right now, is to use reconfigurable intelligent surfaces. These are planar structures typically ranging in size from about 100 square centimeters to about 5 square meters or more, depending on the frequency and other factors. These surfaces use advanced substances called metamaterials to reflect and refract electromagnetic waves. Thin two-dimensional metamaterials, known as metasurfaces, can be designed to sense the local electromagnetic environment and tune the wave’s key properties, such as its amplitude, phase, and polarization, as the wave is reflected or refracted by the surface. So as the waves fall on such a surface, it can alter the incident waves’ direction so as to strengthen the channel. In fact, these metasurfaces can be programmed to make these changes dynamically, reconfiguring the signal in real time in response to changes in the wireless channel. Think of reconfigurable intelligent surfaces as the next evolution of the repeater concept.

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