Authors and publishers who make their books available under Creative Commons licenses now have a friend in Google, which just announced that open access is now a reality on Google Books. Not only can you choose to make your book available as a free PDF download, but Google will also mark the PDF and the book result page with your choice of Creative Commons licenses. Here, for example, is Larry Lessig’s Code 2.0. I’ve questioned some of Google’s licensing practices in the past, so it’s a relief to see that the PDFs carry no restrictions other than an explanation of the CC license and a brief blurb about Google Books.
This move directly responds to one of Pam Samuelson’s concerns. As an academic author concerned about open access and academic values, she wanted to make sure that Google’s digital-book programs would respect the wishes of authors and publishers who want to make their books as widely available as possible, rather than just maximizing revenue. Congratulations to Google for listening to her concerns and adding this principled, useful, and public-spirited new feature.