People use the word ‘Xerox’ as a synonym for photocopying. In the search engine world, the term used is Google, as a synonym for digital search or research. But whatever may be the technology used, the concept of ethics has to be considered. In other words, ethics and statutes/laws are relevant to any field of human endeavor. This paper reviews the services offered by Google in an ethical and legal viewpoint to arrive at a conclusion whether as to whether the company and its services is a blessing or a curse. It will also review the concept of ‘Google Books’ which form a part of its service portfolio with regard to the ethical theory of utilitarianism and other legal aspects in the United States.
As mentioned in the introduction, the need for availability of information from the Internet resulted in a technology that would enable users to retrieve it through search engines. In this regard, Google came into existence through the efforts of Larry Page and Sergey Brin as a part of their Stanford University project. According to the corporate website of Google, the company came into existence in 1998 (Google management) a decade after the internet became public. The Economist, in its article dated September 3rd, 2009, has stated that the intention of the company is to create an extensive digital library of books that can be accessed by the common man. Stanford University also claims that Google is currently the most used search engine. It has one of the largest databases of Web pages, including many other types of web documents (blog posts, wiki pages, group discussion threads and document formats. In this context, the concept of digital publishing of orphan books will also be taken into consideration.