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Google Books Facing Challenge from Open-source Library

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Press release from the issuing company

Two years ago, a federal judge ruled that Google’s sweeping book project did not infringe U.S. copyright law. The project, which includes more than 20 million scanned copies of library books, is now the largest digital library in the world. However, the preeminent status of Google’s project is being challenged by a Chinese company named CzurTek, which is developing a book scanner it plans to sell for only $169. 

The Czur scanner is a 14x8x15 inch device that resembles a lamp. It uses a 16-million pixel camera to make its copies, reaching a scan speed of 0.8 second/page, almost 20 times faster than a traditional flat scanner. A 500-page book can be scanned in only 7 minutes. Moreover, the built-in algorithm allows the curve of the paper to be flattened and the image of the user's finger to be removed. All the scanned digital files can be edited using OCR and saved as a PDF or stored on a cloud server. CzurTek aims to initiate a crowdfunding campaign for this scanner on Indiegogo this September. The company expects the device to have value for people looking to make their work and studies easier, and also to help preserve rare older books. 

The Czur scanner is not in fact the first scanner Czurtek has released. The first model, named the “Changer Scanner,” was released in China almost 1 year ago. The product has led to huge arguments there. Chinese publishers and authors think it will damage the publishing industry and make copyright very hard to protect, since users can easily scan their own books and share them online. However, many people also support the product, and the law is very vague when it comes to such practices. The Czur scanner can allow everyone to distribute electronic versions of books online, making them available to anyone with an Internet connection.

CzurTek's way of doing this is far more efficient than Google's, which has invested billions of dollars and hired thousands of people to do the scanning. “They have the capability to build the largest open-source library in the world, if their customers are willing to contribute digital copies of their books,” a senior Internet expert has said. Since the price is so low, people may prefer to scan borrowed books and read them on their iPads, especially students who are strapped for money to buy textbooks. So far, CzurTek hasn't announced if it will allow users to share PDFs via its cloud server, since this may involve legal issues; they can, however, save PDFs to their PCs or mobile devices, and share them in any way they like. The more digital books are produced using the Czur scanner, the more people won't even need to scan, but can simply search for what they want on the Internet. The effect will be similar to that of the mp3 on the recording industry. If that happens, Google books will compete with millions of book owners and an open-source library. 

It looks like that CzurTek also got Chinese government’s support. While at the Summer Davos Forum, Premier Li Keqiang took an inspection tour of CzurTek. He exchanged ideas with the investors of Czur scanner. Learning that the Czur scanner will go abroad for crowdfunding, he said, “Our innovation and entrepreneurship are open. Makers are highly creative talents, and they are passionate about their ideals." He gave Zhou Kang (the first people from the right), the CEO of CzurTek, a golden key, which means a key to open the door of startup road.

Is this revolution progress or a disaster? What do you think about CzurTek and its impact on the American market? If you would like to discuss this project or report on it, feel free to communicate any questions or concerns to us.


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