Introduced by Danilo Mandic

In 1937 the English science fiction novelist H.G. Wells described his vision of the ‘world brain’, a giant library that contained all human knowledge and information, accessible to citizens throughout the world. This fictitious idea effectively became reality when Google, in collaboration with renowned academic libraries, started scanning millions of books in 2002. Whilst the avowed purpose of the project was to share, and provide access to intellectual wealth and knowledge, the reality is somewhat different. Over half of the books that were digitized were under copyright, making the Google Library Book Project seen on one level as a ‘massive copyright infringement’. This initiated contrasting views, and some  concern, about the implications of copyright for the internet, and more broadly about knowledge and freedom of information. This documentary explores this most ambitious mass digitization project, looking at the technology behind it, its legitimacy and the legal challenges it has imposed, but also questions Google’s monopolising power. Supported with comments and reflections from a number of prominent lawyers, scholars, politicians and activists such as Pamela Samuelson, Jaron Lanier, Lawrence Lessig and many others, the film is a great depiction and commentary of the today’s conundrum between copyright and technology. It premiered in 2013 at the Sundance Film Festival.

Google and the World Brain is being shown as part of the Film Matters season of film screenings.

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