As you have all heard by now, the Google University of Michigan agreement had been posted on the web. Some have asked why this document was ever confidential in the first place. Shouldnâ€™t the University of Michigan have known that it would be subject to a FOIA request? Well, I went to a presentation last Friday at Notre Dame at which John P. Wilkin, Associate University Librarian, University of Michigan discussed “The UM-Google Digitization Deal: What It Is, How We Got There, and What It Will Mean for the University of Michigan.”
At the discussion, he told us that the agreement had just been released. He said that when the University was negotiating with Google, they tried to tell Google that it would not take long for a FOIA request to be filed, but that Google naively believed that no one would be interested.
Clearly, Google was hoping that no one would notice. They were almost
right — it was nearly five months before I decided to search for “freedom of
information” and “university of michigan.” Shame on me, and even more
shame on everyone else. But the most shame on Google and the U of M,
who should have taken one look at the situation and decided to skip all
the confidentiality language from the start.
It sounds as if U of M did try to skip all the confidentiality language, but Google was unwilling.