Monday, August 24, 2009

Controversy Heats Up Over Google Book Search Settlement

The proposed book digitization settlement between search giant Google and U.S.-based publisher and author organizations is running into increasing opposition.

Under the 2008 deal ending a copyright dispute in US courts, Google agreed to pay $125 million (US) to create a Book Rights Registry. Authors and publishers who registered would get roughly two thirds of the revenues from the sale of the copyright-protected books digitized by Google.

The deal will be reviewed this October in a New York City court.

But opposition is organizing:

  • Library brawl: Microsoft, Yahoo, Amazon teaming up to oppose Google's digital book settlement (San Francisco Examiner, Aug. 20, 2009): "Microsoft Corp., Yahoo Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. are joining a coalition that hopes to rally opposition to Google's digital book ambitions and ultimately persuade a federal judge to block or revise the Internet search leader's plans. The group, to be called the Open Book Alliance, is being put together by the Internet Archive, a longtime critic of Google's crusade to make digital copies of as many printed books as possible. A growing number of critics already have filed objections to Google's book settlement, but none have the clout that the Open Book Alliance figures to wield with three of the world's best-known technology companies on board."
  • UC Academics Raise Major Concerns About Google Settlement (Library Journal, Aug. 20, 2009): "Offering a crucial little-heard voice in the debate over the Google Book Search Settlement, 21 leading University of California faculty members have written a letter to the court asking for supplementary provisions to address their concerns. In the letter, the scholars speak on behalf of academic authors more interested in the public interest than in supporting themselves from their book revenues. 'We are concerned that the [plaintiff] Authors Guild negotiators likely prioritized maximizing profits over maximizing public access to knowledge, while academic authors would have reversed those priorities,' the faculty members wrote. 'We note that the scholarly books written by academic authors constitute a much more substantial part of the Book Search corpus than the Authors Guild members’ books'."
  • Tech giants unite against Google (BBC, Aug. 21, 2009): "Much of the focus of the proposed settlement has been on anti-trust and anti-competitive concerns, but just as many are worried about privacy. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, the ACLU of Northern California and the Consumer Watchdog advocacy group wrote to Google to ask the company to 'assure Americans that Google will maintain the security and freedom that library patrons have long had: to read and learn about anything... without worrying that someone is looking over their shoulder or could retrace their steps'."
  • Europe Divided on Google Book Deal (New York Times, Aug. 23, 2009): "Some big European publishers, like Oxford University Press, and Bertelsmann and Holtzbrinck, which own Random House and Macmillan respectively, support the agreement, which remains subject to approval by a U.S. judge. They see the pact as greatly expanding the visibility of their archives for online purchase. But opposition to the deal, which would allow U.S. consumers to buy online access to millions of books by European authors whose works were scanned at U.S. libraries, is mounting. There is widespread opposition among French publishers, and the government of Germany, along with national collection societies in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Spain, plan to argue against it and encourage writers to pull out of the agreement. "

Earlier Library Boy posts about the Google Book project controversy include:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:03 pm

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