Thursday, September 03, 2009

Google Book Search Settlement Deadline

Tomorrow marks the deadline for comments on the proposed settlement between Google and U.S. publisher and author organizations over the search giant's project to digitize millions of books.

The settlement is intended to end class action lawsuits that charged Google with copyright infringement for unauthorized mass scanning.

Interested parties have been invited to make comments to a New York judge by tomorrow. In early October, that judge will consider whether or not to approve the settlement.

In recent days, the number of comments and analyses about the deal has increased dramatically. Here are a few:
  • Google's plan for world's biggest online library: philanthropy or act of piracy? (The Guardian, August 30, 2009): "Several opponents have recently emerged (...) First, they have questioned whether the primary responsibility for digitally archiving the world's books should be allowed to fall to a commercial company (...) The second, related criticism is that Google's scanning of books is actually illegal. This allegation has led to Google becoming mired in a legal battle whose scope and complexity makes the Jarndyce and Jarndyce case in Bleak House look straightforward."
  • Advocates: Google Books can bridge digital divide (CNET News, September 3, 2009): "A coalition of civil-rights and disability groups in favor of Google's book-scanning project held a press conference Thursday to marshal support for improving access to knowledge, the key benefit of Google's deal with authors and publishers to create a new kind of digital library. They fear that a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to gain digital access to knowledge previously stored in libraries at expensive universities or rich communities could be hampered by the opposition to the settlement from some authors and privacy advocates."
  • Google's Book Search: A Disaster for Scholars (Chronicle of Higher Education, August 31, 2009): "I'm actually more optimistic than some of my colleagues who have criticized the settlement. Not that I'm counting on selfless public-spiritedness to motivate Google to invest the time and resources in getting this right. But I have the sense that a lot of the initial problems are due to Google's slightly clueless fumbling as it tried master a domain that turned out to be a lot more complex than the company first realized. It's clear that Google designed the system without giving much thought to the need for reliable metadata. In fact, Google's great achievement as a Web search engine was to demonstrate how easy it could be to locate useful information without attending to metadata or resorting to Yahoo-like schemes of classification. But books aren't simply vehicles for communicating information, and managing a vast library collection requires different skills, approaches, and data than those that enabled Google to dominate Web searching."
  • Keeping Google out of libraries (BBC News, September 2, 2009): "It is not that the settlement will give Google indemnity from prosecution should it be found to have scanned books that are in copyright without the copyright owner's position, nor even that it gives Google freedom to exploit scanned content commercially. It is, rather, that the settlement gives only Google these privileges, and places one company in a prime position to become the world's de facto librarian instead of encouraging open access, open standards and a plurality of services and service providers.Neither Google nor any other company should be entrusted with that responsibility, and nothing in the detail of the agreement or the funds that will be made available to authors as a consequence can change this."
  • Library associations submit supplemental filing, call for increased oversight of Google agreement (American Library Association Washington Office, September 2, 2009)

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

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:16 pm


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