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Opposition to Google Books Settlement Continued

April 18, 2009

More and more objections and concerns about the Google Books settlements come out. Miguel Helft of Bits blog in New York Times gives us some update about this case (you can also find his previous articles in that post).

The main concern here is a monopoly over millions of “orphan books”, which are either out of print or whose rights holders are unknown or cannot be found.

Pamela Samuelson also posts an article, and mentions that

If asked, the authors of orphan books in major research libraries might well prefer for their books to be available under Creative Commons licenses or put in the public domain so that fellow researchers could have greater access to them.

I think so. Like the Project Gutenberg.

In her conclusion:

In the short run, the Google Book Search settlement will unquestionably bring about greater access to books collected by major research libraries over the years. But it is very worrisome that this agreement, which was negotiated in secret by Google and a few lawyers working for the Authors Guild and AAP (who will, by the way, get up to $45.5 million in fees for their work on the settlement–more than all of the authors combined!), will create two complementary monopolies with exclusive rights over a research corpus of this magnitude. Monopolies are prone to engage in many abuses.

The Book Search agreement is not really a settlement of a dispute over whether scanning books to index them is fair use. It is a major restructuring of the book industry’s future without meaningful government oversight. The market for digitized orphan books could be competitive, but will not be if this settlement is approved as is.

For more detailed account of the whole story, check Pamela Samuelson’s presentation, “Reflections on the Google Book Search Settlement.”

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