Everybody Hates Google Books

Of course another week brings another few stories about Google Books, and who’s complaining about (or suing) them now.  In fact, an article by the BBC a few weeks back was entitled “Everybody Hates Google Books”.  In that story the point is raised that the objection to the Google Books settlement is not so much that the company will be exempt from prosecution if it is found to have scanned copyrighted books without permission, or even that the company has the “freedom to exploit scanned content commercially”.  The big issue is that these privileges are being given to Google, and only to Google, which will, in effect become the world’s librarian, and one of those ones who smack your hands and say “shush” all the time. “ Neither Google nor any other company should be entrusted with that responsibility,” says the article, “ and nothing in the detail of the agreement or the funds that will be made available to authors as a consequence can change this.”


 Meanwhile, here’s a short list of organizations that have filed with one court or another in the past few weeks:

The American Library Association, the Association of College and Research Libraries and the Association of Research Libraries submitted a supplemental filing to address the effects of Google’s more recent settlement. Their beef is that the settlement would compromise the privacy of readers who access books from the Internet.  http://www.resourceshelf.com/2009/09/02/library-associations-submit-supplemental-filing-call-for-increased-oversight-of-google-agreement/

 On Sept 1, Amazon.com said the agreement was “unfair” to other rights holders, gave Google “an effective monopoly” over scanned in works, and would create “a cartel of authors and publishers”. It also questioned the legitimacy of the “class action” and warned the court that it was being asked “to exercise powers that it does not have” stating that the agreement “restrains competition in ways that ought not be sanctioned by this court”. …


The Author’s Guild, meanwhile, took umbrage at this outpouring from Amazon; its executive director said that the company’s “hypocrisy is breathtaking”.  http://www.crainsnewyork.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090903/FREE/909039989/1057

Microsoft weighed in, submitting a brief that argued that Google had no right to “restructure copyright”, and that the current settlement would give it a de facto monopoly on digital books. http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2352583,00.asp

Some other objectors are the governments of France and Germany, states including Missouri and Connecticut, authors from Japan and Austria, Time Warner Inc.’s DC Comics, civil rights groups, Amazon.com rival Sony Corp., a group of economics and antitrust professors and authors including Amy Tan, Garrison Keillor and Judy Blume.

 Then, on Wednesday, Bloomberg reported that Google was in talks with the Department of Justice to help them feel more comfortable with the anti-competitive nature of the settlement. Earlier, as another olive branch, Google moved to assuage those concerns Sept. 10 by offering to let any book retailer, from Amazon to Barnes & Noble and local bookstores, resell Google Book Search titles to consumers on any Internet-connected device they choose.



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