Thursday, March 31, 2011

Google Books judgment depending on copyright and antitrust worries

Google’s vision of a universal virtual library has hit a snag in court . Google settled with author and publisher groups for $125 million to get the go ahead for the project, however those opposed to it cited copyright and antitrust worries. Authors and publishers, which have become allies of Google in the case, said the Google Books ruling made it clear as to what changes must be made to eventually get the negotiation approved.

Settling on Google Books

To be able to try to scan all published books and make them accessible to everyone who wants them, the program Google Books was started. Due to the book-scanning project, Google got sued in 2005 by the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers. In 2008, Google agreed to pay $125 million up front and provide the means for authors and publishers to get paid any time their books are viewed online. The settlement has been mired in the legal system as opponents for instance Amazon, Microsoft, the Justice Department, copyright experts and some foreign governments argued against it. On Tues, Manhattan federal court judge Denny Chin said the Google Books settlement would solidify the company’s search monopoly and give it the right to exploit published works without the permission of copyright holders.

What orphan works has to do with this

There was one objection that Judge Chin had probably the most and it was to a provision in the Google Books settlement. This would, unless an author and publisher opted out, allow to business to digitize any books. It would look better, states Chin, with an "opt in" choice instead. The opt-out provision was written because of an issue with so-called “orphan works.”. Anytime a book has a copyright holder that can't be found or is unknown, it is an orphan work. An opt-in would make it impossible to use orphan works, Google states. The point of this was for Google Books to be able to consist of orphan books to be accessible to everyone. Many say that Congress, not a settlement or lawsuit, should be in charge of making the decision on orphan texts.

Antitrust issues

Every book written is being offered in the book scanning project that is meant to "democratize knowledge" which means over 130 million books is integrated. Antitrust worries are there as well though. Nobody would be able to compete with such a complete library as Google would have with this program. Other critics of Google Books said offering exclusive access to millions of books would put Google in an unassailable position in Internet search. As the battle goes on, Google has scanned about 15 million books. Books with expired copyrights can be accessed via Google's Book Search, as well as about 20 percent of copyrighted titles Google has licensed from publishers. Sample text can be accessed from copyrighted titles that have not been licensed to Google.

Information from

New York Times

Financial Times

PC World

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