Questions for the Google books monopoly
This week, the Google Book Search team and its partners are embarking on a nationwide propaganda tour. Events in New York, Washington, DC, Silicon Valley and Boston are designed to ease the growing fears over what the Google Books settlement proposal means for libraries, schools, students, authors, and readers of all stripes.
At the Internet Archive, we encourage people to listen to what Google Books has to say with a healthy dose of skepticism, and specifically, to ask the company and its partners about the following troubling issues:
Orphan Books: This settlement gives Google exclusive rights to scan, digitize and publish millions of orphan works, with a release from legal liability for copyright infringement. Google claims that anyone can scan these books — but no one else has the same legal protections that Google has. Would the parties to the settlement amend the settlement to extend legal liability indemnification to any and all digitizers of orphan works? If not, why not leave orphans out of the settlement and compel a legislative solution instead of striking a private deal in a District Court?
The Book Rights Registry Monopoly: The settlement creates what is effectively a monopoly in the Book Rights Registry. The Books Rights Registry will be a privately-held, privately-administered exclusive marketplace where digitized books are priced. Why should this function be handed over to a monopoly controlled through the Authors Guild and AAP? Why can’t there be an open framework that allows for more than one registry – giving rights holders and others a choice? For domain names, consumers and businesses have a choice of where to register a domain name – creating competition. Would Google and its monopoly partners endorse an open registry system?
More and more people are recognizing the Google Book Settlement for what it really is — an insider deal cut between powerful, private interests that creates a profit-making monopoly over the greatest source of our culture’s common knowledge. We urge everyone who cares about books to come to their rescue.