Google Claims to be the Lone Defender of Orphans: Not lone, not defender

At a press conference that Google held today, Techcrunch reported these statements by Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt. They deserve correction.

Google Founder Sergey Brin said: “[T]he companies that are making objections about out of print books are doing nothing for out of print books, MSFT and Amazon.”

This is twisted at best. There are around 400 objections to the settlement objecting to Google’s treatment of out-of-print books– companies, libraries and even countries. And many of us are objecting because we have been working together for years on the mass scanning of out-of-print books– and have worked to get books online for far longer than Google– and Google’s “settlement” could hurt our efforts. A major part of our efforts have concentrated on changing the law so everyone would benefit.

The Internet Archive’s effort to free “orphan works” (a name that I coined in the books context for when the rightsowner is unknown or not available to negotiate for use of the work), had been an active project for years before Google announced they were scanning library books. As early as 2002 the Archive was participating in the Million Books project when we acquired a hundred thousand books for scanning. Because many of these books wound up being orphans, their digitization was partial and significantly delayed. Today, the Million Books project holds over 1.4 million books that have been scanned at public expense, but are not publicly viewable because of the lack of clarity on orphan works.

In March of 2004, the Internet Archive filed a suit in a Federal Court in an attempt to free the Orphan Works in a challenge of current U.S. copyright legislation.

Google announced their library scanning project in December 2004 — therefore, they did not even publicly start until the Gordian Knot of orphan works had been a very public and ongoing problem for those of us already trying to make books available to the public.

Google’s CEO Schmidt said the opponents should: “propose an alternative to solve the problem”

There is an alternative, and they know it — orphan works legislation — that up until the last session of Congress had been working its way through the House and Senate. It was not perfect, but was getting close to what we need. Best yet, it passed one house — at least until Google effectively sideswiped the process with their settlement proposal. The settlement has been seen as solving the orphan books issue, which has served to enervate efforts to pass a bill. If Google were to abandon its attempt to grab these books for its own private gain, then technology companies and libraries could speak with a strong voice, speaking in unison, working together to get proper legislation passed.

That is the alternative and Google could help, and I hope now does help, and stop hurting the process.

Lets free the orphans, not have them pass from their legal limbo into a life controlled by Google and its proposed Books Rights Registry.

Orphan Works and Mass Scanning Timeline:

Million Books scanning partially halted based on this problem: 2002.
Public Domain Enhancement Act to deal with this introduced: June 2003.
Orphan Works complaint filed: March 2004.
Google library scanning was announced in December 2004.
Copyright Office starts formal inquiry into Orphan Works Jan 2005.
proposed legislation from them on Jan 2006.
Google sued Sept 2005
Orphan Works Act introduced to Congress May 22, 2006.
Archive and Libraries Announce out-of-print scanning October 2007.
Orphan Works Act 2008 passed in Senate: Sept 2008.
Google Settlement announced Oct 2008.

32 Responses to “Google Claims to be the Lone Defender of Orphans: Not lone, not defender”

  1. Open Book Alliance Says:

    [...] Unsurprisingly, Brewster took umbrage with this latest salvo of nonsense from Google, and penned a response on the Open Content Alliance [...]

  2. RSS For Gadgets » Google’s Sergey Brin lashes out at critics of $125m book deal Says:

    [...] longer than Google – and Google’s ’settlement’ could hurt our efforts,” he wrote in a blog post on Wednesday. “A major part of our efforts have concentrated on changing the law so everyone would [...]

  3. Google Co-Founder, Sergey Brin, Has Op-Ed Published in New York Times « ResourceShelf Says:

    [...] On Wednesday (before the Op-Ed was published), Brewster Kahle, from the Internet Archive and the Open Content Alliance responded to verbal remarks made by Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt. Google Founder Sergey Brin said: “[T]he [...]

  4. Google, Plaintiffs Have One Month To Revise Book Search Settlement Says:

    [...] — including the Book Search legal battle — Brewster Kahle of the Internet Archive responded by calling some Google’s statements “twisted at [...]

  5. SearchCap: The Day In Search, October 9, 2009 Says:

    [...] Google Claims to be the Lone Defender of Orphans: Not lone, not defender, Open Content Alliance (OCA) [...]

  6. Briefly Noted for October 9, 2009 Says:

    [...] to Abandon Private Settlement, Support Orphan Works Legislation — The Internet Archive’s Brewster Kahle has called on Google to give up its private settlement of the orphan works issue with the authors and publishers and [...]

  7. google » Brin Defends Book Search Settlement; Google & Plaintiffs Get One … Says:

    [...] — including the Book Search legal battle — Brewster Kahle of the Internet Archive responded by calling some Google’s statements “twisted at [...]

  8. Eric Eldred Says:

    Originally I supported the fair use claims of Google against the suit, but in reading the settlement it is obvious it is defective. Brewster is correct, we need to pass orphan works legislation, not make new copyright law through a private settlement between parties that are not interested in a balance with the public interest. One example to prove Brin is disingenuous: A decade ago I scanned a book that was in the public domain, Edwin McClelland’s great translation of Natsume Soseki’s great novel “Kokoro,” and posted it online from my home web server (you can read it online for free at the Internet Archive now). I see that Google Book Search has also scanned the book, but makes available only snippets, and links to where one can buy printed copies. There is no indication when an unlocked copy will be available or copyright status metadata. Another site lists the book for free, but it is a different book by the same title. The publisher bought the copyright but failed to renew it, as they admitted in a letter to me. I respect the translator, who died earlier this year, but you can see that Google is not respecting the public domain. More than half the books published since 1923 did not have copyright renewed, and it is fraudulent for Google and the publishers to claim they should profit from them. The best way to allow us to publish works since 1923 would be to set up registries where copyright holders had to register their claims and license terms. The objection to that is that international copyright law does not require it. So change the law and allow the Internet and our common culture to flourish, everyone will benefit when market failure is corrected.

  9. RSS For Gadgets » Google’s Brin defends $125m book deal Says:

    [...] longer than Google – and Google’s ’settlement’ could hurt our efforts,” he wrote in a blog post on Wednesday. “A major part of our efforts have concentrated on changing the law so everyone would [...]

  10. JP_Fife Says:

    “And many of us are objecting because we have been working together for years on the mass scanning of out-of-print books– and have worked to get books online for far longer than Google– and Google’s “settlement” could hurt our efforts.”

    Then you are as guilty as Google of theft. Fair Use doesn’t cut it as that is primarily part of American Law. Worldwide ‘fair use’ differs.

    Orphan Works is also a red herring. The point is simple: is a book in copyright or out of copyright? If out of copyright anyone can do anything with it. If in copyright you need permission. Saying it is an “orphan work” is akin to saying no one has lived in a house for years, can’t trace the owner, so it’s ok to break into it or try and sell it to someone else. I realise copyrights aren’t houses but they are RIGHTS, and authors have the right not to have their work spattered across the internet without their permission. Are you going to trot out the ‘doing them a favour’ argument next?

  11. Peter Brantley: Google Books: A High Bar for Approval – MR PC EASY Says:

    [...] digitization. Google was not the first entity to attempt to create a digital book collection. The Internet Archive and others were engaged in this endeavor for years before Google arrived on the scene, but they [...]

  12. Frances Grimble Says:

    In all this hoopla about orphan works, people seem to commonly overlook that Google scanned large quantities of in-print books by easily locatable authors and publishers. Regardless of how you feel about “freeing the orphans,” these in-print books are financially necessary to authors and publishers.

    I am a self-publisher of eight books, only one of which is out of print–but it has been supplanted by a second edition that contains all the same material, with additions and updates. I have a website. My books are carried by Ingram (the industry’s largest wholesaler), by Amazon.com, and by numerous other bookstores locatable on the web.

    I do not know whether Google scanned my books, because Google has not made their database of scanned books publicly available. I have never seen any public statement from Google (only extensive author speculation) as to how, if at all, the public database represented by Google Book Search compares to Google’s private database of books scanned for the Library Project.

    Back when the Author’s Guild suit was filed, Google set up a website where copyright holders could list their titles as “not to be scanned” by the Library Project. This was for copyright holders who were not Google Partners, and the site stated the books withdrawn from scanning consideration would also be absent from Google Book Search. I listed all my books in a timely way. However, five of my eight books (one searchable only by title, not author) are now listed on Google Book Search. No text is available, which would be a sure sign that they were scanned, so I don’t know why any data is on Google Book Search when Google said it would not be. I do not object to bibliographic data alone being there, but I would very much like to know whether this means my books were scanned against my express wishes.

    In January 2009, I opted out of the entire Settlement (the unrevised version), via a letter written by a copyright lawyer and sent by certified mail to the Settlement Administrator. I understand why he advised me to send a certified letter, because I’ve seen Google’s on-line opt-out form in operation. Pretty much every time you register or buy something on the net, you get a confirmation web page and/or email. After submitting Google’s opt-out-of-the-Settlement form, you get nothing. You do not know whether your opt-out data was registered and you cannot legally prove later that you opted out. I advise any copyright holder who opted out using the online form, to follow this up with a certified letter.

    Then I tried to find out whether my books had been scanned—which information I think should be freely available to all copyright holders, to help them decide whether to opt out of or into the Settlement. I received a form response that said this information would only be released if I opted IN “for fear of false claims.” I said I was only interested in my own books, and submitted full bibliographic information on each, including ISBNs. I received the same response. But I’ve also seen the opt-in form. All it requires is basic bibliographic information that someone who did want to make a false claim could easily find on Amazon and numerous other places.

    And: The revised version of the Settlement still contains that paragraph near the end of the main part that says Google will not commit to _not_ publishing the titles of those who have opted out of the entire Settlement.

    Some authors have asked me, why not remain in the Settlement and just opt out my in-print titles? I don’t do business with anyone I can’t trust. I don’t want a publisher (Google) who has massively and knowingly violated copyright law. I don’t want a publisher who theoretically offers me opt-outs (options) but will not commit to honoring them. I don’t want a publisher who will not give me open information about what they have done with my books. I don’t want a publisher who scans my books, then offers me a contract negotiated between themselves and another party (the Author’s Guild) the terms of which I cannot negotiate. Nor can I effectively protest if Google makes a “mistake” and sells any in-print titles that I opted out of the Settlement. (Having to go to Google’s arbitration if they make a “mistake” is a shuck.) I don’t want a publisher who tells me they will do anything they want with my copyrighted material without my prior permission, and pay me what they choose, and that all I can do is lie down and take it.

  13. MyMediaLand Says:

    I think all media should be free. i will make all information available to most people

  14. Daycare Says:

    Work From Home ……

    It is amazing how many moms over look this one ……

  15. Colin Hall Says:

    Sadly all ideals seem to have their heads turned by business in the end. For once it would be nice to see a result that benefits all mankind and not just the shareholders of major corporations.

  16. Annie Goes Public: Finding a Suitable Solution for Orphaned Works | The Book of MPub Says:

    [...] [vi] Kahle, Brewster. “Google Claims to be the Lone Defender of Orphans: Not lone, not Defender.” Open Content Alliance. October 07, 2009. (http://www.opencontentalliance.org/2009/10/07/google-claims-to-be-the-lone-defender-of-orphans-not-l…. [...]

  17. Robert Says:

    Fortunately, Google is not the only party that support digitalizing the orphans. The Internet Archive also plays an important role in the Million Books Project. The Million Books project aims to scan digitalizing out of print books so that people can read them in the digital library.

  18. john mathews Says:

    google is a “businessman”! and they have their priorities. MONEY is their first priority and everything else comes second. Whatever policy they make OR whatever decision they take for (their so called)human friendly policy is first need to benefit “them on moneytory grounds” (passively, if not actively) then they can think
    of something else. Also, digitalizing the orphans seems a “real good move towards helping the needy” but they are NOT only one
    who is doing so.

  19. Email Blast Software Says:

    Wow – why all the google hate – what company is doing more than them>

  20. Luisa Says:

    Google is very famous search engine all over the world.

  21. Sandra Says:

    I totally agree with Schmidt we need a solution.

  22. Best Online JObs Says:

    I never will never understand this companies that are trying to bring google down.Without google we couldnt be feeding our kids.so let em stop hatin’

  23. Mandy Says:

    Amazing google is the best and the big Search Engine of all.

  24. dinamicSoft Says:

    Indeed… google is the best SE and a great company

  25. Julie Says:

    As a user, i think google is the best search engine in internet. But sadly all ideals seem to have their heads turned by business in the end. For once it would be nice to see a result that benefits all mankind and not just the shareholders of major corporations.

  26. Molly Says:

    Well, I can’t trust. I don’t want a publisher (Google) who has massively and knowingly violated copyright law.

  27. personal finance software Says:

    google needs to get their act together. honestly

  28. Business Attorney Says:

    Maybe google is trying to take over the smithsonian institute or the library of congress. Interesting how they are doing this, and seemingly getting more and more information every day. Although I like the proliferation of information, it certainly shouldn’t be at the authors expense.

  29. maple syrup Says:

    It is crazy that Google gets a special deal. I too supported google when I first heard what they are trying to do. Unfortunately it sounds like if they get their way it will put others at a disadvantage. Doesn’t make sense! (although it does for google)

  30. Tom McHugh Says:

    I have downloaded several hundred books from Google over the past year, because I needed them for research in Optics. At the time I wasn’t aware that other sources were/are available. I have, sadly, discovered that Google’s book thing is badly done, as are most of their other projects. Google does not scan books, it scans ancient, low quality microfilms of books. Google’s book thing is just as bad as its Map thing–that is, once you start using it, you find that it is riddled with errors and sloppy standards. On Google Maps roads are incorrectly numbered, or missing, and in Google Books pages may be missing, blurred or too dim to read. They don’t look at what they do. They just crank it out and they don’t care about anything but their bragging rights.

  31. Google’s Sergey Brin lashes out at critics of $125m book deal | Richard Hartley Says:

    [...] get books online for far longer than Google – and Google's 'settlement' could hurt our efforts," he wrote in a blog post on Wednesday. "A major part of our efforts have concentrated on changing the law so everyone would benefit." [...]

  32. ehispano | Best Man Speeches Brother Says:

    A major part of our efforts have concentrated on changing the law so everyone would benefit. On Google Maps roads are incorrectly numbered, or missing, and in Google Books pages may be missing, blurred or too dim to read. google is the best SE and a great company.