Posts Tagged ‘google’

Congressmen and Google Support Legislation as More Equitable Solution than Settlement

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

In a long-awaited expression of support for a more level playing field than that outlined in its proposed settlement with a handful of authors and publishers, David C. Drummond, Senior Vice President of Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer Google yesterday agreed with the House Judiciary Committee on passage of updated copyright legislation.

In response to direct questions from both Chairman Conyers (D, Michigan) and Representative Johnson (D, Georgia) about the passage of legislation offering equal legal rights to all in digitizing and offering orphan (and out of print) works, Mr. Drummond replied “We would have no problem with that.”

The 2008 session of Congress very nearly passed such legislation, with the Senate approving a bill and a House bill making it out of Committee, but stalling thereafter. The groundwork has been laid for finalizing this legislation, and passage this session could be a tremendously positive peripheral outcome of the lawsuit.

Many of the Committee members, joining with a broad range of complainants arguing that the proposed settlement would create a court-sanctioned monopoly, emphasized the appropriate role for Congress in passing updated copyright legislation as it applies to digital works. Mary Beth Peters, Register of Copyrights, US Copyright Office, advocated for this strongly in her testimony, labeling the proposed settlement “. . . a mockery out of Article 1 of the Constitution,” adding that “Key parts of the settlement are fundamentally at odds with the law.”

Rep. Sherman noted that approval of the settlement as proposed would constitute “legislating from the bench,” an inappropriate role for the Court. Representative Sherman (D, California) further suggested that Court action on the proposed settlement be delayed until Congress codified orphan works legislation for everyone.

–Linda Frueh, Internet Archive, from attending the Congressional hearing

Questions for the Google books monopoly

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

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?

Privacy: Despite repeated requests, Google has declined to give any details about what privacy controls it would put in place on its Book Search product. Will Google track the books that we are reading and make this information available to sell advertising against it? Will Google refuse to share information with the government about what books people are reading, as libraries routinely do? Will Google even publish a robust privacy policy on its Book Search product before the settlement issue is resolved?

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.