As part of Google’s propaganda tour selling their proposed book monopoly, a surprising and seemingly hypocritical theme emerged loud and clear. Straight from the “have cake and eat it too” department, Google’s senior traveling digital book salesman, Dan Clancy, professed his undying commitment to the legislative process as it relates to orphan works.
At a Computer History Museum event last week in Silicon Valley, Clancy suggested that the best way to address the orphan books issue is for Congress to pass legislation, and that Google is not only supportive of this effort, but pushing for it.
Well, we’d like to take Google at their word and hope that they live up to that commitment. And we hope that they do it in a way that is honest and forthright, not self-serving and diversionary. At the Internet Archive, we believe that the right way to gain access to orphan books is to not break the law while you are doing it, and to work through Congress to ensure that the people’s voice in copyright is articulated the way the system was designed to work, not through a private, secret deal that we’re being assured is in our best interests by Google. For the browsing, lending, and vending of digital books, the Archive is seeking an open and competitive market with appropriate safeguards for readers, not a monopoly bookstore created by the biggest online advertising company in the world.
No one elected Google to write copyright law for America. And the Author’s Guild and American Association of Publishers simply do not accurately represent the diverse cross-section of those communities. If Google is really interested in honoring our legislative process, let’s acknowledge that Congress is the path that our government chose to make copyright law and codify its exceptions — instead of crafting secret deals through class action settlements.
To that end, we are calling on Google to petition the court and seek a delay to the October hearing regarding the settlement. Furthermore, we demand that Google publicly demonstrate their leadership and influence in DC to immediately fuel the legislative process on orphan works. That way, they could be part of a truly “non-exclusive” deal by ensuring that all stakeholders are provided the same set of rules from Day 1.
We await Google’s response.