Posts Tagged ‘orphan books’

Google at their word

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

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.

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.