Google Book Settlement revised; Open Book Alliance pans it as mere 'nip and tuck'

Google Book Settlement revised; Open Book Alliance pans it as mere 'nip and tuck'

Summary: Google, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers have modified their digital book agreement in an effort to placate the Justice Department and other critics.

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Google, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers have modified their digital book agreement in an effort to placate the Justice Department and critics of the deal.

Among the key items in the revised settlement, detailed on Google's public policy blog (PDF summary):

  • The deal only covers books registered with the U.S. Copyright Office or published in the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada. Among the key items:
  • The new agreement addresses orphan works, which have unknown rights holders and limits what can be done with revenue garnered from these books.
  • An independent fiduciary will look out for the rights holders of these orphan works.
  • Google's algorithm for creating competitive pricing in the book market was clarified.

It's unclear whether the deal will mollify critics and regulators. Google's book settlement gave the search giant permission to scan books and sell access to them for revenue sharing and a $125 million fee.

Critics, including regulators, Amazon.com and other groups, say the Google deal is anticompetitive and cover authors and publishers not covered by the Author's Guild and Association of American Publishers.

The Open Book Alliance, which opposes the Google Books Settlement, already panned the deal. In a blog post, Open Book Alliance co-chair Peter Brantley noted:

“Our initial review of the new proposal tells us that Google and its partners are performing a sleight of hand; fundamentally, this settlement remains a set-piece designed to serve the private commercial interests of Google and its partners.  None of the proposed changes appear to address the fundamental flaws illuminated by the Department of Justice and other critics that impact public interest.

The Open Book Alliance called the latest Google book settlement merely a "nip and tuck."

Related: Google's book settlement: Here comes the DOJ and likely deal tweaks

Topics: Enterprise Software, Google, Legal

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2 comments
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  • Orphan works

    Should become non-copyrighted after 4 years
    without a known rights owner. PERIOD!
    Lerianis10
  • Hangers on

    Seems to me most of the groups complaining want benefits without effort. Amazon, Microsoft, Yahoo, etc., and these various authors' advocates could all have intervened in the lawsuit on the grounds that they have a substantial interest that will be affected by the outcome. They all could have made a sincere effort to reach a reasonable settlement that fairly takes care of the sometimes conflicting interests of authors, publishers, search providers, etc., while "getting their hands dirty" actually digitizing materials, improving search algorithms, etc., during the litigation. Everybody knew the court wasn't going to simply ban digitization--the parties were going to work something out, just as the TV producers and the Actors' Guild worked out the problem where actors only got paid residuals for the first three times a show was rerun but when the shows were made nobody dreamed that shows would still be in reruns 20+ years later.

    Instead, they want to sit back and let Google "do the dirty work" but they get to criticize and reap the benefits. If they're not willing to put in the time, money and effort to work out a solution, they should have no say in it and no part in the benefits.
    Rick_R