Simply put, the fur is flying.
As noted Wednesday, supporters for the Google Book Settlement and opposition are lining up in a big scrum that could get nasty. Google was sued in 2005 by authors and publishers for infringing on copyrights as the search giant moved to digitize books. Google settled in October 2008 with authors and publishers for $125 million and agreed to set up a registry to ensure copyright owners would be compensated.
- Google says it is pleased about the support that its settlement with authors and publishers has received. The search giant also noted that it will protect information---like personal data from library records---after some prodding by the Federal Trade Commission.
Given Google’s silence on specifics — from privacy, to pricing, to access, to competition – we think it’s too important to leave to blind faith that Google would do the right thing for consumers if the settlement is approved.
Amazon's hypocrisy is breathtaking. It dominates online bookselling and the fledgling e-book industry. At this moment it's trying to cement its control of the e-book industry by routinely selling e-books at a loss. It won't do that forever, of course. Eventually, when enough readers are locked in to its Kindle, everyone in the industry expects Amazon to squeeze publishers and authors. The results could be devastating for the economics of authorship.
Amazon apparently fears that Google could upend its plans. Amazon needn't worry, really: this agreement is about out-of-print books. Its lock on the online distribution of in-print books, unfortunately, seems secure.
Got all of that? Get used to it. The sniping over the Google Books Settlement is just beginning.