[Videolib] Government Urges Changes to Google Books Deal

From: Rubin, Nan <RubinN@thirteen.org>
Date: Sat Sep 19 2009 - 11:20:35 PDT

Latest developments on the Google front.
 
Nan Rubin
 
Nan Rubin, Project Director
Preserving Digital Public Television
Thirteen
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New York, NY 10001
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Rubinn@thirteen.org
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        September 19, 2009

NY Times.

Government Urges Changes to Google Books Deal

By MIGUEL HELFT
<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/h/miguel_hel
ft/index.html?inline=nyt-per>

SAN FRANCISCO - In the latest challenge to Google's plan to establish
the world's largest digital library and bookstore, the Justice
Department said late Friday that a proposed legal settlement between
Google
<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/business/companies/google_inc/index.
html?inline=nyt-org> and book authors and publishers should not be
approved by the court without modifications.

The Justice Department said that while the agreement would provide many
benefits to the public, it also raised significant issues regarding
class-action, copyright and antitrust law.

The Justice Department described recent discussions with the parties as
"productive," however, and asked the court to encourage them to continue
talks to modify the agreement and overcome its objections.

"As presently drafted the proposed settlement does not meet the legal
standards this court must apply," the department wrote in a 32-page
legal filing. "This court should reject the proposed settlement and
encourage the parties to continue negotiations to comply with Rule 23
and the copyright and antitrust laws." Rule 23 establishes procedures
for class-action lawsuits.

Google and the groups representing publishers and authors that had
helped structure the settlement cautiously welcomed the Justice
Department's filing for its clear indication that the government wanted
to work with them to move the deal forward.

"Clearly the Justice Department sees the tremendous value that this
settlement would bring to readers, students and scholars," said Paul
Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild. "We don't want this
opportunity to be lost."

In a joint statement with the guild and the Association of American
Publishers, Google said, "We are considering the points raised by the
department and look forward to addressing them as the court proceedings
continue."

The Justice Department said it was concerned that the agreement could
violate antitrust law by giving book publishers the ability to "restrict
price competition" and by giving Google "de facto exclusive rights for
the digital distribution of orphan works." Orphan works are books whose
authors are unknown or cannot be found.

The department also said that it had concerns that the groups
negotiating the agreement did not adequately represent all types of
authors. It also said it was particularly concerned that the agreement
granted Google the right to exploit orphan works "for unspecified future
uses."

In recent weeks, Google made some concessions to placate some opponents
of the deal, and the department's filing made repeated references to the
parties' willingness to make further changes to address its concerns.

A Justice Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity,
said he didn't know whether any modifications would require the parties
to provide a new notice to class members, a costly process that could
delay the court review by months.

The proposed $125 million settlement has ignited extensive controversy,
and the Justice Department's filing echoed some of the concerns that
have been previously raised. Some critics have said that Google's
virtual lock on orphan works would make it virtually impossible for
others to compete.

Others have said that by granting Google a blanket license to millions
of books unless authors specifically object, the agreement turns
copyright law on its head.

The parties to the settlement have strongly defended the agreement,
saying that nothing in it prevents competitors from following in
Google's footsteps and obtaining similar licenses to orphan works. They
argue that the agreement would give authors and publishers new ways to
earn money from digital copies of their books, and it would benefit the
public by making millions of rarely seen out-of-print books widely
available online.

If approved, the settlement would resolve class actions filed in 2005 by
the groups representing authors and publishers against Google in the
United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. The
suits claimed that the company's plan to digitize millions of
copyrighted books from libraries without prior approval from rights
holders was illegal.

Federal District Court Judge Denny Chin
<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/c/denny_chin
/index.html?inline=nyt-per> has scheduled a hearing on the case for
Oct. 7.

The Justice Department is not a party to the case but legal experts say
the court is likely to seriously consider its views.

The settlement would allow Google to go forward with its scanning
project and absolve it of copyright liability. It would also greatly
expand what Google can do with digital copies of copyrighted books.

Under the settlement, Google could show online readers in the United
States as much as 20 percent of most books. Readers would be able to buy
from Google access to complete copies of individual books online.

Google would also be allowed to sell access to its entire collection to
universities and other institutions. The company would grant free access
to the full texts in its digital library at one terminal at every public
library in the country.

Motoko Rich contributed reporting from New York.

        

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Received on Sat Sep 19 11:21:30 2009

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