Google Books Settlement Shares Digital Access With Booksellers

By September 11, 2009 1 comment

Google Books has experienced much backlash from publishers with its plans to offer digital copies of public domain and other types of books. During the congressional hearing Thursday, the company discussed with opponents the settlement that could give it rights to digitally distribute some works. But part of the agreement is that rivals would also be able to sell access to these digital copies. According to the Wall Street Journal , Paul Misener, Inc's vice president for global public policy, wants to work directly with rights holders, not through Google. But Authors Guild executive director Paul Aiken approved Google's decision. "Having books available through multiple outlets directly addresses the antitrust issues," he said, and would generate additional book sales.

The Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers in 2005 sued Google for copyright violation in response to the Mountain View company's book-scanning project. In the October 2008 settlement , Google agreed to share revenue from out-of-print books with rights holders.

Other opponents of the deal include Microsoft Corp. and the US Copyright Office. Marybeth Peters, head of the latter, said at the hearing that "key parts of the settlement are fundamentally at odds with the law." Specifically, she argues that the settlement would allow Google to continue scanning commercial products without the prior consent of rights holders.

David Drummond, Google Chief Legal Officer, said in an interview that this measure will assure that Google will not be the only holder of these digital works.

The Copyright Office has voiced its concerns to US District Court Judge Denny Chin of the Department of Justice, as it cannot block the deal directly. Judge Chin has given a September 18 deadline to file a brief for the case.

Drummond believes that the Copyright Office objections are unfounded. In the New York Times , he said that the settlement is legal and within class action settlement guidelines.

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1 Comment

Glad to see they are working this out.

Submitted by dave (not verified) - on September 17, 2009 at 09:37 am

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