One of the most significant developments in the history of publishing could be co-opted by the settlement of a class action lawsuit that creates an unprecedented monopoly and price fixing cartel. Just as Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press more than 700 years ago ushered in a new era of knowledge sharing, the mass digitization of books promises to revolutionize how we read and discover books. But a digital library controlled by a single company and small group of publishers would inevitably lead to higher prices and subpar service for consumers, libraries, scholars, and students.
A proposed settlement to a class action lawsuit settlement among Google, the Association of American Publishers (AAP), and the Authors’ Guild threatens to monopolize the access to and distribution and pricing of the largest digital database of books in the world, cornering much of the value of book digitization and reserving it to the private parties that have negotiated what is essentially both a new policy and a business model governing access to this material without input from appropriate government officials or the public. This is unacceptable.
Unlike the proposed settlement, there are proper, fair ways to make the promised digital future for books a reality. Today, we are launching the Open Book Alliance to insist that any mass book digitization and distribution effort be open and competitive. It must be undertaken in the open, grounded in sound public policy, and mindful of the need to promote long-term benefits for consumers rather than isolated commercial interests.
A wide range of professional, academic, and corporate organizations have significant concerns about the settlement proposal. True, we all fundamentally support the effort to expand the availability of knowledge through the digitization of books. But the proposed settlement, in substance and process, is not the way to do it.
By bringing together diverse organizations such as Amazon, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses, the Internet Archive, Microsoft, the New York Library Association, Small Press Distribution, the Special Libraries Association, and Yahoo!, the Open Book Alliance will counter the special deal the proposed settlement creates for Google and the parties that have agreed to its proposed settlement, and will promote fair and flexible solutions aimed at achieving a more robust and open system.
Many startling challenges to copyright and competition policy lie buried in the settlement’s 300+ pages. The Open Book Alliance will inform policymakers and the public about the serious legal, competitive, and policy issues in the settlement proposal, including:
If you are interested in joining the Open Book Alliance or if you are interested in receiving regular updates on this important issue, contact us through our Web site. And stay tuned to this space for more information as the Open Book Alliance fights to make the promise of digital books a reality that benefits all, not just a select few.
The mass digitization of books promises to bring tremendous value to consumers, libraries, scholars, and students. The Open Book Alliance will work to advance and protect this promise. And, by...More
December 14, 2009
January 28, 2010
Deadline for authors to opt out of the settlement
January 28, 2010
Deadline to file objections and/or amicus briefs
February 4, 2010
Deadline to file notice of intent to appear at Fairness Hearing
February 4, 2010
February 11, 2010
Plaintiffs move for final approval
February 18, 2010
Final Fairness Hearing
March 31, 2011
Deadline to claim Books and Inserts