Is the Google Books Settlement Worth the Wait?

Today, Google, the Authors Guild, and the Association of American Publishers released their revised book settlement proposal in an attempt to fix the deeply flawed legal agreement.
Open Book Alliance co-chair Peter Brantley said, “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.  By performing surgical nip and tuck, Google, the AAP, and the AG are attempting to distract people from their continued efforts to establish a monopoly over digital content access and distribution; usurp Congress’s role in setting copyright policy; lock writers into their unsought registry, stripping them of their individual contract rights; put library budgets and patron privacy at risk; and establish a dangerous precedent by abusing the class action process.”

The digitization of books has the potential to unlock huge volumes of our shared cultural knowledge, and the Open Book Alliance supports efforts to make books searchable, readable, and downloadable. But there is a right way and a wrong way to accomplish this goal. The right path embraces openness, competition, and the public good. Last week, the Open Book Alliance issued a set of requirements that the new settlement proposal must adhere to in order be true to these principles. Most critically, the settlement proposal must not grant Google an exclusive set of rights (de facto or otherwise) or result in any one entity gaining control over access to and distribution of the world’s largest digital database of books.  It is clear that Google has failed to meet these requirements.

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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...

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What Experts Are Saying About the Settlement…

Important Dates

December 14, 2009
Notice begins

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
DOJ response

February 11, 2010
Plaintiffs move for final approval

February 18, 2010
Final Fairness Hearing

March 31, 2011
Deadline to claim Books and Inserts

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