Internet Archive Announces Everybody-Against-Google Coalition
As the Google Book Search Settlement nears a Sept. 4 deadline for rights-holders to opt out of the deal, some powerful interests are allying to oppose it.
Rallied by the Internet Archive and veteran Silicon Valley antitrust lawyer Gary Reback, Amazon (AMZN), Microsoft (MSFT), Yahoo (YHOO), the Special Libraries Association, the New York Library Association and the American Society of Journalists and Authors are forming a coalition called the Open Book Alliance. Its purpose: To make the case to an already concerned Justice Department that the $125 million settlement–which will allow Google to digitize some 18 million books–is an anticompetitive restructuring of the book industry and one that could give Google a monopoly on the largest digital library of books in the world.
And it might. There are some who claim the plan grants Google (GOOG) a blanket license on millions of so-called orphan books, works still in copyright but whose copyright owners are unknown.
But Google insists the deal is nonexclusive and says other companies are free to pursue their own agreements with the publishing industry. The company further notes that its efforts will not only restore access to some 10 million out-of-print books that are still under copyright, but provide their authors with a new means of profiting from them. The deal is beneficial, Google contends, to consumers and to the publishing industry.
And to Google as well, because there is always a profit motive to the company’s altruism.
That said, Google does have a point here. Restoring access to millions of books that are today unavailable in any medium is a worthy goal. So is enabling their authors and publishers to once again make a bit of money from them. Is there a better option for the publishing industry at this moment? Allow those works to lie fallow and unmonetized?
[Image Credit: Forrester Magazine]