John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Open Book Alliance Throws Book at Google

openbookalliance-logoThe Open Book Alliance–or “Sour Grapes Alliance,” as Google likes to call it–formally launched Wednesday afternoon, debuting a new Web site, as well as the manifesto with which it is challenging Google’s settlement with authors and publishers.

“The mass digitization of books promises to bring tremendous value to consumers, libraries, scholars, and students,” the Alliance says in its mission statement. “The Open Book Alliance will work to advance and protect this promise. And, by protecting it, we will assert that any mass book digitization and publishing effort be open and competitive. The process of achieving this promise 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. The Open Book Alliance will counter Google, the Association of American Publishers and the Authors’ Guild’s scheme to monopolize the access, distribution and pricing of the largest digital database of books in the world. To this end, we will promote fair and flexible solutions aimed at achieving a more robust and open system.”

Rallying behind that cry is an array of nonprofit author groups, library institutions, and Google (GOOG) rivals that includes the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the New York Library Association, Microsoft (MSFT), Yahoo (YHOO) and Amazon (AMZN), which only confirmed its membership in the Alliance today. All of these participants fear that the Google Book Search Settlement, which will restore access to millions of out-of-print books, could one day give the company a monopoly on the largest digital library in the world.

With a Sept. 4 deadline for submissions to the court reviewing the settlement approaching, we’re likely to hear increasingly more cries that the settlement is bad for consumers, libraries, schools, authors and publishers.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work