Google’s Mission: To Digitize the World’s Books and Make Them Universally Monetizable by Google
Google, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers have submitted a new version of their digital book settlement, and while it makes concessions to the Department of Justice and others who have raised concerns about how it may violate antitrust laws, the proposal doesn’t seem to have appeased all of its opponents. Among the settlement’s changes:
- Orphan works–books whose copyright holders are unknown–will be overseen by an independent trustee who will administer their licensing, not by Google.
- Books published outside the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia will be excluded from the settlement.
Those are substantive alterations, but they clearly haven’t placated critics who accuse Google (GOOG) of attempting an “end-run around copyright law as we know it.”
The Open Book Alliance–a coalition whose members include the Internet Archive, Amazon (AMZN), Microsoft (MSFT) and Yahoo (YHOO)–has blasted the revision twice already, decrying it as “a sleight of hand” intended to distract people from Google’s continued efforts to establish a monopoly over digital content access and distribution.
“The proposed changes fail to address this deal’s fundamental flaws,” Open Book Alliance Co-Chair Gary Reback said in a vitriolic statement. “Despite Google’s effort to spin this deal, it does nothing to promote competition nor does it reform Google’s exclusive access and monopoly hold on this digital database of books. Their proposed ‘unclaimed works fiduciary’ will have zero authority to promote competition or expand access. It is a cynical diversion away from the parties’ continued reliance on the discredited argument that competitors can obtain access through the very means Google did–getting sued for copyright infringement and abusing the class action process. This deal remains rife with anti-trust, class action and copyright violations.”