Saturday, June 6, 2009

Critics: Google Book Deal a Monopoly, Privacy Debacle;, 6/2/09

Ryan Singel via; Critics: Google Book Deal a Monopoly, Privacy Debacle:

"Google set out to digitize the world’s books in 2003, got sued for its trouble in 2005 by publishers and authors wanting to make money from the efforts, and in 2007 came to a proposed settlement that gives Google the rights to scan, index, display and even sell millions of books that are in copyright. So far its Google Book Search program has digitized around 10 million books from the some of the nation’s most prestigious university libraries, but only small portions of most in-copyright books are shown online currently.

(Learn more with’s Google Book Search Settlement FAQ.)

Even the deal’s critics — such as New York University professor James Grimmelmann — admit that the deal sounds great: Books in copyright but out-of-print become available for viewing and purchase by the public, and researchers and students at universities will get access to the full technology.

But Grimmelmann, whose Google Book Search research has been funded by Microsoft, says that the Google deal gives it exclusive rights to books that are in copyright whose authors can’t be found — so-called orphan works — and that any competitor who wants to try the same project could get sued for huge sums of money.

That makes a monopoly, Grimmelmann told conference goers at the Computers, Freedom and Privacy conference in Washington, D.C. Tuesday."

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