Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Google pushes for new law on orphan books; CNet News, 7/31/09

Tom Krazit via CNet News; Google pushes for new law on orphan books:

"If those organizations attacking Google's book search settlement with publishers spent as much time lobbying Congress for better laws concerning those issues, perhaps the controversy would go away, Google's chief Book Search engineer suggested Thursday night.

Google's quest to convince the world it has nothing to fear by its settlement with publishers came to the Computer History Museum Thursday where Dan Clancy, engineering director for Google Book Search, defended the settlement before a few hundred attendees who submitted written questions to John Hollar, president and CEO of the museum...

The Internet Archive has been one of the more prominent critics of Google's Book Search settlement, and distributed a statement prior to Thursday's event saying just that. "...no one else has the same legal protections that Google has. Would the parties to the settlement amend the settlement to extend legal liability indemnification to any and all digitizers of orphan works? If not, why not leave orphans out of the settlement and compel a legislative solution instead of striking a private deal in a district court?"

Under the settlement, the Books Rights Registry is allowed to cut deals with other companies or organizations looking to digitize books, but they are not allowed to extend the same privileges Google enjoys with respect to orphan works, which Clancy estimated as about 10 percent of the books that are out of print but still protected by copyright.

That's why a legislative solution that fixes the problems concerning orphan works is the best outcome for everyone with a stake in book digitization, and Google is leaning on Congress to get such a law passed, Clancy said. Given the pressing issues before Congress at the moment--not to mention the complexity of copyright law--finding champions for such legislation has been difficult, he said.

Google thinks that by obtaining the right to digitize orphan works, it will stimulate demand for digital book scanning that eventually forces Congress to act. Any law passed to loosen restrictions on the use of orphan works would take precedent over Google's settlement."


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