Sunday, August 23, 2009

Google's book project faces growing opposition; Guardian, 8/19/09

Ed Pilkington via Guardian; Google's book project faces growing opposition:

"The latest objection, filed with the Manhattan court today, comes from a Washington-based lawyer and writer who specialises in class-action law and monopolies. In his 47-page complaint, Scott Gant argues that potentially millions of authors in America and around the world are being coerced into accepting the deal without being fully informed about its implications.

"Anyone taking part in this project should be doing so as a conscious choice to participate knowing fully what they are doing. In fact, people are being forced to hand over to Google some of their intellectual property often with no understanding of what that means," Gant said.

Under US class-action law, authors and publishers who do not specifically opt out of the settlement are deemed to have signed up to it. But Gant points out that as an author himself — he wrote a book on the digital information revolution called We're All Journalists Now: The Transformation of the Press and Reshaping of the Law in the Internet Age — he has never received any legal notice about the case.

Google announced its plans five years ago, arguing that the project to build up an online archive of millions of books that are out of print was part of its mission to "organise the world's information". It has already scanned at least 7m books, using cameras able to convert up to 1,000 pages an hour.

Most of the books, which must have been published before 5 January this year, have come from libraries and publishers in the US. Google has so far struck partnerships with 29 of the world's biggest libraries, including those of Harvard and Stanford and the Bodleian in Oxford."

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