Friday, October 9, 2009

Google's Sergey Brin lashes out at critics of $125m book deal; Guardian, 10/9/09

Bobbie Johnson, Guardian; Google's Sergey Brin lashes out at critics of $125m book deal:

"Google co-founder Sergey Brin has hit out at critics who derailed the company's $125m deal with American publishers to give it the right to digitise millions of books...

In a column published in the New York Times, Brin - who founded the internet giant with Larry Page in 1998 - hit out at those objectors, called many of their accusations "myths" while dismissing other concerns as fantasy...

Brin's comments come a day after he came in for fierce criticism from Brewster Kahle, the founder of the non-profit Internet Archive, which has been working to secure a change in copyright law to help digitisation projects. In particular, the archive has been working to clarify the status of so-called "orphan" works - books whose copyright holder remains unknown - by pushing new legislation through the US Congress.

Under Google's proposal, the Californian internet company would have gained the exclusive right to sell advertising or access to orphan works - something Kahle felt was inappropriate.

"Many of us are objecting because we have been working together for years on the mass scanning of out-of-print books – and have worked to get books online for far longer than Google – and Google's 'settlement' could hurt our efforts," he wrote in a blog post on Wednesday. "A major part of our efforts have concentrated on changing the law so everyone would benefit."

"There is an alternative, and they know it — orphan works legislation — that up until the last session of Congress had been working its way through the house and senate. It was not perfect, but was getting close to what we need. Best yet, it passed one house — at least until Google effectively sideswiped the process with their settlement proposal."

In his editorial, Brin admitted that Google would have exclusive rights over such material, at least in the short term - but then suggested that Google's deal would actually help attempts to force through a legislative change.

"While new projects will not immediately have the same rights to orphan works, the agreement will be a beacon of compromise in case of a similar lawsuit, and it will serve as a precedent for orphan works legislation, which Google has always supported and will continue to support.""

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