Friday, October 9, 2009

"Libraries, Publishers and Leading Advocates Join Open Book Alliance in Calling for Open, Transparent Settlement Process", Reuters, 10/6/09

Reuters; Libraries, Publishers and Leading Advocates Join Open Book Alliance in Calling for Open, Transparent Settlement Process in Google Book Search Case:

"Dozens of leading academic,library, consumer advocacy, organized labor and publishing organizationsjoined the Open Book Alliance today in calling on Google and its litigationpartners to create an open and transparent process to negotiate a settlementin the Google Book Search case.
The parties published an open letter toGoogle, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers,demanding that they include key stakeholders to represent the broad range ofpublic interests in the mass digitization of books. Google and its partnersabandoned a previous settlement proposed in the case after the U.S. Departmentof Justice and others criticized the deal and recommended that the courtreject it, but Google and the plaintiff publishers continue to negotiatebehind closed doors on a revised settlement proposal.

The letter, available at,states in part:

"The Department of Justice identified scores of serious problems with theproposed settlement, which cannot be fixed with simple alterations to theagreement. Other stakeholders raised even more objections, which the partieshave largely ignored. In order to address these very real and very complexchallenges, negotiations on this issue must involve a broad range ofstakeholders in an open and transparent manner."

Joining the Open Book Alliance in calling on Google and its partners to openthe process in service of the public interest are leading library associationssuch as the New York Library Association, the Ohio Library Council, the NewJersey Library Association, and the Special Libraries Association; publisherssuch as the Council of Literary and Magazine Presses and Sarabande Books;writers' representatives such as the National Writers Union/UAW Local 1981;and many others concerned that Google will unfairly monopolize the massdigitization of books, raising prices for consumers and limiting access toimportant literary works.

The letter signatories universally support the goal of book digitization -making books searchable, readable and downloadable. They insist, however, thatGoogle and a few publishing groups not be permitted to be the sole controllersof this major cultural development, saying:

"Discussion and debate about the right way to digitize the world's writtenworks must proceed through a robust process that includes input from allstakeholders, including authors, libraries, independent publishers, consumeradvocates, state Attorneys General, the Justice Department, and Congress.""

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