Monday, November 16, 2009

Google Book Search Database Halved By Removing Most Foreign Texts; Library Journal, 11/16/09

Norman Oder, Library Journal; Google Book Search Database Halved By Removing Most Foreign Texts:

  • "Only Anglo-American works included
  • Issues of pricing, comprehensiveness
  • EFF: nothing new on reader privacy
  • Department of Justice still concerned

The Wall Street Journal added some crucial context to discussion of the revised Google Book Search Settlement announced late Friday: it "would cut the number of works covered by the settlement by at least half by removing millions of foreign works." (Only works from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada would be included.)

Librarian and consultant Karen Coyle commented, "This greatly changes the value of the institutional subscription for higher education, as well as the value of the 'research corpus' (essentially a database of the OCR'd texts that researchers can use for computational research)... As it is, too many Americans are unaware of the world outside of those Anglo-American borders. This will just exacerbate that problem.

"What about the DOJ?
LJ suggested Saturday that the relatively minor changes on the issue of orphan works—in-copyright but out of print—might draw continued interest from the Department of Justice (DOJ); the Wall Street Journal reported that "the Justice Department remains concerned that the fact the settlement gives Google immunity from lawsuits related to orphan works may be anticompetitive."

Privacy concerns remain
Cindy Cohn of the Electronic Frontier Foundation wrote, "Unfortunately, the parties did not add any reader privacy protections. The only nominal change was that they formally confirmed a position they had long taken privately that information will not be freely shared between Google and the Registry."

Timetable: resolution in February?
The proposed timetable sets January 28, 2010 as the deadline for opting out and filing objections or amicus briefs; February 4 for the DOJ response; and February 18 for the final fairness hearing"

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