Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Revised Google Book search deal 'a massive disappointment'; Computer Weekly, 11/17/09

Warwick Ashford, Computer Weekly; Revised Google Book search deal 'a massive disappointment':

"The revised proposal does not fix the serious problems that led to widespread European condemnation of the settlement. Although some European works will technically now fall outside the scope of the settlement, Google appears intent to continue copying and engaging in "snippet" display of copyrighted European works through its existing arrangements with American libraries. To say the least, the revised settlement is a massive disappointment...

The revised provisions on orphan works are similarly a failure, as Google still gets to keep a significant share of any profits from orphan works and to maintain its grip on online access to orphan works.

If Google were serious about allowing meaningful competition, the settlement would allow any company to access copies of orphan works scanned pursuant to the settlement on the same terms as Google. This would have been a simple fix to make and would have alleviated many of the most serious competition concerns.

Equally disturbing is that this settlement will give Google inordinate influence over Europe's own efforts to develop online digital libraries. It will give Google overwhelming influence over how much consumers and libraries pay for access, and how much authors and publishers earn. It is clear that Google's pricing in the US will also have a strong influence on the pricing of any similar digital library project that emerges in Europe.

Without competition, Google will face no pressure to innovate, to improve its services, or lower its prices. Online access to millions of books will remain locked up in the database of a single American company, and only Google will have the key. The world's literary heritage is simply too important to abandon to such a fate."


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