Wednesday, September 30, 2009

‘Winnie-The-Pooh’ Suit Is Dismissed; New York Times, 9/30/09

Dave Itzkoff, New York Times; ‘Winnie-The-Pooh’ Suit Is Dismissed:

"A longstanding lawsuit involving royalties for the characters of Winnie-the-Pooh and his lovable, lucrative friends from the Hundred Acre Wood was dismissed in federal district court in Los Angeles, Reuters reported. In a legal dispute that dates to 1991, the estate of Stephen Slesinger, the producer who first acquired licensing rights to the Pooh works and characters from A. A. Milne in 1930, was suing for more than $700 million in royalties it says it was owed by the Walt Disney Company, which acquired the rights from Stephen Slesinger Inc. in 1961. When lower courts threw out that case after the misconduct of a private investigator, Mr. Slesinger’s heirs filed a copyright-infringement suit against Disney. On Friday Judge Florence-Marie Cooper ruled that Stephen Slesinger Inc. “transferred all of its rights in the Pooh works to Disney, and may not now claim infringement of any retained rights.”"

Record Stores: Out of Sight, Not Obsolete; New York Times, 9/30/09

Ben Sisario, New York Times; Record Stores: Out of Sight, Not Obsolete:

"To survive in a market in which most products are just a click away, the dealers serve micro-niches, catering to ever fewer but more discriminating customers. One Vinylmania shopper, Jusoong Sun, 47, said he preferred the tactile and social aspects of nonvirtual retail: “To me the whole experience of buying is coming here and feeling the record, putting on the turntable. It’s still tangible.”"

Warner Music Videos to Return to YouTube; New York Times, 9/29/09

Brian Stelter, New York Times; Warner Music Videos to Return to YouTube:

"Ending a nine-month standoff, YouTube said Tuesday that it had reached a new agreement with Warner Music Group that would return the label’s music videos to the world’s largest video Web site.

Warner Music had demanded that its videos be removed last December after licensing talks stalled with YouTube, a unit of Google. The new deal means that YouTube has deals with the country’s four major record labels and four major publishers."

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Friday, September 25, 2009

In Defense Of Google Books; Forbes, 9/25/09

Quentin Hardy, Forbes; In Defense Of Google Books:

Go ahead and hate Google, but it guaranteed our heritage a future.

"If Google's actions seem entirely wrong, consider how we would feel if, in response to all the criticism, Google simply destroyed the 10 million-volume corpus. We would feel an almost irrevocable loss.

The agreement will be reached. Most likely it will be tentative, and subject to review in a few years. It will not be perfect. But if Google had not made its audacious move, we could be heading into the future with a stunted and partial heritage."

Unpacking The Kirby Reclamation Case; Comic Book Resources, 9/25/09

Kiel Phegley, Comic Book Resources; Unpacking The Kirby Reclamation Case:

"From the Fantastic Four to Iron Man and even to Spider-Man (a character most comics historians generally don't attribute to Kirby's pen beyond a possible hand in design), almost the entirety of what many fans both hardcore and casual would consider the core of the Marvel Universe are named in the papers, which were served both to Marvel Entertainment, their prospective buyer the Disney Corporation and Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures and more companies who have profited from major adaptations of the Marvel characters.

However, while the idea that the Kirby estate may regain a piece of the copyrights for the superheroes has kept talk and speculation high, only a small part of the conversation has gotten to the heart of what's at stake in the filing. While part of this comes from fact that very little about the case has made it to the public eye just yet (when reached via e-mail by CBR, the Kirby's attorney Marc Toberoff declined to comment), many of the issues surrounding copyright law and this case in particular can be confusing to those without law degrees. "In reading some of the articles that are out there, I keep wanting to send notes to people saying, 'No, that's not right,'" laughed intellectual property lawyer and comic rights expert Michael Lovitz of Los Angeles firm Buchalter Nemer. CBR contacted Lovitz (who aside from hosting the annual "Comic Book Law School" panels at Comic-Con International in San Diego also represents comic artists like Colleen Doran and Bob Layton) to help parse out the details of the Kirbys' attempt at reclaiming rights from Marvel.

Lovitz stressed that, at this point, there is no lawsuit involved in the proceedings, and for now neither side has to do much of anything for a number of years. The notice of reclamation filed by the Kirby family only indicates that they do intend to lay claim to a share of the Marvel characters once the initial period of copyright would have ended, which for the individual heroes and villains in question could fall somewhere between 2017 and 2019. "And then they could exercise their rights for the remainder of the extended period [if they win]. They could sell it to the same people, sell it to someone else or do something with it themselves."

"The way the trademark statute is set up, each time the law was rewritten and the term of protection extended, there was an addition that said, 'We recognize that when a creator goes to a big company and sells a property to them, they're not in the best bargaining position,'" Lovitz explained, citing the current case of Jerry Siegel's family over the rights to he and Joe Shuster's Superman as a prime example. "They made an original bargain back then for 56 years of protection. If I write a novel and sell it to [you as a company] back in the '30s, I know the maximum amount of time you'll be able to capitalize on it is 56 years, and I take that into consideration when I make the bargain with you. What the people who lobbied congress said was, 'That's fine, but you're extending from 56 to 75 and then later 95 years of protection for those older works. They only bargained for 56, so you should give the original creators the ability to terminate the transfer.' That's what's going on here: a termination of the transfer of rights."

The major difference between the Kirby case and the Siegel case (which, since its moved into an actual lawsuit with Warner Brothers, has been handled with much success by Toberoff) is that in the case of Superman no one ever argued that Siegel and Shuster had not created the character independently and then sold it to DC....

However, the Kirby case holds many more complications as the process of figuring out what exactly the family might be owed involves placing a concrete legal answer onto one of the great comic fan debates of all time: Who exactly created what and when at Marvel Comics?...

Ultimately, the future of the legal rights of Jack Kirby and Marvel both will make for exciting reading for comics fans and legal types, especially since the future may only hold more and more cases of creators and their families trying to reclaim their classic characters. "You always read these little comments of people saying, 'How interesting that in ten years you could have Time Warner doing a Spider-Man movie and Disney doing a Superman movie?' " laughed Lovitz. "And how ironic that the company that was one of the biggest proponents of the copyright extension, Disney, may find itself being burned because of those extensions that gave in the rights of reversion?""

Google Books deal forces us to rethink copyright; Guardian, 9/25/09

Nick Harkaway, Guardian; Google Books deal forces us to rethink copyright:

The Google Books deal has been postponed: good. But what we really need is copyright reform

"Last Friday, the US Department of Justice gave the Google Books settlement a clip across the ear. The DoJ filing basically told the parties they were overreaching the bounds of a settlement, effectively creating new law. It also waved the anti-trust stick. The settlement as we knew it now seems to be off the table.

In one sense I'm relieved. I opted out, which felt like a huge decision, and now it looks as if things are less cut and dried than I feared they might be. I'm also relieved that the good practice of copyright is being protected. On the other hand, I'm disappointed. Google's library plan was staggering and exciting – it wasn't the idea I objected to, but the method."

Judge delays Google books hearing; BBC News, 9/25/09

Maggie Shiels, BBC News; Judge delays Google books hearing:

""Clearly voices such as ours had an impact on Judge Chin," wrote consumer watchdog advocate John Simpson in an email to BBC News.

"There was no way the proposed settlement could go forward. We believe that the proper place to solve many of the case's thorniest problems, such as that of orphan books, is in Congress because it is important to build digital libraries."

Orphan books - of which there are thought to be five million - are titles where the authors cannot be found.

Judge Chin has called for a "status conference" to be held on 7 October - the original date for the hearing - to determine "how to proceed with the case as expeditiously as possible". "

Thursday, September 24, 2009

French publishers take Google to court for 'forgery'; AVP, 9/24/09

Dominique Chabrol, AVP; French publishers take Google to court for 'forgery':

"France's Seuil publishing house filed its suit accusing Google France and Google inc. of forgery back in June 2006 but had to wait until Thursday before the case finally reached a courtroom.

It reckons that up to 4,000 works published by the group have been digitized by Google without his consent.

The SNE estimates that about 100,000 French books that are still under copyright have been digitized by the Internet company."

Google Books Settlement Delayed Indefinitely; New York Times Bits Blog, 9/24/09

Miguel Helft, Google Books Settlement Delayed Indefinitely; Google Books Settlement Delayed Indefinitely:

"Judge Denny Chin of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York granted a motion to delay an Oct. 7 hearing on the settlement, which would pave the way for Google to create an immense digital library and bookstore. The motion was filed earlier this week by the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers, the plaintiffs in the case, and was unopposed by Google, the defendant.

Judge Chin said that it made no sense to hold a hearing on the current settlement since the parties have indicated that they are negotiating significant changes to it."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Free the Orphans: Are we being played for fools in Google Books play?; ZDNet, 9/23/09

Richard Koman, ZDNet; Free the Orphans: Are we being played for fools in Google Books play?:

"I’m reposting an insightful piece about the pull-back of the Google Books settlement by Brewster Kahle of the Internet Archive. Brewster was among the first to cry foul over the deal and he has been a leading voice throughout the full debate."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

New deal sought in dispute over Google book plan; Associated Press, 9/22/09

Larry Neumeister, Associated Press; New deal sought in dispute over Google book plan:

"The government encouraged an improved settlement, saying it "has the potential to breathe life into millions of works that are now effectively off limits to the public."

Lawyers for the authors and publishers said in court papers Tuesday that, "as the United States government put it, no one wants `the opportunity or momentum to be lost.'"

They urged Chin to delay a hearing scheduled for Oct. 7, saying that a new agreement may take away some objections among the roughly 400 opinions, both pro and con, which were filed with Chin by a deadline earlier this month...

Consumer Watchdog, a nonpartisan, nonprofit consumer advocacy group that has asked the court to reject the settlement, said in a statement that key copyright issues should be settled by Congress in a fully public process.

"Essentially Google and the authors and publishers groups are back at square one and must re-negotiate the deal," said John M. Simpson, a consumer advocate with Consumer Watchdog who was one of eight witnesses to testify about the deal to the House Judiciary Committee."

Confirmed: Jack Kirby's heirs want a piece of Spider-Man; Comic Book Resources, 9/22/09

Kevin Melrose, Comic Book Resources; Confirmed: Jack Kirby's heirs want a piece of Spider-Man:

"According to the Heat Vision report, Kirby's heirs seek to recapture a share of the copyright to characters and story elements that appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15 -- Aunt May, Uncle Ben, Flash Thompson, etc. -- plus characters and concepts like J. Jonah Jameson, the Daily Bugle, Chameleon, the Tinkerer and the Lizard, most of which debuted months later in issues of The Amazing Spider-Man. (The Daily Bugle first appeared in Fantastic Four #2.)

If the Kirby children are successful, they would reclaim their father's portion of the copyright to key characters and concepts from the Marvel Universe as early as 2017 for the Fantastic Four. In most cases, that would seem to mean co-ownership with Marvel, as Lee agreed to waive claim to any of the characters. With Spider-Man, one-third ownership could be possible if the Kirbys were to prevail yet the judge recognized Ditko's interests."

Monday, September 21, 2009

Disney Faces Rights Issues Over Marvel; New York Times, 9/21/09

Michael Cieply and Brooks Barnes, New York Times; Disney Faces Rights Issues Over Marvel:

"Walt Disney’s proposed $4 billion acquisition of Marvel Entertainment may come with a headache: newly filed claims challenging Marvel’s long-term rights to some of its superhero characters.

Heirs to the comic book artist Jack Kirby, a creator of characters and stories behind Marvel mainstays like “X-Men” and “Fantastic Four,” last week sent 45 notices of copyright termination to Marvel and Disney, as well as Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Universal Pictures, and other companies that have been using the characters.

The notices expressed an intent to regain copyrights to some of Mr. Kirby’s creations as early as 2014, according to a statement disclosed on Sunday by Toberoff & Associates, a law firm in Los Angeles that helped win a court ruling last year returning a share of the copyright in Superman to heirs of one of the character’s creators, Jerome Siegel."

Google Working to Revise Digital Books Settlement; New York Times, 9/21/09

Miguel Helft, New York Times; Google Working to Revise Digital Books Settlement:

"Legal experts say the new round of discussions, and the government’s intervention, are almost certain to delay an agreement that Google and the other parties were eager to see ratified quickly.

“The news out of this is that there are frantic negotiations going on in back rooms right now,” said James Grimmelmann, an associate professor at the Institute for Information Law and Policy at New York Law School, which raised antitrust and other objections to the settlement. “The parties are scared enough to be talking seriously about changes, with each other and the government. The government is being the stern parent making them do it.”...

The Justice Department’s filing on Friday, echoing other critics, said that the settlement could give Google a virtually exclusive license to millions of out-of-print “orphan books,” whose rights holders were unknown or cannot be found, making it impossible for anyone else to build a comparable digital library; the interests of some class members, including authors of orphan works and foreign authors, might not have been adequately represented; and the efforts to notify class members about the settlement might have been inadequate.

But unlike some of the more strident opponents, who have argued that the settlement is so flawed that it must be rejected, the Justice Department said it hoped the accord could be fixed so that its benefits — most notable the unprecedented access to millions of out-of-print books it would offer — could be achieved. And it said the parties appeared willing to make changes to address such concerns."

Saturday, September 19, 2009

U.S. Urges Court to Reject Google Book Deal; New York Times, 9/18/09

Reuters via New York Times; U.S. Urges Court to Reject Google Book Deal:

"The U.S. Justice Department urged a New York court on Friday to reject Google's controversial deal with authors and publishers that would allow the search engine giant to create a massive online digital library.

The Justice Department said in a filing that the court "should reject the proposed settlement in its current form and encourage the parties to continue negotiations to modify it so as to comply with ... copyright and antitrust laws...

A fairness hearing on the deal has been set for October 7 in the federal court in Manhattan.

The case is Authors Guild et al v Google Inc 05-08136 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (Manhattan)"

Friday, September 18, 2009

2-Groups call for EU scrutiny of Google book deal; Reuters, 9/18/09

James Pethokoukis, Reuters; 2-Groups call for EU scrutiny of Google book deal:

"A hearing held by the European Commission on the matter onSept. 7 and attended by interested parties and Google officialsfailed to answer critics' questions, the groups said in aletter to EU Internal Market Commissioner Charlie McCreevy,Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes and six othercommissioners.

Signatories to the letter include Microsoft-sponsored
MSFT.0 lobbying group ICOMP, the German Publishers and
Booksellers Association, German lobbying group SuMa and CEPIC,
which represents about 1,000 picture associations, agencies and
libraries in Europe.

"We believe (the settlement) is unacceptable in its present
form as it violates the rights of copyright holders and authors
and would lead to a de facto monopoly," the groups said."

Google Books, Congress, and Orphan Works; Center for Democracy & Technology, 9/17/09

David Sohn, Center for Democracy & Technology; Google Books, Congress, and Orphan Works:

"As a practical matter, it is far from clear when or if Congress would be able to produce a legislative solution to the latter problem. The politics of copyright are notoriously difficult. One response to that reality is to say, fine — if Congress can’t agree on what action to take, that just means there isn’t enough consensus on an appropriate path through the legal thicket, so Google should not be allowed to proceed. But that approach doesn’t much serve copyright law’s underlying purpose of promoting the creation and dissemination of knowledge. Allowing the online equivalent of a comprehensive library could offer tremendous benefits both to the reading public and to the many rightsholders who would welcome the chance for their out-of-print works to be rediscovered (and to generate some new revenue to boot.) The proposed settlement, while not perfect, offers a way to achieve that broadly beneficial goal. And if the settlement were to prompt Congress to roll up its sleeves and develop a forward-thinking policy approach, so much the better.

In short, yes, Congress should have the last word. But in the meantime, the Google Books settlement offers the chance to expand public access and increase exposure for many millions of out-of-print works in ways that generally should benefit readers and authors alike. That’s why CDT supports the settlement, albeit with the significant caveat that reader privacy concerns must be addressed. CDT detailed those privacy considerations in a report earlier this summer and in an amicus brief filed with the court in early September; links to those documents can be found here."

Google’s Schmidt To Book Settlement Critics: What’s Your Solution?; Search Engine Land, 9/16/09

Danny Sullivan, Search Engine Land; Google’s Schmidt To Book Settlement Critics: What’s Your Solution?:

"The additional rights, the creation of a book registry and many other details have led some to feel that the entire landscape for digital book publishing and copyright is being changed so radically that a new process should start that involves more than a settlement between Google and the two primary groups that sued it, the Authors Guild and Association Of American Publishers.

But while there are plenty of objections (and to be clear, also lots of support), Schmidt doesn’t see opponents suggesting viable alternatives to resolve the lawsuit."

Court Acknowledges More Than 400 Submissions in Google Settlement; Publishers Weekly, 9/16/09

Andrew Albanese, Publishers Weekly; Court Acknowledges More Than 400 Submissions in Google Settlement:

"In an order posted Wednesday, federal judge Denny Chin said the fairness hearing for the Google Book Search Settlement scheduled for October 7 will go forward, and acknowledged receipt of more than 400 written filings. In the order, Chin gave the parties in the settlement until October 2 to respond in writing to the filings, and laid out the procedures that will govern the hearing.

Those wishing to speak at the hearing have until September 21 to request time via e-mail, and will be notified by September 25 whether they will be permitted to address the court. In the order, Chin also said the court would review all the written filings in the case. One major filing, however, still looms—Chin had previously given the Department of Justice until September 18 to file its written comments with the court.

Bloomberg, meanwhile, reported that Google, publishers and authors are in talks with the Justice Department on ways to address any concerns the department may have about the deal."

Judge may limit speakers in Google books hearing; Associated Press, 9/17/09

Associated Press; Judge may limit speakers in Google books hearing:

"A New York judge says about 400 submissions were filed with his chambers prior to a hearing on a hotly disputed class-action settlement that would give Google Inc. the digital rights to millions of out-of-print books.

Federal Judge Denny Chin said Wednesday he may have to limit the number of speakers and how long each can speak at an Oct. 7 fairness hearing for the settlement in Manhattan.

He said anyone who wishes to speak must submit a request in writing by Monday at googlebookcase(at) Those permitted to speak will be notified by e-mail by Sept. 25."

State AGs Don't Like Google Books Deal, What About Readers?; PC World, 9/18/09

Dave Coursey, PC World; State AGs Don't Like Google Books Deal, What About Readers?:

"Five state attorneys general have joined the opposition to the Google Books settlement, but what the deal means to readers isn't clear. Access to more books sounds great, but will it be?

The five AGs, from Missouri, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Washington, have varied reasons for their opposition, ranging from anti-monopoly to how money owed missing authors should be handled. The attorneys general are relatively late arrivals to the case, which already involves the U.S. Justice Department and others"

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Coldplay copyright case 'settled'; BBC News, 9/16/09

BBC News; Coldplay copyright case 'settled':

"Coldplay and Joe Satriani have reached an agreement over a court case alleging they copied parts of one his songs, according to reports.

The guitarist sued the band last year saying they used "substantial, original portions" of his 2004 song If I Could Fly on their track Viva La Vida.

Billboard magazine said he had dropped the case and that Coldplay would not be required to admit wrongdoing...

It is not clear whether a financial settlement was reached."

Amazon Scoffs at Google’s Offer to Share Book Search Sales; Wired, 9/10/09

Ryan Singel, Wired; Amazon Scoffs at Google’s Offer to Share Book Search Sales:

"The Register of Copyrights Marybeth Peters went even further than Amazon, accusing the courts of usurping Congress and that the agreement made a “mockery of Article 1 of the Constitution.”

“Key parts of the settlement are fundamentally at odds with the law and impinge on the rights of authors,” Peters said.

In particular, the settlement lets Google do more with scanned books than just use them in search results and to sell them, making the settlement license overly broad.

Such licenses should be given out only by Congress, Peters argued.

But Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-California) said the deal should be approved, calling it a “rare truce in the copyright wars.”

Moreover, Congress was to blame for the whole mess anyhow, by failing to fix the orphan book issue in recent years.

Lofgren also suggested that Congress simply reduce the number of books still in copyright by repealing the 1998 Sony Bono Copyright Extension Act, which added extended copyright terms for 20 years, reportedly to keep Mickey Mouse from falling into the public domain.

Thanks to the act, no books will go into the public domain in the United States automatically until 2019."

Shakespeare in seconds: Instant book machine gets Google Books access; LA Times, 9/17/09

Carolyn Kellogg, LA Times; Shakespeare in seconds: Instant book machine gets Google Books access:

"Today OnDemandBooks, the makers of the Espresso Book Machine, announced a deal with Google Book Search for access to the more than 2 million public domain books in Google's digital files. If you've got access to an Espresso, Shakespeare's "As You Like It" can be yours in less than five minutes and for about $8...

With an Espresso, the books are first sold, then printed, inverting the standard publishing industry business model...

One place where you can find an Espresso is the Bibliotheca Alexandria in Egypt, which, in reinventing the old Library of Alexandria, is tying a very old shared intellectual tradition to this very new one."

Skype Founders File Copyright Suit Against eBay; New York Times, 9/17/09

Brad Stone, New York Times; Skype Founders File Copyright Suit Against eBay:

"Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, who became billionaires after selling Skype to eBay in 2005, filed a copyright lawsuit on Wednesday against Skype in the United States District Court of Northern California. The suit comes a little more than two weeks after eBay announced it would sell most of Skype for $1.9 billion to a consortium of investors led by the private equity firm Silver Lake Partners.

In the court filing, Joltid, a company owned by the Skype founders, claims that eBay violated copyright law by altering and sharing the peer-to-peer source code behind the free Internet calling service. The Skype founders maintained ownership of that source code after selling Skype to eBay in 2005, and licensed it to eBay.

Joltid seeks an injunction and statutory damages, which it says could total more than $75 million a day."

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

France Mulls 'Three Strikes' Internet Piracy Bill; NPR, 9/15/09

NPR; France Mulls 'Three Strikes' Internet Piracy Bill:

"Trying to crack down on piracy, French lawmakers have spent the summer arguing over legislation dubbed "three strikes and you're out of Internet service." Under the bill, authorities will be able to cut off service to suspected Internet pirates — after two warnings. French President Nicolas Sarkozy and entertainers like it, but privacy advocates see is as a threat to civil liberties."

5 Major Research Universities Endorse Open-Access Journals; Wired Campus, 5/14/09

Ben Terris via Wired Campus; 5 Major Research Universities Endorse Open-Access Journals:

"In an effort to support alternatives to traditional scholarly publishing, five major research universities announced their joint commitment to open-access journals on Monday.

The institutions—Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of California at Berkeley—signed a compact agreeing to the “timely establishment” of mechanisms for providing financial support for free open-access journals."

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Copyright Office Assails Google’s Settlement on Digital Books; New York Times, 9/11/09

Miguel Helft, New York Times; Copyright Office Assails Google’s Settlement on Digital Books:

"The nation’s top copyright official made a blistering attack Thursday on a controversial legal settlement that would let Google create a huge online library and bookstore.

Testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, Marybeth Peters, the United States register of copyrights, said the settlement between Google and groups representing authors and publishers amounted to an end-run around copyright law that would wrest control of books from authors and other right holders.

Ms. Peters, the first government official to address the settlement in detail, said it would allow Google to profit from the work of others without prior consent and that it could put “diplomatic stress” on the United States because it affected foreign authors whose rights are protected by international treaties.

But David Drummond, Google’s chief legal officer, who also testified at the hearing, defended the agreement saying it let authors retain control of their books and would expand access to millions of out-of-print books that are largely hidden in libraries."

'Books' would tell Google about you; NPR's Marketplace, 9/10/09

NPR's Marketplace; 'Books' would tell Google about you:

"A House Committee is looking into the Google Books settlement today. Google has already scanned millions of titles but objections to the deal could throw a wrench into the online library."

Op-Ed: Google book settlement not an open-shut benefit; Washington Post, 9/12/09

OpEd, Washington Post, via Detroit news; Google book settlement not an open-shut benefit:

"Some call it Alexandria 2.0, and the comparison with the great library of antiquity is apt. Google has digitized millions of books, and if its proposed class-action settlement with their authors and publishers passes muster, these books -- formerly the province of college libraries and research institutions -- will be available to everyone. Google began digitizing books without the permission of copyright holders, claiming fair use. This provoked a class-action lawsuit on the part of authors and publishers, resulting in a settlement that offers many boons for the public.

Books already in the public domain will be freely available, and those still under copyright will be available in a standard 20 percent preview. Google will also provide free public access to the entire online repository of content at terminals in nearly 20,000 public and university libraries across the country, only charging fees to print.

But wait, there's more! Google gives book rights holders tremendous control. They can decide what price to charge for their works, control the amount available in the free preview, and add and remove works from the online collection. And the settlement establishes a nonprofit organization, the Book Rights Registry, to locate content owners and serve as a clearinghouse through which they can receive payment from Google and negotiate with new entrants to the digital market.

What about books still under copyright whose owners have not been located -- so-called "orphan" books? Google's claim makes sense: Many rights holders will emerge once they see that their work has value, but it is also in the registry's charter to seek out these rights holders. As Google Book Search generates revenue for content creators, the owners of all but the least-accessed, least-valuable books will probably come forward.

So it's curious that Google felt the need to include a clause in the settlement to prevent the registry, negotiating on behalf of "orphan" books, from offering a better deal to any of the company's competitors within its first 10 years. Google's argument is that it performed a public service by setting up the registry, investing millions of dollars in what will be a non-affiliated, nonprofit organization. This hefty initial investment would not be required of future entrants to the market, leaving Google at a disadvantage. Protection would ensure a level playing field. But if the set of protected books encompasses only those so valueless that no one will come forward to claim them, it is baffling why protection from competition in this area would be valuable. If, on the other hand, locating book rights holders requires time and effort, and the market for digitized versions of these books is easy enough to enter that a competitor could offer a better deal, this clause would create a real barrier to competition.

Google's innovative efforts will enhance the world's access to knowledge, but that doesn't mean it deserves to have it both ways. Its settlement is in many ways better for consumers than the possible outcome of litigation. But the fact that what Google is doing is wonderful should not preclude the potential to do better."

Friday, September 11, 2009

Judge Rejects Copyright Suit Against Jessica Seinfeld; New York Times, 9/11/09

Stephanie Clifford via New York Times; Judge Rejects Copyright Suit Against Jessica Seinfeld:

"“Countless authors have used the idea of sneaking healthy food into children’s meals, and no one has a monopoly over that idea — the court made that clear,” Mr. Snyder said. “What made Jessica’s book a No. 1 best seller is her innovative and creative expression of that idea.”"

Choosing Up Sides to Hate or Love the Google Books Deal; Chronicle of Higher Education, 9/10/09

Jennifer Howard via Chronicle of Higher Education; Choosing Up Sides to Hate or Love the Google Books Deal:

Steal this story? Beware Net’s plagiarism ‘cops’;, 9/10/09

Diane Mapes via; Steal this story? Beware Net’s plagiarism ‘cops’:

Increasing number of sites are on the lookout for stolen words, phrases

"There’s even been a lawsuit (which iParadigms won in 2008) involving four high school students who claimed submitting their homework to TurnItIn was a violation of copyright law.

Today’s digital world presents new and difficult challenges, though, says Povejsil of iParadigms.
“There’s a whole new reality that the digital world has brought us to, and kids have a very different perception of things than the people who learned about fair use and plagiarism in a print world,” she says.

“One third of teenagers don’t believe that downloading a paper from the Internet is a serious offense. To them, copying text from a Web site is either a minor offense or it’s not cheating at all. That’s the world we find ourselves in and educators find themselves in.” "

Annie Leibovitz buys back copyright to her photos; Yahoo, 9/11/09

Ula Ilnytzky, Associated Press, via Yahoo; Annie Leibovitz buys back copyright to her photos:

"Annie Leibovitz has won an extension on a $24 million loan in a financial dispute that threatened her rights to her famous images, the two sides said in a joint statement Friday.

Leibovitz and the company, Art Capital Group, said the 59-year-old photographer had been given more time to repay the loan. The loan's deadline passed on Tuesday, but both parties had continued to work to try to resolve the dispute. Neither party would specify the length of the extension...

Last year, Leibovitz put up as collateral three Manhattan townhouses, an upstate New York property and the copyright to every picture she has ever taken — or will take — to secure the loan."

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Record companies sue 'Ellen' show over copyrights; Associated Press, 9/10/09

Travis Loller via Associated Press; Record companies sue 'Ellen' show over copyrights:

"Some of the world's largest recording companies are suing "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," claiming producers violated their copyrights by playing more than 1,000 songs without permission.

Many of the songs were played during the show's popular dance segment.

According to the suit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Nashville, when representatives of the recording companies asked defendants why they hadn't obtained licenses to use the songs, defendants said they didn't "roll that way.""

Open Book Alliance Releases 'Facts vs. Fiction About the Google Book Settlement'; Reuters, 9/10/09

Reuters; Open Book Alliance Releases 'Facts vs. Fiction About the Google Book Settlement':

Open Book Alliance Releases 'Facts vs. Fiction About the Google Book Settlement'; Urges House Judiciary Committee to Explore These Seven CrucialTopics

""There's been a lot of questions about the nature of this settlement, and, unfortunately, there remains some inaccurate information out there," said Peter Brantley, director, Internet Archive and co-chair of the Open Book Alliance. "We sincerely hope that today's hearing helps clarify some of the facts about the settlement, and we encourage the members of the House Judiciary Committee to explore these areas in its questioning of Google and its partners.""

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Europe's Heated Reaction to Google Books; Business Week, 9/9/09

Honor Mahony via Business Week; Europe's Heated Reaction to Google Books:

Publishers, booksellers, and authors are upset at the copyright, privacy, and censorship implications of Google's plan to digitize millions of books

"The Brussels hearing was organised after EU member states, particularly France and Germany, raised concerns about the Google's digital library, which is also due for a final hearing by the U.S. justice department in October.

Europe's various copyright laws make it impossible for it to have a similar settlement, but a statement by the commission on Monday called for a legislative framework that "paves the way for a rapid roll out of services, similar to those made possible in the U.S. by the recent settlement, to European consumers.""

Congress to Weigh Google Books Settlement; New York Times, 9/9/09

Miguel Helft via New York Times; Congress to Weigh Google Books Settlement:

"On Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing titled Competition and Commerce in Digital Books that will be all about the landmark settlement of the class action filed by the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers against Google in 2005.

Although the hearing is likely to attract some attention, the voice that settlement watchers are most eager to hear is that of the Justice Department, whose lawyers are investigating whether the agreement violates antitrust law. The Justice Department has until Sept. 18 to file its views with the court.

The debate Thursday is certain to be lively, with Google’s top lawyer, David Drummond, squaring off against Amazon’s top public policy executive, Paul Misener. Other speakers include Paul Aiken of the Authors Guild, Marc Mauer of the National Federation of the Blind and David Balto of the Center for American Progress, who support the deal.

Others witnesses are likely to cast a more skeptical eye on the agreement, including John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog, a nonprofit that has opposed the agreement; Randall Picker, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School who has raised antitrust concerns; and Marybeth Peters, the head of the United States Copyright Office, who has also raised questions about the deal."

Resistance to Google book deal builds as Google woos Europe; Ars Technica, 9/8/09

John Timmer via Ars Technica; Resistance to Google book deal builds as Google woos Europe:

Last week saw a flurry of filings as the deadline passed for parties to formally voice their displeasure or support for Google's settlement with book authors and publishers. Now, the action seems to have shifted to Europe, which got some significant concessions from the search giant.

"It's obvious that the concerns about, and outright resistance to, the original settlement have been extensive, and Google is willing to make some significant concessions to try to get the deal to go through. What's less obvious is whether these concessions will be formally made part of the legal settlement and, if so, whether outside parties will have another opportunity to comment on the revisions. The scheduled decision is now less than a month away, but it looks like it's going to be an extremely busy month for everyone involved."

Microsoft calls Google Books deal 'misuse' of the law; Guardian, 9/9/09

Bobbie Johnson via Guardian; Microsoft calls Google Books deal 'misuse' of the law:

"Google's battle to digitise millions of copyrighted books has taken another blow, after rival technology giant Microsoft lodged a brief with an American court that called the proposals "illegitimate".

In the filing delivered to the southern district court of New York - which is examining the proposed $125m deal that would give Google the right to digitise millions of in-copyright books - Microsoft called the scheme "an unprecedented misuse of the judicial system"...

Echoing arguments made by other critics, including Amazon and European regulators, the Seattle software giant added a scathing rebuttal of Google's deal.

"A class action settlement is the wrong mechanism, this court is the wrong venue and monopolisation is the wrong means to carry out the worthy goal of digitising and increasing the accessibility of books.""

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Photographer Annie Leibovitz's loan repayment due; Yahoo, 9/8/09

Ula Ilnytzky, Associated Press, via Yahoo; Photographer Annie Leibovitz's loan repayment due:

"Celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz risks losing the copyright to her images — and her entire life's work — if she doesn't pay back a $24 million loan due Tuesday.

The lender, Art Capital Group, sued Leibovitz in July claiming she breached an agreement that authorized it to act as the agent in the sale of her photography and real estate.

Leibovitz spokesman Matthew Hiltzik said Tuesday that the photographer was working to "resolve the situation.""

11th-Hour Filings Oppose Google’s Book Settlement; New York Times, 9/8/09

Miguel Helft via New York Times; 11th-Hour Filings Oppose Google’s Book Settlement:

"“Legal scholars say that Judge Chin will have to address not only whether the settlement is fair to the authors, publishers and rights holders covered by it, but also whether it benefits the public at large.

“The number and quality of opposition filings is very unusual,” said Jay Tidmarsh, a professor of law at Notre Dame Law School. “The court is going to have to look at the public interest in the settlement.”

The agreement, which would bring millions of rarely seen books online, has clear benefits to readers and authors. But scholars say the judge is likely to weigh those benefits against arguments that the settlement would limit competition. Opponents say it would give Google a quasi-exclusive license to profit from millions of out-of-print books and create a consortium that would have power to set prices for digital books. Google, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers have vigorously disputed those claims, but the claims are being investigated by the Justice Department...

If the judge has some significant concerns, it is much more likely that he would invite the parties to address those concerns rather than reject the agreement,” said Andrew I. Gavil, a law professor at Howard University. Professor Gavil said that Judge Chin was likely to give special consideration to the opinion of the Justice Department, which has until Sept. 18 to make its views known. A hearing on the settlement is scheduled for Oct. 7...

Google should be ordered to license the database with all attendant rights to a number of competitors, under the supervision of the Justice Department,” Mr. Reback wrote in the brief. He traced the birth of Silicon Valley to a similar “compulsory license” mandated by the Justice Department. “Silicon Valley exists precisely because the Antitrust Division ordered AT&T to license its key invention, the transistor, for nominal payments,” he wrote.

Defenders of the agreement say the antitrust concerns are unfounded, and argue that others besides Google could obtain similar licenses without any mandates from the court."

Legal arguments pan, praise Google's book deal; Associated Press, 9/8/09

Michael Liedtke via Associated Press; Legal arguments pan, praise Google's book deal:

"Tuesday's legal sparring came on the deadline for written arguments about a $125 million settlement that would entrust Google with a digital database containing millions of copyright-protected books, including titles no longer being published.

But at least one more key document is expected before U.S. District Judge Denny Chin holds an Oct. 7 hearing in New York to review the settlement. The Justice Department has until Sept. 18 to file its brief, which may provide some inkling on whether antitrust regulators have determined if the deal would hurt competition.

The settlement, reached last October, has raised the specter of Google becoming even more powerful than it already has become as the owner of the Internet's most popular search engine and most lucrative advertising network.

Those concerns represented the crux of a 32-page brief written by Silicon Valley attorney Gary Reback, who helped the Justice Department pursue an antitrust case against Microsoft's bundling of personal computer software in the 1990s.

Reback filed the brief Tuesday on behalf of the Open Book Alliance, which includes Microsoft, Yahoo, Internet bookseller Inc., other companies and nonprofit organizations. Microsoft and Yahoo, which compete with Google in search, also filed separate arguments; Amazon submitted its protest last week.

The alliance contends Google conspired with the author and publishing groups that sued the Mountain View-based company to make it more difficult for competitors to create similar indexes of digital books. The alliance contends that competitive barriers would empower Google, authors and publishers to the raise prices of digital books well above the current standard of about $10 per volume.

"The publishing industry desperately wants to raise the retail price point for digital books," Reback wrote for the alliance. "The book settlement permits them to achieve that by working with Google.""

Monday, September 7, 2009

Google Books moves to reassure EU publishers; Yahoo, 9/7/09

Aoife White, AP, via Yahoo; Google Books moves to reassure EU publishers:

"Google sought to assure European copyright holders that the deal wouldn't infringe their rights, saying it wrote to several national publisher associations "to clarify that books that are commercially available in Europe will be treated as commercially available under the settlement."...

Unlike the U.S., Google is only scanning European books over 150 years of age to avoid infringing copyrighted material. So far, it has scanned some 10 million books — many of them still in copyright.

Google Books has strong advocates and harsh critics in Europe. While library associations pleaded for Europeans to have more access to the content available to U.S. users of Google Books, some rights holders complained that Google was creating a dangerous new monopoly...

Some European libraries see the project more favorably. Sylvia Van Peteghem, the chief librarian of Belgium's Ghent University, said her work with Google had prompted users to increasingly seek out paper versions of scanned books.

"It's a revival of old books," she said, praising a project that created a digital backup of books that can easily be damaged or stolen.

LIBER, the League of European Research Libraries, said it wants Google to show that it will act as a long-term trustee for printed material and provide ways for scanned books to be available for decades to come.

European officials have also called for a debate — and possibly new rules — to clarify what can be done with "orphan" books that are still in copyright but which cannot be reprinted or digitized because the copyright holders cannot be traced."

Google Book Project Criticized by Germany, Publishers; Bloomberg, 9/7/09

Stephanie Bodoni and Matthew Newman via Bloomberg; Google Book Project Criticized by Germany, Publishers:

"Google Inc.’s book scanning project was criticized by a group of authors, publishers and the German government, who complained that the plan would give the company too much control over out-of-print books.

The complaints were raised at a European Union hearing today in Brussels that is reviewing how a $125 million settlement between Google and U.S. publishers will affect the EU. A group representing Google rivals including Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo! Inc. said the accord would create a cartel involving thousands of publishers."

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Writers want EU to follow US on Google books deal; New Europe, 9/6/09

New Europe; Writers want EU to follow US on Google books deal:

"European writers should follow the US lead and set up a Books Rights Registry in order to profit from the Internet and the rapidly-growing market for electronic books, an American best-selling author said. James Gleick, best known for his books explaining the intricacies of Chaos Theory, said such a registry would help protect their copyright and could even turn their out-of-print tomes into money- makers. “Authors in Europe need to ensure their rights are protected and that any money is shared out among them,” said Gleick, who is also a board member of the Authors Guild and Association of American Publishers."

Op-Ed: Google's big book case; Economist, 9/3/09

Op-Ed: Economist; Google's big book case:

The internet giant’s plan to create a vast digital library should be given a green light

"TO ITS opponents, it is a brazen attempt by a crafty monopolist to lock up some of the world’s most valuable intellectual property. To its fans, it is a laudable effort by a publicly minded company to unlock a treasure trove of hidden knowledge. Next month an American court will hold a hearing on an agreement, signed last year by Google and representatives of authors and publishers, to make millions of books in America searchable online. The case has stirred up passions, conflict and conspiracy theories worthy of a literary blockbuster...

Even critics recognise that the proposed deal offers huge public benefits. By helping to resolve the legal status of many texts subject to absurdly long copyright periods and murky ownership, it will make millions of books more accessible than ever before. Researchers from Manhattan to Mumbai will gain instant access to volumes that would otherwise languish in obscurity. Libraries will be able to offer users access to information far beyond their physical book stacks. And authors and publishers will be able to cash in on long-neglected works.

But critics maintain that the risks outweigh the benefits. They claim it gives Google a dangerous monopoly over digital sales of certain books. And they argue that Google and the registry could act as a cartel and raise the cost of institutional subscriptions to outrageous levels.

Lost and found

The first fear is overdone. True, the agreement gives Google the exclusive right to scan “orphan” texts—titles for which the copyright owner’s identity or location is unknown. But these books are a relatively small part of the market, and most are unlikely to be of much value. If any are, their appearance in Google’s archives is likely to bring long-lost copyright owners out of the woodwork to claim the proceeds. They can then sell the digital rights to their books to firms other than Google, increasing competition.

The critics’ second charge is more worrying. In effect, the agreement creates a legally sanctioned cartel for digital-book rights that could artificially inflate the price of library subscriptions. In some other areas, such as the music industry, such copyright registries are required to sign formal pledges that they will not abuse their dominant positions in this way. The Google agreement contains no such promise.

Yet that is not a reason to reject it. After all, Google has a big economic incentive to ensure that its online library is widely available: it makes most of its money from search advertising, so the more people that use its services, including the online book archive, the better. It also has a legal incentive to watch its step. The agreement stipulates that institutional subscription prices must be low enough to ensure that the public has “broad access” to digital books, while at the same time earning market rates for copyright owners. So if lots of libraries refuse to sign up for Google’s service because it is too costly, the company could be slapped with a lawsuit.

Admittedly, such safeguards are not watertight and other antitrust concerns could surface over time in this brave new digital world. But the theoretical dangers these pose should be weighed against the very real and substantial benefits that a comprehensive digital library will create. That is why the court should approve the Google agreement, while at the same time giving stern warning to its signatories that they will be subject to intense regulatory scrutiny for the foreseeable future. If the court rejects the deal, much potentially useful information will remain, quite literally, a closed book."

Tome raider; Economist, 9/3/09

Economist; Tome raider:

A fuss over the internet search firm’s effort to build a huge digital library

"PAUL COURANT, the dean of libraries at the University of Michigan, jokes that he also runs “an orphanage”. Among the books on his shelves are such seminal texts as “Blunder Out of China” and “The Appalachian Frontier: America’s First Surge Westward”, which are protected by copyrights belonging to people who cannot be found. Known as “orphan” books, such titles are one element of a controversial plan by Google, the world’s biggest internet company, to create a vast online library...

Opposition to the deal is brewing all around the world. On August 31st the German government filed a submission to the American court arguing that the agreement, which encompasses books by German authors published in the United States, would violate Germany’s copyright law. French publishers also claim the agreement will contravene laws in their homeland. They note that there are no plans for European representatives on the book-rights registry that would be set up under the deal to collect and distribute payments due to copyright owners. This has heightened suspicions that foreigners will be fleeced.

In Japan two noted writers have filed a complaint with local authorities about Google’s actions. Many American firms oppose the deal, including Microsoft and Yahoo!, two of Google’s big competitors, as well as Amazon, a big retailer of books in both paper and electronic form. Amazon argues that Congress, rather than Google and its allies, should decide how copyrights should be handled in the digital age.

Together with the Internet Archive, a non-profit organisation which runs a rival project to digitise libraries’ contents, these firms have formed a group called the Open Book Alliance to campaign against the agreement. A posting on the Alliance’s website claims that the agreement would create a monopoly in digital books that would inevitably lead to fewer choices and higher prices for consumers. Such complaints have attracted the attention of America’s Department of Justice, which is examining the agreement to see whether it is anti-competitive. It is due to send its findings to the court by September 18th."

I'm booking a seat for Google's battle to buy our literary heritage; Observer, 9/6/09

John Naughton via Observer; I'm booking a seat for Google's battle to buy our literary heritage:

"On the one hand, Google clearly has the capacity to make available everything that's ever been published in print - so that anyone with an internet connection can, in principle (and sometimes for a fee), read books otherwise buried in the collections of elite university libraries. And there's clearly a social benefit in that.

On the other hand, think of the downsides. A single commercial company will control much of our cultural heritage. Because it's a settlement based on a class action suit, it will give Google a uniquely privileged position in relation to "orphan" works - ie, those which are still in copyright but for which no owner can be located - which will not be enjoyed by anyone else. And thirdly, it will hand the power to determine access fees to a pair of unaccountable monopolies - Google and the digital rights registry. So it's deeply anti-competitive.

There is a simple remedy for much of this: a change in the law to reverse the fact that copyright infringement carries strict liability, which means that there is effectively no limit on damages. This is why so many orphan works remain effectively unavailable: people are too scared to make them available.

But changing copyright law takes aeons and Judge Chin has to decide now. I bet he has an interesting inbox. But I wouldn't want his job for all the IP in China."

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Cookie Before Dinner; Open Book Aliance, 8/31/09

Peter Brantley via Open Book Alliance; The Cookie Before Dinner:

"Last Friday, I was fortunate to participate in an event on the Google Book settlement and the Future of Information Access. Hosted by the UC Berkeley School of Information, the event brought together a couple hundred academic, legal, and industry minds to discuss the promise and the pitfalls of the controversial settlement proposal between Google, the Authors’ Guild, and the Association of American Publishers.

My takeaway from the panels and hallway conversations is that the academic and scholarly community – among the parties who would be most affected by this settlement – are fairly critical of the settlement proposal in its current form.

Four issues in particular kept cropping up during the panels – the utility of the service that Google says it will deliver; the diminished competition that will occur as a result of the de facto exclusivity offered by the settlement; significant privacy issues that are yet unanswered by Google; and the quality of the books and their descriptive metadata that Google intends to offer.

On the last point, Geoff Nunberg from the School of Information gave what may have been the most interesting and entertaining presentation of the day, highlighting a sampling of the errors in Google’s book scanning efforts to date. In his words, “GBS (Google Book Settlement) metadata are awful.”

Media coverage of the event highlighted the point that many in the academic community seem to agree on – while the digitization of books can offer tremendous benefits to all, there are better, fairer ways to go about making that future a reality. We don’t have to grab the cookie that’s offered to us before dinner."

Google books deal battle heats up; BBC News, 9/4/09

Maggie Shiels via BBC News; Google books deal battle heats up:

"The most vocal critics of the deal have largely banded together to form the Open Book Alliance. It was set up by the non-profit Internet Archive, which has its own book-scanning project and has to date digitised 500,000 books.

"Just as Gutenberg's invention of the printing press more than 700 years ago ushered in a new era of knowledge sharing, the mass digitisation of books promises to revolutionise how we read and discover books," said Peter Brantley of the alliance.

"But a digital library controlled by a single company and small group of publishers would inevitably lead to higher prices and subpar services for consumers, libraries, scholars and students."...

Many believe the issue of rights over out-of-print books would best be solved by legislation and not the courts.

"It is never a good thing for private parties to make deals for the public good," said Martin Manley, the founder of, an online store which sells used, rare and out-of-print books.
"The public good is meant to be solved by regulators who are somewhat accountable and by legislators who are wholly accountable," Mr Manley told BBC News."

Privacy Group Asks to Join Google Book Lawsuit As Deadline Approaches;, 9/4/09

Ryan Singel via; Privacy Group Asks to Join Google Book Lawsuit As Deadline Approaches:

"A key privacy group is seeking to intervene in the ongoing copyright lawsuit over Google’s plan to build the library and bookstore of the future, arguing that reader privacy is at risk no matter how much Google promises to have a good privacy policy.

EPIC, or the Electronic Privacy Information Center, asked federal court judge Denny Chin on Friday to allow it to formally intervene on behalf of readers’ privacy interests in the suit pitting Google against the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers. The motion comes just a day after Google finally released a draft privacy policy for the Book Search program, bowing to pressure (.pdf) from the FTC.

Epic president Marc Rotenberg, a privacy policy enforcement expert, says privacy policies exist mainly to let companies to do what they want to with your data and that they don’t protect users from prying law enforcement agencies.

“Even if Google would write it in blood, there is still the obvious problem that when the government comes knocking the policy doesn’t mean anything,” Rotenberg said.

That’s why the judge in the case needs to make privacy rules part of the settlement, he argues.

If through the settlement, you limited the collection of some reader data, then when the government comes, the data is just not there,” he said...

Friday was supposed to be the final deadline for authors to opt-out of the settlement or for outsiders to register their support or dissent with the court. But due to a problem with the Manhattan federal court’s computers, the deadline was be extended until Tuesday."

Google brought to book over digital library; Times, 9/5/09

Mike Harvey via Times; Google brought to book over digital library:

"A US district judge named Denny Chin is on the verge of becoming one of the most important men in the history of publishing. On October 7 in a New York courtroom he will preside over a “fairness hearing” for a deal between Google and US publishers and authors to put millions of books online.

The 55-year-old Hong Kong-born judge presided over the trial of Bernard Madoff, sentencing the fraudster to 150 years in prison. The Google books settlement case is likely to send shockwaves even further afield.

Google yesterday launched a staunch defence of its plans to become the world’s librarian and bookseller. The internet giant is in the middle of a project to scan and index the world’s literary heritage. It has already digitised more than 10 million volumes in more than 100 languages and has agreements with libraries around the world to scan millions more.

Google says that the project will make a treasure trove of forgotten and out-of-print books available to anyone with an internet connection. Critics say that mankind’s “last library” should not be in the hands of a commercial enterprise."

Google Answers Critics with Books Privacy Policy; PC World, 9/4/09

Brennon Slattery via PC World; Google Answers Critics with Books Privacy Policy:

"Google has published a detailed privacy policy surrounding its Google Books settlement.

The policy comes at the behest of the FTC, which wondered what could happen when customers start downloading the millions of scanned books in Google's library. The FTC has "concerns about Google gaining access to vast amounts of consumer data regarding the books consumers search for, purchase, and read."...

Some of the highlights include:

Google will not force a user to log into a Google account when reading pages of books online, browsing through a university's subscription, or viewing through a public library terminal.
Buying a book will require logging in, but users can delete histories of books they have purchased, and credit card companies won't get buying histories.

In addition to specific privacy provisions required by the Books Settlement, every aspect is also beholden to Google's overarching privacy policy.

I imagine Google hopes that its preemptive policy launch will help silence critics, but after the onslaught of opposition from the likes of the Open Book Alliance, the German government, and Amazon, it looks as though the Google Books Settlement has a long, hard road ahead." Offers to Replace Copies of Orwell Book; New York Times, 9/5/09

Miguel Helft via New York Times; Offers to Replace Copies of Orwell Book:

"Amazon invited some unflattering literary analogies earlier this summer when it remotely erased unlicensed versions of two George Orwell novels from its customers’ Kindle reading devices.

Jeffrey P. Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive, apologized to customers for the deletions in July. And late Thursday, the company tried to put the incident behind it, offering to deliver new copies of “1984” and “Animal Farm” at no charge to affected customers.

Amazon said in an e-mail message to those customers that if they chose to have their digital copies restored, they would be able to see any digital annotations they had made. Those who do not want the books are eligible for an Amazon gift certificate or a check for $30, the company said."

Appeals Court Hears Arguments on Banned ‘Catcher’ Sequel; New York Times, 9/3/09

Dave Itzkoff via New York Times; Appeals Court Hears Arguments on Banned ‘Catcher’ Sequel:

If Fredrik Colting needs any blurbs for his book “60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye,” he probably should not seek one from Judge Guido Calabresi. Judge Calabresi was one of three judges on a panel at the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Manhattan that on Thursday heard arguments on whether Mr. Colting should be allowed to publish the book in the United States. In July, a federal district judge indefinitely enjoined the publication of “60 Years Later,” which Mr. Colting wrote under the pen name J. D. California, and has promoted as a sequel to the J. D. Salinger novel “The Catcher in the Rye.” On Thursday, The Associated Press reported, Judge Calabresi called Mr. Colting’s book a “rather dismal piece of work.” But two judges on the panel questioned if the federal district court had heard enough evidence before issuing its injunction. The court did not immediately rule on Thursday."

Record Labels Say Student Is Still Encouraging Illegal Downloads; New York Times, 9/3/09

Dave Itzkoff via New York Times; Record Labels Say Student Is Still Encouraging Illegal Downloads:

"The cautionary tale of Joel Tenenbaum continues. Weeks after he was ordered to pay $675,000 to record labels for illegally downloading and sharing music, those labels are saying that Mr. Tenenbaum, 25, a graduate student at Boston University, is continuing to encourage music piracy by linking to a file-sharing service on a Web site created for his defense, The Boston Globe reported. A Twitter feed for, a Web site run by Mr. Tenenbaum’s legal team, posted a link to the Swedish file-sharing service The Pirate Bay. That site, whose founders were convicted in April by a Swedish court of aiding in copyright violations, posted a playlist called “The $675,000 Mixtape,” which linked to the songs that Mr. Tenenbaum admitted to downloading illegally, and featured a photograph of Mr. Tenenbaum with his arms crossed. The Recording Industry Association of America has filed for an injunction that would order Mr. Tenenbaum to destroy his illegal files and stop promoting piracy. Mr. Tenenbaum said he had nothing to do with the song list on The Pirate Bay, and plans to appeal his verdict and fine."

Google's Book Search: A Disaster for Scholars; Chronicle of Higher Education, 8/31/09

Geoffrey Nunberg via Chronicle of Higher Education; Google's Book Search: A Disaster for Scholars:

"I'm actually more optimistic than some of my colleagues who have criticized the settlement. Not that I'm counting on selfless public-spiritedness to motivate Google to invest the time and resources in getting this right. But I have the sense that a lot of the initial problems are due to Google's slightly clueless fumbling as it tried master a domain that turned out to be a lot more complex than the company first realized. It's clear that Google designed the system without giving much thought to the need for reliable metadata. In fact, Google's great achievement as a Web search engine was to demonstrate how easy it could be to locate useful information without attending to metadata or resorting to Yahoo-like schemes of classification. But books aren't simply vehicles for communicating information, and managing a vast library collection requires different skills, approaches, and data than those that enabled Google to dominate Web searching.

That makes for a steep learning curve, all the more so because of Google's haste to complete the project so that potential competitors would be confronted with a fait accompli. But whether or not the needs of scholars are a priority, the company doesn't want Google's book search to become a running scholarly joke. And it may be responsive to pressure from its university library partners—who weren't particularly attentive to questions of quality when they signed on with Google—particularly if they are urged (or if necessary, prodded) to make noise about shoddy metadata by the scholars whose interests they represent. If recent history teaches us anything, it's that Google is a very quick study."

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Google tries to sidestep criticism of $125m book project; Guardian, 9/3/09

Bobbie Johnson via Guardian; Google tries to sidestep criticism of $125m book project:

Internet giant works to gather support from proponents of digitisation scheme

"Google today attempted to rally supporters of its deal with the US publishing industry, in an effort to combat growing criticism of the $125m (£76m) agreement.

In a press conference today, Google said its settlement with the Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild - which was first agreed to last year - would allow millions of books to be digitised, proving many people with the chance to access information that was otherwise unavailable to them.

"The obvious social justice and social utility impact that the book project is going to have ... are getting lost in the discussion," said Professor Lateef Mtima, director of the Institute of Intellectual Property & Social Justice at Howard University, a pioneering black college in Washington.

He suggested it would help "so many segments of our society today who for decades have been left out of the communication exchange, who have been on the wrong side of the digital divide"."

Deadline looms as opposition mounts to Google Book Settlement; National Post, 9/3/09

Mark Medley via National Post; Deadline looms as opposition mounts to Google Book Settlement:

Canadian authors debate whether to opt out

"Google's mission statement is at once both ambitious and admirable: "To organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."

Keeping with that spirit, in 2004 the Internet giant launched what became known as Google Book Search -- "an enhanced card catalogue of the world's books" -- and began digitizing the collections of several libraries and universities, including Oxford and Harvard. It would allow users to search through a massive online library and view sections of the books, ranging from snippets to the entire text. More than seven million titles -- perhaps as many as 10 million -- have been scanned thus far. There was just one problem: Google didn't receive permission from the books' copyright holders. A class-action lawsuit and years of negotiations ensued, leading to the landmark Google Book Settlement reached last October. Authors, publishers, agents and lawyers have spent much of the last year analyzing the complex agreement and trying to figure out what it means for them. It's a quest to disseminate knowledge or a deal with the devil, depending on which side you're on. But one thing is clear: Opposition is growing more vocal in advance of tomorrow's deadline to opt out of the controversial agreement.

"If a complete stranger came and took your car without permission and took it for a drive, what would you call that?" asks Katherine Gordon, one of several Canadian authors leading the charge against the settlement. "It would be theft. So how is this any different?"

On Tuesday, Gordon and several other Canadian authors launched an online campaign opposing the settlement, taking Google to task for "blatant disregard for Canadian legal copyright ownership" and accusing them of keeping authors in the dark, leaving "millions of authors ... unaware their rights will be seriously compromised after Friday.""

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Privacy Missing From Google Books Settlement; PC World, 8/28/09

Robert McMillan via PC World; Privacy Missing From Google Books Settlement:

"If Google digitizes the world's books, how will it keep track of what you read?

That's one of the unanswered questions that librarians and privacy experts are grappling with as Google attempts to settle a long-running lawsuit by publishers and copyright holders and move ahead with its effort to digitize millions of books, known as the Google Books Library Project.

For librarians, many of whom are working with Google to digitize their collections of books, it's a thorny question. That's because librarians and the online world have different standards for dealing with user information. Many libraries routinely delete borrower information, and organizations such as the American Library Association have fought hard to preserve the privacy of their patrons in the face of laws such as the U.S. Patriot Act.

But now, as more and more titles become available in Google Book Search, it's not clear whether digital readers will enjoy the same privacy protections they have at the library. "Which way are we going to go?" said Michael Zimmer, a professor from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. "Is this service going to be an extension of the library, or an extension of Web searching?"" gets 1M books from Google scans; Associated Press, 9/2/09

Rachel Metz via Associated Press; gets 1M books from Google scans:

"Interead, a British company that sells the COOL-ER e-book reader, is adding more than 1 million free public-domain books to its online bookstore. The texts are available from Google Inc. through its book-scanning project.

However, the online store won't be able to show half of the books outside the U.S. because of copyright restrictions, Interead said." Says Congress Should Address Google Book;, 9/2/09

Susan Decker and David Glovin via; Says Congress Should Address Google Book:

" Inc., the world’s largest online retailer, told a U.S. court that Congress, not Google Inc., should be responsible for establishing rules on how to deal with digital copies of books.

An agreement Google reached last year with some U.S. publishers and authors “invades the prerogatives of Congress and attempts to legislate a private solution to a problem that can only truly be solved with across-the-board changes to the copyright law that affect everyone,” said in a court filing yesterday that set out its legal arguments for opposing the settlement...

The case is Authors Guild v. Google Inc., 05-cv-8136, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan)."

O'Brien: Scrap Google book settlement and start fresh; San Jose Mercury News, 9/2/09

Chris O'Brien via San Jose Mercury News; Scrap Google book settlement and start fresh:

"At first blush, Google's plan to digitize millions of books seemed like a grand idea, opening up the world's libraries to readers everywhere.

Unfortunately, Google's effort has been clumsy from the start. The Mountain View company bulldozed into the effort in 2005 without building consensus around its plans, and then acted surprised when its motives were questioned.

The result was years of litigation and a proposed settlement that has only antagonized critics.
By Friday, authors need to decide whether they want to accept that settlement or opt out and reserve their right to sue Google.

But before then, I think Google should scrap the whole thing and go back to square one.

The proposed settlement has the potential for creating the framework for how books are digitized for the next century. The stakes for readers, authors and libraries are high

Unfortunately, many on the outside of this process looking in feel like Google's been throwing its weight around on this issue. Google didn't exactly help matters in this regard when a spokesman was quoted on a Wall Street Journal blog calling one opposition group the "Sour Grapes Alliance." Gee, I wonder why some folks think Google can be arrogant?

It's a shame that it's come to this, because of the amazing potential behind this idea...

No doubt the idea of starting again will elicit groans from the Googleplex. Four years of litigation probably feels like an eternity for a 10-year-old company that's used to moving at Internet speed.

But it's the kind of goodwill gesture that would go a long way toward diffusing the mounting frustration among critics and begin laying the groundwork toward an equitable solution. If Google's motives are true, and I believe they are, then patience is the best course.

It's far more important to get it right than to get it done."

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

An author's guide to the Google Books flap; CNet News, 9/1/09

Tom Krazit via CNet News; An author's guide to the Google Books flap:

"The issues surrounding Google's Book Search settlement are among the most complex surrounding the company this year: what do authors need to know about their rights and responsibilities?

Google has scanned over 10 million books since 2004 in participation with libraries and publishers in hopes of creating a unique digital library and storefront, and if its pending settlement with books rights holders is approved next month at a hearing, Google will be able to make a far greater portion of those works available through its search engine. Friday is the deadline for authors to decide if they want to participate in the settlement.

The settlement has drawn attention and criticism from groups such as library ethicists and academics for the way it concentrates control of this potentially wondrous public good in the hands of a for-profit company. The Department of Justice is also taking a look at the settlement, which has the potential to throw a large roadblock ahead of the project.

Authors, however, have a few choices to make as they ponder Friday's deadline. Here's a sampling of what they need to know:..."