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Old 02-25-2010, 11:08 AM   #1
paulckennedy
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Red face The Google Book Settlement

Can someone please explain to this LAYMAN what is exactly wrong with the Google Book Settlement?

Now I know they digitized copyrighted material without getting permission from the individual rights owners. They should pay for that and I think the agreement does that. Authors, publishers, and other rights holders appear to be given the ability to include/exclude their works on a per item basis as well as dictate how their work may be used. It even appears that Google is investing in a Book Registry in order to ensure that Authors, Publishers, etc. get payment for any revenue that is made from use of their works.

I used to be a student a LONG time ago and I remember doing a lot of copying and work siteing. I would have been astounded to have digitized access to research as far as searching, etc. What happened to Fair Use and does it only apply to individuals?

I am just confused. Someone PLEASE help me to understand this topic better.
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Old 02-25-2010, 12:00 PM   #2
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I'd love to, Paul, but I don't understand it either. I was highly excited about this when it was proposed, because it seemed to me that access to orphaned works, (such as titles still in copyright but out of print; and that the publishers had no interest in reprinting or making available in ebook), was just around the corner. But then everyone started wanting a piece of the pie, so to speak and things went the handbasket route from there.
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Old 02-25-2010, 12:20 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paulckennedy View Post
Can someone please explain to this LAYMAN what is exactly wrong with the Google Book Settlement?.
There are several problems with the Google Book Settlement. I'm told that there are some legal technicalities that the agreement will break.

But the big two isssues for me are:

1. The agreement allows Google to copy and profit from the work (pre-2005, I think) of anyone who doesn't explicitly ask them not to.

2. The agreement gives only Google this right. No-one else can copy/store/search/sell in-copyright (pre 2005) works without explicit permission from the copyright holders.

It puts a massive hole in the copyright laws, in favour of only Google.

Orphan works are a problem. Tracking down rights holders is tricky, and sometimes impossible. But the solution to orphan works is to change the law, not to give a single corporation a privileged position.

Orphan works can only be properly tackled by re-negotiating the Berne convention. But the US government could do one thing unilaterally that would eliminate the problem of about 2/7th of orphan works in the US - reduce the copyright term to lifetime + 50 years instead of the current lifetime + 70 years, and apply it to all post-1922 works.
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Old 02-25-2010, 12:33 PM   #4
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so to each point.

1. I believe that Google would have to hold any revenues for all works it uses for the rights holders. As long as they have the mechanisms in place to distribute those revenues and will pull works from distribution once they are told explicitly, I don't see the problem.

Rights holders don't have any say monetarily or otherwise when their works are sold on the secondary market as far as I know. This seems to provide a wonderful wealth of access to out-of-print books and provides a documented stream of income for the duration of the copyright.

2. I think the agreement should give everyone who registers with the Book Registry the permission. That detail can be handled by the judge.

I think the Book Registry should be donated to the US Government as part of the settlement in fact. That way any future copyright revenues could be properly handled for any and all companies/people who wish to utilize the intelectual property rights.
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Old 02-25-2010, 01:00 PM   #5
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Maybe that helps:

http://thepublicindex.org/docs/case_...transcript.pdf

It's a transcript of the fairness hearing at the Unites States District court.

Not being a lawyer I do not understand it fully. But one of the major issues seems to be that Google's proposal is an opt-out plan. Also, international laws seem to be in the way.
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Old 02-25-2010, 01:19 PM   #6
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1. Orphan works revenue (unclear whether this is gross or after Google has taken a cut) are to be held for five years. And then used to try to find copyright holders. And five years later distributed to charities.

Rights holders can currently exploit their works any way they wish. I have no objection to them getting Google to help, if they give permission. It's the use without permission that's the problem.

2. You may like that to be what the agreement says, but it doesn't. Right to use orphan works is limited to Google.

A class action suit is not the right way to solve problems with current copyright laws.
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Old 02-25-2010, 01:20 PM   #7
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Here's a very nice summary of the hearing with some insightful comments:
http://laboratorium.net/archive/2010...hearing_report
(via Teleread)
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Old 02-25-2010, 02:49 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by pdurrant View Post
A class action suit is not the right way to solve problems with current copyright laws.
Maybe not, but congress has repeatedly shown itself incapable of mustering the will to act on the issue of Orphan Works. The 1978 change in US copyright law which removed the requirement to make even the most elementary affirmative act to assert and retain copyright has shown itself to be a dismal failure. The legislative process has failed, and in such a circumstance it is proper for the judicial arm of government to correct matters (and, hopefully, spur the legislative arm into action).
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Old 02-25-2010, 03:05 PM   #9
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I think Google's plans are ideal.

They want to digitise all the books in the world. Rights holders will have to opt out if the do not want to be included in the programme.

Fair enough.


Think about it. Even if ALL the rights holders opt out, Google will still be left with millions of Orphaned Works that rights holders don't care enough about to want to opt out, or there are no rights holders left to object to the digitisation.

Its a win-win for both Google and readers alike!
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Old 02-25-2010, 03:08 PM   #10
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Here are some summaries of arguments made at the hearing, courtesy of a law prof and a number of his students.
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Old 02-25-2010, 03:11 PM   #11
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Well a few points.

I think that US Law should be on the books already concerning how long privacy related search data is kept around by Google and other search providers. I think a combination of Opt-in/Opt-out should be considered in the final judgement. I don't see what Microsoft and AT&T have to do with the matter except that they didn't think of doing it first.

Whatever comes of the suit, I think copyright law should be adjusted. This means making a world of millions of works available to the public as a whole. I am all for ensuring every right of the author and publisher of the work but I am not for limiting access in any fashion.
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