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Old 03-30-2009, 12:49 AM   #1
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Google and the Zombie Army of Orphans

James Grimmelmann opines on why the Google Book Search settlement is not enough, and how it could give Google wide reaching powers which would ultimately be harmful for publishers, consumers and other retailers.

http://james.grimmelmann.net/essays/ZombieArmy
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Old 03-30-2009, 12:52 AM   #2
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The settlement, however, goes well beyond just book search. In addition to authorizing Google to scan and index books, the settlement lets it sell full-text access to them, either as individual book purchases or through a subscription to the entire collection. It may well turn into the world’s largest bookseller. The deal seems broadly fair for authors and publishers; Google will pass 63% of the revenue from selling books to them. As for absentee orphan works owners, the settlement sets up a Book Rights Registry that will hold on their behalf the money Google collects from selling their books, paying out if and when they show up. In effect, this private settlement through litigation solves a problem that has become stuck in the political process because it’s so contentious. The result has great benefits for readers, for copyright owners, and of course, for Google.

The settlement in its current form also has substantial problems. It creates a significant danger that we might give control of the distribution of books and knowledge to one monolithic entity. If it becomes becomes a dominant platform, Google could well become the only game in town for serious online access to many books. The Registry will also have enormous power to establish the terms of access to books and copyrights.

The settlement makes almost no provision for the privacy of readers; Google could, under the settlement’ terms, be tracking you as you read page by page. How much Marx; how much Marx Brothers? Google can do disturbing things with that information. Privacy is at the very heart of intellectual freedom.
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Old 03-30-2009, 08:19 AM   #3
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Thanks, anurag. It's an interesting article.
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