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Deadline set for Google Books Settlement

Judge Chin is none too pleased with Google and the Author’s Guild, and he’s set a new deadline for all parties to work out a new settlement. They have until 15 September to come up with a resolution he’d accept or he’ll set a "relatively tight schedule" and move the SIX year old case to trial.

That is something of a surprise, isn’t it? I had to go look up the lawsuit in Wikipedia because it’s been going on for so long that I really couldn’t remember when it was first filed.

It started in 2005, and it’s been going on for longer than the modern ebook market. I find that mind-boggling.

The current deadline follows a rejected settlement back in March. The $125 million settlement pretty much gave Google permission to pirate other people’s content until they noticed and said no. Naturally, the judge rejected the settlement. Any new agreement will need to not affect parties not involved in the lawsuit, and that’s causing a delay. Apparently Google won;t give up on all the content they scanned without permission.

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cfhanes July 19, 2011 um 3:06 pm

If the book authors are saying that no book may ever be scanned without the copyright holder’s permission, I think they are being unrealistic.

Printed books need to be brought into the digital domain, or they will disappear. This is already happening — physical books are being thrown away.

If complex copyright searches and rights negotiations are needed to scan books off a library shelf, many books will be lost forever.

I think that unless the copyright holder has already made a work generally available in a digital form (for sale or for free), a book should be allowed to be scanned.

Any distribution or sale of the digital content (in whole or in part) must have the copyright owners permission, if the work is in copyright, with negotiated compensation to the rights holder.

This needs to be done now. Books are disappearing daily.

Why is this position not reasonable?

Nate Hoffelder July 19, 2011 um 3:33 pm

I agree that there is value in making sure that all books are scanned and thus saved, but do you really want to set it up so Google can make a buck off the situation? That strikes me as being pretty close to commercial piracy, and I have an issue with it.

cfhanes July 19, 2011 um 4:34 pm

If Google is not in a position to "make a buck", then they won’t do it, will they?

If you can establish a non-profit to do what Google is trying to do, fine. That will not be easy to do, and even a non-profit needs money from somewhere. I would take Google over nothing any day.

And any money Google would make on a title should be negotiated with the rights holders. If the rights holders say no distribution, or refuse Google any compensation, then that is it. In that case, if that is their wish, Google won’t make any money. Their effort in scanning the book will not make any return, which is the gamble they are taking. I don’t see how that result helps the rights holders or anyone else.

I don’t have any problem with people making money. If they don’t, they are out of business. Why is that a problem?

Nate Hoffelder July 19, 2011 um 8:29 pm

The price paid would be too high and the gain too little. That alone is enough for me to not like the idea.

fjtorres July 19, 2011 um 8:47 pm

The point isn’t that Google can make a buck, but that the way they set it up *only Google* gets to make a buck. That’s why everybody and their uncle screamed bloody murder and the judge blocked the scam.

Doug July 19, 2011 um 6:16 pm

That position is not reasonable because it’s the exact opposite of what copyright is about. Copyright says that the copyright-holder gets to determine who makes copies and for what purpose.

If copyright holders (Ray Bradbury and Lee Harper come to mind) feel that putting their works into e-book form is an obscenity, it’s their right to not permit it. Your desire to have something in digital form doesn’t overrule their rights as the creators of the works.

On a different point: there is nothing sacred about today’s books that all of them must be protected forever. If everything ever written is preserved in perpetuity, we’ll soon drown in the words.

Have faith that if someone thinks something is worth keeping, they’ll keep it. Anything that gets thrown away by everybody almost surely is garbage that deserved to get thrown away.

fjtorres July 20, 2011 um 9:33 am

There’s always the hoarders.
Pathological, yes.
But future archaeologists will enshrine them. 😉

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