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Google Books offers access to countless out-of-print and current works. Google says its competitors' complaints about the service are just sour grapes. It writes in a recent legal brief, "Competitors such as Amazon raise anxieties about Google's potential market position, but ignore their own entrenched market dominance."
Google defends its actions in a new legal brief

Google Books today is one of the internet's most useful and unique resources.  The site contain scores of works in their entirety and many more which are partially uploaded.  Many of these works were previously lost to the world -- out-of-print works that publishers refused to republish.  Thus Google is arguably offering unprecedented access to the science and literary wealth of mankind.

However, not everyone is happy with that.  A coalition led by Microsoft and Amazon has attacked Google's legal pact with publishers on antitrust and copyright grounds.  They say that the deal, which allows for sales of in-print uploaded works to compensate publishers and allows Google to keep uploading the works without fear of copyright litigation, gives Google an illegally dominant position in the market.

Google is now defending its deal to the U.S. Justice Department, which on Feburary 4 released critical comments of the service.  Google ardently denies wrongdoing.  Writes Google in a new legal brief, "With only one significant exception, the parties sought to implement every suggestion the United States (Justice Department) made in its September submission."

The one suggestion it did not agree to was to seek every author's permission to keep their books on Google Books.  They argue that would take too long, and would become problematic for deceased authors.  They argue agreeing to the provision "would eviscerate the purposes of the ASA (amended settlement agreement)."

Google says that its agreement will not stop other parties from seeking their own agreements and will not harm libraries, one allegation that was leveled against it.  It's lawyers write, "The ASA will enable the parties to make available to people throughout the country millions of out-of-print books.  This is precisely the kind of beneficial innovation that the antitrust laws are intended to encourage, not to frustrate."

And in the new brief it also is quick to attack claims that it is creating a monopoly, pointing out that Amazon and Microsoft both represent monopoly risks as well.  It writes, "Competitors such as Amazon raise anxieties about Google's potential market position, but ignore their own entrenched market dominance."

Google also pointed out that any author can opt out of the project.

The Open Book Alliance, the group fronted by Microsoft and Amazon and largely composed of various writers and library groups, fired back a quick email response to the brief, stating, "Despite the spin from Google's attorneys, the amended settlement will still offer the search and online advertising giant exclusive access to books it has illegally scanned to the detriment of consumers, authors and competition."

Google faces a critical turning point on Febuary 18 when U.S. District Judge Denny Chin must decide whether to approve or deny the class action suit settlement that set up the deal with publishers. A rejection would be a major deal to Google's digitizing efforts and a major victory for Microsoft and Amazon.  Even if Google can get the settlement approved, it still could face additional legal challenges from Amazon and Microsoft.



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RE: Huh?
By aapocketz on 2/15/2010 11:41:39 AM , Rating: 2
More access to more books for less money. How is this bad for consumers again?

I could see some authors being upset, but if their books aren't being published anyway, I figure most would be alright with this. Plus its the copyright holders that have the say in where and how the book is distributed, not necessarily the author right?


RE: Huh?
By porkpie on 2/15/2010 11:44:11 AM , Rating: 4
The author is the copyright holder, not the publisher (except in rare work-for-hire situations).

And saying that, "if the book is out of print, they shouldn't care anyway" is fallacious. Firstly, books go out of print all the time, then reenter print with new editions that make the author more money.

Second (and much more importantly) the author should have a right to control his work. What if they just don't WANT their book appearing in public? Your statement is rather like saying that, if a person is away on a trip, they shouldn't mind random people using their vacant home in their absence. Ownership implies control. If you don't control something, you don't own it.


RE: Huh?
By theapparition on 2/15/10, Rating: 0
RE: Huh?
By bhieb on 2/15/2010 12:06:16 PM , Rating: 2
See my post below, but BS.
quote:
Google is giving authors the option.

Yah they are giving them an option, but it is a horseshite one at best. Right NOW it is just Google, but if your work was on a few million PC's on a P2P does and Opt-Out make sense? You still technically have control all you have to do is contact a few million people and ask them not to do it.


RE: Huh?
By Riven98 on 2/15/2010 12:14:35 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
Second (and much more importantly) the author should have a right to control his work.

What about the authors that want their works published again, but the publisher won't because there isn't enough profit in it for them?


RE: Huh?
By porkpie on 2/15/2010 1:21:20 PM , Rating: 2
"What about the authors that want their works published again, but the publisher won't because there isn't enough profit in it for them?"

It doesn't work like that. A publisher who inks a deal with an author gets limited rights; usually a "first-publish" agreement for a limited period of time. After that, they can't prevent the author from allowing another publisher to reprint it, or even to reprint it themselves, should they be willing to pay for it.


RE: Huh?
By Suntan on 2/15/2010 1:01:40 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Second (and much more importantly) the author should have a right to control his work.


My understanding is that the author (copyright holder) can request that their book be taken down.

How is this an issue then? If the author doesn’t want it up there, they ask to have it taken down.

This is the same way patents work. The patent holder has to keep up with and enforce their patent (by suing the infringing party.) They don’t have the law actively looking out and enforcing their patent without having to do any work.

-Suntan


RE: Huh?
By porkpie on 2/15/2010 1:24:23 PM , Rating: 3
"This is the same way patents work"

Err, no. If you infringe upon a patent, the patent owner doesn't just get to tell you to stop. They get to SUE you for damages. If they can prove you knew of the infringement before hand, they can sue for punitive, as well as actual damages.

" If the author doesn’t want it up there, they ask to have it taken down."

What if they don't know about it? What if they find out months later, after a few million people have already made copies?

You shouldn't have to ask people to STOP using your property. They should have to ask you for permission first.
Don't put the cart before the horse.


RE: Huh?
By rcc on 2/15/2010 3:37:41 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
How is this an issue then? If the author doesn’t want it up there, they ask to have it taken down


Why should the Author have to do the work to keep someone from doing something that's been illegal for years. So, once a week for the rest of his/her/it's life, the author is expected to scan through the index and, if they find a title of theirs, send in a request to take it down? Or are they just going to blast out a letter to Google saying don't publish anything in my name, or these 7 pseudonyms?

I realize it's a big job, but if Google wants to digitize all the books, they need to be responsible for obtaining authorization to do so.

I rather like the concept of being able to access books online, but the authors need protection as well. Most of them write for a living, and we will be less than we were if many of them go find other jobs.


RE: Huh?
By omnicronx on 2/16/2010 12:09:25 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
This is the same way patents work. The patent holder has to keep up with and enforce their patent (by suing the infringing party.) They don’t have the law actively looking out and enforcing their patent without having to do any work.
Alrighty then, so by your logic ALL illegally downloaded MP3's are perfectly legal until you are caught. I even have the right to distribute them without repercussion until I am asked to stop!

Please explain to me this scenario is any different? The only difference here is that most of these authors are not asking for money, they just don't want Google to post their books without asking, or at the very least make it an easy process to have them removed.

If Google was posting music without consent, they would be sued. If they started selling the music for profit (whether that be directly or by advertising money being made), they would be sent back to the stone-age. So please explain to me why they should be allowed to do this with books?

I'm not saying they should have to ask every single author (the big problem here is that many of the works are old, and the publishers/copyright holders cannot be found), but they should at least have to try and investigate before they post content. They will already have the data required to do such a check to put the book online in the first place, so there is no reason why they cannot do this.. well aside from the fact it will take them longer to deploy, but that's their problem, not the authors.


RE: Huh?
By Shining Arcanine on 2/15/2010 4:07:27 PM , Rating: 2
The author should not have published the book in the first place if he did not want the public to be able to read it.

There is a such thing as first sale doctrine, which means that after you sell a book, everyone is the world may read it so long as the owner permits it.


RE: Huh?
By porkpie on 2/15/2010 5:20:25 PM , Rating: 1
First sale applies to the form, not the contents. If Google wants to buy a copy of each of these books and loan them out, one by one, they're more than welcome to.

Your statemeent is even more ludicrous when one realizes Google hasn't even bought that first copy. How in the world can "first sale" possibly apply?


RE: Huh?
By omnicronx on 2/16/2010 11:01:44 AM , Rating: 2
Don't know why you were rated down as you are right on the money.. I didn't even think about the fact that Google has not even bought the initial copy in many cases, most of these books are merely scanned. You can't transfer the rights of something you never owned in the first place.


RE: Huh?
By Dtprodromos on 2/16/2010 5:40:22 PM , Rating: 2
The web as it is evolving right now brings new challenges to our archaic financial and legal system. In the years to come it will surely not be the only technology that will upset the once fine tuned financial political and social system.
Ok, this article is definitely about intellectual property, or the right to earn "money" from one's own work. The problem is, however, that as new technologies arise it will be progressively difficult to define "work", its value or impact to society and its "amount".So it will also be difficult to define the amount of "money" that 'd be just to compensate for any kind of work.
Another problem that will emerge is that it will become evident that it is not needed for all individuals to "work"
for society to meet its needs as a whole, at least in the traditional sense of work.I do not in any way want to sound important, but I am suggesting that we have to think, think hard how we ll adapt. Enough with theories..
How much work does an author put to a book of say 500 pages? A work of a year? If it is a specialised book there may be some preparation work(university studies) for say 4 years.How much impact does this have to society? It may have almost zero, or a very big impact.Even if it is not so important how much do you think we should compensate the author for 5 years of work? 0$, 150000$ or 100000000$?
At the same time some publisher just reads his/her work and decides to spend some money, say 1000000$ to publish the book. How much work did the publisher put to publishing the book, one week, one month? How much net profit should he earn of his work 0$, 150000$ or 100000000$?
At the same time some poor guy in a developing country barely makes 1000$ a year, even though he works 12 hours a day for a year.He can hardly sustain his family, though he is just as a "european" or an "american", a member of the human race.Does he have a right to knowledge? Let's suppose he downloads the above discussed book for free from an internet cafe. The author does not know it but the ever vigilant publisher sues him after informing the author. Who may be the criminal in this case and who doesnt just get compensated enough for his work?
Though through extreme plagiarism, I think I coveyed some of my thoughts.


RE: Huh?
By omnicronx on 2/16/2010 10:59:25 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The author should not have published the book in the first place if he did not want the public to be able to read it.
The bank should not have opened their doors to the public if they did not want me to rob it!

The movie theater should not have showed any movies if they did not want me to record them!

Do you realize how ridiculous your comment is?
quote:
There is a such thing as first sale doctrine, which means that after you sell a book, everyone is the world may read it so long as the owner permits it.
What on earth are you talking about? First sales doctrine gives the right for an owner to transfer ownership of a PARTICULAR COPY, it does not mean you can transfer it to as many people you want, its a one to one transfer unless the original copyright holder explicitly allows the right to rent/distribute/etc. So unless Google is buying a copy for each view/download/sale what it is doing is not covered by the first sales doctrine in any shape or form.


RE: Huh?
By omnicronx on 2/16/2010 10:47:58 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
More access to more books for less money. How is this bad for consumers again?
Its bad for the consumer once Google completely controls the market and is no longer forced to remain competitive with other places such as.. say Amazon?

I'm pretty furious with the deal they received, good or bad they basically took control of 60%+ of the entire industry overnight in a deal that for all intents and purposes should have never gone through. It seems like a few big players in the industry, most likely those who have the most to gain from a deal like this made a decision for millions of authors around the world.

Also as others have pointed out, the author IS most likely the copyright holder.


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