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
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.
quote: Google also pointed out that any author can opt out of the project.
quote: Google is giving authors the option.
quote: Second (and much more importantly) the author should have a right to control his work.
quote: How is this an issue then? If the author doesn’t want it up there, they ask to have it taken down
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.
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.
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.