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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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By gwynethgh on 2/15/2010 2:21:14 PM , Rating: 3
Just finished a literary convention which had a panel on this. Per an author who tried to opt out that option is just a fig leaf for Google. The author stated Google will not allow you to blanket opt out for all your works but you have to opt out SPECIFICALLY for each published work. Easy if you have written just one book but a little tougher if you have published 1000s of poems, short stories and longer works spanning 40 years and uncounted publishers. Also Google will not treat with the author; the actual owner of the rights; but requires you to go through your publisher.

Google has done evil here.




By porkpie on 2/15/2010 2:34:19 PM , Rating: 1
Possibly you can answer this, but how can a Google-USDOJ deal prevent an author from instituting their own tort actions against Google for IP infringement?


By gwynethgh on 2/15/2010 2:44:25 PM , Rating: 2
Don't really see how Google and USDOJ can change copyright law but I guess if the DOJ takes a position supporting Google that may defacto weight the law against the authors. As for doing an action against Goggle it will be a kilo/mega dollar author against a giga-dollar company. Want to bet who will win in today's legal climate? Most small time authors see very modest compensation for a book, let alone a poem or short story.


By Shining Arcanine on 2/15/2010 4:13:22 PM , Rating: 2
It is not Google's fault if you own the rights to thousands of works of garbage that were published. It is difficult (if not impossible) for them to verify that every work published under your name is actually yours because multiple people can have the same name and that problem only becomes worse the more things you publish.

If you care enough to contact Google to keep them from republishing your work, you care enough to maintain a comprehensive list of your work, otherwise who would know that you wrote it and not someone else with the same name?


By omnicronx on 2/16/2010 11:24:59 AM , Rating: 2
Its not up to Google to regulate whether or not the proposed copyright holder has the rights or not. If nobody else has claimed said book and the apparent copyright holder can show he/she owns the rights Google must conform under copyright law.

The fact that Google is doing a public service is completely irrelevant. If an author does not want his material online, he/she has that right.

Furthermore go look at most of Google's offerings, almost all of them have listed the publisher and author of the book. Even your name argument does not hold up here, if I were to give my name and publisher, Google should be able to remove all my work. Should there be an author who has submitted a book under the same name and same publisher, then at that point the publisher could be brought into verify.

I'm not saying Google has a bad idea here, it is a very good idea to get millions of books from around the world all in one place, but they should not be allowed to sidestep the law to do so. If they want to import books on an insanely large scale, they should have known they would need a system in place for those that do not want their works posted online without their consent.


By HMH on 2/17/2010 8:52:52 AM , Rating: 2
So you give them a name and a publisher and just like that they should take your word on it? What if you wrote a book similar to another authors and you just want to get theirs off of google.... the possibilities go on and on.

No the burden of proof should be on the author. Just like any other IP infringement its up to the copyright holder to challenge.

What if google charged a small fee like itunes does? And you could get paid? I mean this is all really about getting paid.


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