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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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Oh Google
By MisterMystery on 2/15/2010 3:25:39 PM , Rating: 2
This makes me sad as I am both an avid supporter of Google and of the written word and (more importantly) those who write it. I feel like Google has good intentions here (call me naive but I don't sense it is all about the money, rather, all about the free (or cheap) exchange of thoughts and ideas). However, in this case, they are not Google's thoughts or ideas to exchange and they need to gather permission from whomever owns the copyright on any work they wish to make available. Yes it will be a logistical nightmare. Yes it will slow down the work. But fair and right are not always quick and easy.
Do the right thing Google!

RE: Oh Google
By MisterMystery on 2/15/2010 3:37:31 PM , Rating: 2
I guess I have one more thought on this. Having explored Google Books more closely, it appears that anything remotely modern is a preview only, with options to buy the book (ironically which will link you back to Amazon, the publisher,, etc.)
For example, I took a look at their photography books, then filtered to include only full views. By doing so the most current piece I could find was a one-page bulletin from 1922. I don't even know who Google could ask for permission to post such a piece.
So, I think my question is, who is TRULY complaining about this? Let's be honest, Amazon and Microsoft are not looking out for the Authors, so I don't really care about their gripes. Are there movements of authors who are also outraged with the Google Books concept? If not, then I would say no harm no foul. If there are, then Google needs to heed their concerns.

RE: Oh Google
By porkpie on 2/15/2010 5:21:41 PM , Rating: 1
"Are there movements of authors who are also outraged with the Google Books concept? "

Yes. Read the story. Amazon and Microsoft are funding this for their own purposes, sure ... but at the heart of the debate are several coalitions of authors and authors-rights organizations.

RE: Oh Google
By OCedHrt on 2/16/2010 2:31:03 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, but does the hive queen properly represent the hive? Recently events leans towards no.

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