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Opponents claims that deal violates WTO trademark laws

 

Google is no stranger to allegations that it wields too much power in the search and advertising market online. However, one of the most controversial of the programs Google operates has been its book scanning project.

Many fear that by allowing Google to scan books and put them online, the company will have a monopoly and a competitive edge in the digital book market that other providers can’t match. Among the major tech firms that have spoken out against the Google Books deal are Microsoft and Amazon. Google fired back against the two companies in February 2010 stating that its scanning service would not harm libraries, which was one of the claims cited by opponents to the book scanning program.

As the deadline for the Google Books deal to move forward this summer draws near, opponents to the program are still fighting to stop the digitization of orphan works by Google. The latest attempt to stop the book deal comes from the Open Book Alliance (OBA) to convince the judge presiding over the case that the deal – reached between Google, the American Association of Publishers, and the Authors Guild -- violates provisions of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works.

The provision being cited by the OBA states that no copyrighted works can be used without express permission of its author. The OBA has hired the legal firm Macht, Shapiro, Arato, and Isserles to represent them on the matter. Cynthia Arato, one of the partners at the firm, issued a memo concerning the case that read in part, "If approved, the settlement would (1) grant Google automatic rights to exploit digitally millions of books without requiring Google to obtain any authorization from any foreign copyright owner or author; and (2) require these foreign rights holders to jump through burdensome hoops simply to exercise a watered-down contractual right—that the settlement creates—to halt such use."

Google states that it has not yet fully reviewed the document, but it is sure that its deal with the publishers and authors unions meets all U.S. and international copyright laws. A Google spokesperson stated, "The settlement offers an extraordinary opportunity to unlock access to millions of books for students, readers, and researchers across the U.S. It exposes readers to information they might not otherwise see, and it provides authors and publishers with a new way to be found."

Arato maintains that the settlement infringes on the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property rights rule that states any deal granted by a World Trade organization member to the nationals of one member country should be granted to all WTO members. So far, the Google settlement deal only applies to certain WTO member countries.

Arato said, "If the settlement is approved, it may give rise to legal action against the U.S. before an international tribunal and will certainly expose the U.S. to diplomatic stress." 

 



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RE: freedom of information
By porkpie on 5/11/2010 2:36:54 PM , Rating: 2
"Google is scanning and publishing ORPHANED WORKS ."

Not quite. First of all, Google is scanning what it considers to be orphaned works. It gets to pick and choose what goes into that list...and a work doesn't come out, unless the author specifically contacts Google to remove the work. If the author doesn't continually check Google for their works, they can stay up there forever.

Secondly, an orphan work is still copyrighted. Simply that the copyright holder is (again in Google's opinion) "difficult or impossible" to contact. What exactly does Google use for that criteria? They don't say.

Thirdly, Google is also scanning books that are definitely not orphan works. In this case, though, Google is limited to displaying 20% of the book's contents.

The real issue here is the length of copyright law, which has grown too long. If we simply pared down all copyrights to a 45 year maximum period, it would solve most of these issues. Allowing books to be copyrighted for 95 years is far too long.


RE: freedom of information
By Smilin on 5/11/2010 2:51:04 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly!

Google is also scanning first and asking questions later.

At the time they perform the scan they have not yet obtained permission (that's why their butts wound up in court).


RE: freedom of information
By xmichaelx on 5/11/2010 5:17:06 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
It gets to pick and choose what goes into that list...and a work doesn't come out, unless the author specifically contacts Google to remove the work.

So what's the problem?

quote:
If the author doesn't continually check Google for their works, they can stay up there forever.

First of all, it's a rare author who owns his own copyright. Second, it would take me all of 5 minutes to write a program to automate this process -- do you really think this is a hardship for publishers?

In fact, google's book search (which has already been live for a while) turns out to be a massive financial boon to authors and publishers, as it makes discoverable previously difficult-to-find information. Here's a 2007 story about it, and more and more publishers have come around since then: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?story...


RE: freedom of information
By porkpie on 5/11/2010 6:13:48 PM , Rating: 3
"First of all, it's a rare author who owns his own copyright"

Err, what? You're not an author, are you? Beyond first-publish rights, most authors do in fact own their works.

Secondly, you are out and out lying about the content of that NPR story. It's referring to the practice of Google displaying a small portion of a book, along with a link enabling a user to buy the book itself. The "good for business" bit has nothing whatsoever to do with making available the entire book online.

Thirdly, even if putting entire copyrighted works online for free was a "financial boon" (which it certainly isn't), that's entirely irrelevant. The issue here is ownership. Another person doesn't have the right to take your car from you, and then give you 120% of its value, without your permission. Why should they be able to take control of your book, simply because its supposed to be "financially good" for you?


RE: freedom of information
By Smilin on 5/12/2010 10:25:39 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
So what's the problem?


You don't have to "opt out" to retain your rights. You must "opt in" to give them up. Anything else is stripping rights without permission. I have a serious problem with that and so should anyone who respects the rule of law.

quote:
First of all, it's a rare author who owns his own copyright.


BS. This isn't the recording industry. Authors sign deals to publish works, not to sell them.

quote:
do you really think this is a hardship for publishers?

Yes. See opt-in/opt-out above. The effort required to retain your law given rights is 0. Any effort whatsoever beyond that is hardship.

quote:
In fact, google's book search (which has already been live for a while) turns out to be a massive financial boon to authors and publishers, as it makes discoverable previously difficult-to-find information. Here's a 2007 story about it, and more and more publishers have come around since then: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?story...


Financial gain is irrelevant. It doesn't make it ok to steal when you give something back. You must get agreement beforehand. Some authors and copyright owning publishers have made this agreement but not all.

That NPR story is also crap. I heard it on the radio when they first played it. They are basically giving one side of the story and not interviewing anyone from the Author's Guild or other publishers who are suing google.

Look, I *like* google books. I think it's an awesome idea that's long overdue. But no matter how much I like it I'm not going to support stealing. Google needs to do this right (with an opt-IN system) or not do it at all.


"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)














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