Print 26 comment(s) - last by porkpie.. on May 12 at 9:46 PM

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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By zmatt on 5/11/2010 2:42:42 PM , Rating: 3
I really don't see why anyone is against Google digitizing these books. They have the support of the publishers and authors, the only parties who really have a legal say in this, so I don't see anything wrong with it. The people against it cite authors who don't want their books put into this, but if Google is primarily targeting books that are either in public domain already and just hard to access or books where the author is long dead then who are these authors?

Furthermore, this doesn't give Google any ownership of these books, it simply allows them to distribute them electronically as a 3rd party. They act as a bookstore of sorts selling books at the consent of the author's guild and the major publishers. I don't see how this is evil at all. IMO making these books available is a good thing, libraries often lack many older or hard to find titles, and having them electronically stored not only preserves them but allows you to have an endless supply.

RE: wtf
By Smilin on 5/11/2010 2:55:15 PM , Rating: 2
I really don't see why anyone is against Google digitizing these books. They have the support of the publishers and authors

No they don't. They have the support of *most* publishers and authors, not all.

Furthermore they didn't obtain that support until *after* the works were scanned. That's how this ended up in the courts in the first place.

Next time some kid runs into trouble with the RIAA he should bust out the Google defense: I know I'm making illegal copies of all this but eventually I'm going to pay for it. Pinkie swear.

RE: wtf
By porkpie on 5/11/2010 4:32:20 PM , Rating: 2
"They have the support of *most* publishers and authors, not all."

It's not even "most" authors. The Author's Guild only has around 8,000 members, of which not all are even authors.

RE: wtf
By zmatt on 5/12/2010 12:24:54 PM , Rating: 2
truth be told, when an Author makes a deal with a publisher, they no longer hold the distribution rights, the publisher does. legally Google doesn't have to talk to any published author, they only have to talk to the publisher. it's a major problem for authors because a publisher can make an agreement with them to buy the book and then they could never print it and sit on it, which actually happens quite frequently, the author then can do nothing.

I consider the authors guild support a nice gesture as Google doesn't have to answer to them.

RE: wtf
By porkpie on 5/12/2010 9:46:30 PM , Rating: 1
"truth be told, when an Author makes a deal with a publisher, they no longer hold the distribution rights, the publisher does."

Truth be told, this isn't true at all. Spend about 30 seconds on Google, and you'll find out otherwise. Nearly all authors grant only first publish rights for a book sale.

"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad

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