Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Google’s Plan for Out-of-Print Books Is Challenged

Slashdot mentions an article in the New York Times about a growing tide of complaints against Google in response to an extensive settlement that some feel will grant the mammoth company too much control over the "orphan books" they have been scanning into digital format. The settlement could give Google near-exclusivity with respect to the copyright of books that the author and publisher have basically abandoned. They may be out of print but while they remain under copyright, the rights holders are unknown or cannot be found.
“No other company can realistically get an equivalent license,” said Pamela Samuelson, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and co-director of the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology.
Critics say that without the orphan books, no competitor will ever be able to compile the comprehensive online library Google intends to create. Without competition, Google will be able to charge universities and others a high price for access to its database.

While most of the critics, including copyright specialists, antitrust scholars and some librarians, agree that the public will benefit, they say others should also have rights to orphan works.

See complete article in the New York Times.