back to article Justice Dept to take long hard look at Google Book deal

Google is facing an investigation by the US Justice Department, after signing a controversial deal with the Author's Guild, which will see it censoring books included in its digital archive in the same way it censors videos on YouTube. The details of the agreement reached with publishers gives Google monoploy rights on …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Am I reading this right?

    Google has an automatic right to sell copies of any book unless the author specifically opts out? Irrespective of what other publishing deals that author may have in place? Even by Google's usual standards that's pretty impressive.

    Why should authors be required to opt out? Surely it ought to be an opt in arrangement.

  2. George Snyder

    Stop the Insanity

    All authors and publishers, both American and foreign, should recognize the insanity of the proposed Google book copyright settlement in which Google is trying to monopolize what should be the job of the US Copyright Office (on the account of the US copyright law’s all-encompassing claims of jurisdiction over almost any book of any national origin).

    If Google proposes to take care of all patent registrations in the world and decide on how much each patent holder should be paid while taking nearly 40% cut on each instance of the patent use, every government and patent holder in the world would be up in arms denouncing the idea; but the proposed Google settlement intends to do exactly that, except that it deals with copyrighted books, instead of patents.

    The settlement essentially kills any future prospect for developing open Internet electronic publication market in which authors, publishers, and distributors negotiate freely for the best deal that can be struck under the prevailing market condition guided by the invisible hand of the market force. Google book settlement, on the other hand, put all that under the huge visible hand of Google guiding the market development under the legally binding force sanctioned by the US government.

    Just because Google went ahead and scanned over 7 millions books on its own initiative with its own money is irrelevant, and it does not give Google the exclusive right to negotiate with all the authors and publishers in the world and force them to accept a paltry, fixed sum of money in exchange for all sorts of complex, self-serving restrictions and obligations designed to further Google’s dominance in the online information distribution market in the future to come.

    There is a better way to put orphan books back in circulation that would benefit the general public much more without the public being forced by the US government to put money into the coffers of a profit hungry company. After all, Google settlement does not compensate the authors of orphan books; so why should Google, and Google alone, be given the opportunity to profit from them?

    Google’s concerns for orphan books and their mostly dead authors are heartwarming, but it does not require Google’s help to put them back in circulation. Instead, a universal online copyright registry hosted by the US Copyright Office can be established to identify orphan books. After they are identified as such and the US Congress passes the necessary legislation to strip the copyright protection for orphan books (only for online cost-free distribution), free eBook hubs like Project Gutenberg and the Internet Archive can distribute the books. (For more information, see: )

    Once the orphan book issue is out of the way, the main attraction of the Google settlement to authors and publishers would be that Google would be the one-stop online clearing-house for the distribution of eBooks, as well as for the collection and disbursement of proceeds. Obviously many authors and publishers are willing to forsake potentially more lucrative deals that can be realized once online eBook distribution market develops more fully. But this is shortsighted and frankly stupid, indicative of the lack of visions and talent among the publishing industry executives in replicating on the Web the open, “invisible hand” market that already exists for printed books.

    If the key players in publishing industry want to shape their own future, they must not allow outsider like Google to define their future. Hopefully, they will recognize that there are plenty of things that they can do online without the involvement of Google and walk away from the settlement with Google, which is nothing but an attempt by Google to highjack the future of publishing industry and remake it to suit Google’s own convenience and profit.

  3. GettinSadda

    Hang on...

    What would happen if Google did this with music rather than books?

    Google digitize every music track they can get their hands on (without asking permission) and:

    a) Sell these tracks online without asking permission (but you can opt out)

    b) Sue anyone else that attempts to dell any digital music online

    I would love to see them try and do that!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    When did Google drop the 'no' from their motto?

  5. Rab S

    What about?

    Publishers like baen that have been doing online books for years?

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