Monday, July 06, 2009

The Dead Souls of the Google Book Search Settlement | July 2009 | Communications of the ACM

Conclusion of an article on the Google Book Search settlement (you’ll need to be a CACM subscriber to read the full text):

In the short run, the Google Book Search settlement will unquestionably bring about greater access to books that major research libraries collected over the years. But it is very worrisome that this agreement, which was negotiated in secret by Google and a few lawyers working for the Authors Guild and AAP (who will, incidentally, receive up to $45.5 million in fees for their work on the settlement—more than all of the authors combined!), will create two complementary monopolies with exclusive rights over a research corpus of this magnitude. Monopolies are prone to engage in many abuses.

The Book Search agreement under consideration is not really a settlement of a dispute over whether scanning books to index them is fair use. It is a massive restructuring of the book industry's future without meaningful government oversight. The market for digitized orphan books could be competitive, but will not be if this settlement is approved in its current form without modification.

The Dead Souls of the Google Book Search Settlement | July 2009 | Communications of the ACM

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