[conspire] Book Burning continues thanks to the Feds

Ruben Safir ruben at mrbrklyn.com
Tue Mar 22 18:31:20 PDT 2011


I'm sick of the fake rights to obstruct free society.  Google should
stop wasting its time and lobby Congress for a change in the law.


Google Inc.'s six-year struggle to bring all the world's books to the
Internet suffered another big setback at the hands of a federal judge.

A district court judge rejected a Google settlement that would allow it
to post millions of books online. It's the latest blow in Google's long
effort to scan and make books available electronically. Amir Efrati
explains the latest to Stacey Delo.

Judge Denny Chin, in a ruling filed in U.S. district court in Manhattan,
rejected a 2008 settlement that Google forged with author and publisher
groups to make millions of books available online. The 48-page decision
concludes that the $125 million deal would give the Internet giant the
ability to "exploit" books without the permission of copyright owners,
echoing the U.S. Justice Department's concerns about the deal.
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"While the digitization of books and the creation of a universal digital
library would benefit many," Judge Chin wrote, Google's current pact
would "simply go too far." The deal would "give Google a significant
advantage over competitors, rewarding it for engaging in wholesale
copying of copyrighted works without permission," he said.

In his decision, Judge Chin also noted antitrust concerns related to the
settlement, including that "would arguably give Google control over the
search market" for books.

The judge denied the settlement between Google and the Authors Guild and
the Association of American Publishers "without prejudice," meaning they
could submit a revised pact that would better protect copyright owners.

He also suggested a way to revise the deal: rather than let copyright
owners of books "opt out" of the settlement, copyright owners should be
given the choice to "opt in."

Google's lawyers had said in court last year that an "opt-in" structure
wouldn't be viable.

Hillary Ware, a managing counsel for Google, on Tuesday said the
decision was "clearly disappointing" and the company would consider its
options. "Like many others, we believe this agreement has the potential
to open-up access to millions of books that are currently hard to find
in the U.S. today," she said.
[TODO] Getty Images

Larry Page

Publishers held out hope that a settlement can still be achieved.
"Publishers are prepared to modify the settlement agreement to gain
approval," said John Sargent, chief executive of Macmillan, a unit of
Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH, in a statement issued by the
Association of American Publishers on behalf of the publisher

"We plan to work together with Google, the Authors Guild and others to
overcome the objections raised by the Court and promote the fundamental
principle behind our lawsuit, that copyrighted content cannot be used
without the permission of the owner, or outside the law."

The decision is the latest in a series of blows to the ambitious plans
of Google co-founder Larry Page to scan the world's 150 million or so
books and make them accessible to users of Google's Web-search engine,
an idea he broached shortly after the company was formed in 1998.

Google in late 2004 said it was working with several libraries to scan
and digitize books and other writings in their collections, and has said
it has completed 10% of the effort.

Google's plan was attacked in lawsuits by certain publishers and the
Authors Guild in 2005. A settlement was reached in 2008. After
objections were raised, the parties submitted this revised settlement.

The settlement, among other things, blessed Google's scanning efforts
and also potentially allowed for ads to be shown on the book pages
online. Google agreed to pay $125 million to establish a registry to
allow authors and publishers to register their works and get paid when
their titles are viewed online. It also allowed copyright owners to
prevent Google from scanning their works and to collect money for each
work that was previously scanned by Google.

For out-of-print but copyrighted books, the plan offered a chance for
digital access. "There are tons of authors whose works may now never see
the light of day, said Laurence Kirshbaum, a New York literary agent, on

But those who objected to the settlement, including the Justice
Department, said Google would unfairly take advantage of millions of
"orphaned" works whose content owners haven't been identified, or in
cases where the copyright ownership is debated.

A Justice Department spokeswoman said: "We are pleased that the Court
supported our position."

Gary Reback, a lawyer and co-founder of the Open Book Alliance, a group
that opposed the settlement and includes Google competitors such as
Microsoft Corp., Amazon.com Inc. and Yahoo Inc., said the rejection
didn't resolve his concerns that Google uses scanned books to enhance
its search engine by displaying snippets of the book's text, among other

A Google spokesman declined to comment.

Judge Chin's ruling changes little for Google users. About two million
books that are in the public domain, such as works of William
Shakespeare, currently can be viewed free on the Google Books site. They
also are available through Google eBooks, a new online book store that
allows people to purchase and read books on different devices.

Google Books users currently can view long previews of another two
million books that are in copyright and in print, thanks to agreements
between Google and tens of thousands of publishers that were separate
from the legal settlement. Millions more books that are in copyright but
out of print are currently available in Google Books in a shorter
"snippet view." Had the settlement been approved, users would have been
able to see longer previews and potentially buy those books.

For consumers and publishers, the impact of the decision may be lessened
by the fact that digital books have now carved out a significant portion
of the book business. One publisher chief executive said Tuesday that he
expects his digital book sales to double in 2011. However, some voiced
concern that absent a settlement, many authors may now no longer have
clear digital future.

James Grimmelmann, an associate professor at New York Law School, said
that the judge is clearly hinting that he would seriously consider
approving the settlement if it is revised in a way that allows
publishers and authors the right to opt into the settlement before
Google can sell their works.

Mr. Grimmelmann said that the settlement basically consists of two
parts: payment for what Google has done in the past, and the creation of
an ambitious bookstore program to sell mostly out-of-print books. "If
the parties can agree on an opt-in arrangement, it will give authors and
publishers one more option for selling their works. This is pretty much
how copyright works today," he said.

Jim Pitkow, who sold a Web-search company to Google in 2001 and is now
an executive at Attributor, which helps publishers protect their
copyrights, said yesterday: "Google has probably spent hundreds of
millions of dollars scanning books and that has not been legitimized." 
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"Yeah - I write Free Software...so SUE ME"

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"> I'm an engineer. I choose the best tool for the job, politics be damned.<
You must be a stupid engineer then, because politcs and technology have been attached at the hip since the 1st dynasty in Ancient Egypt.  I guess you missed that one."

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