Google Books in the News

European Union to scrutinize Google Books settlement; Congress may hold hearing

“The European Union said today that it would scrutinize Google’s settlement with authors and publishers and hold a hearing Sept. 7 to determine whether there would be any adverse impact on the European book market. “What’s currently planned is a fact-finding exercise by the [European] Commission — not an investigation — and we’re looking forward to taking part,” said Jennie Johnson, a Google spokeswoman. Under scrutiny will be Google’s agreement, reached last year with the Authors Guild and the American Association of Publishers, to make out-of-print books searchable online.”

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2009/07/european-union-to-scrutinize-google-books-settlement.html

 

University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Texas expand Google Books agreements

“In May, the University of Michigan announced an expanded agreement with Google that will take advantage of our settlement agreement to make millions of works from its library collection accessible to readers, researchers, and book lovers across the United States. Today, two more longstanding library partners–the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Texas–have also expanded their partnerships with Google. That means that if the agreement is approved by the court, anyone in the US will be able to find, preview and buy online access to books from these two libraries as well.”

http://booksearch.blogspot.com/2009/07/university-of-wisconsin-madison-and.html

 

Google Library Project Settlement: What It Means for Publishers

SPONSORED BY: Google, The Association of American Publishers, and Publishers Weekly 

EVENT DATE: Wednesday, July 29, 2 pm ET Time – 60 minutes 

“In a webinar first, the leaders involved with the crafting of the Google Library Project Settlement will share with the publishing industry the benefits of the agreement for publishers and authors. If approved by the Court in October, the agreement will create one of the most far-reaching intellectual, cultural, and commercial platforms for access to digital books for the reading public, while granting publishers unprecedented opportunities and protections. Presented in collaboration with Google, The Association of American Publishers, and Publishers Weekly, the web session is a must-attend event for publishers everywhere.”

https://event.on24.com/eventRegistration/EventLobbyServlet?target=registration.jsp&eventid=156420&sessionid=1&key=7EF08275BD027B4FA08C48D022C8087D&sourcepage=register

 

Copyfraud: Poisoning the public domain

“The public domain is the greatest resource in human history: eventually all knowledge will become part of it. Its riches serve all mankind, but it faces a new threat. Vast libraries of public domain works are being plundered by claims of “copyright”. It’s called copyfraud – and we’ll discover how large corporations like Google, Yahoo, and Amazon have structured their businesses to assist it and profit from it.”

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/06/26/copyfraud/

 

Give Your Input On the Google Book Search Settlement

“Publishers Weekly would like your input on the Google Book Search Settlement (from PW) and they are conducting a survey designed to gather a broad view of how the Settlement is being viewed.. . . . If you’re interested, take a few minutes to answer this brief, targeted questionnaire to help gauge industry opinion on whether the settlement should be approved, modified or rejected. Note that you do not have to have standing in the suit to participate in the survey. Please click on this link when you are ready to take the survey.”

http://lisnews.org/give_your_input_google_book_search_settlement

 


 
Source:  The always excellent Intersect Alert.
The Intersect Alert is a newsletter of the Government Relations Committee, San Francisco Bay Region Chapter, Special Libraries Association

http://units.sla.org/chapter/csfo/csfo.html

The Google Book Search Settlement: A New Orphan-Works Monopoly?

“The Google Book Search Settlement: A New Orphan-Works Monopoly?”

U of Chicago Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 462

RANDAL C. PICKER, University of Chicago – Law School

This paper considers the proposed settlement agreement between Google and the Authors Guild relating to Google Book Search. Google boldly launched Google Book Search in pursuing its goal of organizing the world’s information. Even though Google was sensitive to copyright values, the service relied on mass copying and thus Google undertook a substantial legal risk in setting up the service. That risk was realized with the lawsuits by the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers. The October, 2008 settlement agreement for those suits will create an important new copyright collective and will legitimate broad-scale online access to United States books registered before early January, 2009.

The settlement agreement is exceeding complex but I have focused on three issues that raise antitrust and competition policy concerns. First, the agreement calls for Google to act as agent for rights holders in setting the price of online access to consumers. Google is tasked with developing a pricing algorithm that will maximize revenues for each of those works. Direct competition among rights holders would push prices towards some measure of costs and would not be designed to maximize revenues. As I think that that level of direct coordination of prices is unlikely to mimic what would result in competition, I have real doubts about whether the consumer access pricing provision would survive a challenge under Section 1 of the Sherman Act.

Second, and much more centrally to the settlement agreement, the opt out class action will make it possible for Google to include orphan works in its book search service. Orphan works are works as to which the rightsholder can?t be identified or found. That means that a firm like Google can?t contract with an orphan holder directly to include his or her work in the service and that would result in large numbers of missing works. The opt out mechanism – which shifts the default from copyright?s usual out to the class action?s in – brings these works into the settlement.

But the settlement agreement also creates market power through this mechanism. Absent the lawsuit and the settlement, active rights holders could contract directly with Google, but it is hard to get large-scale contracting to take place and there is, again, no way to contract with orphan holders. The opt out class action then is the vehicle for large-scale collective action by active rights holders. Active rights holders have little incentive to compete with themselves by granting multiple licenses of their works or of the orphan works. Plus under the terms of the settlement agreement, active rights holders benefit directly from the revenues attributable to orphan works used in GBS.

We can mitigate the market power that will otherwise arise through the settlement by expanding the number of rights licenses available under the settlement agreement. Qualified firms should have the power to embrace the going-forward provisions of the settlement agreement. We typically find it hard to control prices directly and instead look to foster competition to control prices. Non-profits are unlikely to match up well with the overall terms of the settlement agreement, which is a share-the-revenues deal. But we should take the additional step of unbundling the orphan works deal from the overall settlement agreement and create a separate license to use those works. All of that will undoubtedly add more complexity to what is already a large piece of work, and it may make sense to push out the new licenses to the future. That would mean ensuring now that the court retains jurisdiction to do that and/or giving the new Registry created in the settlement the power to do this sort of licensing.

Third, there is a risk that approval by the court of the settlement could cause antitrust immunities to attach to the arrangements created by the settlement agreement. As it is highly unlikely that the fairness hearing will undertake a meaningful antitrust analysis of those arrangements, if the district court approves the settlement, the court should include a clause – call this a no Noerr clause – in the order approving the settlement providing that no antitrust immunities attach from the court’s approval.

 

Source:  LSN Intellectual Property Law Vol. 2 No. 51,  05/07/2009