If Google Books is successful, others will follow. And they will have an easier path: this agreement creates a books rights registry that will encourage rights holders to come forward and will provide a convenient way for other projects to obtain permissions.
-Sergey Brin, New York Times, A Library To Last Forever
Brin is wrong: the proposed Google Books settlement will not smooth the way for other digitization projects. It creates a red carpet for Google while leaving everyone else at risk of copyright infringement.
The safe harbor provisions apply only to Google. Anyone else who wants to use one of these books would face the draconian penalties of statutory copyright infringement if it turned out the book was actually still copyrighted. Even with all this effort, one will not be able to say with certainty that a book is in the public domain. To do that would require a legislative change – and not a negotiated settlement.
– Peter Hirtle, LibraryLawBlog: The Google Book Settlement and the Public Domain.
Don’t know what all the fuss is with Google Books and the proposed settlement? Wired has a good outline from April.
- “Several European nations, including France and Germany, have expressed concern that the proposed settlement gives Google a monopoly in content. Since the settlement was the result of a class action against Google, it applies only to Google. Other companies would not be free to digitise books under the same terms.” (bolding mine) – Nigel Kendall, Times (UK) Online, Google Book Search: why it matters [↩]
- “Google’s five-year head start and its relationships with libraries and publishers give it an effective monopoly: No competitor will be able to come after it on the same scale. Nor is technology going to lower the cost of entry. Scanning will always be an expensive, labor-intensive project.” (bolding mine) – Geoffrey Nunberg, Chronicle of Higher Education, Google’s Book Search: A Disaster for Scholars (pardon the paywall) [↩]
- Of course there are lots of benefits, too! [↩]