Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Europe stirs against Google
24.08.09 Philip Jones in The Bookseller

Depending on which version you read the New York Times reports that "opposition is mounting" against the Google Settlement as well as "dividing publishers and authors in Europe". The agreement would give Google the right to sell digital copies of millions of books, including those originally published in Europe that have found their way into the Google system.
Though the two NYT pieces are written by the same journalists, and share the same information, one is headlined European Opposition Mounts Against Google’s Selling Digitized Books, while a second carries the more nuanced Europe Divided on Google Book Deal. Both interpretations might be correct.
The piece notes that while some big European publishers, like the Oxford University Press and Bertelsmann Holtzbrinck support the agreement, there is widespread opposition among French publishers. The German government, supported by national collection societies in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Spain, plans to argue against it and encourage writers to pull out of the agreement.
The European Commission is to hold a staff-level meeting on the proposed settlement on 7th September, but it has not directly involved itself in the case. In Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Spain, opposition to the settlement is more vocal. The German government has hired an American law firm, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, to submit a friend-of-the-court brief opposing Google.
Akash Sachdeva, an intellectual property lawyer with the law firm Allen & Overy in London, said that last-minute objections from Europe were unlikely to stop the settlement from going forward. "I would imagine the court is going to say that because you have a significant amount of big players around the world who have opted into this, then it is worth proceeding with,” he said.

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