Google gives ground to Europe in battle over US digital books deal
By Stanley Pignal in Brussels and Richard Waters in San,Francisco
Published: September 7 2009 in The Financial Times.
The company has agreed to have two non-US representatives on the governing board of the registry that will administer the settlement, according to a letter sent to 16 European Union publishers' representatives at the weekend, a copy of which has been seen by the Financial Times.
Google, which aims to digitise millions of books to make them searchable through its search engine, declined to comment.
But according to the letter, it is also promising to consult European publishers before cataloguing some European works in its digital library.
The concessions - designed to counter complaints from European publishers that they have not had enough say in the US settlement - do nothing to resolve accusations by Germany and others that the settlement violates copyright law in other countries.
The European Commission is holding hearings today on how it should respond to the deal. The 27-member bloc is trying to work out whether legislation is required to facilitate the digitisation of European culture.
Google's concessions, in a statement signed by representatives of authors and publishers with whom it is negotiating the class-action settlement, are designed to give more control to European rights-holders nervous about the exploitation of their work in the US.