Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Open Book Alliance contests revised Google settlement
16.11.09 Catherine Neilan in The Bookseller
The Open Book Alliance has accused Google and its partners of "performing a sleight of hand" with the amended Settlement, which was announced late on Friday (13th November).
Co-chair of the coalition Peter Brantley said, based on the group's initial review of the revised deal, it remained "a set-piece designed to serve the private commercial interests of Google and its partners".
He added: "None of the proposed changes appear to address the fundamental flaws illuminated by the Department of Justice and other critics that impact public interest.
"By performing surgical nip and tuck, Google, the AAP [American Association of Publishers], and the AG [Authors Guild] are attempting to distract people from their continued efforts to establish a monopoly over digital content access and distribution; usurp Congress's role in setting copyright policy; lock writers into their unsought registry, stripping them of their individual contract rights; put library budgets and patron privacy at risk; and establish a dangerous precedent by abusing the class action process."
The Open Book Alliance, which comprises Microsoft, Yahoo! and Amazon as well as librarians, legal scholars, authors, publishers, is now reviewing the new settlement in depth and is planning to provide additional feedback "shortly".
Key among its objectives is to prevent Google from obtaining "an exclusive set of rights (de facto or otherwise) or result in any one entity gaining control over access to and distribution of the world's largest digital database of books. It is clear that Google has failed to meet these requirements".
The objections come in the face of other support for the new deal, notably from the Publishers Association. On Saturday, The Bookseller revealed the trade body had moved to approve the deal, after key changes had been negotiated to improve the settlement for UK publishers and authors.
Previously, the PA had maintained a neutral stance.