Wednesday, April 29, 2009

BA warns rights holders over Google
28.04.09 Graeme Neill reporting in The Boiokseller

The Booksellers Association has called for UK publishers to prevent Google from commercially exploiting their titles online until it is clearer how the digital market will develop. The BA has also repeated its warning that the settlement between Google and the US Author's Guild and the Association of American Publishers results in Google being "handed a monopoly", with competitors "placed at a considerable disadvantage".

In a letter to The Bookseller, BA chief executive Tim Godfray, said: "This might be an agreement signed by US publishers, US authors and Google, but it will affect almost all of us in the UK book trade." Under the terms of the settlement UK publishers can claim titles already scanned in by Google, and then ask the search engine to remove access to them. Access can be restored further down the line.
The BA's letter comes after Google, the US Author's Guild and the Association of American Publishers requested a two-month delay to the resolution of the Google Settlement to allow those affected "more time to consider [their] rights and options".

Some US authors have called for a four-month postponement.Godfray said that UK booksellers could be hit because downloading scanned books from Google's website would be easier than importing them from overseas. "So other booksellers may find themselves locked out. In the longer term it will also be a question of 'In the US today, in the UK tomorrow', as Google is likely to try and introduce a similar agreement in Europe."

Under the terms of the settlement, agreed between Google and the Association of American Publishers and US Authors' Guild in October, Google has agreed to pay $60 per title for 'in print' books it has already digitised with the overall bill expected to be around $45m (out of a total settlement cost to Google of $125m): but it is up to publishers, including UK presses, to make a claim.
The New York judge presiding over the settlement was due to give his ruling on 5th June, but a two-month delay could see this pushed back to mid-August.Godfray also struck out at the fact that the BA could not oppose the settlement. "We are not one of the 'classes' in the legal action. So here we have a case of three organisations in the US making decisions that will affect not only booksellers in the US, but in the UK and other parts of the world. It is difficult not to take the view that Google are being handed a monoploy and competitors will be placed at a considerable disadvantage."
Godfray continued: "If you want to see a balanced book trade, in which there are many channels to market, please consider very carefully your rights under the Google settlement. We hope you will claim your titles and turn off all display uses pending a clearer vision of how the market for digital works will develop."

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