05 September 2009 by Published in: Civil War books and authors 5 comments

From CNET on September 2:

Amazon came out swinging Tuesday against Google’s proposed settlement with book authors and publishers.

Amazon’s opposition was made public last week when it joined the Open Book Alliance, but the company filed its own brief with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Tuesday arguing against making the proposed settlement final. In its filing (click for PDF), Amazon notes that it has also scanned books, but has not taken the controversial step that Google took in scanning out-of-print but copyright-protected books without explicit permission.

Way back in 2004, when Google began scanning books from libraries, it believed it had the right to scan the entire text of a copyright-protected book under fair-use laws so long as it only displayed a snippet of the contents. Authors groups and publishers vehemently disagreed, resulting in a class-action lawsuit and the proposed settlement at issue in this case.
Lawyers for Amazon wrote “Amazon also brings a unique perspective to this court because it has engaged in a book scanning project very similar to Google’s, with one major distinction: As to books still subject to copyright protection, Amazon has only scanned those for which it could obtain permission to do so from the copyright holder.”

The brief goes on to complain that the settlement “is unfair to authors, publishers, and others whose works would be the subject of a compulsory license for the life of the copyright in favor of Google and the newly created Book Rights Registry.” Amazon wants Congress to intervene in the dispute over fair-use provisions in copyright laws, saying the use of a class-action settlement to obtain these rights “represents an unprecedented rewriting of copyright law through judicial action.”

Amazon, of course, has a lot at stake when it comes to the future of books. One of the largest sellers of regular books in the world, Amazon has also turned its attention to the digital book market with the release of the Kindle and a digital book store of its own.

Google has supporters in its fight to get the settlement approved during an early October fairness hearing before Judge Denny Chin. Sony, the American Association for People with Disabilities, the European Commission, and several others have filed briefs of support with the court. And on Tuesday, U.K. publisher Coolerbooks agreed to join Google’s Partner Program, allowing it to offer Google’s scanned copies of public domain works not at issue in the settlement.

Updated 2:52 p.m. PDT: Google plans to hold a press conference tomorrow morning with settlement supporters from civil rights groups and advocates for people with disabilities, which we’ll cover.

And three library groups reiterated Wednesday that while they do not oppose the settlement they wish to ensure “vigorous oversight” is enforced by the court.

But judging by the court docket, the opposition is out-filing supporters. Those interested in flooding Judge Chin with additional reading material have until Friday to do so.

I really hope that the Judge does not approve this settlement. It’s bad for EVERYONE but Google.

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  1. Steve Ward
    Sat 05th Sep 2009 at 6:58 pm

    As a lawyer who used to be employed by a company that produced both software and hardware, as well as being from a printing family, I am just amazed that the parties think that by a settlement that they can “gut” the copyright laws. No judge should approve such nonsense. Since when can parties by a settlement agree that the violation of a law is ok? All creative folks should be deeply concernec about this. Just my two cents. Steve W.

  2. Sun 06th Sep 2009 at 11:32 pm

    The notion that King Google cares about people with disabilities is laughable.

  3. Mon 07th Sep 2009 at 7:03 pm

    Forgive me if this is old news, but I just learned of the situation where Amazon’s Kindle unknowingly sold pirated versions of George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm earlier this year, thereby being in violation of copyright.

    When Amazon learned of this, they somehow, and apparently unbeknownst to the buyer, reached into the Kindle of everyone who bought those two titles and deleted the offending books. Of course the purchase price was refunded but nevertheless, how the heck did they do that from a technological standpoint? What does Amazon’s ability to do that really mean for the buyer when you buy a Kindle book? And what other Big Brother (no pun against Orwell) technologies are out there that we may not know of, whether it’s Kindle, Google, Microsoft, et al?

  4. Tue 15th Sep 2009 at 12:06 pm

    Paul, that is really interesting. I didn’t know any company had the right to remove anything from someone’s library. I know copy-protected files can “expire” but this is the first time I’ve heard of them being removed completely.

    It’s also terribly ironic that the book “Big Brother” went after was Orwell’s 1984!

    I tend to have a prejudice against Google, for many reasons, but I do like Google Books. That being said I think it’s unfair and illegal for them to scan copyrighted books without permission. Does it surprise me that they did so? No.

  5. SouthernGirl
    Sun 20th Sep 2009 at 4:00 pm

    I really don’t oppose google’s plan, I think that it will help students and people who want to find out information and other things about books that they have read. I have heard a talk about this on the radio the other day. I love google, personally. I use gmail, sites, web, books, and others. But I wondered what other people thought.

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