Open Book Alliance slams Google Book Settlement

The Open book Alliance has reacted angrily to Google, the Authors Guild, and the Association of American Publishers’ revised e-book settlement proposal, describing it as ‘a deeply flawed legal agreement’.

The OBA is a coalition of librarians, legal scholars, authors, publishers, and technology companies opposing the proposed Google Book Settlement. Its co-chair Peter Brantley said in a statement at the weekend: “Our initial review of the new proposal tells us that Google and its partners are performing a sleight of hand; fundamentally, this settlement remains a set-piece designed to serve the private commercial interests of Google and its partners.

“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, and the AG 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 OBA argues that the digitization of books has the potential to unlock huge volumes of shared cultural knowledge, and ‘supports efforts to make books searchable, readable, and downloadable’. But the group adds that there is ‘a right way and a wrong way to accomplish this goal’. Its statement continues:

“The right path embraces openness, competition, and the public good. Last week, the Open Book Alliance issued a set of requirements that the new settlement proposal must adhere to in order be true to these principles. Most critically, the settlement proposal must not grant Google 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.”

A further, more detailed statement is due shortly, says the OBA.

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