Daily Archives: December 7, 2009

Google Books; the settlement and the saga

Apologies for being slow off the mark with this update!  There were some developments last month on the Google Books Settlement (see our previous posts HERE).

The “S” in the GBS acronym is in danger of being swapped from Settlement to Saga.  The Creative Commons news page described the Google Books Settlement as: “probably the copyright story of the year.”

Last month the Google Book Settlement site added the following update:

“On November 19, 2009, the Court granted preliminary approval of the Amended Settlement. The Court-approved Supplemental Notice will be distributed mid-December 2009″

But what does that mean??

IPKat posted an update last month.  Their post is a clarification of the situation, and also a reminder that this argument is far from simple.  I am finding that the more I read about this case, the less able I am to decide which side I am on!  All arguments are compelling.

Some of the areas that have seen revision are:
- the scope of the digitisation (only certain English speaking domains)
- the respresentation of authors rights, including the setting up of an “Unclaimed Works Fiduciary”
- further clarification of future uses by Google of scanned works

So, what’s next?  IPKat say:

“The revised settlement will again be subject to Court approval along with the opportunity of other parties submitting their briefs against or in support of the settlement.”

There is also talk of an EU alternative to Google Books which would involve the public sector.  Deutsche Welle report:

“EU ministers meeting in Brussels on Friday, November 27, said they wanted to create a bloc-wide project to digitize books, starting with the formation of a committee to work out a blueprint for the plan.”

What does seem clear is that all this wrangling is symptomatic of an industry trying to find a new way to deal with old rules in the digital age.  As the aforementioned Creative Commons news item said:

“Copyright has not kept up with the digital age — to the contrary, it has fought a rearguard action against the digital age, resulting in zero growth in the public domain, a vast number of inaccessible and often decaying orphan works, and a diminution of fair use.”

But as ARS Technica report:

“the settlement provides Google with access to copyrighted works unless their owners opt out, which is a significant change to copyright policy”

And these changes are rightly being carefully considered.  Lets see what the multitude of experts and interested parties working on this case can do to find a way forward.

To be continued….

For further information, comment and updates visit the following sites:
ARS Technica
Open Book Alliance, the Open Book Alliance have filed an amicus brief in response to the proposed GBS.
The Laboratorium
For the official documents, and to download the amended settlement in full visit the GBS site.