Fairness Hearing for Google Books Settlement
The Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers filed a consolidated class action in 2005 after Google announced agreements with libraries to digitize books in the libraries’ collections. Google didn’t obtain copyright permissions before scanning the books.
The agreement is 179 pages with 16 attachments. Under the agreement Google Library Project is allowed to scan up to 20% of a book online. Google claim’s this with increase sales. The right’s holder’s permission is required for commercially available books. However, out-of –print books could be displayed without permission unless the rights holder requested removal from the data base.”Orphan works”, will be sold without permission or compensation. Google would pay 63 percent of all revenue from the commercial uses of the digitized book sales, online advertising, and institutional subscriptions to the online database. Google will pay to authors whose work has been scanned without permission at least $60.00 per book or $15.00 per insert. Google must create a not-for-profit Book Rights Registry that would compile a public database of rights holders and help locate those who are owed income.
Google will have an edge in the publishing industry. Google would receive significant and possible anticompetitive advantages. Google currently has 0% share in the book market. Microsoft, Amazon and the nonprofit Internet Archive have filed objections. The Justice Department had concerns on copyright infringement and antitrust issues. Many other persons have expressed concern over Google monopolistic control in the areas of out-of-print book sales, “orphan works”, and digitized book sales.
Marybeth Peters Register of Copyrights stated, “the settlement would encroach on the responsibility for copyright policy that traditionally been the domain of Congress.” Further, “it could affect the exclusive rights of millions of copyright owners with respect to their abilities to control new products and new markets.” Both of these arguments seem very weak, given all the issues involved in the proposed settlement.
The increase of availability of books has attracted library organizations, universities and the National Federation of the Blind.