Magazine article American Libraries

Amazon, Yahoo, Others File Briefs in Google Book Search Settlement

Magazine article American Libraries

Amazon, Yahoo, Others File Briefs in Google Book Search Settlement

Article excerpt

A myriad of parties filed legal briefs supporting and opposing the proposed settlement of lawsuits challenging Google's Book Search project before a September 9 deadline. A hearing on the settlement is scheduled for October 7 in the Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Among the opponents submitting briefs were Google competitors Amazon, Microsoft, and Yahoo; the Open Book Alliance; the Internet Archive; and the governments of France and Germany. Supporters included several academic libraries involved with the project, including the University of Virginia, the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and Cornell University Library; the Canadian Urban Libraries Council; the Computer and Communications Industry Associates, a technology industry trade group; 32 antitrust law and economics professors; and the Center for Democracy and Technology.

The settlement, which was reached in October 2008, allows Google to scan copyrighted books and display up to 20% of the text to users at no charge. Google will sell online access to individual books; libraries, universities, and other institutions can purchase online subscriptions to large collections. The firm will keep 37% of the revenue, with the remainder going to copyright holders through a Book Rights Registry.

Library groups weigh in

The American Library Association. ALA's Association of College and Research Libraries, and the Association of Research Libraries have sent a letter to the Department of Justice's Antitrust Division voicing their general approval of the proposed settlement of lawsuits challenging Google's Book Search project but reiterating their concerns over access and pricing issues. The DOJ has been looking into whether the agreement violates antitrust laws (AL, June/July, p. 39).

In the July 29 letter to Deputy Assistant Attorney General William Cavanaugh--a follow-up to a May 27 meeting with DOJ staff--the library groups pointed out that since no other entity is likely to create a digital library that can compete with the one enabled by the settlement, the absence of competition "could compromise fundamental library values such as equity of access to information, patron privacy, and intellectual freedom. …

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