|FROM ||Ruben Safir
|SUBJECT ||Subject: [NYLXS - HANGOUT] Google, Books, Fairuse and Copyrights
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Subject: [NYLXS - HANGOUT] Google, Books, Fairuse and Copyrights
From: Ruben Safir
Date: Tue, 28 Oct 2008 19:41:58 -0400
X-Mailer: Evolution 184.108.40.206
Google settles book search dispute, joins Microsoft and Yahoo on
By Angela Gunn, BetaNews
October 28, 2008, 6:06 PM
Two long-running disputes involving the Web's most prominent search
sites appear to be nearing resolution this week, with wins for both
human rights and book lovers.
First, Microsoft, Google and Yahoo have jointly announced the completion
of guidelines covering standards of operation in countries with laws
that conflict with our own standards of free speech and human rights.
The Global Network Initiative, in the works for about two years, will
give companies structures for dealing with repressive regimes such as
China, which censor Web access and demand that companies doing business
in those nations cooperate with those restrictions.
The text of the initiative will be released to the Web on Wednesday. So
far those three companies are the only signatories, though a report in
the New York Times suggests that France Telecom and Vodafone -- both
European telcos -- are considering the plan.
Around the globe, Net companies have repeatedly run into trouble as they
attempt to balance the need to comply with local laws and the sense of
repugnance many observers feel when they see what "compliance" means in
Most memorably, Yahoo's rather fulsome cooperation with Chinese
officials looking to identify and eventually jail business reporter Shi
Tao earned Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang and his people a serious tongue-lashing
from a Congressional committee, not to mention the immortal sobriquet
'moral pygmy.' (It was a birthday present.)
Initiative specifics were not entirely revealed at press time. But the
agreement will include guidelines for how law-enforcement requests must
be filed with the companies, and will provide a forum where companies
can compare notes on attempts at censorship, with an eye toward
coordinated response -- perhaps on the theory that sometimes it's easier
not to come off like a pygmy if you're standing on the shoulders of
Meanwhile, Google has agreed to pay $125 million in settlement money
plus ongoing royalty fees to lay to rest two lawsuits connected to
Google Book Search, their massive scanning project. The arrangement,
which must be ratified by the presiding judge, not only ends the lawsuit
but actually expands the amount of information available to Web users.
The scanning project began in 2004. Members of the Association of
American Publishers, along with the Authors Guild, sued in 2005,
claiming that the creation of scans violated their various copyrights --
despite Google's invocation of traditional fair-use guidelines for
excerpting copyrighted text. But a statement today on the Guild Web site
is relatively honest about the Guild's real motivation for pursuing the
case. Roy Blount Jr., the organization's current president, still
dismisses the Google citation of fair use, but "if you're willing to cut
authors in for their fair share, then it would be our pleasure to work
Blount's statement also includes a slap at Wikipedia and a fretful aside
about the editing of the organization's press release (PDF available
here) as well as a copyright notice on the announcement. But the gist is
this: Writers whose books were already scanned can get $60 or more for
their trauma, and more money will flow to them through a new
royalty-collection organization called the Book Rights Registry, which
Google will pay to set up and launch. Authors can choose not to make
their works available in search and will work with Google to decide what
their literary stylings are worth.
Google's efforts on behalf of readers, however, were clearly effective.
The amount of text visible to searchers will increase to as much as
several pages, up from a few lines. Public libraries will assume a vital
role in delivering more text, including view-only rights to full texts
of out-of-print, in-copyright books.
Books already in the public domain will continue to be available online
as free PDFs. Books that can be viewed at the library can be printed for
a small fee. The company, which describes the agreement as "historic,"
was enthusiastic about the system's potential to help readers discover
out-of-print books and other high-quality information.