Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Thew Great Book Bank Robbery - Its All About Orphans

As the clock ticks slowly towards the Google settlement closure, voices are starting to be heard and debate is starting to take place. It may be too little too late, but people are starting to question and unravel the complex settlement.

In an interesting article ‘It’s all about the orphans’ Brewster Kahle writing on questions whether Google, the AAP, and the Authors Guild have now negotiated their own private solution to the problem of orphan works and created an ‘elaborate scheme for the exploitation of orphan works.’

We have written many times about orphan works and the moves to legalize their adoption both in the US and Europe and the fact that the settlement basically just takes them. We have questioned the publishing houses that had tried to previously kill off rights reversals and about this vast treasure trove of content that sits, often lost, between public domain and in print.

Kahle agrues;
The upshot, if the Settlement is approved, would be legal protection for Google, and only for Google, to scan and provide digital access to the orphan works. Presto! Like magic, Google proceeds without any need for legislation: their own private orphan works legislation.

Now, however, no one but Google will have access to the orphan class created by the Settlement, without enduring a similar class action lawsuit from the authors and publishers.

We may agree with Kahle we may not but what is important is that the Google Book Search Debate continues and what amazes us is the sheer lack of debate in many circles. This is either out of fear of being wrong, a case of the ‘blind leading the blind’ or just apathy to asking questions. Its similar to one of the conferences where the speakers speak down to their audience, there is no debate, no questions but at the break time everyone is taking about the questions they wanted to ask.

Below is a link to a synopsis of a discussion the implications of the Google Book Search Settlement at Georgetown last month. The debate involved James Grimmelman (New York Law) and Siva Vaidhyanathan (Univ. of Virginia).

‘Notes from Georgetown Symposium on Google Book Search Settlement’

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