Friday, October 05, 2012

Google Play and Lawyers Win?

Seven years is a long time in this digital age and much has happened since Google first attempted to land grab all the content, adopt the orphans and hoodwink the industry. Seven years of litigation, seven years of fat legal expenses and seven years which on reflection were sometimes sad as positions were taken and sometimes it appeared the industry was hell bent on a programme of civil war. It was somewhat inevitable it would be settled ‘out of court’ and behind those now richer lawyers’ doors and yesterday the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and Google announced a settlement agreement and the dismissal of their lawsuit.

The Authors Guild fights on and no doubt we may hear of a similar settlement in the future.

We don’t know the details of what has been agreed other than the high level statements which say much, but as ever are open to much interpretation. What is clear is that although the simpler and less contentious case of the publishers is resolved, the core issue of orphans remains unresolved and somewhat on the table. The settlement would appear to remain an ‘opt out’ not an ‘opt in’ model which is a clear win for Google and it is somewhat unclear what the terms are.

The question remains; who owns what and whether digital rights of books digitised by Google under its programme are actually all owned by the publishers, or assumed to be owned and aligned to the print rendition?

There is no mention of the rights registry, so the one positive the old settlement would have delivered appears to have disappeared with the will to continue the fight.

Following the agency debacle, this would appear to be the second attempt to derail Amazon that has expensively gone wrong. It would lead some to question the cost of litigation incurred and what has been achieved in return?

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