Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Great Book Bak Robbery: Time Out To Think Again

As we flew back from India we were frustrated that we somewhat disconnected from the breaking news on the Google Book Settlement. When we landed it was somewhat an anti climax to read about it unravelling. When now see the parties all run feverishly around to re negotiate something in an attempt to resurrect the deal that satisfies all parties and the DoJ and are tempted to visualise the pig and the lipstick.

The reality has finally come home to many that the deal, was not only unpalatable to many, it was constructed in the back room, by those who should have known better. Who and what will follow is bound to be better than what was brought to the table last time and we can only hope that they have learnt from the mauling.

What is a shame is that the whole affair has, in less than a year, polarised the market. It has overshadowed the digital debate, introduced complexity not clarity in its attempt to be smart and worst of all tried to change things, not through debate and open discussion, but by what some may say was blind arrogance. When debate and discussion ensued it was initially knocked back with an air of ‘we know best’, but finally debate ensued and it would be hard to find many that were totally supportive except those closest to it.

Today we must now address the opportunities that the digital world presents. We all understand that copyright needs to be reviewed and when found wanting ensure that it is addressed through bodies such as Berne and not through a back door. Yesterday Barrack Obama made a speech at the UN about how the US role in the world will change. Let’s hope that the lawyers, guild, publishers, Google and all took note. People will follow change if change is reasonable, open and fair but not when it isn’t.

The only winners today are the lawyers lets hope tomorrow that changes.

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