Saturday, April 4, 2009

Google orphan works settlement under fire

Critics are signalling that they will challenge the proposed settlement of a lawsuit against Google that they say will grant the company too much power over out-of-print books.

In 2005, publishers and authors sued Google because parts of copyrighted works were showing up in Google search results. The settlement allows Google, which has scanned more than 7 million books, to show U.S. readers up to 20 percent of most books, and to sell access to the entire collection to universities and other institutions. Public libraries will get free access to the full texts; individuals will be able to buy online access. Proceeds will be shared by Google, publishers, and authors.

Settlement proponents say the agreement greatly benefits the public by providing access to hard-to-find works. Opponents complain that the agreement hands Google a virtual monopoly over "orphan works," i.e., out-of-print works whose authors or other rights holders cannot be identified or located.

See, "Google’s Plan for Out-of-Print Books Is Challenged," New York Times, April 3, 2009, at; "Google's Book Settlement Is a Ripoff for Authors," Wall St. Journal, March 28, 2009, at

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