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Open Book Alliance reacts to revised Google book settlement proposal

Posted: November 16, 2009 12:09 p.m.
Updated: November 16, 2009 3:33 p.m.
SAN FRANCISCO - On Friday, Nov. 14, Google, the Authors Guild, and the Association of American Publishers released their revised book settlement proposal in an attempt to fix a deeply flawed legal agreement.

"Our initial review of the new proposal tells us that Google and its partners are performing a sleight of hand; fundamentally, this settlement remains a set-piece designed to serve the private commercial interests of Google and its partners," said Open Book Alliance Co-Chair Peter Brantley. "None of the proposed changes appear to address the fundamental flaws illuminated by the Department of Justice and other critics that impact public interest."

"By performing surgical nip and tuck, Google, the AAP and the AG are attempting to distract people from their continued efforts to establish a monopoly over digital content access and distribution; usurp Congress's role in setting copyright policy; lock writers into their unsought registry, stripping them of their individual contract rights; put library budgets and patron privacy at risk; and establish a dangerous precedent by abusing the class action process," Brantley said.

The digitization of books has the potential to unlock huge volumes of shared cultural knowledge, and the Open Book Alliance supports efforts to make books searchable, readable and downloadable, while encouraging openness, competition and consideration for the public good.

Last week, the Open Book Alliance issued a set of requirements that the new settlement proposal must adhere to in order to be true to these principles.

Most critically, the settlement proposal must not grant Google an exclusive set of rights (de facto or otherwise) or result in any one entity gaining control over access to and distribution of the world's largest digital database of books. Google has failed to meet these requirements.

The Open Book Alliance is now reviewing the new settlement in depth and will provide additional feedback shortly.


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