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Justice Department Objects To Google Books Settlement

DOJ cites antitrust concerns in several areas

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The amended Google Books settlement agreement (ASA) has not impressed the U.S. Department of Justice.  A statement the organization issued late yesterday praised the idea of making rare books widely available, but also maintained that there are a number of problems with the proposed deal.

The DOJ said, "Under the ASA as proposed, Google would remain the only competitor in the digital marketplace with the rights to distribute and otherwise exploit a vast array of works in multiple formats.  Google also would have the exclusive ability to exploit unclaimed works (including so-called ‘orphan works’) without risk of liability.  The ASA’s pricing mechanisms, though in some respects much improved, also continue to raise antitrust concerns."

As a result, the DOJ doesn’t want the current deal to go forward.  The organization concluded, "At this time, in the view of the United States, the public interest would best be served by direction from the Court encouraging the continuation of settlement discussions between the parties and, if the Court so chooses, guidance as to those aspects of the ASA that need to be addressed."

So it looks like Google will have to go back to the figurative drawing board again.  Enough groups have objected to the amended settlement agreement to make the situation almost comical, and with the DOJ on their side, it’s hard to imagine Judge Denny Chin won’t acknowledge their concerns.

Judge Chin, representing the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, should get the chance to voice his opinion at a hearing on February 18th.

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Justice Department Objects To Google Books Settlement
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  • http://www.albuquerquewebmall.com/Movies/ obdurate

    I can see where it’s necessary, to have an electronic image of certain historic documents. Particularly in light of how certain individuals are trying to re-write history, or hide documents from becoming history.

    The internet has clearly become the public domain of anything that is said in public and captured electronically so it can’t be denied later on.

    As for certain historical documents and/or rare text, it’s important to preserve the originals and that’s best done by limiting their handling. So, an electronic image makes sense especially when it’s widely distributed.

    However, there’s no way any one organization should have control of any published work when they’re not the author. If the work is going to become public domain, then it belongs to the public and access to it cannot be restricted.

    Knowledge is power, but information is the source of new knowledge. If the copyrights have expired, then it has to be available to anyone through any means possible.

    I have no problem with Google making the information available, but they shouldn’t be allowed to restrict reproduction rights for works they didn’t produce.

  • http://www.worldwatching.co.uk/?p=517 watching

    I think it’s about time a judge somewhere delivered a serious wake up call to those digital vampires at google.

    They would soon be up in arms and running for the courts if someone decided to redistribute some of their copyrighted software without their permission wouldn’t they?

    I have been thinking recently, does google even have a right to index anything they haven’t been specifically invited to (i.e url submitted to them by the owner)? One could say that googlebot is tantamount to a digital poacher everytime it visits a site that hasn’t been specifically submitted to them for the purposes of indexing given that website owners have no control over who links to their sites and many folk out there will tell you that google regularly ignores robots.txt files and noindex tags.

  • http://baby-annabell-accessories.com Alexis Fields

    It turns out, that Google has defined their model of producing a bottom line, as something that benefits everyone, at least well over leading any competing product.

    The way that they have lead search in freeing information, and building an economy of abundance as opposed to an economy of scarcity is fundamentally different to every other developer or major technology vendor out there.

    There are fundamental rights, and our copyright law certainly does those no justice. Paul makes a damn good point, that the effort to extend rights, lies there in changing the law, not in some selfish effort to add rights to some Alliance, that then tries to jealously defend itself as the Gatekeeper and Keymaster, while the public ends up cut from access yet again.

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