Library Groups Ask Judge To Monitor Google Book Search Settlement

    May 5, 2009

Three major library groups have filed comments with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York for the judge to consider in his ruling on the proposed Google Book Search Settlement.

The American Library Association (ALA), the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) and the Association of Research Libraries, are asking the judge to "exercise vigorous oversight" while ruling on the Google Book Search Settlement.

The library groups are concerned that Google would not protect reader’s privacy and that it would be the only digital source for many books and academic journals.

"While this settlement agreement could provide unprecedented access to a digital library of millions of books, we are concerned that the cost of an institutional subscription may skyrocket, as academic journal subscriptions have over the past two decades," Erika Linke, president of ACRL, said.

Under the settlement, Google, the Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild resolved their legal dispute over the scanning of millions of books provided by research libraries. The library associations are not asking the judge to reject the settlement. Instead, they are requesting the judge to carefully monitor the parties’ behavior once the settlement takes effect.

Thomas C. Leonard
Thomas C. Leonard

Jim Rettig, president of the ALA, said the proposed settlement," offers no assurance that the privacy of what the public accessed will be protected, which is in stark contrast to the long-standing patron privacy rights libraries champion on behalf of the public."

The filing deadline for comments to the judge was recently extended by four months, but the associations moved forward with by filing by the original deadline to help inform the public.

"The filing before the court by the library associations demonstrates that the associations will be vigilant in highlighting the interests of the public in this settlement.  We have asked the court to exercise vigorous oversight to ensure that the powerful groups that control content do not leave individual researchers, libraries, other cultural organizations and the public without an effective voice," Tom Leonard, president of ARL, said.