Oxford University Press Endorses Google Book Settlement

    June 30, 2009

The world’s largest university press has sided with Google in the ongoing Google Book Settlement debate.  Yesterday, Tim Barton, the president of Oxford University Press, spent about 2,700 words explaining that he believes even a flawed settlement is better than nothing.

The phrase "if it’s not online, it’s invisible" best sums up the position Barton outlined for the Chronicle of Higher Education.  Barton’s observed students ignoring important modern books in favor of old, out-of-copyright stuff that can more easily be found on the Internet, and feels making texts available online is critical to keeping "written wisdom" alive.

Google Book Settlement

Barton isn’t ready to blindly support Google, however.  With regards to so-called "orphan works," he wrote, "Making those books available again is a clear public good.  Google’s having exclusive rights to use them, as enshrined in the current settlement, however, is not."

Barton then encouraged Congress to get involved, continuing, "If the parties to the settlement cannot themselves solve this major problem, then at a minimum Congress should pass orphan-works legislation that gives others the same rights as Google – an essential step if Google is not to gain an unfair advantage."

This development represents an interesting half-win for the search giant.  Hat tip goes to Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson and Richard Waters.