Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Google Book Lawsuit

The New York Times has an interesting article about some of the objections to the proposed deal to settle the Google Book Lawsuit. For those not familiar with this lawsuit here is a condensed description of events: Google is in the process of scanning millions of books into digital format from several famous libraries. In return, Google wants to profit from their scanning work along with the authors and publishers of the scanned books.

I have no problem with Google wanting to profit from their work since new ideas are what drives capitalism. However, some of the legal issues that need to be addressed include:

1) Fair Compensation: Is the monetary settlement fair to the rights holders of the published works? For example, is it fair for the settlement to set non-negotiable royalty terms for works that are out-of-print but still in copyright?

2) Privacy concerns: How will Google track users and will Google then profit from selling ads directed to those users. Will the published works rights holders be able to share in the profits from any ad revenue that Google generates from these ads?

3) Monopoly concerns: Will other companies be able to join Google in profiting from this venture? Remember the old AT&T? After AT&T was broken up, we started to have more telephone choices. Some of the Baby Bells have since merged and now there are some rumblings about possible monopolistic activities but in general we have more innovation with healthy competition than we did before the break up.

I am not in favor of any agreement that sets non-negotiable royalty terms for any published work because each work should stand on its own and be given the opportunity for the marketplace to determine its worth. I also have grave concerns about Goggle's "big brother" capabilities and the possibility of a monopoly. The final agreement needs to address these issues and until it does it should not be implemented.

Copyright 2009 by the Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC. All rights reserved.

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