The Justice Department has urged Judge Denny Chin to reject the Google Book Settlement, citing the fact that the settlement creates an unfair monopoly and does not appear to be -- strictly speaking -- legal.
From the BBC, who broke the story, since nobody in America really gives a shit about all this:
"The US justice department said that the breadth of the settlement raised "significant legal concerns." In its present form it would, it said, give Google sole authority for books whose copyright holder could not be found and provide inadequate protection to foreign rights holders.
"It also seemed to give publishers the power to restrict price competition and drive other digital distributors from the market, it said.
"The court "should reject the proposed settlement in its current form and encourage the parties to continue negotiations to modify it", the department said in its submission."
The DoJ has urged "The Author's Guild" and Google to return to "negotiations." The fact of the matter, however, is that "The Author's Guild" is not sufficiently powerful or farsighted enough to hash out a fair agreement with Google regarding what to do with these stolen book scans.
The Fiction Circus instead recommends a two-year long rights auction for "orphan books," coupled with legislation that fixes the problem of what to do with "out-of-print literature," a designation which will no longer exist in the future as a result of infinite digital storage and print-on-demand technology.
Right now, there are people all over California -- nice people, idealists with good hearts and keen minds -- who are pissed at the DoJ's recommendation that will almost certainly shitcan this Settlement. But they need to chow down some mushrooms, align their chakras, eat some free cheese at Trader Joe's, and relax. We New Yorkers live in a maddening pressure-cooker of squalor, stress, and poverty, but we know a bad deal when we see one.
If Google were trying to create a free online system for readers and writers to trade, buy, and sell literature electronically, then they might have a point. They might be doing something special; something that "the world needs."
But that system already exists. It's called the internet. Anybody can do what Google has done. Google should not have special liability protection to publish copyrighted out-of-print literature. Putting the fate of literature in the hands of one American company is bad for literature, bad for business, and bad for civil liberties.
Posted by miracle on Sat, 19 Sep 2009 17:00:59 -0400 -- permanent link