Essay: Advantage Google

Essay in the NYT about the Google book settlement and orphan works.

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yes, violate the rights of millions..

...then see who complains.

"...do what Google did: scan lots of books, attract plaintiffs willing to form a class with an “opt out” feature, negotiate a settlement and get it approved by a judge."

so basically, break the law in such a huge way that society has no choice but to allow it.

that is the one thing that is completely wrong. once Google scans a book and declares it "orphaned," then everyone who has a copy of that same title should have the same rights to reproduce the content without revisiting all the steps of this case. Google essentially becomes the copyright holder to work it never produced nor purchased, but just because it had the balls to take it.

Opt out

I my be wrong so if anyone can point to a source that undercuts what I am saying here please post it.

I can't imagine that if the Google settlement goes through that Google will be able to display books were the copyright owner is known and they are actively saying I do not want my book on their system. If authors can get there books off the system what it leaves are books that authors want on Google and orphan works and works in the public domain. Don't really see why this is so bad?

Also, if you don't like what Google is doing what do we do to protect all these orphan works? Making the books searchable online lets people find what is still relevant about these books and rescues them from obscurity.

In regards to orphan works:
It would be good if the U.S. would have a system like Canada where if you scan a book in "good faith" that it is an orphan work and the copyright owner appears they can make you take the item offline but they cannot get damages.

it's the 30-year lead for publishing that Google gets...

... that's wrong. no other publisher can take a book and say, "oh, this publisher went out of business in 1950 and the author died in 1970 and I don't see any transfer of copyright to anyone, so I can reprint some of this orphaned work in a new collection and feel that I'm safe from litigation," but Google will have that freedom. for millions of books that are not in the public domain. exclusive rights to publish content on the Internet or print it out. but every other publisher will need to wait.

Damage to public domain

I'm happy to see some legal mechanism that will surface orphan books. The problem, as the Times piece notes, is that the Google settlement surfaces the orphans with legal strings attached. A better settlement would usher these books from orphan status into the public domain. Google deserves to profit for the access they provide. But I find it absurd that the book registry participants will benefit from orphaned work. That money should fund a system charged with shepherding these works into the public domain if the authors are not found.

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