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Open Book Alliance sets baseline for revised Google book settlement

Posted: November 6, 2009 12:54 p.m.
Updated: November 6, 2009 1:45 p.m.
SAN FRANCISCO - Like many others, the Open Book Alliance awaits the release on Nov. 9 of a revised proposed settlement from Google, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers.

If repeated signals from Google and its partners over the last month are to be taken at face value, the Open Book Alliance doesn't expect significant changes to the earlier settlement proposal that was soundly rejected by the Department of Justice and many others.

"Settlement 2.0" is an opportunity to for Google and its partners to make things right, and help bring about the mass digitization of books in a way that embraces openness, competition and the public good.

The Open Book Alliance is issuing the following baseline requirements that the new settlement proposal must meet if it is to achieve those critical objectives. These requirements reflect the collective expression of concerns by the U.S. Department of Justice, authors, publishers, academics, libraries, foreign nations, state attorneys general, consumer advocacy groups, and many others, and thus they think it's appropriate to review the revised settlement within this framework.

As they saw with the first attempt, a revised settlement proposal that does not meet or exceed these requirements will threaten the rights of all, the livelihoods of many, and the rule of law. If "Settlement 2.0" repeats the same fundamental flaws, it should meet the same fate as the original settlement proposal.

  • The settlement must not grant Google an exclusive set of rights (de facto or otherwise) or result in any one entity gaining control over access to and distribution of the world's largest digital database of books.

  • Authors and other rights holders must retain meaningful rights and the ability to determine the use of their works that have been scanned by Google.

  • The settlement must result in the creation of a true digital library that grants all researchers and users, commercial and non-commercial, full access that guarantees the ability to innovate on the knowledge it contains.

  • All class members must be treated equitably.

  • The settlement cannot provide for competition by making others engage in future litigation. Congress must retain the exclusive authority granted by the U.S. Constitution to set copyright policy. All rights holders impacted by the settlement must have a meaningful ability to receive notice, understand its terms and opt-out.

  • The parties that negotiated the settlement must live under the terms to which they seek to bind others, rather than their own separately negotiated arrangements.
The Open Book Alliance is a coalition of librarians, legal scholars, authors, publishers, and technology companies created to counter the proposed Google Book Settlement.


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