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back to article DoJ confirms Googlebooks antitrust probe

The US Justice Department has confirmed its antitrust probe into Google's $125m book-scanning settlement with American authors and publishers, indicating that the ongoing investigation is an important one. On Thursday, deputy attorney general William F. Cavanaugh sent a letter to the federal judge overseeing the proposed …

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Boffin

Google. Evil. (tm)

Sept 4 1998 to August 19 2004.

Whatever we have now is akin to post-Burton Metallica, post-Bad Michael Jackson, and post-cocaine George W Bush. The outside shell is merely a construct, the inside, well... Invasion of the Body Snatchers or The Thing, anyone?

"There's no emotion. None. Just the pretense of it. The words, the gesture, the tone of voice, everything else is the same, but not the feeling."

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FAIL

An Affecting Tale

"The deal won't go into affect until it receives court approval."

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Pirate

Privateer?

If Google get away with this I guess it makes them a privateer sanctioned by the US gov.

Nice to see the DOJ having a crack at them, but I'm not hopeful - Google can afford lawyers, lobbyists and congressmen.

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Pirate

Argh

It's bloody microsoft all over again.

"In fact, he refuses to acknowledge that the Internet Archive exists."

What company?

Oh sorry didn't see you there!

Here have a few meeeellion dollars and we've even built you a rock to go hide under now just be quiet.

Icon suitablity well they all get that way as they get bigger yarrr!!!

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This post has been deleted by its author

WTF?

Why?

I don't get it. Why are Google paying these guild of authors any money at all? Why not just scan orphaned books and if the copyright owner pops up, remove the booking from the internets (sic) and make an payment/publishing agreement with the copyright owner?

Google is not preventing Internet Archive from scanning books either, right?

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Anonymous Coward

They're worse than Microsoft

At least Microsoft's business model wasn't effectively steal and deliver everyone else's intellectual property.

Basically that's what Google does and then they use their huge revenue to defending the cases in court knowing that they have deeper pockets to let the cases run on for years. Basically they're the internet equivalent of Big Tobacco.

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Interesting

The monopoly problem is unlikey to go away. Indeed right now the US Authors Guild may have a long term problem of their own making. The guild exists to pursue legal action on behalf of authors, and we got to this place because they took out legal action on Google. This is the settlement. It isn't a deal that Google simply came to their door with. The deal is essentially that the Guild licenses to Google the rights to the orphaned works. Now this means that the guild retains the right and responsibility to go after anyone else who starts scanning these works. Indeed Google (like any other licencee) would probably expect that they would. It is about here that the Guild may have a problem. Because it is them that brings the legal action against the new scanners - not Google. They have two choices at this point - license the works to the new scanner as well, or refuse to do so. If they refuse they are enforcing a monopoly license. Now, they are not required to license the works for free, but nor are they in a position to demand anything unreasonable. They most certainly cannot be seen to be pricing a licence at an amount that might be construded as protecting Google's business. They can't demand anything more than what would be judged as a fair and reasonable amount. Any more and they risk finding themselves being hit with an anti-monopoly counter, and risk the deal with Google being struck down then. Just because the DoJ and the courts might allow the deal to go through now may not be enough to prevent such subsequent dangers. Long term an even worse danger looms. They themselves may be subject to anti-monopoly action. It isn't as if there isn't already some disquiet about the nature of the single national copyright enforcers.

@Why. Who are the Guild, and why does Google do business with them? In simple terms, the Guild is the RIAA of the book publishing industry. That is why.

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Gates Horns

@ AC 11:10

Really?

Tell that to the makers of cp backup from DOS days one of a long long list.

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@Blackadder

Google is committing copyright infringement. This is clear and simple. They even admit to this. Their settlement is an blanket settlement that any offer of an 'orphaned' work. So that if an author of an orphaned work was to be found, the amount of money paid to compensate the author is already set. Unless the author explicitly opts out of the program within a set period of time.

So suppose you wrote a book. And being the Blackadder, your book does miserably and you forget about it and move on with your life. Now suppose 20 years later, your book gets a cult following. Its out of print and for some reason they couldn't find you hence your book is considered an 'orphan'.

Guild member or not, if this agreement holds water, then you were automatically opt'd in.

You would , under the agreement, take pennies on the dollar for their willful act of copyright infringement.

Even if they were to 'cease and desist' they still committed an actionable tort. That is that you can still sue them to recover damages for their prior act of copyright theft. The damages are huge. (Hence the lawsuit and the 'settlement'.)

The interesting thing is that if you are *not* a guild member, then the guild does not have the legal right to enter in to a contract on your behalf and Google's agreement wouldn't hold water.

You could sue Google, but it would be very expensive... you'd need a lawyer willing to work on contingency.

It gets really interesting when the author dies and the book isn't mentioned in his estate, or that they couldn't fing the author's estate and who now owns the copyrights to the books. This is what they are counting on. (This would be an 'orphaned' work in the truer sense.)

There was an excellent article on copyfraud printed in the reg not to long ago.

I for one think its a great thing that the DOJ is getting up off their arses on this one!

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Go

Hmmm

Thanks Ian, tough I don't see any major flaws with the Google deal other then the guild of authors who should have no right sign any deals with Google.

If the author of an orphaned book reappears then it's a matter of registering with Google to receive compensation from Google of books viewed AFTER the author has registered. If the author never sold anything or never received any money for the book while being orphaned this person could hardly complain that Google made it available/popular.

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