Google has written a letter to 16 European Union publishers in an effort to allay some of their concerns about Mountain View’s digital books settlement in the US. According to today’s Financial Times, Google has agreed to have two non-US reps on the governing board of the registry that will oversee the settlement. Additionally …
How many reps...?
Well, given that there were 194 recognised non-US countries at last count, these two non-US reps will need to be experts in the copyright laws of 97 countries each to be able to properly represent non-US interests.
Don't have laws, they only have quaint tribal customs, which are in every way inferior to the Great United States Simply Established Tradition (GUSSET), which is more than law, it is Divine. It was on the back of the 10 commandments, y'see. Thus, any country which claims to have laws which go against American interests as personified by GUSSET are obviously lying, as they're not real countries anyway, just communists. I bet they're terrorists and kiddy-fiddlers too. If they don't suck up GUSSET right NOW, then the black helicopters are on standby...
Why just the publishers and why so few?
The laws that Google are most likely to run up against are contract laws. If an author has an exlusive publishing deal with a publisher then in order for Google to publish the book they must have the agreement of the publisher and the author. In many cases authors have deals with different publishers in different countries, in this case the shirley Google will need to come to an agreement with author and all of the publishers.
My guess is that Google are trying to sweeten up the big publishing houses in the hope that if they secure an agreement the small fry will have to follow. I sincerely hope that a few big name authors hold out against Google whatever their publishers say. In this day and age it's the 'talent' that potentially hold all the cards.
Google will "consult" on "some" books?
Wow, Google's generosity in promising to "consult" European publishers when they scan _some_ European books is outstanding, isn't it? I mean, one might almost have thought that there wasn't some law saying that they had to do that, and more (like actually get permission!).
Meh. Hope (as someone working in publishing, and a writer) that the deal gets struck down and we instead get sensible laws in the US and EU (and elsewhere!) that allow indexing and searching while protecting authors.
Its sad that a web search engine company is trying to do what the publishers and governments should have done years ago.
Good luck to them.
Yesh, it's just this crazy thing about authors wanting to get paid for writing books, rather than Google getting paid for breaking the law.
So, thinking sideways, who wants to create a new "service" whereby we digitalise (thanks BBC) all of those "old" music tracks that are no longer "in print" or where the "authors" can't be traced?
I'm sure the various artists and publishers will be only too happy to allow this. After all, think of all the cult-cha that is being lost because it's mouldering away in record companies vaults.
Somehow, I don't think we'll be seeing Google Music any time soon.
All Google are doing is trying to make money out of advertising, that is all Google have ever tried to do. As usual they are trying to do it by making the absolute minimum amount of effort. They haven't suddenly changed their business model you know, they are still the uber capitalists they always were.
Two distinct issues
How best to ensure knowledge is and remains available, including dealing with orphaned books and other tricky copyright questions.
Google's intellectual land-grab for commercial gain.
Google aren't being altruistic in society's best interests but seeking to commercialise, profit from, own and control, what becomes, 'the product'. That Google unilaterally decided to go ahead and came to some dodgy deal within the US does not mean what they are doing is right nor proper. They have simply taken what was not theirs to take and negotiated a deal to let them get away with doing that.
Google's stance is arrogant and offensive. They are a company who seem to live by an ethos of 'we can do as we damned well please' and have the clout to seemingly make it so. 'Ihre Papiere Bitte!!' earlier, sums it up well.
It seems the Fourth World War may not be fought with sticks and stones as Google may by then only be making those available by licence. Word War Three may not be so much traditional invasion or nuclear Armageddon as large companies simply taking what they want. Frightening isn't it.
#3 The Grease Monkey:
I think Google have spoken to the publishers associations in several European countries, as opposed to some large publishers.
Sauce for the Goose
So Google are being altruistic are they? If so why do they seem to want exclusivity? Lets play this another way. If Google want to make sure all those "orphaned" ar3e still available that's fair enough, but the best way to make sure they are available would be to make sure they are published in as many places as possible.
The problem some authors have is that they have an exclusive publishing deal with on publisher. The publisher decides that there isn't enough money in further print runs, but nobody else can publish the book so the author's income from that work dries up. There needs to be some sort of arrangement in these cases by which the exclusive publishing agreement becomes void on books that have been out print for a set period of time. If the author agrees the publishing of that book should be thrown open to anybody (not just Google). The main issue here being that the author should still receive royalties however the book is published.
If Google want to do the groundwork on such a deal then they are truly being altruistic. If, however, they expect exclusitivity then they are being the greedy bastards they always have been.
As for the books that are still in copyright, but the author or other rights holder can't be traced. How hard are you trying to trace them? It could be argued that from the point of view of this deal it's better if the authors can't be traced. In which case surely you need a formal test to prove that the author can't be traced. Rather than "we looked in the phone book and we couldn't find him."