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The Google Books Settlement Culture Clash, and What About Fair Use?

Feb 02, 2010, 22:03 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Pamela Jones)

"Thursday was the deadline to file objections to the amended Google Books Project settlement agreement, and many have done so, Amazon, the Open Book Alliance (which represents Amazon, Microsoft and the Internet Archive), the usual competitors. Here's The Public Index, which has the filings, including the latest objections filed and a list of those who have requested to speak at the Fairness Hearing on February 18.

"Some Authors Guild authors, like Garrison Keillor and Scott Turow are satisfied now, as are the families of John Steinbeck and Woody Guthrie, while others are not happy, and in fact, it's up to each one to decide. Except lawyers are in this, so there are now legal dustups. One author, Ursula Le Guin, has gotten hundreds of authors to sign a petition [PDF] asking the judge to exempt the US from the agreement. That would kill it, of course, but legal filings don't always tell you what a case is really all about. You may have noticed that in the SCO litigations.

"The Indian Reprographic Rights Organization (IRRO), a copyright society in India is suing Google over its book scanning. They filed in New York, alleging copyright violations for scanning books without notifying the authors first. Larry Lessig has written the most thoughtful and on-point critique, and he hates aspects of it, specifically what is happening to fair use and to culture if you have to get permission now for use that was in the past not permissions-based, not that he blames Google as much as copyright law and the super-control technology now provides authors. It's well worth reading. The fair use issue was what I was unhappy about when the first version of the settlement was announced, if you recall. And I still feel the same way. But here's who I really blame: publishers. I see it as comparable to Apple trying to set up iTunes and having to deal with the music industry. Remember all that?"

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