News & Trends: Countdown to the Google Book Search Settlement Review
His suggestion? Modifications to the agreement before it is finalized. “The settlement needs some serious pro-competitive changes to make sure that there’ll be fair competition in the book-search and online-access markets,” he says.
A first step, which Grimmelmann writes about on his blog (Laboratorium.net), would be to modify the agreement to “offer any search engine the ability to participate on the same terms as Google, with no prejudice to their ability to negotiate better terms if they can.”
Grimmelmann notes that the settlement “also needs protections for intellectual freedom: privacy, fair use rights under copyright law, and readers’ ability to access books without censors intervening to yank the books from the system.”
What do most publishers think of the settlement? Book Business contacted a number of publishing houses of various sizes to find out where they stand on this critical issue that will help shape the future of digital content distribution. Overall, most are still undecided on where they stand, and others feel that regardless, there’s opportunity here of which to take advantage. Here’s what they had to say:
“Scholastic considers the settlement agreement a positive development and an opportunity, but it is an extremely complex settlement that raises a lot of questions, and we still have work to do to fully understand its implications and how Scholastic will proceed in response to the settlement.”
—Ellie Berger, president of trade publishing, Scholastic
“Overall, I am supportive, though cautious, about the possibilities for abuse. The e-book market is finally starting to take off. Google is only one of many players, and they are addressing a segment of the market (orphaned works) that desperately needs attention.
“Here’s a key thought: The iPod would never have taken off if consumers weren’t able to make MP3 copies of their own music. For e-book devices to take off, we need some equivalent body of content to jump-start the market. So far, Google is the only player (beyond nonprofits like the Internet Archive and Project Gutenberg) who are taking this critical step to jump-start the market.”
—Tim O’Reilly, founder and CEO, O’Reilly Media Inc.