Google book scan plan raises European hackles
Google's ongoing effort to create a vast digital library is set to come under fire at the EU from countries who fear it will violate copyright and stymie competition.
German diplomats plan to raise the issues in Brussels today, EUobserver reports, with support from France, Austria and the Netherlands.
Google controversially began scanning and indexing books in the US in 2004, without copyright approval. In October last year it cut a deal with American authors and publishers to pay them a slice of the profits it makes matching text advertising to book searches. US authors who do not want their work scanned and published online have until September to opt out.
That deal is now the subject of a Department of Justice investigation on antitrust grounds, because it grants Google exclusive rights to republish "orphan" (where the rights holder cannot be traced) books online. It will also allow Google to resell rights to other digital libraries.
Both intellectual and market power concerns are now exercising politicans and officials on this side of the Atlantic, who hope their action today will put Google's book project on the agenda of regulators at the European Commission.
The German government also plans to offer its opinion to a New York court which is set to consider Google's US books deal. "It is not about participating as a party in the legal dispute but making the court aware of certain legal aspects," the country's justice minister said.
An unnamed EU diplomat said Google's plans "are not entirely in the interests of European authors" and that Google would have to "ask European copyright holders for permission first [before scanning their work]".
For its part, Google maintains its line on copyright issues that it merely wants to make knowledge more widely available. ®
People will look back at this time as weird
There are millions of books and magazines out there. Billions I suppose if you add comic books.
There is no technical reason why people shouldn't be able to access all of it at any time from anywhere. How about we make that happen for the good of the species and work out the details later.
Kudos for Google for having the vision so early and working so hard to make it happen.
Other countries in my backyard...
"The German government also plans to offer its opinion to a New York court which is set to consider Google's US books deal. "It is not about participating as a party in the legal dispute but making the court aware of certain legal aspects," the country's justice minister said."
It is grim testimonial that the US (my home town, eh?) is getting its own practice of "friendly advice" into other countries' legal systems pushed back on itself. Just like it was more important that Hillary Rosen (with US assistance) "help" Iraq incorporate "modern" copyright compliance issues into its constitution, BEFORE THE FIRES HAD DIED, than such trivial matters as ensuring food, water, and sanitation for its populace. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2003/04/29/riaas_rosen_writing_iraq_copyright/
And, since **AA has ensured that copyright "concerns" are a "global issue", we find ourselves, again, at the mercy of lobbied politicos, regardless of the borders involved.
I don't like ANY country (mine included) shoving its nose up anyone else's posterior, but it is even worse when the corportacracy (YOU TTO, GOOGLE!) decide to "help us out."
Isn't this the sort of thing that the Library of Congress was created for? From http://www.loc.gov/about/
"The mission of Library Services is to develop qualitatively the Library's universal collections, ... which record and contribute to the advancement of civilization and knowledge * throughout the world, * and to acquire, organize, provide access to, maintain, secure, and preserve these collections." [* Emphasis added]
I do agree (hence the icon), that if PB was "in the wrong," then Google has indeed set sail for yon uncharted waters, eh?
Seems to me that I've got as much right to them as Google.