Thursday, June 04, 2009

Google on Orphans

On their public policy blog, Google addresses how the Google Book Settlement will increase access to 'out of print' works and also aid to decrease the number of 'orphan' works by enabling a comprehensive process for identification of rights owners. (Google):
As “parent” rightsholders claim their books through the Book Rights Registry, we think it will become clear that most out-of-print books are not actually “orphans.” Books that were once difficult for anyone to license will become books that are very easy for everyone to license, either through the Book Rights Registry or directly from their owners. Furthermore, many books that some think are in-copyright orphans (including a large percentage from 1963 or before) are actually out-of-copyright, and Google is working to make more information available that can clarify their copyright status.

Of course, some rightsholders may still be too difficult to find. Under the settlement Google will be able to open up access to truly orphaned books, but we still think more needs to be done to allow anyone and everyone to use these works. Any company or organization that wants to open up access to this untapped resource should be able to do so. The settlement is not a panacea, since it only covers a subset of orphaned works, provides only certain uses, and is not able to extend these uses to other providers. The need for comprehensive orphan works legislation is not diminished.

1 comment:

Michael W. said...

Note the lack of hard numbers accompanying Google's sweeping claims. This is marketing chatter and little else.

I have it from Michael Boni, court-appointed representative of the 'author sub-class,' that copyright holders have been found for less than four percent of the orphaned books in the first series of scans. That's pitiful, especially since these are the easy finds being made when publicity about the settlement is at its greatest.

Contrast that to what will happen if this settlement is accepted by the court. Google's scanning will speed up, with perhaps several thousand books being scanned each day. Does anyone seriously think that several thousand authors or their heirs will come forward each day to merely keep that already dismal less-than 4% ratio the same? No, it'll soon slip to well below 1%.

Google's professed search for the authors of orphaned works is a mere charade. They don't want to find these authors, since that complicates the massive copyright theft they are brokering.

Give us numbers Google. Give us the number of books you've scanned, broken down by language and country of origin for the publisher. Give us the exact number of copyright holders who have come forward, also broken down by country. And finally, give us the number who've come forward to opt-out, aware of the mere pittance you'll be paying.

Finally, keep in mind what this settlement does. By abusing class action law, it effectively deprives every book author in the world in recent decades of their U.S. copyright. That violates treaty obligations we have with some 160 countries, and when awareness of that surfaces, as it already is in Europe, look for big, big trouble. Look for a global copyright war with the U.S. on the wrong side and everyone else on the other side.

For those who are interested, I describe the growing reaction in Europe on a web page I have set up:

Germany, France, Britain, the Netherlands and the EU are already involved, and the German chancellor and the Czech president have already criticized the settlement as a violation of European copyright law. This is only the beginning of sorrows.