Google’s Austrian Waltz
In short, Google’s book digitization strategy in the U.S. has focused on creating an impenetrable content monopoly that violates copyright laws and builds an unfair and legally insurmountable lead over competitors.
Ironically, last week Google struck a 30 million Euro deal with the government of Austria. According to reports, Google will digitize 400,000 out-of-copyright books. Google will not have exclusive use of the scanned books and Austria’s national library will provide access to the books via its own website. It’s disappointing that the stakeholder community here at home wasn’t shown even that level of respect.
After years of criticism from authors, libraries, independent publishers across the globe and even the U.S. Department of Justice, stakeholders held out hope that Google and its partners would have abandoned their go-it-alone approach and engaged the broader community of interests – including Congress – for an approach centered on the public interest.
For months, the Open Book Alliance has been calling for Google to offer a solution that allows for the digitization of books anchored in the principles of an Open Process, Public Guardian and Public Interest.
Now, as we all wait for Judge Chin to release his decision on the GBS, it becomes painfully clear that the parties missed an opportunity to embrace a better solution. Many observers believe that the flawed settlement won’t be enacted as it’s currently constructed. Perhaps that could be a catalyst towards a collaborative process.