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Google and the Backroom

Google and Verizon’s shared plans (Verooglenet?) for the Internet have generated a huge volume of stories and comments – many of them from shocked public advocacy groups that are startled by the search giant unveiling another backroom deal.

Longtime GBS watcher James Grimmelman is not too surprised and sees lots of similarity between Google’s Net Neutrality u-turn and their attempts to rewrite copyright law.

In an August 10 blogpost, Grimmelman sent this open letter to the Google books team with tongue firmly in cheek:

Dear Google Books Team (including Dan Clancy):

When you say that Google is committed to orphan works legislation, is that in the same way it’s committed to network neutrality? When you say that reader privacy provisions don’t need to be in the Google Books settlement because Google is committed to protecting reader privacy, is that in the same way it’s committed to network neutrality? I hope you understand why your CEO has created a credibility problem for you, and will explain the matter to him at your earliest convenience.

Best wishes, James

He’s right of course.  In the case of the Verooglenet, Google got tired of listening to stakeholders and interfacing with public officials. When the going got tough (or business priorities changed) they blew off the established process and went their own way.

The same thing happened with the GBS.  What may have started as a good faith effort to share information quickly changed into an undermining of copyright law, reader privacy and the future livelihood of authors.

Instead of respecting the rule of law and traditional processes for changing them, Google has again cut a backroom, sweetheart deal that would benefit their bottom line while presenting the effort as a gift to the public.

Thankfully, Verooglenet is being met by a much more skeptical press than the GBS was.  Hopefully, the media and public will now have a better understanding of why authors, the Justice Department and others have been ringing the alarm bell.

Originally posted on The Open Book Alliance Blog by admin.

Written by internetarchive

August 10, 2010 at 7:11 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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