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Brewster Kahle on the Future of Libraries

Amy Goodman of Democracy Now asks Brewster Kahle, co-founder of the Internet Archive,  about the Future of Libraries, in relation to the Google Book Search settlement:

I asked Kahle how he sees the future of libraries. “Libraries as a physical place to go, I think will continue,” he said. “But if this trend continues, if we let Google make a monopoly here, then what libraries are in terms of repositories of books, places that buy books, own them, be a guardian of them, will cease to exist. Libraries, going forward, may just be subscribers to a few monopoly corporations’ databases.” Kahle’s version of the digital library, which he and others are building collaboratively, is open and shareable, without strings attached as with Google’s deal. Kahle co-founded the Open Book Alliance, which filed an opposition to the GBS, equating the settlement with oil price-fixing schemes set up by railroad barons and John Rockefeller’s Standard Oil in the 1870s.


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October 3, 2009 at 11:33 am

Peter Brantley on Google Book Search

Peter Brantley, co-founder of the Open Book Alliance and director at the Internet Archive, has a piece in the Huffington Post today about the Google Book Search settlement, which has been postponed for now:

The potential damages to consumers extend far beyond the digital book marketplace. Sanctioning monopoly power in online literature would stifle competition in scores of other markets, particularly those dependent on web commerce. The DOJ has raised the alarm, and now it is time for Congress to assume its rightful place in this debate – convening interested voices and arbitrating on behalf of public good.

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October 2, 2009 at 4:43 am

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Google Book Settlement Postponed

The Internet Archive is part of the Open Book Alliance, one of the many groups countering the Google Book Settlement. This settlement is now being postponed:

News is spreading fast that Google and its partners have filed a motion and a memo asking the Court to postpone the October 7 fairness hearing.

This is a huge victory for the many people and organizations who raised significant concerns that this settlement did not serve the public interest, stifled innovation, and restricted competition. It’s also an enormous loss for Google, which had been saying for months that no changes were necessary to the settlement. Now, that settlement, as we know it, is dead.

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September 22, 2009 at 10:49 pm

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Google Books Settlement Draws Hundreds of Responses

The GBS has drawn hundreds of responses, including objections, amicus briefs, and opt-outs, as well as letters of support. James Grimmelmann has been combing over the responses as they are scanned in by the court, and posting them on The Laboratorium: Part 1, Part 2. Eventually, all responses will be available at The Public Index.

Here is an excerpt from Pam Samuelson’s objection, filed on behalf of academic authors (pdf):

The future of public access to the cultural heritage of mankind embodied in books is too important to leave in the hands of one company and one registry that will have a de facto monopoly over a huge corpus of digital books and rights in them. Google has yet to accept that its creation of this substantial public good brings with it public trust responsibilities that go well beyond its corporate slogan about not being evil.

The Internet Archive is part of the Open Book Alliance, which has also filed an amicus brief opposing the GBS (pdf).

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September 12, 2009 at 8:38 pm

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Open Book Alliance Counters the Google Book Settlement

The Internet Archive is a member of the Open Book Alliance, a group of libraries, authors, publishers, and companies opposing the Google Book Settlement. You can read more about the OBA members and mission:

The Open Book Alliance will counter Google, the Association of American Publishers and the Authors’ Guild’s scheme to monopolize the access, distribution and pricing of the largest digital database of books in the world. To this end, we will promote fair and flexible solutions aimed at achieving a more robust and open system.

It has been a busy couple of days! In the US, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the Settlement today. The Open Book Alliance submitted a letter to Rep. John Conyers and Committee member Rep. Lamar Smith and posted a list of seven crucial topics outlining the objections the OBA has to the settlement. The Open Book Alliance also has filed a brief with the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York opposing the settlement.

The EU also held a hearing on the Google Book Settlement on Monday. Open Book Alliance co-founder Peter Brantley testified at the hearing:

“We believe that the books rights registry essentially functions as a cartel.  Google can exploit all books via U.S. class-action. Competitors would be unable to access orphan works and cannot develop products and services matching their database and comprehensive services.  With Google granted a monopoly to unclaimed works, it would exercise a monopoly over subscriptions for the most comprehensive collection of books available.”


Above: a picture of the European Commission via Peter’s twitter stream.

Brewster Kahle also commented about the GBS, in a post on the Open Content Alliance site:

I believe the proposed Settlement will have a chilling effect on building free and open digital libraries.  Should the Settlement be approved, Google Book Search becomes a commercial digital library without serious competition. There is certainly a place in the world for its digital library, but, to me, there’s an even greater place in the world forfree and open digital libraries that are numerous, de-centralized,  distributed and, most importantly, continuous with the values of our public library system.

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September 10, 2009 at 9:42 pm

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