Sunday, October 4, 2009

Competing Filings On Google Book Settlement

Here's a telling tally of those who officially filed by September 8th with the Court concerning the Google Book Settlement (GBS), broken down by supporters and opposition, and why.

It's interesting to note who is on each list, and who's not. And why they're on the list. Opposition includes lots of big name corporations (Amazon, Microsoft, Yahoo), entire countries (France, Germany, the United States of America), several trade associations (ie, ASMP), etc.. Notably absent are some photo/creator trade associations who have been vocal in the past against orphan works-related issues.

Of those who filed in opposition, 10 fear GBS is anti-competitive. 7 argue it hurts the user. And 23, the biggest group, feel it's bad for rights holders.

Conversely, of supporters who filed, the largest group (23) see GBS as being good for users while 4 argue it encourages competition and 1 thinks GBS is pro-rightsholder.

This informative scorecard entitled "The Google Book Settlement: Who Is Filing and What Are They Saying?" was created by The Association of Research Libraries (ARL), American Library Association (ALA), and Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), and authored by Brandon Butler, Law & Policy Fellow for ARL.

The documents:

Original ARL document The Google Book Settlement, Who Is Filing and What Are They Saying

mirrored copy of ARL Google Book Settlement Who Is Filing (in case original becomes unavailable)

Thanks are in order for Professor James Grimmelmann and his team at The Public Index and to Justia for making these filings freely available online

And, here's the History of the Google Book Settlement.

Randy Taylor

Owned Works Need Not Be Mistaken For "Orphaned Works"

The perils of copyright theft plague all creative markets in this digital world. I read a post about e-books and their challenge to track unauthorized use. My comments to that author are appropriate here, as well.

Two dynamics are converging. Every creative work put online exposes it to theft. And, a major movement (Orphan Works) is pushing to change the rules to make "fair game" of all unidentified content (thus diminishing the value of current law that says it's copyrighted even if not credited).

The problem is the worst in the photo space. Almost all web sites use images. Some estimates say there are a hundred uncredited copies online for every legitimately licensed image. There are 2-3 trillion images already online (and exposed to theft) with billions being uploaded monthly. And, stolen images are rarely attributed to their authors.

Several companies provide "detective" services to find infringers for a share of the revenue. The solution we've created is to enable every copy of a content file at any web site, regardless of language, to link back to its rights holder via an open registry. In this way, owned works need not be mistaken for "orphaned works". Though launched in the photo industry, this technology and approach would work for e-books, as well.

The essential ingredient to solve the problem of unauthorized use is a registry. Knowing who owns what is mission critical in getting permission for use. Once owners are identified, rights holders and the market will ultimately determine a fair price for use, which could range from being free (ie, Creative Commons or sharing ad revenue) to the opposite extreme, which could one day be a government-mandated compulsory license. Solutions to industry problems are readily available. Education and adoption are needed.

Randy Taylor
The Copyright Registry at