Academics, ProQuest, Networks Object to Google Settlement

Library Journal


In a letter signed by 64 academic authors and researchers, Pamela Samuelson, Professor of Law & Information, University of California, Berkeley, asked Judge Denny Chin to condition his approval of the Google Book Search settlement on several modifications that would be fairer “toward academic authors who constitute a far more sizeable proportion of the Author Subclass than the members of the Authors Guild do.”

The signatories agree that the settlement would bring more access to books, but could transform “the public good of the traditional library into a commercial enterprise controlled by two complementary monopolies, Google and the Book Rights Registry.”

“Academic authors would, we believe, have insisted on much different terms than the Authors Guild did, especially in respect of pricing of institutional subscriptions, open access, annotation sharing, privacy, and library user rights to print out pages from out-of-print books,” Samuelson wrote. “Academic authors would also have pushed harder than the Authors Guild seems to have done for more researcher-friendly non-consumptive research provisions and for commitments to quality scans and metadata.” (Academics at the University of California have expressed similar concerns.)

“We find the GBS Settlement Agreement to be very confusing and opaque,” Samuelson wrote, enumerating: “What kinds of books will be in the institutional subscriptions? Will public domain books be included in these subscriptions? Are there any kinds of books that Google will not scan or include in the corpus? How, if at all, will Google exercise its right under the Settlement Agreement to exclude up to 15% of books from the corpus for editorial and non-editorial reasons? What GBS content will be available to public libraries?”

If the court disapproves of the settlement, Samuelson wrote, “we doubt that the future of public access to books in digital form would be as dim as Google predicts,” suggesting that work would continue and that Google would have “much stronger incentives to support orphan works legislation… Congress is probably the more appropriate venue for addressing the mass digitization of books.”