Monday 6 December 2010

D is for Digitize, Dispute and Drag it out

It was back in February that the US government said the Amended Google Book Settlement still didn’t come up to scratch – but that they remained committed to working with the parties to sort something out. Since then, silence, except for the quiet whirring of Google’s scanners copying books and today the announcement that Google ebooks are available from a new US-only Google ebook store.

In October 2009 New York Law School held a conference about the dispute and Settlement entitled ‘D Is for Digitize’. The papers delivered have now been published online here. It is welcome reading matter for those who are still pacing up and down, wondering whether the Settlement is going to be approved or rejected. The papers explore the Settlement from various angles including the counterfactual scenario (what if there had been no Settlement?), how the Settlement sits in the worldwide orphan works debate and the role of the Department of Justice in bringing the Settlement to a satisfactory conclusion.

Meanwhile in a cozy corner of a pub in Oxford, England…

Prof A: It’s maddening, the way there’s been no closure to the Google Books Dispute.

Prof B: Not so worried myself, old boy.

Prof A: You don’t mean you’ve been won over by the royalties you’ll be getting from ebook sales?

Prof B: Not really – no one’s going to buy my dreary out-of-date, out-of-print works. There is a reason why they went out of print, you know.

Prof A: Aren’t you worried that it’ll only be the Yanks who will get to read books licensed under the Settlement? I mean, it could lead to a brain drain – much better to go and study in the States than anywhere else.

Prof B: You’ve hit the nail on the head, old bean. Google University have just created a new chair of Orphan Trivia – and they’ve offered it to Yours Truly!

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