Nov 1, 2009

Pam Samuelson on the Google Books Settlement

From The San Jose Mercury News

Google's desire to scan old books has critics casting it as Goliath

By Mike Swift

Google's ambitious plan to scan millions of old, out of print books, many of them forgotten in musty university libraries, has turned into one of the biggest controversies in the young company's history.

A broad array of opponents, ranging from Google competitors Microsoft and Amazon to libraries and copyright scholars, has joined forces to oppose Google's proposal to create a comprehensive online repository of the books and split the revenue from access to that catalog with authors and publishers.

Facing a November deadline to revamp the proposal, which Google struck with the book-publishing industry after a class-action lawsuit, the company with the unofficial motto "Don't Be Evil" is fighting the perception among some that the plan is an unseemly power play to seize the lucrative dominance of digital books.

Company co-founder Sergey Brin has said repeatedly in recent weeks that Google is primarily acting with the public good in mind to preserve the world's cultural heritage in old books....

For opponents like Pam Samuelson, a copyright expert at the University of California, Berkeley, [School of Information] who helped organize opposition to the digital books plan, Brin's omissions rankle.

"To me that sounds like they don't care what the Department of Justice thinks. It sounds a little like hubris to me," Samuelson said. "Google has done a great job of shining the spotlight on things about the settlement that people would find attractive, but they don't tell you some of the stuff that would be most worrisome about it."


Last updated:

October 4, 2016