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Open Book Alliance welcomes court ruling on Google book plan

Warwick Ashford

The Open Book Alliance has welcomed the New York Federal District Court's rejection of Google's revised book settlement in its plan to scan and sell books online.

The Open Book Alliance (OBA), which believes any move towards mass book digitisation and publishing should be open and competitive, says the ruling is a victory for public interest and competition.

Despite Google revising the terms of a $125m agreement with authors and publishers, New York circuit court judge Denny Chin said the proposed settlement would still give Google too much control over the search and publishing markets.

In his ruling, Judge Chin said the proposed settlement would give Google a de facto monopoly over unclaimed works and concluded the proposed settlement is not fair, adequate, and reasonable.

In his conclusion, Judge Chin urged the parties consider revising the settlement to an "opt-in" structure, instead of making all books available in digital form unless their publishers and authors had explicitly opted out of the arrangement.

The OBA says while opt-in is a preferred structure, the group believes it requires complex changes to the proposed settlement and would not address the severe antitrust and privacy problems the court described in the decision.

"The ruling ratifies the objections of a diverse cross-section of voices who stood up to Google and its partners - from the Justice Department and State Attorneys General to authors and independent publishers to consumer and privacy advocates and members of the academic and library communities," said Gary Reback, counsel to the OBA.

"We urge the Justice Department to remain vigilant and continue in its role as a leader in protecting consumers and competition from an entrenched monopoly in online search," he said.

The OBA is calling for a collaborative process that will focus on developing an open digital public library that will serve the public interest and respect the rights of creators, while still promoting innovation and competition.


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