Google opens library to save book deal

Google has offered to open its digital library to rivals in another bid to save its controversial deal with US publishers and authors to scan millions of out-of-print books.

Google has offered to open its digital library to rivals in another bid to save its controversial deal with US publishers and authors to scan millions of out-of-print books.

The offer comes less than a week after Google said it would give Europe a greater say in the way online booksales are governed to counter European opposition to the deal.

European stakeholders have been meeting in Brussels this week to discuss Google's book-scanning deal and a strategy for the digitisation of the region's libraries.

Growing US opposition prompted a congressional hearing in Washington yesterday ahead of the Department of Justice's submission to a New York court set to rule on the legality of the deal.

France and Germany have recently made submissions to the US court, outlining their objections to the deal because of the effect it could have on international copyright law.

Microsoft and Yahoo have since joined forces with Amazon and the Open Content Alliance in opposing the deal on the grounds that it will give Google an unfair advantage in the online book selling market.

In yesterday's hearing, Google said it will let other online retailers sell books from its digital library. Google said it would deduct 67% of the retailers' proceeds of sales for authors and publishers, after which the online retailer would receive more than half of the remainder.

"Google will host the digital (out-of-print) books online, and retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble or your local bookstore will be able to sell access to users on any Internet- connected device they choose," Google said in a statement.

But lawyers for opponents of the deal rejected the offer because Google will still maintain control over the books and extend the firm's monopoly, according to the Financial Times.

Marybeth Peters of the US Copyright Office told the hearing that, if approved, Google's deal with authors and publishes will alter the landscape of copyright law, according to Reuters.

The settlement would bind authors, publishers, their heirs and successors to these rules and allow Google to scan out-of-print books without seeking permission from the copyright holders, she said.

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