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More Libraries Seek Changes in Google Settlement

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September 3 – September 10, 2009 Edition

More Libraries Seek Changes in Google Settlement

NEW YORK, NY/AUTHORLINK NEWS/09/01/09–The Urban Libraries Council (ULC), a group of medium and large public libraries, has joined other entities who are calling for changes or pointing out shortcomings in the Google Book Search Settlement. The deadline for objecting to the settlement is September 4.

“This is a pivotal moment in the history of access to recorded information, not unlike the introduction of moveable type or the birth of the Internet,” wrote Susan Benton, the Urban Libraries Council’s (ULC) new president and CEO, in a letter to the federal court verseeing approval of the settlement. “It is important, therefore, that the needs of the public at large shape the thinking of those responsible for guiding this extraordinary advance.”

Most recently, New York State librarian Bernard Margolis also sent an open letter to a number of library leaders urging them to ask the Department of Justice to consider “a stronger position reflecting both the critically important principles of access as well as the economic realities faced by your members.” Margolis’ views are similar to the ULC.

The ULC has not opposed approval of the settlement, but has asked the court to address their concerns, which include the “unworkable” plan to install a single free terminal per library building. Rather than a single terminal, ULC wants the settlement provide each public library a “Free Public Access Service that can be implemented by the library through its own or a cooperative electronic network, serving the in-library needs of many public library users.” The ULC also proposed “an Institutional Subscription Model for Public Libraries.” In addition, the group wants Google Book Search to “respect confidentiality” of library patrons, as nearly all state laws require. The ULC suggests Google provide Anonymous Access to the database for reader privacy.

Two weeks ago, three technology heavy-weights and several library associations have joined a coalition to challenge Google, Inc.’s settlement with authors and publishers, according to The Wall Street Journal (Tech’s Bigs Put Google’s Book Deal in Crosshairs, August 21, 2009, P. B1). Microsoft, Amazon.com and Yahoo have agreed to join the coalition against the settlement, which is currently being investigated by the Justice Department.

The case would, in part, order Google to pay a small amount of money for books it illegally scanned for its Google Book Search program. In addition the settlement would expand Google’s power to display even larger amounts of copyrighted work and sets up the new (already partly in place) Book Rights Registry to police rights between Google and rightsholders for a fee of up to 20% out of already slim author loyalties. The BRR, partly funded by oogle, would also offer dispute resolution services for added legal fees.

Margolis wants the Book Rights Registry to be expanded to include representation of the library community, as did the ULC.