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The Google Book Settlement

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In this economic slump, the book industry is actually holding up, when compared to other business that have suffered deeply. In the face of adversity there is a business that has emerged and is taking over the digital book market. This company is not Microsoft, or Amazon. In fact the giants are actually against the entity that created a monopoly in this area. In 2002 Google began a project to scan all books in libraries by making parts of them digitally available online through their servers, all the while benefiting from ads displayed through the book searches. The project plan had two parts:

Under Partner Program: Google was given permission by publishers to scan their books and make parts available. Under the Library Project: Google planned to scan millions of books from universities and public libraries (Laudon, Traver, 2009). However, Google did not contact the publisher or pay a royalty fee, which is when the controversy began! In 2005, players in the publishing industry filed lawsuits at the program claiming copyright infringement. Google however, claimed they were operating fairly under the “fair use” doctrine codified in the Copyright Act in 1976. (Copying/lending of books has been fair since 1930’s) (Laudon, Traver, 2009). In 2008, Google came to a settlement over the lawsuit with authors and publishers. They would pay cash and give other accommodations to the parties accusing them of copyright infringement.

In return, they would retain non-exclusive right to sell books, place ads, and make other uses of their scanned book database. Google then gave the publishing industry a chance to OPT-OUT, and basically were acting untouchable. Some prestigious universities backed Google’s projects but they soon found heavy opposition from high- tech companies, authors, publishers, congress, department of justice, and some librarians. In 2009, Google’s book settlement continues to be a controversial topic. Many companies returned to dispute the settlement, including privacy protection groups. Then the Justice Department began to investigate the antitrust issues of the settlement. Google’s library project has come about and is saying “Stop us if you can”! In the following paper I will discuss the issues at hand and attempt to give some concrete solution and alternatives. In looking at the situation, there tends to be quite a few unanswered questions. So let us look at it together and form or own solutions. Harm and solution

The two main groups who are harmed by Google’s Library program are book publishing companies and the authors of the books. The reason Google’s program is harmful to both these entities is due to the fact that their copyrighted material is being made available to the public for access free of charge (Laudon, Traver, 2009).. The clear solution would be for Google to give monetary compensation to the book publishing companies; they could then pass on the earnings to their authors. A reasonable payment structure would have to be worked out between Google and the publishers of the copyrighted books being indexed. Google pursuit and advantage

Google will claim to provide public service to millions by giving access to “all Worlds’ information”. Simultaneously, can help publishers sell books. Obviously they have financial incentives to receive money from ads and the sale of digital books. Establishing a global digital reliance on the Google search engine, in this way Google will be able to divert money and gain attention for the information it provides to the public. Librarian support

A librarian who believes in the availability and free exchange of information should be in full support of Google’s Print Library program, as the model is similar to that of a public library. Google’s Library allows users to access a complete list of books. However on the other side of the coin Google’s Library may pose a threat to the existence of conservative libraries as it would have an inexpensive edge over a physical library due to its limitlessness and convenience? Google’s book database could potentially make many libraries obsolete (Laudon, Traver, 2009). Opposition and Support

The reason Amazon, Yahoo, Microsoft and others oppose Google‘s library program is because Google will be able to invade the readers privacy, this means they would be able to track every e-book accessed and read. This program would have exclusive rights to sell books that are no longer in print, that are still under copyright, this would be millions of books (Laudon, Traver, 2009), and at the end of the day Google would have too much power. However, Sony is standing behind Google because their potential gain due the fact that they produce a series of electronic book downloader’s named the “Reader”.

One of the products the company markets and sells is the “Reader,” a family of electronic book or “e-book” readers that allow users to download and read electronic copies of books on a hand-held device. In Sony Electronics’ view, the cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship the Settlement forges between Google and the copyright holders in the proposed class may have a profoundly positive impact on the market for e-book readers and related devices. For this reason, Sony Electronics believes the Settlement should be approved (Singel, 2009 pp. 7). Will Google be a de facto Monopoly?

The settlement allows Google to sell copies of works that no other organization in the U.S. can sell: so-called “orphaned” works where the original copyright holder cannot be located because, for instance, they went out of business, of poor record-keeping or mergers. This could eventually constitute the bulk of Google Books. As Fraser puts it, “No other firm has ever been able to legally copy orphan works (Mims, 2010 pp. 4).” So, in this way Google can and will become a monopoly of the money and power, that Google has and will build upon. Google has deep, deep pockets (Laudon, Traver, 2009). Conclusion

In summary, with Google leading the charge and has the resources to create such a useful program. And yet, Google is stepping on so many toes and big ones at that, but still not has big as their own. Google will gain a dominant control over the digital book world, creating a program that no one can compete with. This will be because no one can match the excessive costs that Google is undertaking. So, again you can see where Google says “Stop us if you can!” (Laudon, Traver, 2009). No one has been able to as of yet.


Laudon, K. C., & Traver, C. G. (2009). E-commerce business, technology, society 2012. (8 ed.). Upper Saddle River, N. J.: Pearson

Mims, C. (2010, October 18). Why there can never be a competitor to google books. Retrieved June 20, 2012 from http://technoloyreview.com/view/421247/why-there-can-never-be-a-competitor-to-google

Singel, R. (2009, August 09). Sony sides with google in library of future settlement. Retrieved June 18, 2012 from http://www.wired.com/business/2009/08/sony-google-book/

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