Sunday, October 04, 2009

Google Books = Happy Publishers

The Google Books Settlement remains controversial, especially because of the "orphan books" provisions governing titles that are probably still under copyright but for which the copyright holders are unknown. Concerns about these provisions led United States District Court Judge Denny Chin to postpone an upcoming hearing so that the agreement could renegotiated. One group is happy about the Google Books Settlement, however, and that is publishers, according to this story in the October 3 edition of the Boston Globe. Google has made good on its promise to "bring to light books that otherwise would be nearly forgotten." This is happening thanks to the Google Books Partner Program through which publishers agree to Google's scanning copyrighted works and making them searchable through Google. "The majority of publishers in the program allow Google to preview 20 percent of each book. Google monitors Internet traffic patterns to prevent users from logging in multiple times and cobbling together the entire contents of a book." In addition, Google links to the publishers' websites and to online book retailers. At least one publisher now "uploads a digital file of every new title to Google as soon as the print version is published, [making] Google Books ...a fundamental part of the firm's book marketing plans." However lucrative this may be for the publishers, it is worth remembering that the publisher program solidifies Google's monopoly and makes it difficult for smaller organizations to compete.

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