Google Library Opposed By Justice Department

Photo: A speaker discusses the proposed court settlement that would allow Google to create a virtual library of books. Opponent say the settlement would give Google too much control over the content of millions of books.
Chris McDermut/Photo
A speaker discusses the proposed court settlement that would allow Google to create a virtual library of books. Opponent say the settlement would give Google too much control over the content of millions of books.





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The U.S. Department of Justice joined UC Berkeley professors Feb. 4 in objecting to a proposed court settlement that would approve of a Google Inc. effort to create a virtual library that would include millions of copyrighted books.

The department echoed the sentiments of some campus faculty in declaring that the proposed settlement gives Google undue control over millions of books and was also too broad in trying to accommodate various concerns brought by the wide range of authors and publishers who would be affected by the proposed settlement.

A final hearing on the case is scheduled for Feb. 18.

According to the Justice Department's statement, the settlement was a step in the right direction but still lacked proper safeguards against abuse.

"(Under the proposed settlement) Google would remain the only competitor in the digital marketplace with the rights to distribute and otherwise exploit a vast array of works in multiple formats," according to the statement.

Two UC Berkeley professors authored a Jan. 28 petition signed by over 80 professors from across the country that called into question Google's control over books as well as the use of the settlement to make a decision that would affect authors worldwide.

Professor of law and information Pamela Samuelson, who co-authored the petition, said portions of the Justice Department's statement could provide reasons for the case to be decided by the U.S. Congress. According to the statement, the Google settlement is "inconsistent with the policy of the Copyright Act, as established by Congress," and certain provisions are "better suited for legislative consideration."

"The Department of Justice indicated that it is willing to work with parties on legislative strategies," Samuelson said.

Campus librarian Michaelyn Burnette said librarians are also concerned that the settlement would give Google too much control over information and would affect campus libraries.

"We're worried that the proposed settlement could impede that flow of information," Burnette said.

Despite the department's criticism of the settlement, Google issued a response, stating the "(department's statement) recognizes the progress made with the revised settlement, and it once again reinforces the value the agreement can provide in unlocking access to millions of books in the U.S."

David Balto, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, said the Department of Justice is "wrong" in their assessment of the Google settlement.

"At Berkeley you have that access ... to that prestigious education and all those libraries," he said. "A kid in the inner city doesn't have that access."

Tags: GOOGLE BOOK DIGITAZATION


Emma Anderson covers academics and administration. Contact her at [email protected]



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