Should Google be anointed the sole source of out-of-print, orphaned books online? That’s only one of the many points of contention generated by the Google Books project, which aims to bring online vast libraries of information, much to the chagrin of groups like the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers.
Authors and publishers have agreed to settle with Google over its book search program. The surprising part is that the resulting agreement will likely make millions more books widely available, benefit the public, and increase revenues to Google, authors, and publishers.
The Authors Guild wants its members to be able to choose which electronic rights they grant to their works. As a result, the Guild is painted as a villain for apparently suggesting parents shouldn't read books to their children without paying fees. It's all about revenue, permission, and closed systems. Oh, and the Amazon Kindle 2.
Google tries to insert itself into the electronic reader market by making 500,000 copyright-free titles available for the Sony Reader Digital Book. Titles, all dating from before 1923, are free to download.
The proposed settlement between Google and groups representing authors and publishers over Google's past work in scanning in-copyright titles may be scuttled over the advantages that such a settlement would confer on the search giant.
The latest revision to the Google Books settlement, an ongoing saga we've written about regularly here on TidBITS, is still opposed by Amazon.com and the Internet Archive, among others. The settlement in this revised version would still anoint Google with court approval as the only party in the United States that can scan and offer for sale copyrighted works that are out of print and for which the publisher isn't known.