December 18, 2009

Google Takes More Heat For Digital Library Plans

A coalition of U.S. library associations has organized itself in a collective effort to force Google to keep access to its in-the-works digital library cheap.  The library collective has already petitioned the federal Justice Department to monitor the project's development and ensure that the Internet giant doesn't charge too much for institutional subscriptions.

Together, the American Library Association, the Association of College and Research Libraries and the Association of Research Libraries have requested that the federal government use its regulatory power to stymie any potential attempts by Google to charge prices that it deems too high for its digital library services.

The bibliophilic band has argued the legality of such coercive government interference on the grounds that Google is unlikely to have any real competition in the digital library market in the foreseeable future.

"The United States should carefully monitor implementation of the settlement, including the pricing of the institutional subscription," stated the organizations in a recently released letter to William Cavanaugh, deputy assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's antitrust branch. It was addressed.

Google has taken flak from a number of directions "” including potential competitors Amazon and Microsoft "” over its planned digitization of millions of books.

Already in 2005, a coalition of individual authors and publishing houses filed a lawsuit against Google claiming copyright infringement for its scanning and uploading of various books.  That lawsuit was finally settled just last month as all parties finally managed to reach a mutually agreeable settlement that addressed concerns over antitrust and copyright violations.

The case, known as The Authors Guild et al v. Google, Inc., will not be officially settled until the amended settlement is approved by a federal court at a "fairness hearing" scheduled for February of next year.

In a parallel case that just worked its way through French courts, judges ruled that Google had violated French law with its digitization of books and slapped them with $14,300-a-day fine until they remove the literature from their search engine.

Google was also ordered to pay over $400,000 in damages to prominent French publisher La Martiniere.

Alexandra Neri, attorney to Google French branch, said that they intend to appeal the decision.


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