US Copyright Office opposes Google Books

Opposition to Google Book settlement deal grows, with US Copyright Office now opposing the deal
Opposition to Google Book settlement deal grows, with US Copyright Office now opposing the deal

The US Copyright Office has changed tack and is now opposing a deal that may give Google the rights to digitise millions of out-of-print books.

Marybeth Peters, head of the US Copyright Office testified in a House Judiciary Committee this week, telling them she thought the terms of the latest Google Books settlement was "fundamentally at odds with the law."

Peters was also concerned the deal might impair Congress' ability to govern copyrights and that it could also have "serious international implications" for books published outside the US.

"The so-called settlement would create mechanisms by which Google could continue to scan with impunity, well into the future, and to our great surprise, create yet additional commercial products without the prior consent of rights holders," Marybeth Peters told the Judiciary Committee, adding that the settlement is "tantamount to creating a private compulsory license."

US District Judge Denny Chin is set to review the settlement on 7 October.

A coalition of opposition

Peter Brantley, Director of Access for the Internet Archive (a group that is opposing the Google deal and that has teamed up with Microsoft, Yahoo and Amazon), rejected Google's current offering in the massive book digitisation deal, claiming:

"Google would still be a monopoly provider… None of our objections have gone away."

The key issue that is causing the conflict between Google and its coalition of opposing groups and companies is Google's plans to scan millions of out-of-print books and then sell subscriptions to libraries and single-use copies to consumers.

While Google argues this will potentially revitalise thousands (potentially millions) of out-of-print works

"We believe strongly in an open and competitive market for digital books," said David Drummond, Google's chief legal officer.

Adam Hartley