I am still mulling over this Google Book settlement deal.
Yesteday, a few readers on BusinessWeek TechBeat blog posted some comments in response to Rob Hof’s post. Admittedly, it is a very small sample (only four people) but most of the readers are in favor of the settlement.
Steve writes that it “seems to me like a no-brainer. So Google can profit from something they did. If the agreement says other companies can also scan books and profit from those scans, more power to them. No need for Justice to get their panties so much in a bunch.”
Chuck Gaffney says Google should of course get authors’ consent to license books but he compares publishers to the hidebound music industry and says they “are trying too hard to be conservative in fears of losing their already very, very deep pockets.”
I do think Google Books is sort of like a public service, which may one day turn into a profit stream for Google, but that still doesn’t mean Google should be given exclusive right over these orphan books that are out of print. That is a key issue that needs to be clarified. Other entities need to be able to access these texts at no cost.
Google argues that it has structured the deal so that it’s not exclusive to the company—that is, other groups could choose to scan books as well. But we need an independent arbiter to confirm and codify that principle. I know Google does no evil but let’s just get a judge to corroborate that before signing on.