Amazon, Microsoft, Yahoo! oppose Google book settlement

Aug 26, 2009 by Chris Lefkow
A Google stand at a Book Fair in Frankfurt in 2007. Amazon, Microsoft and Yahoo! joined with non-profit groups and library associations on Wednesday in opposing the legal settlement which would allow Google to digitize and sell millions of books.

Amazon, Microsoft and Yahoo! joined an alliance Wednesday opposing the legal settlement which would allow Internet giant Google to digitize and sell millions of books.

The three technology heavyweights are among the members of a coalition called the Open Book Alliance which expressed concern about "serious legal, competitive, and policy issues" surrounding Google's book scanning project.

In a statement, the alliance said its members, which include the San Francisco-based non-profit the Internet Archive, publishers and library associations, will counter the book settlement "in its current form."

Google, whose book project is already facing anti-trust scrutiny from the US Justice Department, an October court review and privacy concerns, dismissed the alliance as "sour grapes."

"This sounds like the Sour Grapes Alliance," it said in a statement. "The Google Books settlement is injecting more competition into the digital books space, so it's understandable why our competitors might fight hard to prevent more competition."

Google reached a class action settlement in October of last year with the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers to a they filed against the Internet search giant in 2005.

Under the settlement, Google agreed to pay 125 million dollars to resolve outstanding claims and establish an independent "Book Rights Registry," which will provide revenue from sales and advertising to authors and publishers who agree to digitize their books.

Alliance co-chairs Peter Brantley and Gary Reback said in a blog post on a website created by the coalition,, that the settlement "creates an unprecedented monopoly and price fixing cartel.

"Just as Gutenberg's invention of the printing press more than 700 years ago ushered in a new era of knowledge sharing, the mass digitization of books promises to once again revolutionize how we read and discover books.

"But a controlled by a single company and small group of colluding publishers would inevitably lead to higher prices and subpar service for consumers, libraries, scholars, and students," they said.

"Public interest demands that any mass book digitization and distribution effort be undertaken in the open, grounded in sound public policy, and mindful of the need to promote long-term benefits for consumers rather than those of a few commercial interests," they added.

Brantley is a director of the , which maintains a digital library of websites and has its own book scanning project, while Rebak is an anti-trust lawyer in Silicon Valley who ironically helped persuade the Justice Department to file its anti-trust case against Microsoft in the 1990s.

Other members of the alliance include the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses, the New York Library Association, Small Press Distribution and the Special Libraries Association.

The settlement still needs the approval of a US District Court judge, who is to hold a "fairness hearing" on the deal in New York on October 7.

, which entered into a 10-year Web search partnership with ! last month that set the stage for a joint offensive against Google, also had a project to create a vast digital library but shut it down in May of last year.

Online retail giant Amazon is a major player in the electronic book sector through its popular e-reader, the Kindle.

(c) 2009 AFP

Explore further: WEF unveils 'crowdsourcing' push on how to run the Web

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Google book settlement facing antitrust scrutiny

Apr 29, 2009

Google's settlement with US authors and publishers over its book scanning project still needs the green light from a US judge but it may first have to pass muster with the US Justice Department.

Microsoft, Yahoo, Amazon to fight Google book deal

Aug 21, 2009

(AP) -- The fight against a legal settlement that would give Google Inc. the digital rights to millions of copyrighted books is starting to resemble a heavyweight brawl in the library.

Google to sell new e-books online

Jun 01, 2009

Google plans to begin selling electronic versions of new books online this year, posing a potential challenge to market leader Amazon.

Privacy concerns over Google book project

Jul 24, 2009

Google's ambitious book scanning project, already facing anti-trust scrutiny and awaiting court approval, is also raising concerns among privacy advocates and civil liberties groups.

New Web site to amplify debate on Google book deal

May 27, 2009

(AP) -- Caroline Vanderlip believes the escalating debate over Google Inc.'s plans for a vast Internet library of copyright-protected literature will yield enough compelling material to fill a book.

Recommended for you

WEF unveils 'crowdsourcing' push on how to run the Web

9 hours ago

The World Economic Forum unveiled a project on Thursday aimed at connecting governments, businesses, academia, technicians and civil society worldwide to brainstorm the best ways to govern the Internet.

Study: Social media users shy away from opinions

Aug 26, 2014

People on Facebook and Twitter say they are less likely to share their opinions on hot-button issues, even when they are offline, according to a surprising new survey by the Pew Research Center.

US warns shops to watch for customer data hacking

Aug 23, 2014

The US Department of Homeland Security on Friday warned businesses to watch for hackers targeting customer data with malicious computer code like that used against retail giant Target.

Fitbit to Schumer: We don't sell personal data

Aug 22, 2014

The maker of a popular line of wearable fitness-tracking devices says it has never sold personal data to advertisers, contrary to concerns raised by U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer.

Should you be worried about paid editors on Wikipedia?

Aug 22, 2014

Whether you trust it or ignore it, Wikipedia is one of the most popular websites in the world and accessed by millions of people every day. So would you trust it any more (or even less) if you knew people ...

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

5 / 5 (2) Aug 26, 2009
Boo Amazon. Boo Microsoft. Boo Yahoo. These companies will do anything to protect their profits, google has shown a number of times that it is more publicly responsible than any of the commercial interests on this list. Their argument would be better supported if it came from sources without a commercial interest in the copyrighted materials. Hell, even the internet archivist sounds somewhat shady.
not rated yet Aug 26, 2009
Umm... Since the "Book Rights Registry" is independent aren't they allowed to work with these other companies and guilds??? Like DrakeP said, what Google is doing sounds open and responsible.
1 / 5 (1) Aug 27, 2009
This sounds like the Sour Grapes Alliance