Public Knowledge Files on the Google Book Search SettlementSeptember 10, 2009 Antitrust , Competition , Fair Use , Google Book Search , Orphan Works
This Tuesday, Public Knowledge filed a brief asking the court not to approve the proposed Google Book Search settlement as it is currently constructed. The proposed settlement raises significant antitrust and class action procedural concerns. In plain English, these concerns are that the settlement represents an attempt to license a lot of books belonging to people who are unable to protest, set up a system to pay other people for the use of those books, and give a single party the exclusive right to use many of those books indefinitely. Read on for some more detail about our concerns.
But first, let’s be clear: We want online access to all books for everyone. We want a world without orphan works, where one can either find a copyright’s owner and seek to license use of their work, or else that work is available for use by all. We want all books to be made accessible so that the blind can read everything the sighted can. We are happy with Google’s current lawful scanning, indexing, and excerpting of all books, and the ability it provides to locate works which would otherwise lay dormant. We would like to find a way that anyone who wants to can offer the public even more complete access. And we have no doubt that whatever happens, Google will continue to offer searches of all books, offer full, accessible access to the books it has licensed, and find ways to locate as many rightsholders as possible to obtain more licenses.
But access through a single party is not true access: What we do not want is for books to be made available only through a single company that has, through judicial gymnastics, obtained the only possible license to those works. What we don’t want is a system where the books of absent authors are being sold and the unclaimed proceeds are going to those who should be finding those authors in the first place.Read More
This week, the Honorable Judge Chin of the Southern District of New York granted us permission to file an amicus brief regarding the proposed Google Book Search settlement. Since the proposal’s announcement back in October, we’ve been poring over the 320 pages of text and attachments, meeting with parties on all sides of the issue, and weighing the upsides and the downsides of the deal. In the end, we have some serious concerns about aspects of the proposed settlement, and plan to bring those concerns to the attention of the Court before Judge Chin makes a final ruling. On Wednesday, he granted a 4-month extension for those who wish to file, so there is still much to be done, but we thought we’d give you a preview of the issues we plan to raise.Read More
‘Tis the Season Part III: USPTO TransitionDecember 18, 2008 Broadcast Flag , DRM , Fair Use , Orphan Works , Patent
Today PK, along with the Center for Democracy and Technology, Knowledge Ecology International, the Public Patent Foundation and representatives of the library community met with some of the members of transition team for the US Patent and Trademark Office. PK Advisory Board member and Duke University Professor Arti Rai, International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) Executive Vice President for Global Legal Policy Shira Perlmutter and National Inventors Hall of Fame IP Counsel Joyce Ward were the team members who met with us.
Most of the discussion focused on the USPTO's role in International Copyright policymaking.Read More
By now, you’ve probably heard about the proposed settlement in the Google Book Search lawsuit. By the terms of the deal (assuming it is approved by the court), Google gets the risk-free ability to scan, index, and in many cases, post portions of pretty much every book which has gone into U.S. Copyright by the end of the year. Clearly this is a win for getting the public access to large swaths of books which would otherwise been effectively lost to them. But is it really a win in the fight to make orphan works usable, as Professor Lawrence Lessig suggests? While it’s a step in the right direction (and has the benefits described), it’s not a very big one, nor is it enough to obviate the need for Congress to step in.
The short version of why is that while it helps Google index orphaned books and helps the public get access to them, it does nothing for non-book works or for anyone other than Google who wants to make use of orphaned books. The long version is detailed below.Read More
Reflections on the 10th Anniversary of the Sonny Bono ActOctober 29, 2008 Analog Hole , Broadcast Flag , DRM , Fair Use , Orphan Works
The 10th anniversary of the DMCA is not the only infamous 10th anniversary that Public Knowledge gets to “celebrate” this week. Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of the enactment of the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998. That law extended copyright terms from 50 years after the life of an author and 70 years in the case of corporations, to 70 years beyond the life of an author and 95 years in the case of corporations. Named after Sonny Bono, the late Congressman best known for his musical and personal partnership with the performer Cher, the law has taken countless works out of the public domain, greatly weakening the wellspring of creativity and knowledge from which new creativity emerges.Read More