Recent News Stories, Op-Eds, and Editorials

New York Times / January 21, 2010
"The families of the author John Steinbeck and the musician Woody Guthrie, which previously opposed the proposed Google Book settlement that would create a vast digital library of books, say that they now support it."

Publishers Weekly / January 21, 2010
"Gail Steinbeck, whose initial opposition led to the first delay of the Google settlement’s fairness hearing, expressed support for the revised Google agreement...she and Arlo Guthrie, on his own behalf and on behalf of his father, Woody Guthrie, [have] now chosen 'to opt-in' to the Google Book Search settlement."

Reuters / December 2, 2009
"A federal judge has rejected Inc's request that he withdraw preliminary approval of a settlement between Google Inc and groups of authors and publishers to digitize millions of books."

BBC / November 16, 2009
"What was clear from the meeting was that the bodies representing US and UK authors and publishers are united in the belief that the deal is now satisfactory and should go through. The Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society, which collects fees for writers, says it has received around 2,000 positive e-mails from its members, with only four or five opposed to the settlement."

The Bookseller / November 16, 2009
"The Google Settlement will open up 'new avenues' for writers to make money from out of print works 'within a legal framework,' representatives of the British and US book world have said."

CNET / November 16, 2009
"Congress has tried and failed for years to pass legislation dealing with orphan works. In large part, the revised Google Books settlement would bring these books back to the world of the living...Tellingly, the objectors say little to nothing about the impact of the settlement on consumers, who already benefit from Google's efforts and would benefit even more, if the agreement is approved."

Wall Street Journal / November 14, 2009
"'There was a perception that there was a potential conflict between the rights holders who claimed their works and rights holders who hadn't yet claimed their works. Now the Book Rights Registry will represent those who claim their works, and the independent fiduciary will represent those who haven't claimed their rights, [Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild] said. Mr. Aiken also noted that 'authors in the four countries that remain covered by the settlement will have access to the U.S. market for their out of print books. They'll retain full control over their works, and retain all of their opportunities to bring their works back into traditional print.'"

New York Times / November 13, 2009
"Google and groups representing book publishers and authors filed a modified version of their controversial books settlement with a federal court on Friday. The changes would pave the way for other companies to license Google’s vast digital collection of copyrighted out-of-print books, and might resolve its conflicts with European governments."

European Laws Present Challenges for Google Books
CNET / October 23, 2009
"'We ask our researchers what they want, and they say, 'we need a Google Books European settlement. We need access to books that are out of print but are still in copyright,'' said Klaus Ceynowa, deputy director general for the Bavarian State Library in Germany."

Blind Need More Access to Written Word
Op-ed from Carl Jacobsen, president of the National Federation of the Blind of New York

Albany Times-Union / October 19, 2009
"In the Middle Ages, books were available only to the clergy and the wealthy; everyone else was illiterate and ignorant. That changed with the invention of the printing press, but it was nearly 400 years before another invention -- the Braille code -- gave literacy and knowledge to the blind. We have struggled to catch up ever since. The Google settlement will finally level the playing field."

A Library to Last Forever

Op-ed from Sergey Brin, co-founder and technology president of Google

New York Times / October 09, 2009
"Many companies, libraries and organizations will play a role in saving and making available the works of the 20th century. Together, authors, publishers and Google are taking just one step toward this goal, but it’s an important step. Let’s not miss this opportunity."

Another Shot at Shelf Life
Boston Globe / October 03, 2009
"The publishing industry has been roiled over the plans of Internet search giant Google to scan millions of books and make them searchable and available through its website, but some publishers are confirming the company’s promise: that it can bring to light books that otherwise would be nearly forgotten."

Save the Google Book Search Deal!  It's the Best Way to Make Out-of-Print Books Widely Accessible
Slate / September 29, 2009
"The Google Book Search settlement makes it easier to get books few people want, like the Windows 95 Quick Reference Guide, whose current Amazon sales rank is 7,811,396, or The Wired Nation, which in 1972 predicted a utopian age centered on cable television. These are titles of enormous value for research and that appeal to a certain type of obsessive. Yet they are also unlikely to be worth much money."

In Defense of Google Books
Forbes / September 25, 2009
"By scanning the books, Google took us to a real-world discussion of how to get these volumes into the digital world in some way that we can live with. It is questionable whether we would have gotten there without such a bold move. And, by taking the step of digitizing them, Google has brought the past life of books into some kind of equivalence with the future life of books. If someone hadn't done that, with every year that passed, the texts would have more in common with stone tablets than the books we will come to know."

A Writer’s Plea: Figure Out How to Preserve Google Books
WIRED / September 24, 2009
"So, as we sort out the various privacy, competitiveness and profit issues, let’s not just assume the status quo was the best of all possible information-distribution worlds. It wasn’t — and we know that because Google Books showed us how the system could be better."

Guest post from Derek Slater, Google Books team blog / September 23, 2009
"Some have taken the well-intentioned position that legislative reform would be preferable to approval of the settlement. But, as David Sohn of the Center for Democracy of Technology discussed in a blogpost last week, this misconceives the settlement as a substitute for, rather than a complement to, legislation. And it would mean that these books remain locked up, as everyone waits for Congress to address not only orphans but also the far larger category of neglected books. With the democratization of so much of our culture within reach, it would be tragic to turn the perfect into the enemy of the good."

Shakespeare in Seconds: Instant Book Machine Gets Google Books Access
Los Angeles Times / September 16, 2009
"Google's archive includes such books as 1843's 'Travels in the Great Western Prairies and the Anahuac and Rocky Mountains and the Oregon Territory' by Thomas J. Farnham, whose hungry trek seems obscure but might be meaningful to a historian -- or a modern hiker -- who didn't have access to the original."

Near-Instant Book Printer Adds Google Books Titles
CNET / September 16, 2009
"One way of thinking about Google's Book Search project is that it creates opportunities for other companies to develop businesses around new ways of distributing and consuming books, since a digital book is nothing but a large file. While things like the Kindle show that people are interested in acquiring and reading digital books in digital form, the Espresso Book Machine allows authors and publishers to reach an audience that isn't ready for a digital book reader without having to spend the money required for a full-scale printing run of a book with limited appeal."

Court Acknowledges More Than 400 Submissions in Google Settlement
Publishers Weekly / September 16, 2009

..."[A] review reveals a wellspring of strong support for the deal, from organizations representing authors and the tech industry, to the disabled, such as the National Federation of the Blind, as well as a host of major universities and libraries, such the University of Michigan, Stanford University, the Cornell University Library and the University of Virginia."

Google Offers Rivals a Place in E-books Program
CNET News / September 10, 2009

"'It is a good thing to provide millions of Americans access to published works that otherwise wouldn't be available to them,' Conyers said. 'A library available to every household with an Internet connection--this could be the greatest innovation in book publishing since the Gutenberg press.'" 

Scripps Howard News Service / September 09, 2009
"U.S. education is unique because of an ethic that a curious person wanting to learn something should have access to that knowledge. ... In U.S. history, the library system, the land-grant college system of 1862 and the community college system after World War II have been among the greatest reform advancements in social and economic development. When the various author, publisher, commercial and anti-trust concerns get worked out in the Google matter, at the heart of any accommodation should be the value about satisfying the curious, which has served the nation so well."

Competition That Works: Why the Google Books Project Is Good for Consumers and Its Competitors
Op-ed from David Balto,
Antitrust Lawyer and Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress
Huffington Post / September 8, 2009
"There are two fundamental questions at issue in this battle. First, will consumers significantly benefit? And, secondly, will the project in any way hurt the ability of others to compete in the market? In this case, the answers are straightforward: yes, there are tremendous public benefits, and no, the settlement in no way increases barriers to entry or otherwise impedes competition. In fact, the settlement actually enhances competition and opens new markets."

Google's Big Book Case
Editorial in The Economist / September 3, 2009
"By helping to resolve the legal status of many texts subject to absurdly long copyright periods and murky ownership, it will make millions of books more accessible than ever before. Researchers from Manhattan to Mumbai will gain instant access to volumes that would otherwise languish in obscurity. Libraries will be able to offer users access to information far beyond their physical book stacks. And authors and publishers will be able to cash in on long-neglected works."

The Social Benefits of the Google Books Settlement
Wall Street Journal / September 3, 2009
"Lateef Mtima, a law professor at Howard University School of Law, said on the call that the settlement will 'bridge the digital divide' by giving students without access to fancy libraries exposure to a broad range of texts over the Web.  He called the ongoing fight over the settlement 'not only a social justice travesty but a huge problem for social justice and copyright law as well.'”

IDG News Service, September 03, 2009
"Google's digitized book service will tear down barriers for people living in low-income areas, added Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. 'We see access to knowledge as a civil right,' he said. 'Information enables individuals to learn, to create and to pursue their dreams. Access to knowledge defines the meaning of equal opportunity in a democratic society.'"

EU's Reding Backs Google in Online Books Row
Reuters / August 27, 2009

"[T]he EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media added her voice to the debate welcoming 'private-sector initiatives' such as Google's.  'Google Books is a commercial project developed by an important player,' Reding said in a statement. 'It is good to see that new business models are evolving which could allow bringing more content to an increasing number of consumers.'"

Sony Supports Google Book Settlement in Challenge
Bloomberg / August 27, 2009
"Google Book will 'foster competition, spur innovation and create efficiencies that will substantially benefit consumers,' a Sony lawyer said in a court filing yesterday. It sought -- and received -- permission to file a lengthier explanation in support of the agreement reached last year."

Is Google book deal a threat to privacy?
Op-ed from Ryan Radia, Information Policy Analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute
Washington Examiner / August 20, 2009
"Like any Web firm that depends on having a positive image among users, Google has a huge incentive to be straightforward about how it stores and uses personal data. Google realizes what is at stake if it fails to protect its users’ privacy. Consequently, Google has implemented robust security measures designed to prevent any privacy breach."

Op-ed from James Shapiro, Professor of English at Columbia University
The Huffington Post / August 19, 2009
"After extended negotiations a settlement was reached, one that protects the rights of publishers and authors through a Book Rights Registry while rewarding Google's investment (the settlement also allows copyright holders to exclude their books or make only parts of them available). I don't ever expect to make much in royalties from my book, but I feel good about the prospect of seeing it in wider circulation. And I'm cheered that my publishers stand to profit from the settlement and have already made snippets of my book and many others like it available through Google Book Search. Friends and colleagues with whom I have spoken -- and I suspect many thousands of academic authors with books in limbo -- feel the same way."

Former Antitrust Enforcer Defends Google Book Settlement
PC World / August 11, 2009
"A proposed settlement between Google and book publishers and authors that would allow the tech giant to digitize and sell millions of books raises no serious antitrust concerns and, in fact, should blaze a trail that allows other companies to do the same thing, a former U.S. antitrust enforcer said Tuesday."

Editorial in The Washington Post / August 8, 2009
"Some call it Alexandria 2.0, and the comparison with the great library of antiquity is apt. Google has digitized millions of books, and if its proposed class-action settlement with their authors and publishers passes muster, these books -- formerly the province of college libraries and research institutions -- will be available to everyone."

Disability Group Boosts Google Book Search
WIRED / August 7, 2009 
"The American Association of People with Disabilities told federal court judge Denny Chin that 'vast numbers of books will be opened up for many people for the first time ever,' citing the fact that Google Book Search will digitize books into formats that can be used by specialized readers. The nonprofit group asked the court to approve the controversial copyright settlement that Google struck in 2007 to settle a class action lawsuit filed by authors and publishers."

Washington Post / July 31, 2009
"The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the League of United Latin American Citizens, and the National Federation of the Blind all urged court approval of a settlement Google reached in October on a lawsuit that alleged its scanning program violated copyrights..."

Inside Higher Ed / July 30, 2009
"Throughout history, society has seen fundamental shifts in the way works are used and distributed, said Lateef Mtima, a law professor at Howard and director of the campus's Institute for Intellectual Property and Social Justice. Critics have called Google's project a dangerous corporatization of content, but Mtima said it merely represents the latest such shift: 'The public has to have access to those works -- to read them, to build on them.'"

IDG News Service / July 29, 2009
The Google book settlement, scheduled to be reviewed in an Oct. 7 court hearing, would allow Google to scan and make available scores of books, including millions of out-of-print titles. The digitized books will give minorities and poor people new access to titles that were formerly only available at large university libraries, supporters of the deal said during a forum at the Howard University School of Law in Washington, D.C."

Editorial in The New York Times / July 28, 2009
"While the Internet has transformed much of the information world, books have been a laggard. Google may change that. It has already scanned millions of out-of-print books, and it has reached an agreement with writers and publishers — which still requires judicial approval — to make them widely available."

Op-ed from Jonathan Hillel, Policy Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute
The San Jose Mercury News / July 22, 2009
"Afraid of Google taking over the world? The Justice Department seems to be. It recently confirmed its antitrust investigation into the Google Book Search Settlement, citing "public comments expressing concern" as impetus for the inquiry. European Union officials have also started sniffing around. These concerns are misguided, and outmoded antitrust regulation will stunt the growth of the emerging book search market."

Reviving Lost Books
Op-ed from William Echikson, Senior Manager of Communications at Google in Brussels

Wall Street Journal Europe / July 21, 2009
"Fourteen years ago, I published a book called “Burgundy Stars: A Year in the Life of a Great French Restaurant.” Despite warm reviews, sales were tepid and my American, French, German and Japanese publishers soon let the book go out of print. Today, my book remains in copyright but is almost impossible to find. I’ve since moved on to work at Google, which reached an agreement last year with a broad class of authors and publishers that aims to bring millions of lost books like mine back to life."

U. of Wisconsin, U. of Texas Expand Their Agreements With Google
The Chronicle of Higher Education / July 9, 2009
"The University of Wisconsin at Madison and the University of Texas at Austin, two longtime participants in Google’s massive book-digitizing project, announced today that they have expanded their agreements with the company."

Op-ed from Tim Barton, President of Oxford University Press
The Chronicle of Higher Education / June 29, 2009
"[The Google Books Settlement] provides a means whereby those lost books of the last century can be brought back to life and made searchable, discoverable, and citable. ... It is good for readers, authors, and publishers — and, yes, for Google. If it succeeds, readers will gain access to an unprecedented amount of previously lost material, publishers will get to disseminate their work — and earn a return from their past investments — and authors will find new readers (and royalties). If it fails, the majority of lost books will be unlikely ever to see the light of day, which would constitute an enormous setback for scholarly communication and education."

Letter to the Editor from David Balto, antitrust lawyer and Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress
Financial Times / June 24, 2009
"There is no question that Google should be applauded for scanning and compiling millions of books (many out of print) and creating access to a new library of unprecedented proportions. The settlement will create unparalleled access to books for both individual readers and institutions, and it will be of particular advantage to individuals who, due to disabilities or language barriers, cannot currently read much of the information in our nations’ libraries. Thousands of scholars and even regular people will have access to books that were accessible only to those close to major research libraries."

The Big Money / June 23, 2009
"The deal that Google signed with publishers gives copyright holders 63 percent of the revenue that Google takes in from their books. Very few authors and publishers might individually strike better deals than this one, and nothing in Google's agreement keeps them from doing that. But anybody who thinks that the majority of writers or small publishers could do better on their own than the deal for almost two-thirds of Google's book revenue that the publishing industry negotiated by acting in concert is living in dreamland."

Op-ed from Tom Allen, President and CEO of the American Association of Publishers
Publishers Weekly / June 15, 2009
"The [Google Books] settlement will...give us a brand- new nonprofit, independent Book Rights Registry to aggregate a reliable database of works and their rights holders. It will give new commercial life to millions of books that are not now commercially available. It will open up potential new markets for our books, making them accessible, searchable and available to an Internet audience larger than any in our dreams. People all over the country, from large cities to the smallest towns, will have access to the riches of some of the best academic libraries in the country." 

CNET News / June 15, 2009
"What's not to like for authors? Google Book Search gives them a way to sell books that are out of print, which today for them make money only for used booksellers. And through other provisions, students and other researchers would get access to vast online libraries at institutions that pay for subscriptions, and the public would get a Google-funded computer with free access to the same in every U.S. library."

Op-ed from Ed Black, President and CEO, Computer & Communications Industry Association
The Hill / June 10, 2009
"Those opposing the legal settlement involving Google’s book-search initiative have tried to turn it into a story about a big company with a 'monopoly' on books. But a deeper read should lead those with real antitrust concerns to another conclusion. If upheld, the settlement will require Google to pay fees to continue digitizing books from major libraries and make them available over the Internet. Opponents claim it creates a monopoly. Advocates point to the unprecedented opportunity to harness information and increase human knowledge. ... I know what a high-tech monopoly looks like. This isn’t one."

Op-ed from Paul N. Courant, Dean of Libraries, University of Michigan
Ann Arbor News / June 07, 2009
"The result [of the Google Books settlement] will be ubiquitous online access to a collection unparalleled in size and scope, preservation of the scholarly and cultural record embodied in the collections of great research libraries, new lines of research, and greatly expanded access to the world's printed work for persons with print disabilities."

Letter to the Editor from Paul N. Courant, Dean of Libraries, University of Michigan
Washington Post / May 24, 2009
"The Google settlement provides a mechanism whereby the print works of the 20th century will be searchable, findable, readable and generally usable online, with large parts of the text readable online for free. All of this is of tremendous public and scholarly value, and no one other than Google has shown any willingness to make the investment necessary to get the job done."