Revised Google Book Search Settlement from a Library Perspective

Late, late in the day last Friday, the principle parties in the Google Book Search case submitted a revised settlement agreement agreement to the court. This post takes a look at the changes to the settlement from a library perspective. To keep this manageable, I’m not including discussion of library-oriented elements that haven’t changed; to read more about that I recommend the ALA/ACRL/ARL paper and/or previous posts on DLTJ. I’m also not including discussion on some aspects of the legal impact of the settlement (the appropriateness of setting policy via class action, the antitrust considerations of Google’s sole license to unclaimed works, etc.); for that I encourage browsing the writings of James Grimmelmann (any posting of his prefaced with “GBS” in the title). I will link off to some of the library-oriented discussion pieces of Grimmelmann and others in this post. If you really want the in-depth view of the settlement and the surrounding discussion, visit The Public Index, a website devoted to chronicling and commenting on aspects of the settlement.

OCLC and the Associated Press — Two Sides of the Same Information Provider Coin?

I’ve run across a striking similarity between the bibliographic utility business and the newswire business, particularly in the area of cooperatives. Two cooperatives — OCLC on the bibliographic utility side and the Associated Press on the newswire side — have the same pattern of activity:

  • both are membership organizations,
  • both seek to amplify the efforts of members (bibliographic records in one case, news stories and photographs in the other),
  • both are reacting to threats to content under its purview, and
  • both have prominent members experimenting with new forms of content delivery and use.

I’ll admit that this comparison between OCLC and the AP is not fully formed, but it has been running around in my mind long enough that it seemed appropriate to put it here. Feel free to run with this further if you think it has merit, or tell me that I’m nuts.

The Internet Comes of Age

ICANN Logo Just as it turns 40, the internet comes of age. One day before of the anniversary of the first two computers connected together by a prototype network in 19691 — a move that foreshadowed the worldwide network of computers we know today — the U.S. Government announced that it was forever releasing direct control over a key governance organization that makes the internet run. Called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), that governance organization is what runs the top level domain name servers (DNS). And that is important because it is the DNS that translates human-friendly names such as “” and “” into network-friendly addresses.

Google Book Search Settlement Hearing Is Likely Postponed

Late today comes word that the plaintiffs (authors and publishers) and defendant (Google) have asked the court to postpone the settlement fairness hearing originally scheduled for October 7th. According to the memo from the parties supporting the request, the spark for this comes from the U.S. Department of Justice’s “Statement of Interest” regarding the settlement:

It is because the parties wish to work with the [Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice] to the fullest extent possible that they have engaged, and plan to continue to engage, in negotiations in an effort to address and resolve the concerns expressed in the U.S. Statement of Interest. The parties are committed to rapidly advancing the discussions with the DOJ. Nevertheless, it is clear that the complex issues raised in the U.S. Statement of Interest preclude submission of an amended settlement agreement by October 7.

No word yet from Judge Chin on whether he will accept the motion, but commentators say that he will likely do so.

Comments on Google Book Search Settlement Coming to a Head (Again)

Ah, it is the beginning of September when thoughts turn to going back to school, the days turn a little colder (in the northern hemisphere) and the smell of lawsuit briefs is in the air. Well, okay — the latter might not be what you expect, but this is a special September, after all. Postponed from May, the deadline for filing comments in the Google Book Search settlement is coming up. And everyone is weighing in (“again” for some) on the details of the settlement. A couple of highlights.

Federal Research Public Access Act Reintroduced

New legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate last week to support the publication of federally-sponsored research results under open access terms.
Sponsored by Senator Lieberman of Connecticut and co-sponsored by Senator Cornyn of Texas, it mandates open access to author pre-print versions with peer review changes in federally-run repositories within six months of publication. Called S.1373, it is a nearly identical version to the bill of the same name that these two senators introduced in 2006, which ultimately died in committee. The 2006 version was supported by a wide variety of organizations including the American Library Association, as tracked by the Alliance for Taxpayer Access (ATA).

Google Book Search Privacy, Orphan Works, and Monopoly

A few weeks ago, a reporter at the Chronicle of Higher Education interviewed Adam Smith, Google’s director of product management, about the Google Book Search settlement and posted the interview in audio form. The page isn’t dated, but guessing from metadata in the URL it was somewhere around the publication of paper issue dated June 26, 2009. I’m calling out this particular interview because Mr. Smith said things that I hadn’t heard in other forms yet — Google’s intentions about privacy in Google Book Search, an explicit statement about the Book Rights Registry releasing information about the status of orphan works, and a statement on what Google expects the size of the orphan works problem to be once the Registry has been in operation for a while.

OCLC Formally Withdraws Proposed Record Use Policy

OCLC has published the final report from the OCLC Review Board on Principles of Shared Data Creation and Stewardship and announced the formal withdrawal of the proposed Policy on Use and Transfer of WorldCat Records. In doing so, OCLC has reaffirmed the existence and applicability of the “Guidelines for the Use and Transfer of OCLC-Derived Records” (the 1987 guidelines) and announced its intention to assemble a new group to draft a policy with “with more input and participation from the OCLC membership.”

EBSCO in Cahoots With Harvard Business Press

A controversy is starting to pick up in the business librarian community — primarily in the U.K. it would seem — regarding the licensing demands of Harvard Business Press (HBP) for the inclusion of Harvard Business Review articles in EBSCOhost. HBP content in EBSCOhost carries a publisher-specific rider that says use is limited to “private individual use” and explicitly bars the practice of putting “deep links” of articles from EBSCOhost (so called “persistent links“) into learning management systems. In my words, HBP is attempting to limit access to its content in EBSCOhost to those who find it through the serendipity of searching. And now HBP is going after schools that are using persistent linking, and this raises all sorts of troubling questions.

Thompson Reuters Lawsuit Against Zotero Creators Dismissed

Reported by Zotero co-director Sean Takats, tweeted by CHNM director Dan Cohen, and noted on DLTJ by Rick, Thomson-Reuters’ lawsuit against George Mason University has been dismissed. The details are sparse at the moment, but it would appear that the creators of Zotero have prevailed over the creators of EndNote. Sean’s post has the most information. (The Fairfax (VA) Circuit Court website really stinks in terms of disseminating information about the proceedings of the court.1 ) If the details are interesting, and I somehow expect they might be, I’ll post them here.