On Tuesday, the University of Michigan and Google executed an amendment to the original agreement that started Google’s efforts to create a collection of scanned books. The amendment was publicized in a press release by the University of Michigan and described in a page that summarized the changes. That summary page is a the first place to start if you want to know more about the changes reflected in the amendment, but in comparing the amendment to the original agreement, I found some other interesting tidbits. The amendment amounts to an endorsement of the Settlement Agreement by the University of Michigan and, as noted by the New York Times, it also gives Google an opportunity to “rebut some criticism” (or at least clarify and expand on some of the library-related terms) of the Settlement Agreement.
Earlier today, OCLC posted the recording [Flash] and presentation slides [PDF] from Jennifer Younger’s presentation to the Members Council updating them on the progress of the Review Board of Shared Data Creation and Stewardship. Although the work of the Review Board is not yet complete, they are recommending the “policy should be withdrawn.” They also acknowledge a ‘gap problem’ in understanding the role of OCLC and the social underpinnings of the cooperative. Oddly (my interpretation) this seems to be couched in a generation gap between those around when OCLC was founded and those that have come after: “But as new generations of members come into our ranks, it becomes more difficult to explain the social contract that is OCLC.” I detect a hint of us-versus-them thinking, but I hesitate to mention it and almost didn’t include it here because it is based on such a flimsy foundation. Jennifer’s report also lists some initial questions to consider in a process of forming a new policy. She acknowledges that this is work that the members of the review board need to tackle before presenting the final report.
Last Friday, Andrew Pace (Executive Director of Networked Library Services for OCLC) was interviewed by Richard Wallis of Talis on OCLC’s recent announcement of a cloud-based library management service. As part of that conversation, Richard and Andrew touched on the ongoing debate on the OCLC record use policy. Below is a transcript from that part of the interview (with time markers from the start of the interview).
- Richard Wallis (27:00)
- What about [libraries’] local data? By providing data up onto the OCLC platform, will that data be restricted in its use — how they can use it — or will it be totally open for them to use it in any way that they want to?
In roughly a week, the OCLC membership through the Members Council will hear of the preliminary findings from the Review Board of Shared Data Creation and Stewardship. The Review Board was tasked with formulating recommendations in response to the community’s objections to the proposed Record Use policy. The charter for the Review Board says that “delegates will discuss the report at the May Members Council meeting….” In anticipation of this event, I posed this question to email@example.com: is the review board planning on publicly posting a draft report prior to the meeting so the Members Council delegates can bring community feedback to the meeting?
Dr. Jennifer Younger, director of libraries at the University of Notre Dame and chair of the of the review board, replied and gave permission to post her response widely:
Today was to be the deadline for objecting to, opting out of, and/or filing briefs with the court on the Google Book Search Settlement. That was the plan, at least, when the preliminary approval statement from the court was issued last year. That deadline changed, and that is part of a recent flurry of activity surrounding the proposed Settlement. This post provides a summary of recent news and an index of documents that you might want to read for more information.
The American Library Association (through the Association’s Washington Office and the Association of College and Research Libraries Division) and the Association of Research Libraries filed a brief [PDF] with the court in support of the Google Book Search Settlement while asking the judge to “exercise vigorous oversight” over details the settlement. In the 22-page amicus1 brief, the library associations say they do not oppose the settlement, but they do request that the courts provide strict oversight of the activities of Google and the Book Rights Registry. From page 2 of the brief:
The Settlement, therefore, will likely have a significant and lasting impact on libraries and the public, including authors and publishers. But in the absence of competition for the services enabled by the Settlement, this impact may not be entirely positive. The Settlement could compromise fundamental library values such as equity of access to information, patron privacy, and intellectual freedom. In order to mitigate the possible negative effects the Settlement may have on libraries and the public at large, the Library Associations request that this Court vigorously exercise its jurisdiction over the interpretation and implementation of the Settlement.
The brief then describes “concerns with the Settlement, and how the Court’s oversight can ameliorate those concerns.”
New York Judge Denny Chin recently issued two rulings in the Google Book Search settlement. In the first, he ‘ the request by the Internet Archive to intervene as a defendant in the lawsuit (and thus, presumably, be on firmer founding to guide aspects of the settlement). In his response, Judge Chin said:
The Court has received requests for pre-motion conferences by the Internet Archive, Lewis Hyde, Harry Lewis, and the Open Access Trust, Inc. seeking leave to intervene in this action. I have construed their letters as motions to intervene, and the motions are denied. The proposed interveners are, however, free to file objections to the proposed settlement or amicus briefs, either of which must be filed by the May 5, 2009 objection deadline.
We are starting to see objections to the Google Book Search Settlement this month in advance of the May 5th deadline set up by the court. The first comes from the consumer advocacy group Consumer Watchdog (found by way of the American Libraries news feed). They have submitted a letter to the U.S. Justice Department asking the antitrust division to delay the settlement until the “‘most favored nation’ clause favoring Google is removed and the deal’s ‘orphan works’ provision is extended to cover all who might digitize books, not only Google.” The letter in PDF is available on the Consumer Watchdog website. The objections revolve around the provision that require the Books Rights Registry to give Google the same terms as anyone else who enters into agreements with the Registry (noting that more favorable terms might be required by a new party in order to compete with Google) as well as the fact that the copyright infringement protection for digitizing orphan works only extends to Google.
The OCLC Review Board on Shared Data Creation and Stewardship is conducting a survey to gather opinions on OCLC’s proposed Policy for Use and Transfer of WorldCat Records. The survey is 6 pages long and took me about 20 minutes. After the demographic information, the survey asks about your organization’s practices for acquiring and sharing cataloging data. This is followed by a series of questions stating your preference for the existing and the proposed policies, how those policies affect your organization’s plans, and opinions about the roles of OCLC and WorldCat in sharing bibliographic records. You are then offered a chance to provide your contact information to the external research organization gathering the data. (The survey states that this information will not be provided to the OCLC review board.)
The blog post title is a serious question — it is one that I need some help figuring out: What Does the Google Book Settlement Mean for the Online Book Market? There have been stories and speculation about how Google is going to turn the settlement for the class-action lawsuit against its library book scanning project into a monopoly — or in the case of the recent Ars Technica article, a duopoly — of online publishing. I just don’t see it happening without the publishers explicitly allowing it to happen.