August 27, 2009

Microsoft, Yahoo, Amazon to Oppose Google Book Scanning Settlement

Not surprisingly, some of Google’s chief competitors – Microsoft, Yahoo, and Amazon – have joined the Open Book Alliance, opposing the October 2008 legal settlement which would allow Google to digitize and sell millions of books.

The Alliance, headed by the non-profit Internet Archive, has expressed concern about “serious legal, competitive, and policy issues” surrounding Google's book scanning project.

Google reached a settlement last year with the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers over a copyright infringement lawsuit filed against the Internet search giant in 2005. Under the settlement, Google will pay publishers and authors $125 million. In exchange, the company will resume scanning copyrighted, out-of-print books, and provide up to 20% of the text on-line at no charge, under its Google Book Search program.

In addition, the settlement creates a method for how Google, publishers and authors will share the profits of digitized versions of printed books. The company will take 37% of the revenue, leaving 63% for publishers and authors.

In a statement, Google responded to the latest news saying: "This sounds like the Sour Grapes Alliance. 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."

Microsoft, which entered into a 10-year Web search partnership with Yahoo! 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 recently. Online retail giant Amazon is a major player in the electronic book sector through its popular e-reader, the Kindle.

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.

For more background, read Learn More about the Google Book Search Settlement.

[via Yahoo! Tech]

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