Google Books

Google Books continues to run into problems as the US Department of Justice says that it is still not satisfied with a deal that would allow search giant to build a huge digital library, arguing that the plan fails to address antitrust and copyright concerns.

Similar objections and concerns have been voiced by online retailer Amazon, which believes that Google’s plan to scan and distribute millions of books online could lead to a monopoly. Google were already forced to amend details of the plan in 2009, also after objections by the Department of Justice.

Google Books, formerly known as Google Print, was first launched in 2004 but was put on hold a year later when the Authors Guild of America and Association of American Publishers sued over copyright infringement. Then, in 2008, Google agreed to pay $125m to create a Book Rights Registry so that authors and publishers could register works and receive compensation for scanned books.

A decision on whether the deal could go through was originally scheduled for October 2009, but various objections from all over the world made this impossible.

The main problems still relate to potential copyright and antitrust issues, although there is also criticism of Google’s opt out policy for authors rather than an opt in policy, questions relating to foreign authors and the rights to ‘orphan works where the author is unknown.

All sides appear to be trying to work out an amicable and fair solution to the problem and a court decision is now expected in the middle of February.

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