India objects to Google book settlement

Indian publishers and authors have jointly submitted an objection to Google's revised deal

About 15 Indian authors and publishers, and two organizations in the country, submitted their objections on Thursday to Google's plan to scan and sell books online.

Google's proposed settlement of a U.S. lawsuit turns copyright law on its head, said Siddharth Arya, legal counsel for the Indian Reprographic Rights Organisation (IRRO), in a telephone interview on Friday.

IRRO is an organization owned by authors and publishers, created to license reproduction rights to books and other publications. The other organization that joined in submitting its objection is the Federation of Indian Publishers, an association of publishers in India.

The proposed settlement is a blatant violation of Indian and international copyright laws, by permitting Google to scan and sell any book online, while shifting the onus of backing out of the settlement on copyright owners through an "opt out" clause, Arya added.

The submission by the Indians is one of many made by authors, publishers and other organizations to Judge Denny Chin of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The critics oppose Google's settlement of a class action lawsuit with U.S. publishers and authors.

The settlement was drafted in October 2008, but was revised last November after the U.S. Department of Justice raised concerns about the copyright and antitrust legality of the proposed settlement.

Groups had until Thursday to file objections to the revised settlement with the court. Judge Chin has set a "final fairness hearing" for Feb. 18.

Provisions such as the "opt out" option imply that if a person is silent, he is deemed to have consented to an agreement, thus fundamentally altering his rights, the Indian authors and publishers said in a statement.

It is outrageous that Indian authors and publishers are forced parties to an agreement that has been negotiated on their behalf by a few publishers alone, without any representation of their interests, the statement added.

Although the scope of the settlement is limited to books that are either registered with the U.S. Copyright Office or published in the U.K., Canada and Australia, it will affect Indian authors as well, Arya said. Many Indian authors like to see themselves published abroad, he added.

India also has a large number of authors and publishers who bring out books in the local languages in the country.

If the settlement is accepted it will affect publishers and authors in the local languages as well, as it will dilute copyright forever, Arya said.

"It means that the world has fundamentally accepted the concept that anybody, anywhere can copy what they want en masse without permission, and then ask people to opt out", he added.

"This is another step in the approval process of the settlement", Google said in a statement, when asked to comment on the objections from the Indian publishers.

There have been many organizations and individuals who have filed their support of the amended settlement agreement with the Court, the statement said. "They believe, as we do, that the settlement will open access to millions of books," Google added.

Tags GoogleGoogle Book Search

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John Ribeiro

IDG News Service




Two sides to every story

On the one hand, we have the interests of authors and publishers, and on the other hand we have the interests of society as a whole.

Google's book scanning effort will bring millions of books within reach to people in parts of the world where libraries are scarce (i.e. almost any city in India) - and that is a Good Thing for society.

Authors who wish to be king of their own dung-hill are free to opt out.




but, who makes the money?



Opt-Out doesnt sound bad when its only Google..

When its only Google doing this, yeah... Opt-Out doesnt sound bad. But when it eventually becomes Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo then you've got to opt-out 3 times. Eventually there will be dozens of such services offering the books because, after all.. there is money to be made (or else Google wouldnt be doing it) .. then its Opt-Out from 30 different services, and potentially a bunch of lawsuits because some of them didn't act on your opt-out request..

Opt-Out is wrong. It should be Opt-In, with Google/etc offering incentives directly to the rights-holders (not some organization claiming to represent them) for doing so.



Another Side

I personally would rather be invited to a party than propositioned. This approach is a little pushy and kind of take-over-ish, even for a good cause.



King or pawn?

<Authors who wish to be king of their own dung-hill are free to opt out>.

Being king of our own dung-hill means taking every opportunity to get our work published, including opting in to Google's service. We can't be king of our own dung-hill if someone like Google usurps our publishing rights.



Re: Opt-Out doesnt sound bad when its only Google..

I could be wrong, but I think that party of the reason for the opt-out was because there are many copyright holders that could not be located. What Google was trying to do was grant people access to materials that would otherwise be lost, and along the way give legitimate rights holders an option to say no.

I agree that it doesn't make sense to need to opt-out in more than one location, but I am sure that there would be some type of registry where anyone would be able to determine whether to opt-out or not for all services, if there is not already.



This is breaking of law and justice

""Google's book scanning effort will bring millions of books within reach to people in parts of the world where libraries are scarce (i.e. almost any city in India)""


Not so easy - as there is a $$ payment tag attached. Where libraries are scarce the money is also scarce.
It would be welcome if these was government affair internationally to enrich libraries.

"Opt-Out is wrong. It should be Opt-In"

THIS IS THE CRUX. VERY WELL SAID. Why the hell on earth one has to opt-out?
All books come prominently with (c) notice that digital or otherwise copying is prohibited. I do not understand how libraries can grant that to Google violating basic copyright laws?
What is Mr. PM of India or Obama or all other PMs/Presidents doing? There should be the largest movement on this line Opt-Out is wrong. It should be Opt-In". Is there any minimum Justice?

As a protest those who are using Google should quit Gmail, Orkut etc. Enough is enough.



Good thing, my foot!! This is pure capitalism at its best. And whoever has heard of a case where capitalism benefited more than a few people?

Would google be distributing free PCs and internet to "parts of the world where libraries are scarce" as well??



Legal principles

The legal principle established here is that the public or the user has a superior right to information created or owned by another, once that information has been copied. The test of right is one of convenience to the user. These principles, once established, cannot apply only to google, since the constitution requires equal treatment under the law, and will be eventually extended by the courts to apply to everyone.

There is no reason, in principle, that this superior right of the public or the user to information owned by another, once it has been copied, cannot be extended to medical, financial, legal, or career records if the availability of this information is convenient to the public or the potential user. The legal principle is the same.

How can you opt out of ten thousand websites in a hundred countries and corporations, operating under the laws of whatever country gives advantage to the particular user, most of which you've never heard of? Notice that the user who claims these rights is a large international corporation.

Privacy is not a contract, it is only a policy, subject to change at any time.

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