Google settles digital publishing lawsuit

Google finally settled a lengthy court battle with the Association of American Publishers, but another suit from The Authors Guild still remains to be finalized. We asked Zintro experts to explain the settlement and what’s next for the digital publishing landscape.

Andy Weissberg, a digital publishing and marketing expert, says that the settlement represents progress in that it ensures US publishers can own the decision whether to make their books available through Google or have them removed. “However, the settlement does not resolve the claims made by The Authors Guild and individual authors, which ultimately represents continued complexity on the matters here, which pertains to rights, which started to take shape through the HathiTrust ruling,” says Weissberg. “Until Google, libraries, and leaders in the author community can converge and agree on principles of fair use and an equitable rights model for authors in the library market, these gaps may constrain efforts to proliferate the most important asset involved, which is the content that is created. Without authors and quality content, publishers and libraries lose.”

Weissberg says court cases and rulings aside, innovation isn’t always fair, but other creator industries like music and movies have made great strides in converging around innovative and equitable models that place rights at the center of the supply and demand chain. “Perhaps there are a few pages that can be scanned from those industries’ playbooks. Certainly, there is no shortage of innovation, let alone smart people around to architect a model that balances stakeholder interests,” he says.

John Crouse, an expert in sales and business development, says that while the Google settlement with large publishing houses is a step in the right direction in protecting copyrights, there is still an uphill battle for authors. “Google’s misuse of other people’s work is akin to a high school student copying a report from one of his or her peers. Schools have a no-tolerance policy for plagiarism, and trademarks and patents are protected vigorously by the government. The same should be done for authors’ literary works,” he says.

Eric Sutherland, a business process analyst, sees this issue from a more technical perspective. He thinks that Google will reform digital publishing and make other publishers see the benefits and dangers of a single source of ownership. “As one of the world’s leading information sources, Google holds many cards, and this has shaken even governments, such as the Chinese government’s banning of US social media giants like Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn,” he says. “Using search scripts and keyword tools can help build pictures of what a searchers’ end target of information is. It is this analysis that scares big business and governments because each search tree leads to a logical analysis of what is being looked at and by whom.”

By Maureen Aylward


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