Judge will get proposal to rid world of physical books

August 3, 2009

Here’s an idea: Everyone, or at least whoever wants to, gives up their books. The books are taken to a warehouse and stored there. In return the the book owner gets access to scanned copies on Google.

A federal judge has given permission for The Media Exchange Company, Inc. to put that proposal forward, as part of a settlement in Google’s deal with publishers to make millions of books available online.

The Media Exchange Company, represented by the St. Louis, Missouri, law firm of Riezman Berger, says it is putting forward the idea on behalf of book owners.

The Google settlement proposal, which will be considered by the judge at an Oct. 7 hearing by U.S. District Court Judge Denny Chin in New york, cuts a deal that includes libraries and book publishers. Riezman Berger told Chin that “just as libraries have become increasingly interested in partnering with Google to digitize their collections … so, too, individual book owners are becoming increasingly interested in digitizing their collections.”

Chin gave the law firm the right to object to the Google deal or offer its suggestions in an amicus brief . A lawyer from the law firm, representing book owners, explained how things would work.

“The person would lose physical possession of the book, like when you leave your car with a parking lot attendant,” said Emmett McAuliffe. In return, the book owner would get access to the scanned version on Google, along with the ability to search the scanned book and gain access to it wherever there is a computer or some other viewing device. McAuliffe imagines that after a number of years the books would eventually be taken from the warehouses and, with the permission of their owners, mulched in a landfill somewhere.

“It’s a green solution,” he said.

In McAuliffe’s view, the solution would bring closer the day that physical books disappear, to be replaced by access to books online in the cloud, just as compact discs are giving way to MP3s, iTunes and other non-physical forms of digitized music. The books-in-the-cloud could be sold or traded and also loaned, according to the court filing.

This will all be mulled over by the judge, who is considering a proposed settlement between Google and the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers. Google agreed to pay $125 million to create a Book Rights Registry, where authors and publishers can register works and get compensation from institutional subscriptions or books sales.

Controversially, Google — and only Google — would be permitted to digitize so-called orphan works, which are materials or books covered by U.S. copyright law, but it is not clear who owns the rights. That has prompted a look at the situation by the Justice Department antitrust division to determine if the proposal may be anti-competitive.

(Photo by David Lawsky)


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

So, for google’s sake the future is to destroy all written words.
The new US cybersecurity act allows the Government to shut down the Internet without notice for as long as it wants – there will be no recourse as this is part of their “terroist act”.
Our future is complete control by the new world government ( google; bilderberg group ) and this is just another step towards that control.
It’s time someone did an indepth review of who is really behind the new google.

Posted by Peter | Report as abusive

You’ve got to be kidding… Let me give you an example of why this is a ludicrous idea from flying. Pilots have a flight computer that’s a circular slide rule (a mechanical computer for those of you who haven’t ever seen a slide rule). The reason that it isn’t electronic is that batteries run out, usually at the most inopportune time.

Here we have an idea to put, over time, the worlds repository of knowledge in digital media. Really… What happens when the power goes out? Or Uncle Scam doesn’t want you reading “The Rise & Fall of the Third Reich”? IMHO, it’s not a good idea to put everything in one basket.

Print media is long lasting, indelible, and doesn’t require power to operate. It can be read by flashlight, candle light, or plain daylight. It’s isn’t susceptible to magnetic fields, cosmic rays, EMP, EMI, or quantum tunneling. There are books that are over a thousand years old easily. The Nag Hamadi texts, Sun Tzu, etc., to name but a few.

One nice scratch, and a CD-R is ruined. Remember why it is that you backup your hard drive often? No thanks, I’m like “John Luke Piccard”, I like the quaint feel and smell of a good leather bound book…

Posted by Al Reaud | Report as abusive

The first two posters have it all wrong, as I understand the idea. If this legal effort is successful, you will not access your books on Google, but through the patented Digital Content Exchange website. (Google search technology may or may not be used depending on whether they would be willing to license it). Your relationship will be a strictly private, contractual affair and will have nothing to do with the government. If for some reason you don’t trust the DCE’s server to be live and 24/7 you can always download your books to your hard-drive.

If you want to read digital books for their ease, convenience and research and reference capabilities, and you don’t want to repurchase digital versions of books you already bought, or purchase your own scanner and do the labor yourself, your only choice is the Digital Exchange method. If for some reason in the future you want your physical book back they can do that, but you will no longer have the cloud access, searchability, etc.

Posted by Abel Jones | Report as abusive

I agree with “John Luke Piccard”, and prefer my leather bound books. This whole digital book reading is disturbing. Is no one concerned about the result of staring at a computer screen for hours?

Posted by Alex | Report as abusive