Judge will get proposal to rid world of physical books
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)