Google Hits Another Speedbump on Way to Digitizing World

Federal judge says whoa (for now) on Google's digital library agreement

2 min read
Google Hits Another Speedbump on Way to Digitizing World

In late 2004, Google announced plans to digitize a number of the world's major library collections and make them available on-line. Almost immediately, there were questions raised about whether this effort would violate copyright law as well as stretch beyond recognition the principle of fair use.

In 2005, the Authors Guildbrought a class action lawsuit against Google for copyright infringement, which Google vigorously denied. There is a Washington Post article from 2006 that nicely sums up the opposing positions taken here.

However, in 2008, the Authors Guild and Google reached a settlement (here and here) over copyright and payment to authors of copyrighted material that was to be digitized.

That was not the end of the story. Others such as The American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), the US Department of Justice (see PDF here), Amazon, Microsoft Corp., Yahoo as well as the French and German  governments among others, objected to the deal, saying that it was fundamentally flawed because it would still violate author copyrights, give Google too much control over the digitalization of books, and greatly enhance the power of its search engine.

So, back to the courts.

Yesterday, US Federal Judge Denny Chin of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York threw out the aforementioned settlement saying that the agreement would give Google a "de facto monopoly," reports this article in the New York Times.

The Times story goes on to say that:

"Judge Chin acknowledged that 'the creation of a universal digital library would benefit many,' but said that the proposed agreement was 'not fair, adequate and reasonable.' "

However, the story says, Judge Chin ".. left open the possibility that a substantially revised agreement could pass legal muster."

The US DOJ was quoted by the Times as saying that the judge's ruling came to the "right result."

So now it is back to the drawing board, although many of those who fought the settlement have indicated that a more narrowly drawn agreement on how copyrighted material could be used and compensated for might be acceptable, the Times says.

It will likely take months before all the points raised by Judge Chin (read his entire ruling here in PDF) are sorted out, however.

There is another good story on the ruling here at the Financial Post.

So far, Google has digitized some 15 million books, with those with expired copyrights available with their entire texts at Google's Book Search web site.

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Why the Internet Needs the InterPlanetary File System

Peer-to-peer file sharing would make the Internet far more efficient

12 min read
An illustration of a series
Carl De Torres

When the COVID-19 pandemic erupted in early 2020, the world made an unprecedented shift to remote work. As a precaution, some Internet providers scaled back service levels temporarily, although that probably wasn’t necessary for countries in Asia, Europe, and North America, which were generally able to cope with the surge in demand caused by people teleworking (and binge-watching Netflix). That’s because most of their networks were overprovisioned, with more capacity than they usually need. But in countries without the same level of investment in network infrastructure, the picture was less rosy: Internet service providers (ISPs) in South Africa and Venezuela, for instance, reported significant strain.

But is overprovisioning the only way to ensure resilience? We don’t think so. To understand the alternative approach we’re championing, though, you first need to recall how the Internet works.

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