Google Outlines Book Scan Plan To Congress


In its testimony to Congress regarding its book digitization program, Google said it anticipates that devices such as Amazon's Kindle will "revolutionize the way some people read books where users buy and store digital books in online personal libraries accessible from any Internet-connected device," said David Drummond, senior vice president of corporate development and chief legal officer at Google.

However, Google said that, unlike Amazon, it is more interested in creating an open platform with publishers and device manufacturers to help small, independent bookstores.

"In this open platform, readers can find and purchase digital books from any bookstore and read them on any device, including laptops, mobile phones and e-readers from multiple vendors. Smaller, independent bookstores, such as BookPeople in Austin, will benefit from an open platform that helps them stay relevant as book consumption moves online."

Google's move tries to deflect criticism brought by Amazon. The world's largest bookstore presented in testimony before Congress Thursday when it outlined its objections to a settlement between author organizations and Google regarding digitized books.

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Amazon's main objection is that if the proposal is approved it would "create national copyright and competition policy with enduring adverse effects on consumers and Google's competitors," said Paul Misener, vice president of global public policy at Google.

"The proposal would create a cartel of rights holders that, for sales of books to consumers, would set prices to maximize revenues to cartel members," Misener said.

Another flaw in the agreement, Misener said, is that Google would get a "privileged, exclusive deal, despite lip service to non-exclusivity. Except for works of rights holders who affirmatively opt out, the settlement would give Google -- and only Google -- a license to digitize and sell every U.S. book ever written."

Last week, Amazon filed a brief that also criticized the agreement that incurred the wrath of The Authors Guild. Ironically, the Guild was the first to bring suit against Google alleging copyright infringement involving Google's book scanning program.

"Amazon's hypocrisy is breathtaking," the Guild said in a statement. "It dominates online bookselling and the fledgling e-book industry. At this moment it's trying to cement its control of the e-book industry by routinely selling e-books at a loss."