Google says it believes in pushing for federal legislation that would lay down the ground rules for digitizing so-called orphan books. And the Internet Archive wants the web giant to put its pending orphan monopoly where its mouth is.
After Google book scanning guru Dan Clancy told a Silicon Valley audience that orphan works legislation is "important" - that it has "gone to the Hill to argue for legislation and will continue to" - the Archive has challenged Google to delay its $125m ebook settlement and put all its resources behind legislation instead.
In October, Google settled a lawsuit from the US Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers over its Book Search project, which that seeks to digitize the works inside the world's libraries. Still awaiting court approval after an October hearing, it would - among other things - give the company a unique license to scan and sell and post ads against orphan works, titles whose rights holders can't be found.
"Straight from the 'have cake and eat it too' department, Google’s senior traveling digital book salesman, Dan Clancy, professed his undying commitment to the legislative process as it relates to orphan works," reads a blog post from Peter Brantley of the Internet Archive, which runs its own book scanning operation. "Well, we’d like to take Google at their word and hope that they live up to that commitment...
"To that end, we are calling on Google to petition the court and seek a delay to the October hearing regarding the settlement. Furthermore, we demand that Google publicly demonstrate their leadership and influence in DC to immediately fuel the legislative process on orphan works."
Of course, this challenge will come to absolutely nothing.
Clancy also says he believes that Google's monopoly grab of a settlement is the quickest route to legislation. The settlement sets up a database where copyright holders can register their works, and the Goolger argues this will help define what it is and what isn't a orphan.
"By creating the database and making the database [the Book Rights Registry] public, it solves what has always been one of the big challenges in getting orphan works legislation through," Clancy says. "You're trying to prove a negative, since nobody has put up the money and made an effort to build a database of copyright holders. How do we know what you have to do?"
Following the Archive's challenge, Google has not responded to our request for comment. ®