Sat in on the EDUCAUSE webinar on the Google Book scanning project. The speakers were
- Google uses people to scan, have scanned over 10 million books, spending lots of money but won’t disclose the amount.
- Target is to scan 30 – 50 million books, but it’s tough to say, no one is really sure how many are out there
- Snippet view books (preview 20% of title for free) will link to WorldCat, Amazon, others
- OCR – 400 languages
- Algorithmic pricing – consumer pricing model – designed to simulate what a regular market would do, purpose is not for libraries
- Why charging? – trying to strike a balance between interests of the rights holder (to get compensation for their work). Google is comfortable giving this access for free, but obviously authors want/need compensation so something has to be in place.
- Books rights registry – google has set it up, but it will need to have an ongoing oversight -organization, board, international, etc. The database of works/rights holder must be public, the registry is responsible for finding/maintaining this.
- Readers – settlement doesn’t support a download to an eReader, but it is a service that the registry can approve going forward, google is not developing it’s own device
- Google is investing in this project because if offers broad access so if it comes to play that only certain libraries can afford it, it doesn’t match their vision. Important that libraries have choices, so they can do the subscription model or select a different one.
Jonathan Band comments:
The cost of digitizing and cost of finding the copyright owner for rights clearance are the two biggest challenges to this book scanning project, that’s why libraries or other consortia have not been able to do this on their own.
problems/controversy with the class action:
- The whole idea of the class action suit itself – a few people mitigating and deciding the fate for everyone. Some feel this is a legislative issue and shouldn’t be settled in a class action suit, which is private.
- Competition, or lack there of. Faculty/students will demand that a library subscribe to this and with no competition the pricing for the institutional subscription could be too high and lead to an undermining of library values – equity of access, privacy, intellectual freedom
- Pricing – Google will propose a price and the Registry will realize pricing at market rates. Parameters will consider similar products and services and the audience – corporate, educational, government, etc., and FTE
- BRR may want to set price high b/c they represent the rights holders, whereas Google might want to set the price low since their business model is based on advertising.
- No competition – who would enter the market now, no one would be able to compete since nearly 10 million books have been scanned already
- Comparable pricing – compare to what? to journal subscriptions (which are current and high)
- Partner libraries and Google – if price is too high they can challenge the price, a pricing review – but this is only for the library partners
Solution – Library Associations he is representing (ALA, ACRL, etc.) are not asking for the court to reject the settlement because the services (end result) are extremely desirable. They are asking that the court supervise the interpretation and implementation. The makeup of the BRR Board is critical and make sure the board represents the authors whose books are in research libraries, not the kind found in bookstores. Make the service available under terms we can afford.
What flexibility does the court have? The judge can approve or reject the settlement. The Judge can reject it but make some “nudge/nudge, wink/wink” comments and then the parties can decide to agree on the modifications the judge has recommended. But, they would have to go through the entire process again and get the 3 parties to agree.
There were tons of questions which couldn’t get answered due to time constraints