Google Investigated by the EU; Will Sell Access to "Book" Web Pages by the End of 2009
At this year's Book Expo America, Google declared that they will begin publishing ebooks by the end of 2009.

"This time we mean it," said Tom Turvey, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Google.

Get this straight, however: Google will NOT be selling ebooks as if they are pretend pieces of physical property that you pretend to carry around with you in proprietary devices. Google will be selling access to persistent online editions of books and will be letting publishers set prices. Really, they will be selling tickets to book sites instead of actual book property. They are depending on the obvious, that current ereaders are pretty stupid and will quickly be replaced by touchscreen netbooks in the next couple of years such as whatever device Apple is making right now.

As books start looking more like web pages, computers will start looking more like books. Google will be sitting there waiting for books and computers to converge with deeds to all the titles and a fucking pitchfork ready to bale cash like hay.

They will own the carnival. You will take the ride. Amazon will be dead from pirates, stodgy gold-mining Spain to Google's sprightly privateering England.

Someday people will remember paying over ten dollars for a Kindle book and they will laugh bitterly and shake their heads. At garage sales, Kindles bought in the "Rage of 2010" will be priced to sell between a "Slap Chop" and a pair of bowling shoes.

Don't start getting Google tattoos with mist in your eyes yet, however. Google will be selling new in-copyright books the same way that it will be selling old in-copyright books: by hosting data in a top-down database that they will fully control. They will be able to alter, delete, and hide data at will.

However, unless they also provide .pdfs, they will not be able to take advantage of the Espresso Book Machine revolution that will be a minor fad until people forget books completely.

Google's publishing announcement comes right on the heels of a different announcement from the EU. Europe has announced that they have finally been informed and will now be thoroughly investigating the terms, conditions, and legality of the Google Book Settlement, a settlement which appears to transgress European copyright laws in far more profound ways than in America.

The European Commission will be investigating the settlement with an eye toward determining whether the EU needs to jump in and do something to protect its own authors and publishers.

"The commission will carefully study the whole issue and, if need be, [will] take steps," said Vladimir Tosovsky for the Czech EU presidency.

Since there are no "fair use" provisions in European law, Google's case is on far shakier ground across the Atlantic. If German publishers had brought a lawsuit, for instance, there would have been no settlement. Google would have had to pay full damages to every rightsholder for every single book that they scanned.

The EU is primarily concerned that the settlement damages European companies that have followed the rules all along, forced to get permission from individual rightsholders before proceeding.

From a German "information note" on the subject:

"Google's actions are irreconcilable with the principles of European copyright law, according to which the consent of the author must be obtained before his or her works may be reproduced or made publicly available on the Internet."

It is unclear how much the EU's complaints will mean, but this will bring more pressure on the Department of Justice to come to a decision that is fair to other companies (and countries) who want the same rights as Google to scan and sell orphan books without getting sued.

The DOJ has to be nervous now with Europe checking their work on this antitrust investigation.

The Europeans will almost certainly condemn the settlement, and therefore the DOJ will have to be pretty damn transparent and hard-nosed if they want to convince the world that this settlement is good for everyone.

Note: it's not. And now GERMANS are doing the math about it.

Posted by miracle on Mon, 01 Jun 2009 18:28:30 -0400 -- permanent link

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