It’s never a good sign when a corporation starts acting like a government agency.
Last night, late on a Friday, Google and its co-conspirators dropped the court-mandated revised settlement to the Google Books case. This was done to limit news coverage of the event over the weekend, which predisposes me to think bad thoughts about Google in general, and about the revised settlement in particular.
On the merits of the actual case, the New York Times says:
The revisions to the settlement primarily address the handling of so-called orphan works, the millions of books whose rights holders are unknown or cannot be found. The changes call for the appointment of an independent fiduciary, or trustee, who will be solely responsible for decisions regarding orphan works.
Cutting to the chase, if only because I’m loathe to deconstruct the disingenuous layers of marketing spin, legalese and outright fraud being marshalled by Google in their attempt to hijack other people’s copyrighted works, it seems to me that this revised settlement is pretty much what anyone would have expected. In sum, an attempt to polish up the chrome while making no changes to the underlying structure of the previous settlement, wherein Google becomes the beneficiary of a new legal standard of copyright ownership. If they scan a book, they own it until you prove it’s yours.
(Yes, I know, that’s probably not legally correct, but I’m not really a fan of the way the legal system has been functioning lately. See also: state-sponsored torture, Wall St. bailouts, housing bubble carnage.) [ Read more ]