Talking About Google Settlement, Publisher Cites Monopoly, Duopoly, and New Library Sales
Andrew Albanese -- Library Journal, 02/27/2009
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(This article first appeared in the February 26 issue of the LJ Academic Newswire. For a set of links, go to LibraryJournal.com/GoogleBookSearchSettlement.)
As the library community prepares to voice its concerns in an amicus brief for the upcoming Google Book Search approval hearing a driving force behind the settlement last week acknowledged the validity those concerns. According to report on the web site Ars Technica, Richard Sarnoff, chairman of the Association of American Publishers, said that while publishers didn’t intend to create a monopoly in the market for book search engines or online book sales, the settlement could have that effect.
In a thoughtful talk on the settlement at Princeton University’s Center for Information Technology Policy, Sarnoff, also speculated that the Google Book Search settlement “could create a duopoly in the electronic books market” between its two biggest players—Amazon and Google.
He also reportedly acknowledged that deal created an attractive revenue stream from library subscriptions. Under terms of the deal, Google plans to sell institutional subscriptions to libraries for access to the complete book catalog—except for free access at a limited number of designated terminals.Most of that revenue, 67 percent, will go to publishers. Sarnoff also acknowledged access to the books will continue only “as long as Google exists.”
Sarnoff’s talk seemed to validate areas of concern among librarians, issues at the heart of a probing critique by Harvard University librarian Robert Darnton. Darnton, a renowned historian of the book, warned in that essay of the potential for a monopoly on books, for unchecked pricing, and a tipping of the copyright balance away from the libraries and the public interest toward a pay-per-view world.
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