31st aug, 2009

The future of books decided by IP

There is trouble brewing in the book business. The reason is Google’s settlement with Authors Guild, the Association of American Publishers about access to published books via Google. 


Some people and companies see the agreement as harming the free book market by giving Google too much power. The power originates from the fact that Google the agreement seems to create compulsory license with Google at the receiving end. In one corner you have Google and Sony and in the opposing corner you have Amazon, Yahoo and Microsoft who have formed the “Open Book Alliance”. 


The alliance claim that “ copyright owners will have to license Google’s competitors voluntarily, while Google gets an involuntary, virtual compulsory license through class action process”. This might be the reason why the Justice department is also looking into the deal. 


A funny thing is that Google is advocating an open format (ePub) where Amazon has its own proprietary format for the Kindle. So the guys having the open format may be seen as trying to minimize competition and the guys with the closed format fight for the free market. Strange. 

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