Hachette Livre, the largest book publisher in France, has reached a book-scanning agreement with Google (actually it did last year; this is an update). The New York Times reports that while other publishers in France are still suing Google for scanning their copyrighted material without permission, the Hachette deal may provide a framework for other agreements, in France and the US.
The Google book-scanning class-action settlement in the US was rejected earlier this year by the presiding judge Denny Chin, who has given the parties until mid September to come up with a new settlement framework.
It’s possible that the Hachette agreement could serve as a model for the parties in the US:
There are several key differences between the French accord and the U.S. proposal that Judge Chin rejected. One is that Hachette retains control of which books can be scanned and sold by Google, just as it does with copyrighted works that remain in print. Under the U.S. proposal, Google would have been free to digitize any out-of-print books, unless the copyright holders expressly opted out of the settlement.
The central problem with the US settlement was the “opt-out” provision for out-of-print books: copyright owners’ material would be scannable unless they specifically opted out. According to Judge Chin’s order:
In the end, I conclude that the ASA is not fair, and reasonable. As the United States and other objectors have noted, many of the concerns raised in the objections would be ameliorated if the ASA were converted an “opt-out” to an “opt-in” settlement.
Giving control over which books are scanned back to publishers, as in the French case, might well “cure” the objections to the US settlement agreement.
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