With this feature on the Google Book Settlement, CAA hopes to better inform you about the issues at stake, with links to articles and editorials from authors and reporters supporting or criticizing the settlement. CAA’s constituency includes both creators and users of books, and the Committee on Intellectual Property has taken up the matter for consideration and is currently considering what position, if any, to recommend.
For nearly five years, Google has been scanning books, most still under copyright, for its Google Library Book Project. More than ten million books, including many that are out of print, have been scanned since 2004.
Proponents of Google Books, which include authors, researchers, librarians, disability-rights advocates, and more, have been enthusiastic about the possibilities it offers them. However, opponents of the project—other authors, academics, publishers, and organizations such as the Open Book Alliance (which includes Microsoft, Yahoo!, Amazon, and the Internet Archive), as well as foreign governments (Google has been scanning books in languages other than English)—have been equally fierce.
Among other individuals and groups, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers protested the unauthorized copying of in-copyright books by Google. Two suits, one of them a class action, were filed against the internet company in the fall of 2005; a Copyright Class Action Settlement between Google and the author and publisher class representatives was announced in October 2008.
Objections to the settlement and statements of support were filed by September 8, 2009. The US Department of Justice launched an inquiry into the settlement and filed a statement on September 18, raising numerous concerns, including one that the agreement might violate antitrust laws. The settlement is pending before US District Judge Denny Chin, who held a status conference on October 7. At the status conference, the parties announced that they would be filing an amended settlement agreement, and Judge Chin set a November 9 deadline to do so. The parties also announced that the deadline for filing claims to receive cash payments for books that were scanned prior to May 6, 2009, has been extended to June 5, 2010.
The original settlement was complex, and parts of it will likely change during the renegotiations. One important feature was that copyright holders had the responsibility to limit previews of their out-of-print, in-copyright works, that is to say, the author or publisher would have had full rights to tell Google to remove the book if it has already been scanned or to refrain from displaying the contents of that book. Otherwise, Google could have displayed larger previews of books without the copyright holder’s permission. Unless copyright holders opted out of the settlement by September 4, 2009, their works—both in and out of print—that have already been scanned would have been subject to the settlement. As mentioned before, however, these terms may change.
The status of copyrighted images within books scanned by Google is not yet clear. Artists and photographers (except illustrators of children’s books) were excluded from the old settlement. Important questions, which may or may not be addressed in the revision, include: Will copyrighted images be reproduced in volumes available in Google Books? Will the authors or publishers who signed (sometimes limited) reproduction-rights be liable for infringement?
Recent Press and Points of View
Below are summaries of recent articles on Google Books and the settlement, which can give you a better understanding of the issue.
“Depending on one’s perspective, the landmark book-search deal represents either a literary cartel that would lead to higher prices and less competition—or a breakthrough that would make millions of hard-to-find books available to anyone online.” So writes the authors of “Google wants to be world’s librarian,” published in the October 2009 issue of eSchool News. This text is a broad account about the issues at stake and a good place to start for beginners.1
Kenneth Crews of the Copyright Advisory Office (CAO) at Columbia University Libraries/Information Services was present at the October 7 status conference and gives an account on the CAO blog.
Alexis Madrigal, a science writer at Wired.com who is working on a book about the history of green technology, makes an impassioned case for Google Books, without which his study would have been impossible to write. He also cites online sources such as JSTOR, Proquest, arXiv, and of course Google Books as indispensable resources for twenty-first-century research, which save authors and scholars immeasurable time and money. The comments section of his article contains a useful dialogue among Madrigal and his readers; some new ideas, such having an NGO or other “profit-neutral org” take over the stewardship of Google’s initial work, have come forth in the discussion.
Miguel Helft of the New York Times addresses the prehearing issues in “In E-Books, It’s an Army vs. Google,” with a good number of objections about Google becoming too powerful, locking out competitors, and neglecting user privacy. Meanwhile in the same paper, Lewis Hyde address a subissue in the settlement, that of orphan works, whose rights Google could exploit—and profit from—in the absence of copyright holders who come forward to claim their books. “Of more than seven million works scanned by Google so far,” Hyde estimates, “four to five million. appear to be orphaned.” The settlement was “a smart way to untangle the orphan works mess, but it has some serious problems…. [P]arties to the Google settlement are asking the judge to let them be orphan guardians but without any necessary obligation to the public side of the copyright bargain.”
At the Huffington Post, Peter Brantley calls Google’s plans wrong and even dangerous in “Google Books: Right Goal, Wrong Solution.” Even though digitizing millions of books and making them searchable internationally is a laudable goal, “[a]ny settlement these parties reach will necessarily consider their own commercial gain first, trampling public rights in the process.” Congress, he feels, is the place in which the issue should be dealt.
Tim Wu at Slate writes that Google Books is “great for a researcher like me, but as a commercial venture it is almost certainly a perpetual money-loser.” With their stacks of old and unpopular books, brick-and-mortar libraries aren’t generally run for profit, and public utilities like sewer systems aren’t built “without prodding or—dare I say it—a monopoly of some kind.” Scanning books isn’t a profitable enterprise, he notes. (Even eSchool News reports that years ago Microsoft scrapped plans for a book-scanning project years ago due to unprofitability.) Wu does concede that the settlement “isn’t perfect and needs to be better to serve the public.”
November 9 Update
In addition to his own post from last week about his thoughts on the pending revision to the Google Books settlement, Kenneth Crews of the Copyright Advisory Office at Columbia University provides links to two recently published articles in the November issue of the Economist’s Voice:
- Paul Courant, “What’s at Stake in the Google Books Search Settlement”
- Pamela Samuelson, “The Google Book Settlement: Real Magic or a Trick?”
Matthew Sag of DePaul University’s College of Law has recently published a substantial essay on the settlement, “The Google Book Settlement and the Fair Use Counterfactual,” which is available for download on the Social Science Research Network.
Using Google Books
According to Google, pages from books scanned without permission are not currently displayed in Google Books. However, the company is presenting preview pages from some titles through the Google Partner Program, which is not part of this settlement. The Partner Program scans only books that are approved by their copyright holders. (Of course, public-domain books are available in their entirety.) If you believe Google is displaying pages from your book without your permission, you should contact your agent, publisher, or Google directly.
On the cover is not a long-lost Hans Namuth photograph of Jackson Pollock at work—it’s a detail of a sculpture by Joe Fig that’s part of the CAA Annual Exhibition, Picturing the Studio. Read an excerpt from the catalogue essay for this important group show, which opens next month in Chicago and will be on view during the CAA Annual Conference.
The newsletter also contains an interview with the creators of Smarthistory, a multimedia art-history website with innovative ideas for supplementing the Western survey class, as well as an article about this fall’s hot intellectual-property topic, the Google Books settlement. You can also check out the latest details about the upcoming conference, browse listings of recent solo exhibitions and books published by CAA members, and much more.
posted by Lauren Stark — November 05, 2009
CAA seeks applications for projectionists at the 2010 Annual Conference in Chicago. Successful applicants are paid $10 per hour and receive complimentary conference registration. Projectionists are required to work a minimum of four 2½-hour program sessions, from Thursday, February 11, to Saturday, February 13, and attend a training meeting Thursday morning at 7:30 AM. Projectionists must be familiar with digital projectors.
Room monitors are needed for CAA’s two Career Services mentoring programs, the Artists’ Portfolio Review and Career Development Mentoring, and for several offsite conference sessions. Successful candidates are paid $10 per hour and receive complimentary conference registration. Room monitors are required to work a minimum of eight hours, checking in participants and facilitating the work of the mentors.
All projectionist and room-monitor candidates must be US citizens or permanent US residents. Please send a brief letter of interest to Lauren Stark, CAA manager of programs. Deadline: December 4, 2009.
posted by Christopher Howard — November 03, 2009
Several artists, architects, filmmakers, and other supporters of the arts and humanities have recently been named to the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. Among the new members to the committee are:
- Paula Hannaway Crown, an artist and member of the board of trustees for the Museum of Modern Art
- Christine Forester, an architect and board member for the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, and the Museum of Photographic Arts
- Liz Manne, an independent film producer and consultant
- Thom Mayne, an architect whose projects include the Cooper Union academic building in New York and the San Francisco Federal Building
- Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue, who was instrumental in fundraising efforts for the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Other well-known members newly appointed to the committee include actors Edward Norton and Sarah Jessica Parker and the musician Yo-Yo Ma. For the full list of members, please see the Chicago Tribune’s Cityscapes. (In the Los Angeles Times, Christopher Knight laments the lack of visual artists on the committee.)
The twenty-six-member committee works closely with the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services to promote the value of the arts and humanities in the United States through education, cultural diplomacy, and recognition of excellence in those fields.
posted by Lauren Stark — November 03, 2009
Full session information for the 2010 Annual Conference in Chicago is now online. Along with session titles and chairs, the conference website now lists the names and affiliations of all panelists, their paper titles, and the days, times, and locations of their sessions.
You may browse by session day; listings are chronological. Both regular program sessions (2½-hours) and lunchtime and dinner sessions (1½-hours) are posted. The presenters of twelve poster sessions, slated for two early-afternoon time slots, are also included.
The website for the Chicago conference, which takes place February 10–13, was launched last month. It expands on the 2010 Conference Information and Registration booklet that was mailed to members last month; new material and information will be added regularly between now and February.
Online registration is now open. You can also buy tickets for other events, such as the Gala Reception, professional-development workshops, and postconference tours. Alternatively, you may use the printed forms in Conference Information and Registration. The deadline for early registration is December 11, 2009.
posted by Christopher Howard — November 03, 2009
A recent study on artists and their materials has been published by the International Art Materials Trade Association (known as NAMTA) and American Artist magazine, in conjunction with Hart Business Research. Based on a spring 2009 survey of artists, students, and the retailers and suppliers of art materials, “Artists & Art Materials USA 2009” is the first report published in over a decade that analyzes industry size and trends, business practices, and artist needs.
The most groundbreaking finds published in this report include an increased use of mixed media and digital media, the importance of arts education for both children and practicing artists, and the continued use of magazines and books as a primary source of learning. The results of the survey show that artists are purchasing larger amounts of “nontraditional” art materials such as fabrics, glass, and beads, using more digital products, and incorporating scavenged materials. In 2008, the percentage of artists spending for nontraditional art supplies was almost equal to that for paints.
Unsurprisingly, the study found that artists are increasingly using computers either to create digital art or to assist them in producing nondigital art. However, many artists favor printed materials such as art magazines to their website counterparts as a source for education. Eighty-seven percent of survey participants said they read art-related magazines, making these publications the top source for learning, followed closely by books. Early exposure to art is crucial: well over half of the professional artists who participated in the survey responded that art was a major part of their lives by age 12. The report urges for the support of elementary school art teachers in order to expose children to art at a young age.
The 4.4 million active artists in the United States—professionals, students, and hobbyists—are spending over $4 billion per year on art materials and services. While 28 percent of artists buy their supplies online, almost twice as much shopping (54 percent) occurs at brick-and-mortar businesses. Also, while stores are meeting artists’ need for drawing and painting supplies, an increasing number of practitioners are spending more for classes and workshops, an area underserved by retailers and suppliers.
A free download of the eight-page executive summary is available from NAMTA.