Friday, September 18, 2009

The Google Books settlement

After three years of negotiations and legal wrangling Google, the US Author's Guild and the Association of American Publishers have reached a settlement regarding the rights to the millions of books Google has been digitizing. Google's announcement of the same is downright giddy in tone. They're "delighted". Sergey is calling it a "win-win".

Part of this bubbliness is just Google. It's always taken a fairly upbeat view of the world and seen itself as a not just a company, but a Force For Good -- or at least Not A Force For Evil. However, any time there's a long-fought-over settlement with lawyers involved, one would expect all parties to be slightly disgruntled. That this isn't the case sets my spidey sense tingling.

Clearly Google came out of this well. The only other plausible explanation is that it came out badly and is scrambling to save face, but that doesn't wash with anything else I've heard. So I have to give a nod to the EFF and others who have expressed misgivings and hope the nice folks there use their awesome power for good.

If nothing else, this will be a great chance to get some data on the famous "long tail".

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