Questions for Google
20.11.08 | MARTYN DANIELS
Why is it that so few people are concerned that Google has created one rule for themselves, whist everyone else is still governed by copyright laws?
Here are ten questions to ponder against Google’s new rights registry.
We would welcome the answers to these questions:
1. An author has some 300 works spanning a number of decades and published by different parties (we know one). These are all still in copyright, but out of print and all the rights have reverted. Google acquires the books and makes them all available. Do Google pay the royalty to; the original publisher, the publisher who may have bought part of the list, the author, the author’s estate, the bank?
2. How will any party know what is in Google’s rights register and what is not? Who will determine any claim or arbitrate? How are works published under licence recorded?
3. If an out of print title had a jacket price of $5 in 1960, what will be the digital and POD price today? Who determines the price of a Google adopted orphan?
4. If a copy is scanned in the US but the UK rights are owned by a different party, who determines who gets the money?
5. If a books illustrations or photographs were licenced only for that rendition or edition, or were acquired under specific licence, do these now become fair game?
6. Public Domain works are free and anybody can publish. So publisher A embellishes the work with student notes and extras. What is fair use and what is copyright and who will police or arbitrate?
7. A number of public domain publishers have already put their content into GBS. Is this now fair game and free or covered by typographic rights?
8. If a publisher made a digital land grab for out of print but in copyright material and put this into GBS as a new edition, who will determine copyright breach and who will arbitrate?
9. What stops a publisher grabbing UK orphans and registering them as new works in another Google geographic region?
10. Anyone who has struggled to reconcile the cost of Google Adwords against revenues will understand that reporting and open accounting is often down to trust. Who will audit the service?
If you don’t know the answers to all these questions ask your CEO, Rights Director, Digital Director and your local publishing association or industry body as they will obviously know the answers.