Improved Google deal still has 'big difficulties', says BA

<p>The Booksellers Association has warned that &quot;big difficulties&quot; remain with the Google settlement, despite the amendments announced late last week. The trade body, which had lodged a formal concerns over &quot;a number of issues&quot; last September, has toned down its stance towards the deal, having previously told <em>The Bookseller </em>the settlement effectively &quot;handed a monopoly&quot; to Google.</p><p>Chief among the revisions approved of by the BA was the proposal to allow retailers to sell online access to books covered by the settlement. Sydney Davies, head of trade and industry at the BA, said the trade body was &quot;delighted&quot; by this move, also applauding the changes to the definition of &quot;commercially available&quot;, which meant Google would by default exclude titles available for &quot;from sellers anywhere in the world&quot; to purchasers within the US, UK, Canada or Australia. </p><p>&quot;This is good news for booksellers, especially with Nielsen Book and Bowker helping to determine what is commercially available,&quot; said Davies. The BA also applauded the move to include European representatives on the board of the registry.</p><p>But Tim Godfray, BA chief executive, said the deal would still have &quot;a significant effect on the digital bookselling landscape and how this might unfold here in the UK&quot;. He added: &quot;Version 2.0 of the proposed Settlement is an improvement on Version 1.0, but some big difficulties still remain.&quot;</p><p>The BA had &quot;hoped&quot; that the amendment would exclude all orphan works and all European works, including those of the UK. However, under the revised agreement, UK works published before 5th January this year are included, as are those from Canada, Australia and the US.</p><p>&quot;If Google had tried to set up a registry here [in the UK] under European legislation, it would have had to obtain the permission of the copyright holder before scanning,&quot; said Godfray. &quot;Version 1.0 of the settlement allowed Google to scan and sell orphan works in the US on an opt-out basis - titles only being excluded if the rightsholder then objected. Version 2.0 still permits Google to operate on an opt-out basis, giving Google exclusive access to a market segmentation that virtually everyone else would still find impossible to enter. So the American proposals seem to be at loggerheads with the European copyright framework.&quot;</p><p>The BA also expressed concerns over the ability of Google to keep access restricted to US users, and the &quot;unlimited right to discount&quot; off the list price. Godfray said: &quot;The BA would have far preferred UK titles and orphan works to have been excluded, but as it seems this is not going to be the case, the Association is pleased that a number of considerable concessions, at least, have been made following our representations.&quot; </p><p>The BA also questioned the Book Rights Registry&#39;s ability to &quot;increase the number of public access terminals at a public library building&quot;. The BA said: &quot;This is likely to increase tensions between libraries on the one hand that want citizens to have free access to information, and rightsholders and booksellers on the other, who make a living from the creation, development, promotion and supply of intellectual property.&quot;</p><p>Godfray added: &quot;There is more work for us to do. The BA will continue to talk to Google, the PA and the Society of Authors, to try and ensure that a fair balance exists between booksellers and the other interested parties as the settlement discussions continue.&quot; </p><p>BA blogger Martyn Daniels was more direct in his assessment. He wrote: &quot;The fact is that its just lipstick and the deal remains the same bad deal that was thrown out by many inside and outside the US courts.&quot;</p>