GBS: WSJ: DOJ: GBS Problematic

Jessica E. Vascellaro, U.S. to File Concerns Over Google Book Pact, Wall Street Journal (Sept. 18, 2009):

The Justice Department is expected Friday to outline a range of concerns it has about a settlement that Google Inc. struck with authors and publishers over the rights to distribute digital copies of certain works, according to people familiar with the matter. …

The filing is likely to discuss the department’s concern that parts of the agreement may hurt the interests of other parties, such as Google’s potential competitors in the nascent digital-book market, the people said.

For example, the Justice Department is concerned that one of the agreement’s features — a “registry” that governs aspects of the agreement such as some pricing and payment distributions — could allow publishers to set prohibitively high prices for their works, said one of the people familiar with the matter. …

The Justice Department believes some of its concerns can be addressed through continuing negotiations, according to one of the people familiar.

Well, I guess the DoJ is going to file an antitrust opposition tomorrow, but beyond that, it’s hard to tell anything specific from this article.

At the end of this article, the WSJ reports that yesterday Google agreed to license the scanned book data base to “On Demand Books to allow customers to purchase physical copies of public domain books Google has digitized” via the Expresso Book Machine. I understand this book vending machine company is owned by giant book wholesaler Ingram, which also owns Lightning Source, the self publishing print on demand printer that prints books for iUniverse, and other self publishing firms.How it works is you pick a title off a screen, insert a credit card, and in ten minutes out pops, not a coffee, but a book. When these kiosks hit the malls, airports, waiting rooms, etc., its curtains for bookstores,

Upon reflection, I think Google in this case has usurped the role of the Book Rights registry to make this deal- the BRR not Google holds the license to the scanned books and should be the one to make these kinds of publishing deals, not Google.

The Expresso Book Machine deal concerns only public-domain books. Google has every right to give them to anyone it chooses; so does anyone who scans them.