GBS: Two from Germany

Siobhan O’Leary, Germany Challenges Google Books at Its Own Game, Publishing Perspectives:

In fact, Germany now has a plan to challenge Google at its own game. In December, the government announced the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek (DDB) — the German Digital Library — a plan to connect the databases of 30,000 German cultural and academic organizations and create an Internet portal that would be available to all German citizens. …

Neumann added that project would be different from Google in that it would seek the permission of publishers and copyright holders before digitizing their work, rather than using Google’s own “opt-out” approach.

Despite this clearly defined plan, not everyone is convinced that it will avoid all of the pitfalls of the original Google Settlement. Several major German publications, including Spiegel Online, the FAZ and the Tagesspiegel, object to the fact that the project is not due to launch until 2011, and argue that it poses some of the same problems as Google Books. Most notably, as long as German law continues to protect the copyright of “orphan works” (books without a clear copyright holder) for 70 years after the death of the author, the DDB will not be able to provide access to a good number of relatively recent works that are no longer available for purchase.

What has also becoming increasingly clear since the announcement was made is that many German publishers do not necessarily want a distinct alternative to Google Books, but simply to have their own agreement with Google.

German Justice Minister Lashes out at Google over Data Protection, Reuters via Deutsche Welle:

In an interview with German magazine Spiegel, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said the company must clearly inform users of what is happening with their data.

“If this does not occur, then perhaps we will be required to step in as lawmakers,” she said. …

“I am bothered by this kind of rushing forward, this megalomania, which is also apparent in the case of Google Book Search,” she said, adding that the US-based internet business was becoming “a monopoly, similar to Microsoft.”