Letter to The Irish Times

I wrote a letter to the Irish Times about my favourite topic (Scott Gant takes on Google, More Google Rants and Is copyright under threat) recently, obviously as I’m posting it here, it wasn’t printed in the IT:

Dear Madam,

I am pleased to see that Scott E. Gant, the copyright lawyer as referred to in Plot thickens in Google’s vast book scan (Irish Times, 20th August 2009), is taking on the might of Google. The Authors Guild of America (AGA) and the Association of American Publishers (AAP) despicably kowtowed to Google’s millions without consideration to the individual author. As Colm Toibín re-iterated Oscar Wilde’s dictum recently about An Bord Snip, a critic knows the price of everything, but the value of nothing.

Allan Adler of the Association of American Publishers (AAP) believes the deal is good for authors and publishers. Has he forgotten bookshops? If this clause is permitted, the AGA and AAP engage in a suicide pact killing the bookshop as part of collateral damage.

As anything online is at its core duplicable, digitisation will allow ‘enterprising’ individuals copy books, simultaneously destroying the careers of authors, publishers and bookshops. This deal will effectively kill the book industry as the Napsters did in the 1990’s to music. Music is still suffering as Eircom recently enforced a three strikes and out policy blocking access to file-sharing websites.

If digitisation of books is permitted, Google must be forced to negotiate with each author individually, as publishers do, not copy books en masse and wait to be sued. Therefore, if there is to be a clause it should be opt-in, not opt out.

Yours etc.,

More large prominent companies, Yahoo!, Microsoft and Amazon, have voiced their displeasure in Google’s antics. It would be interesting to see where this goes next. Best of luck to Scott Gant and company.


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