Libraries and the Google Settlement

The NYT blog is reporting an odd intervention by the American Library Association, the Association of College and Research Libraries and the Association of Research Libraries expressing concern about the long-term impact of the Google settlement on research libraries and asking United States District Court Judge Denny Chin to exercise “vigorous oversight” over a class action settlement between Google, authors and publishers.

The groups did not oppose the settlement, but asked for continuing oversight, to ensure that the prices Google charges for subscriptions to its digital library aren’t artificially high because of a lack of competition.

So what are the objections:

* It creates an essential facility with concentrated control
* it could limit access to the institutional subscription database.
* it will heighten inequalities among libraries.
* it does not protect user privacy
* it could limit intellectual freedom
* it could frustrate the development of innovative services

The Library Associations urge the Court to exercise its authority vigorously to ensure the broadest possible public benefit from the services the Settlement enables. In particular:
• Any library or other possible institutional subscriber must have the ability to request the Court to review the pricing of an institutional subscription. The Court’s standard of review should be whether the price meets the economic objectives set forth in the Settlement, i.e., “(1) the realization of revenue at market rates for each Book and license on behalf of Rightsholders and (2) the realization of broad access to the Books by the public, including institutions of higher education.
• Any entity must have the ability to request the Court to review the Registry’s refusal to license copyrights to books on the same terms available to Google.
• Any class member must have the ability to request the Court to review the procedures by which the Registry selects members of its board of directors, and to evaluate whether the Registry properly considers the interests of all class members in its decision-making.
• Any user must have the ability to request the Court to direct Google to provide the user with a list of books excluded from any of its services for editorial or noneditorial reasons, and an explanation of why it was excluded. Google already must provide the Registry with a list of books excluded for editorial reasons.
• Any researcher must have the ability to request the Court to review the reasonableness of a Research Corpus host site’s refusal to allow the researcher to conduct a research project at the host site.
• Any user must have the ability to request the Court to direct Google and the Registry to disclose their policies for collecting, retaining, disseminating, and protecting personally identifiable information. Additionally, any user must have the ability to request the Court to review whether Google and the Registry are complying with their privacy policies.

Here is the submission filed with the court

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