Open Rights Group on Google Books

This submission is primarily concerned with privacy online, consumer rights, international developments and diversity of provision. With regard to user privacy, the Settlement is light on safeguards so the Commission is advised to intervene promptly to ensure the protection of fundamental rights and enforcement of EU law. In terms of digital rights management, we call for the Commission to raise the basic ‘floor’ of consumer rights to ensure users are not unduly restricted in performing lawfully permitted activities. In respect of international development and access to knowledge, the Commission should seek to ensure that the service is made available to institutions outside of the US, particularly in developing states, and at appropriately discounted subscription rates. We also recommend that the Commission encourage competition between Google and others in providing digital books, and considers solutions such as compulsory licences.

The European Commission will hold a hearing next month on the European response to the proposed settlement in the (US) Google Book Search case. Some very provocative questions have been set out. The summary above, and the full document at this link (PDF) is the response of the UK-based Open Rights Group to the Commission’s call for comments. (Disclosure: I am an ORG supporter, and I contributed to the writing of this document).

For all the information you could ever need on the settlement, see the Public Index, a project led by James Grimmelmann at New York Law School (who has also summarised and responded to the ORG document at his blog)


  1. [...] The Historical Recording Coalition for Access and Preservation has recently proposed 5 great principles for copyright reform, that would enhance the law and the value of  copyrighted works. Although they will inevitably be opposed by the usual suspects the proposals a notable because of their simplicity and clarity. Copyright reform,  is a difficult and protracted process, but proposals like this are very important because they are eminently achievable and would dramatically enhance the value of the commons and enhance the digital landscape. The orphan works proposals in particular are emminetly sensible and would alivieate problems like the google books fiasco [...]

  2. [...] US Settlement Agreement. This was in no small part down to the drafting efforts of ORG-law member Daithí Mac Síthigh, lecturer at Norwich Law School (UEA). You can read the ORG submission here (pdf, 252 KB).  Some [...]

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