Google (NSDQ: GOOG) has now agreed to let any book retailer resell access to the out-of-print books it is putting online via its Google Books search engine. But the offer does not seem to have appeased the company’s critics, who contend that Google will still wield too much control over the book industry — and particularly over so-called orphan books — if its $125 million settlement with the publishing industry gets approved.
At a House Judiciary hearing, Google chief legal officer David Drummond defended the settlement, saying that it only covers the relatively small number of in-copyright, out-of-print books and will greatly expand access to those texts. He also specifically noted that Google’s concession meant that the company’s competitors, including Amazon.com (NSDQ: AMZN), would now be able to sell access to the digital copies of out-of-print books. They would get the majority of revenue after rightsholders are compensated.
But Amazon promptly rejected the offer, saying “The Internet has never been about intermediation. We’re happy to work with rights holders without anybody else’s help.” (via CNET).
The U.S. Copyright Office also lined up against the settlement at the hearing, with Register of Copyrights Marybeth Peters saying that Google would be distributing out-of-print books without the approval of their authors. “To allow a commercial entity to sell such works without consent is an end-run around copyright law as we know it,” she said, according to Dow Jones.
Google has made other concessions lately. The company said earlier this week that books from European publishers would only be displayed in the U.S. if those publishers granted the company permission. A U.S. District Court needs to approve the settlement; a hearing is scheduled Oct. 7.