I have written several times about Google Books, in my opinion, one of the greatest online resources available to genealogists. Now Amazon, Microsoft and Yahoo will sign up to the Open Book Alliance being spearheaded by the Internet Archive. They will attempt to defeat Google not by offering a better service, but by launching an army of lawyers.
Last year, Google reached an agreement with publishers and authors to settle two lawsuits that charged the company with copyright infringement for the unauthorised scanning of books. In that settlement, Google agreed to pay $125 million to create a Book Rights Registry, where authors and publishers could register works and receive compensation. Authors and publishers would get 70% from the sale of these books with Google keeping the remaining 30%. Google would also be given the right to digitise orphan works. These are works whose rights-holders are unknown, and are believed to make up an estimated 50-70% of books published after 1923.
The Internet Archive is now trying to have that agreement overturned as it is a competitor to Google Books and wants to have the business for itself. The Internet Archive has already digitized over half million books so far and all are available free of charge. Now the Internet Archive will receive a lot of financial assistance from Amazon, Microsoft and Yahoo, all of whom would love to see Google lose any business venture.
I predict this case will not be decided on the basis of right or wrong, but rather by who has the most lawyers.
You can read more at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8200624.stm.