Friday, September 04, 2009

As deadline is extended for Google objections, today's pot and kettle award goes to

As the deadline for objections to the proposed Google settlement is extended by a few days to Tuesday 8th September, today's pot and kettle award goes to

In a 50 page legal document filed on September 1st, Amazon said the agreement was "unfair"to rights holders as it gave Google "an effective monopoly" over scanned works that would create "a cartel of authors and publishers". It also questioned the legitimacy of the "class action" and warned the court that it was being asked "to exercise powers that it does not have" stating that the agreement "restrains competition in ways that ought not be sanctioned by this court".

I detect a large slice of mirroring in relation to Amazon's own actions last year when they effectively forced US print on demand publishers to use their own printers or have their buy buttons removed.

Amazon state in relation to the proposed settlement:

"It is anti-competitive and violates anti trust laws because it provides Google an effective monopoly in the scanning and exploitation of millions of works whose copyright holders cannot be located or choose not to involve themselves in this class action."

"It also creates a cartel of authors and publishers - the Books Rights Registry - operating with virtually no restrictions on its actions, with the potential to raise book prices and reduce output to the detriment of consumers and new authors or publishers who would compete with the cartel members."

In Amazon's favour, it is true that they have only scanned books where permission has been obtained from the rights holders, but I cannot help feel that these are empty words from a retailer that bemoans others from basically doing what they have done themselves - what the hell they feel like! I am not the only one to notice this, since the Authors Guild in the US have published a letter online accusing the retailer of what they term as "breathtaking hypocrisy".

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Katie Price most abandoned author by budget hotel chain

Budget hotel chain Travelodge, whom I often stay with myself, has today unveiled its list of top 5 books most often left behind in their rooms. To my utter surprise (what do you think) the list is dominated by celebrity 'autobiographies' - headed by Katie Price's "Pushed to the Limit". Personally I would have thought that reading this book would push just about anyone to the limit!

Barack Obama's "Dreams of My Father" comes in at second place, with comedienne Dawn French in third place with "Dear Fatty".

According to the report, hotels in Wakefield, Leicester and Birmingham had the most copies of "Pushed to the Limit" left behind, while those in Manchester and Oldham had the most copies of the Kama Sutra. Business books were not surprisingly, most likely to be abandoned in London, Edinburgh and Cardiff.

A total of 7000 books were abandoned, among them a case of Mills and Boon's which were left in Nottingham by a "high flying businessman". I cannot speak for others, but personally about the only things that I have left in a hotel (purely by accident) were a pair of socks and a torch!

Google book deal violates German copyright

Following complaints by several European countries, the German government have confirmed via a US court ruling, that Google's plans to digitise millions of books is in violation of German copyright laws. I suspect that Germany is not the only country that this applies to.

Johannes Christian Wichard, Deputy Director General of the Directorate Commercial and Economic Law, in Germany's Justice Ministry said that the deal would allow Google to "flout German laws that have been established to protect German authors and publishers, including with respect to digital copying, publishing and the dissemination of their works."

He went on to say "The decision of this court with respect to this settlement will have the dramatic and long-range effect of creating a new worldwide copyright regime without any input from those who will be greatly impacted - German authors, publishers and digital libraries and German citizens." He also made the point that German authors not published in the United States were not represented by the Authors Guild (and neither of course are British ones or for that matter any authors who live outside the US but whose books are available in that territory).

Authors have until the end of this week to raise objections to the proposed settlement, the hearing for which is due to take place on October 7th.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Amazon denied right to dismiss anti-trust law suit

Amazon may have been in the news recently regarding charges levied against publishers for 'rejected deliveries' and the launch of the Kindle electronic reading device in Europe, but one story that seems to have escaped the British publishing press which pays little heed to most stories that affect then print on demand sector, is that in a 26 page order on August 26th, Chief US District Judge John Woodcock Jnr has denied Amazon's right to dismiss an anti-trust lawsuit brought against them by US print on demand publisher Booklocker. What this means is that the case against them can now go ahead.

This is a monumental victory for the little man against the mighty giant, and although there is still a long way to go, this is the first step towards what will hopefully be a victory for common sense, which sends a strong signal that what has been popularly regarded as bully boy tactics will not be tolerated.

The full report can be read here (PDF).

My own initial post regarding this can be read here