Indian authors oppose Google book settlement

CIOL Bureau
New Update

NEW DELHI, INDIA: Indian authors and publishers, along with the Indian Reprographic Rights Organization (IRRO) and Federation of Indian Publishers (FIP), filed on Wednesday their objections against Google Book Settlement (GBS 2.0), saying that it is a blatant violation of Indian and international copyright laws.


The filing at the New York District Court has been made by a group of Indian authors and publishers including Star Publications Pvt. Ltd., Abhinav Publications, Daya Publication House and Pustak Mahal, said a press release.

“The Google Book Settlement is contrary to every international treaty that governs copyright laws. Google's unilateral conduct is a brazen attempt to turn copyright law on its head, by usurping the exclusive rights of the copyright holder,” said Siddharth Arya, legal counsel for IRRO.

Since 2004, Google has scanned over seven million books from across the world. Following this, the Authors Guild of America sued the company for copyright infringement, resulting in the Google Book Settlement that was binding on almost all authors and publishers.


After several objections by countries such as France and Germany, as well as the United States Department of Justice, the court asked Google to file a revised settlement. The outcome - GBS 2.0 - incorporates minor cosmetic changes but continues to violate basic copyright laws. At the same time, it retains several fundamental issues in the original settlement, such as a mechanism known as 'opt-out', the release said.

This implies that if a person is silent, he is deemed to have consented to an agreement, thus fundamentally altering his rights, a concept inherently unfair and contrary to existing legal principles.

Arya added that it is outrageous that Indian authors and publishers are forced parties to an agreement that has been negotiated on their behalf by a few publishers alone, without any representation of their interests.


“Furthermore, the specifics of the agreement have not been communicated to the affected parties. Our objections are centered around these issues, and we are currently awaiting the court hearing scheduled for mid-February,” he said.

The current scope of GBS2.0 is for books that are either registered with the United States Copyright Office or published in the UK, Canada and Australia. However, it impacts the rest of the world as much, since any author published in the aforementioned countries is included in the settlement, the petitioners said. In the current global economy, Indian authors like to see themselves published abroad for higher royalties and better professional services.

In the US, the campaign against GBS 2.0 is being led by the Open Book Alliance, members of which include the American Society of Journalists and Authors, National Writers Union, New York Library Association, US Council of Literary Magazines and Presses, as well as non-profit organization such as the Internet Archive, the Small Press Distribution and the Special Libraries Association, and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, along with several multinationals like Amazon, Microsoft and Yahoo.