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Google and Harvard Disagree on Book Search Settlement

digital-library-1.jpgLast week, Google announced they’d reached agreement with publishers and authors to settle a three year old copyright battle over their book scanning practices.  Both sides expressed great satisfaction with the result.  In public statements the deal, which still must be approved by the court, was lauded as a “landmark” and “a win for everyone.”  Turns out, however, not everyone affected by the deal was that pleased.

The Harvard University newspaper, the Crimson, reported a few days after the announcement that the University will not, at this time, participate fully in Google Book Search.   Copyrighted works in the Harvard collection will be sequestered from Google scanners.

In a letter made public, Harvard’s library director Robert Darnton explained, “as we understand it, the settlement contains too many potential limitations on access to and the use of books by members of the higher education community.”

“The settlement,” he continued, “provides no assurance that the prices charged for access will be reasonable, especially since the subscription service will have no real competitors.”

Libraries at the University of California, Michigan, Wisconsin and Stanford provided input towards the settlement.  Apparently, Harvard, as a limited partner in the scanning project, did not (either that or the University’s concerns were not addressed).

Harvard’s position isn’t final.  University representatives say they will re-evaluate the stance as the settlement evolves.

Harvard has said in the past that they believed Google’s book search practices were compliant with copyright law.  The university will continue to allow out-of-copyright works to be scanned.

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