Google has entered into a revised agreement with the University of Michigan regarding the use of the search engine giant's rapidly growing digital library. Google is wrestling against a number of organizations over its attempt to digitize books, mostly over antitrust concerns that it will leverage that particular market.
has entered into a revised agreement with the University of Michigan over its
rapidly expanding digital library, allowing the school to protest any pricing
that the search-engine giant might impose on institutional subscriptions.
The new agreement signed with the University of Michigan, which can be found
seems tailor-made to refute the storm of criticism that Google has received
over its digital library project, which has focused on scanning as many volumes
as possible into an ever-expanding database.
The New York Times quoted Google co-founder Sergey Brin defending the
digital project, saying, "There was no option prior to this to get these sorts
of books online."
The University of Michigan can now object to any prices that Google sets for
access to its digital collection, and moves any such disagreements to
arbitration. The agreement also allows the school to keep digital copies of
books that Google has scanned from other libraries.
attracted more negative attention than perhaps it bargained for with its goal
to digitize the world's libraries
. In April 2009, a nonprofit consumer
advocacy organization, Consumer Watchdog, wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney
General Eric Holder asking the government to examine the settlement between
Google, The Author's Guild, and the Association of American Publishers (AAP).
That settlement, Consumer Watchdog argued, deserved to be placed under
government review because it gave Google the same financial terms of
digital-book rights as any future competitor.
Google had been attempting to scan "orphan books," or volumes under
copyright whose rights-holders cannot be found, into its database.
The next month, in May 2009, Google
was challenged again by the American Library Association and Association of
, which argued that Google had the potential to
monopolize both digital books and readers' privacy rights.
In a court filing, the librarians' groups asked for "vigorous oversight" of
the deal between Google, the Author's Guild, and the Association of American
Reports from that time had Google in discussions with the Justice Department
over a potential antitrust case. However, such questioning does not
automatically lead to legal action.
Google's annual shareholder meeting on May 7
, Google CEO Eric Schmidt
suggested that his company would have to be "more careful about when and how we
do things" in the face of others' antitrust concerns.