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Alliance Formally Launches Attack on Google Books Pact

Posted by Milan at 8.27.2009
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The Open Book Alliance has opened its first chapter.

google_D_20090826150734.jpgAFP/Getty Images

L week Amazon.com, Microsoft, Yahoo, the Internet Archive and several library groups were forming a coalition to challenge Google’s settlement with authors and publishers.

On Wednesday, that group formally launched with a Web site, at openbookalliance.org.

The site summarizes the argument by the group against Google’s settlement, which it says “threatens to monopolize the access to and distribution and pricing of the largest digital database of books in the world.”

It also says “we will promote fair and flexible solutions aimed at achieving a more robust and open system,” but stops short of spelling out those solutions.

The Internet Archive’s Peter Brantley, who is leading the group along with lawyer Gary Reback, said in an interview that “this is a very complex agreement, and there is no single solution.” He added that the group would likely file a document with the court expressing its opinions and some possible alternatives to the settlement–and that individual members of the Alliance may do the same on their own. The deadline for submissions to the court is Sept. 4.

The new site also confirms that Kindle maker Amazon is part of the group. Amazon previously declined to comment.

On Wednesday, Amazon spokesman Drew Herdener said in an email: “Amazon supports authors, publishers, and libraries in opposing the Google Books Settlement in order to ensure that any mass book digitization and publishing effort approved by Congress or the courts establishes an open and competitive level playing field for the benefit of consumers and all stakeholders rather than a few commercial interests. “

Google says its settlement is actually injecting more competition into digital books space, and that’s why its competitors are trying to fight it. A spokesman for the Internet-search giant, Gabriel Stricker, said he hadn’t seen the site yet, but called the group the “Sour Grapes Alliance.”




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