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The European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Associations is an independent umbrella association of library, information and documentation associations and institutions in Europe.

EBLIDA position statement for the European Commission’s Google Book US Settlement Agreement information hearing, Brussels, 7th September 2009

07 September 2009

EBLIDA is the European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Associations. We are an independent umbrella organisation of national library associations in Europe, indirectly covering over 70,000 individual libraries throughout the EU. We promote unhindered access to information in the digital age and the role of archives and libraries in achieving this goal.

The Google Book Search programme

The Google Book Search programme has the potential to provide public access to a digital library of millions of books. It will, fully developed, be an unprecedented source for the advancement of learning and human development. Google and representatives of rights owners and publishers have come to an agreement on how to settle the copyright and other legal issues in relation to the Book Search Project and EBLIDA hopes that this will be the beginning of a fruitful cooperation between them.

EBLIDA wants to draw attention to conditions that are of concern to European libraries if this settlement is agreed in its current form. As my colleagues from IFLA and LIBER have already talked about most of the concerns we share, I will focus on a single point: the territorial limits of the settlement and implications for Europe.

Our initial concern for European libraries is the great inequality that will arise should the settlement be agreed only in the USA as there is no way to widen its scope to include users located outside the USA.

The settlement would allow Google to offer in the US, four primary services that would benefit consumers there and put European consumers at a great disadvantage:

  • US users will get previews of up to 20% of out-of-print books – European users get only snippets.
  • US consumers will be able to purchase digital full texts which are not available to European consumers.
  • Institutions will be able to buy subscriptions for access to digital full-texts of in-copyright but out-of-print books which will particularly benefit universities and library users.
  • For those libraries that choose not to purchase or cannot afford the institutional subscription, a free Public Access Service is offered, giving all libraries a terminal where full texts can be accessed for free.

European users will only have access to the current, more limited Book Search service and people in the USA will have better access to European books than people in the continent where they were published.

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