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[ NNSquad ] Google Book Search Lawsuits Settled -- And Global Internet Compliance Guidelines

                   Google Book Search Lawsuits Settled --
                 And Global Internet Compliance Guidelines


Greetings.  I've have two very positive moves associated with Google
to report, both related to issues of comparatively long standing.

First, the years-old pending lawsuits related to Google Book Search
are apparently being settled
( http://www.tdn.com/articles/2008/10/28/ap/hitech/d943nci80.txt ).

Here are more details:

I spoke -- or rather sang -- about those suits (tongue-in-cheek, of
course) last year in my "Modern Major Googler" Gilbert and Sullivan
parody song ( http://lauren.vortex.com/archive/000261.html ).

This settlement is great news.  I've long expressed two rather
conflicting opinions about Book Search.  As someone who used to hang
out in libraries picking out books at random, I find the service to
be absolutely delightful
( http://lauren.vortex.com/archive/000382.html ).

But I've also long been concerned about the specific manner in which
Google was dealing with copyrighted works without payments being
made to authors.

The proposed settlement appears to be a true win-win.  A monetary
compensation and opt-out structure is established for authors and
publishers, while Google Book Search services expand.  Ta dah!

Another news item, that hasn't been getting as much play as it
deserves, is that Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo will be jointly
announcing details of their "Global Network Initiative" 
( http://www.globalnetworkinitiative.org ) tomorrow (see this 
story -- http://tinyurl.com/globalni -- for now).

Essentially, this initiative reportedly is aimed at establishing
guidelines for global Internet companies to follow when faced with
censorship or information demands by countries in which they
operate.  The generally ad hoc nature of such responses to date,
especially in countries that are viewed by many U.S. observers as
having repressive political regimes, has been a continuing source of
controversy for these and other firms.  It is hoped (and I would
agree) that by "formalizing" to some degree the manner in which
these admittedly complex international situations are handled,
significant progress can be made in this area.  We'll know more
after we see the details.

It appears to me that Google is continuing to find ways to expand
their business to serve both their stockholders and the global
Internet community, while also increasingly addressing in positive
ways various controversial issues that outside observers, including
myself, have noted over time.  There have been some missteps along
the way, but as I frequently point out, no company -- including
Google -- is or ever will be perfect. 

Google in particular is very much a relatively young firm, pushing
the technology envelope outwards in new and exciting ways that will
sometimes inevitably intersect with controversy.  That's the nature
of technology -- it always has been.  

I believe very much in always giving credit where credit is due.  I
find the continuing positive progress on these various fronts by
Google to be very encouraging indeed.

Lauren Weinstein
lauren@vortex.com or lauren@pfir.org 
Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800
Co-Founder, PFIR
   - People For Internet Responsibility - http://www.pfir.org 
Co-Founder, NNSquad 
   - Network Neutrality Squad - http://www.nnsquad.org
Founder, PRIVACY Forum - http://www.vortex.com 
Member, ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy
Lauren's Blog: http://lauren.vortex.com