Friday, December 04, 2009

Does "The Book Settlement" encourage indirect book censorship?

Fred Van Lohmann has an interesting critique of the Google Books settlement, dated December 3, 2009, link here. He makes a point that makes one think of some of the arguments in the network neutrality debate: the “master company” could have subconscious motives to engage in censorship of what it makes available, with little accountability.

EFF makes the point that the copyright owner of a book is not always the author. As with Howard Hughes, a copyright can be purchased and then the book suppressed; the article gives other examples (and I recall an issue with J.D. Salinger’s (The Catcher in the Rye) works. Foreign governments could apply pressure to suppress certain books.

There is also a question as to whether the contents of a book could be altered, if a “rightsholder” wanted it to be changed, in keeping with the issue noted above. And the public might never be told.

No comments: