David Drummond testifies before House Judiciary Committee

>>…including yours, Mr. Drummond, and welcome
you to begin our discussion this morning.>>DAVID DRUMMOND: Well, thanks so much Chairman
Conyers. It is indeed an honor to be back.
Ranking member Smith, committee members, thanks for having me here to discuss how the Google
book settlement will benefit the reading public and spur competition in the emerging electronic
book industry. Imagine if a student living in a rural area,
or inner city, could go to a local public library and read from millions of books in
the combined collections of some of our nations greatest universities and libraries: University
of Michigan, University of Texas, Stanford, the New York Public Library.
What if a blind student suddenly could access millions of digital books to unlock knowledge
foreclosed from the visually impaired today. Then consider the author whose life’s work,
a book no longer in publication, suddenly becomes available online so anyone can find
it, buy it and read it. That’s why I’m excited to be here, because
these, and other opportunities, will be created by the settlement of a lawsuit brought against
Google by authors and publishers. Now this settlement is a result of three years
of painstaking negotiation, but I’m proud of what we’ve achieved.
The settlement will create an educational, cultural and commercial platform to expand
access to millions of long-forgotten books for anyone in the United States.
It will enrich our country’s cultural heritage and intellectual strength.
As I’ll explain, the product we provide today is fully compliant with copyright law.
The settlement will let us improve our product in ways that will expand access for the public,
provide rights holders choice and compensation, lower barriers to entry in the electronic
book market, compliment Orphan Works legislation and preserve Congress’ role in setting copyright
policy. Now, there’s been a lot of talk that our scanning
efforts originally violated copyright law. I reject that.
I reject it wholeheartedly. We strongly believe that we would have won
the case on the basis that copying for the purpose of indexing, which is the same thing
we do on the internet, is a fair use under existing precedent.
And let me be clear about one thing, because there’s some confusion , and it’s an important
point. Although we scan books, if it’s in-copyright
book we are not displaying any more than a few lines of text around the search term.
We call this a “Snippet View.” And we believe that, just like web search,
indexing and showing snippets does not violate anyone’s copyrights.
Now, if you’re on Google Books today and you see more than a short snippet, you’re looking
at a book that’s directly licensed to us from one of our 3,000 publishing partners, or you’re
looking at a book that’s in the public domain. Now, since 2004, Google has scanned more than
ten million books, two million public domain books and two million from our partners.
The other six million are still subject to copyright protection but largely out of print,
meaning that there’s no current market or easy access to these books.
The settlement dramatically expands access to these out-of-print books, and it’s this
new access that makes the settlement a far better outcome for the parties, and for society,
than if either of us had won the lawsuit. First, rather than showing just snippets,
we’ll now be able to show a preview of up to 20% of the book.
This will let users browse books and read a few pages, as they do in bookstores today.
Second, Google can offer for sale a digital version of the book, with 60%… 63% of the
revenue going to the rights holder. We don’t sell books today, so we’re entering
this with absolutely zero market share. Third, we can provide an institutional subscription
for colleges, libraries and other organizations. Small colleges are eager to use the subscription
to track faculty and students, and level the playing field with larger institutions.
And we’ll give every public library across the country free access to our database at…
at one onsite computer. Now, at any time, a rights holder can direct
Google to turn these displays off, set the purchase price itself or make other granular
choices. Out-of-print books stopped generating revenue
for authors and publishers long ago, so no incentive exists to resolve the complicated
question of who owns the digital rights. And it’s not simply a matter of locating the
author. Decades old contracts may or may not have
included digital rights. Long ago communications may been disputed,
and clearing the rights often costs more than the economic value of the out-of-print work.
The settlement will change that. It creates a registry to locate rights holders,
distribute revenue, resolve disputes and license works to other providers besides Google.
Some claim that the settlement will harm competition, but the agreement is non-exclusive in every
possible respect, and actually lowers barriers. Let’s be clear about this.
Any search engine that wants to scan and index in-copyright books to compete with us can
already do that as a fair use. Any book retailer who wants to scan books
can make deals with our library partners and do what we did.
So, many of the critics confuse Orphan Works with the real problem, which is rights clearing.
It’s not that the book is orphaned, it’s that the two parents, sort of, can’t work out who
owns it, and it’s not really cost effective to try.
The settlement doesn’t make this… make it any harder for anybody to do this, it actually
makes it easier. Now, there might be a small portion of books
that truly abandoned, and here the settlement compliments Orphan Works legislation.
Past measures didn’t really address for the rights clearance issues, which really are
the lion’s share of the problem. Years ago, we called for effective Orphan
Works legislation, as the chairman alluded to.
We’ll continue to support these efforts, and we believe that the settlement makes this
task, legislative task, easier as we funded a private sector initiative and a mechanism
to clear rights that actually reduces the scope of the problem.
And let me clarify one last thing. The settlement of private litigation does
not take away Congress’ power to set copyright policy.
Critics may dislike the use of class actions in copyright cases, but it’s the judge’s role
to apply Rule 23 to assure a fair process for the class members.
And as a means to address private litigation in the U.S., the settlement’s consistent with
all of our international treaty obligations, which is a view that’s confirmed by the leading
scholars. While much time and energy has been spent
on the settlement, it’s not really Google’s vision for the future of digital books.
It’s kind of the past. We’re partnering with bookstores, publishers
and device makers to develop an open platform that allows readers to find and purchase digital
books from any device. It’s this open platform, and the availability
of the newest titles, that’s going to drive competition and commerce with digital books,
not the out-of print books. Thanks very much, Mr. Chairman.>>Thank you.


  1. google will hopefully either clean up the sound or find better audio to synch with the video.

    hint hint.


    go google books!

  2. This is beautiful. Lowering barriers to entry, giving everyone a chance. This is going to be the book version of youtube for people in serious production. That is if books still exist in the next few years… 😉

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