Saturday, May 30, 2009

Turning a page, Germany expresses concern about Google Book Search project

According to a recent news article by Reuters, the European Union will study Google’s Book Search project and the proposed $125 million Google Book Search settlement after Germany raised concerns that intellectual property is being stolen from German authors. Germany also said Google's book project could increase media ownership concentration and affect cultural diversity.

Students of the history of the printed word might recall German media conglomerate Bertelsmann A.G.’s historic 1998 acquisition of American publisher Random House, a transaction which was opposed by the Authors Guild but approved by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. "It's as if the New York Yankees were sold," said Paul Aiken, the executive director of the Authors Guild, at the time.
"We're losing one of the major players at a time when there's been a great deal of concern about consolidation and fear of book contract cancellations."

In 2002, a group of scholars revealed that Bertelsmann tried to
cover up its ties to the Nazi regime during World War II, links which allowed it to transform itself from a provincial Lutheran printing company into a mass-market publisher and the largest supplier of books (some filled with anti-Semetic themes) to the German Army. The scholars also concluded that Bertelsmann had probably profited from the use of Jewish slave labor at several printing plants in Lithuania.

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