Note: In person registration is closed for this event, but we will be webcasting the plenary sessions and encourage those interested to join us via remote participation channels. See the conference wiki for more information.
The proposed Google Book Search settlement creates the opportunity for unprecedented access by the public, scholars, libraries and others to a digital library containing millions of books assembled by major research libraries. But the settlement is controversial, in large part because this access is limited in major ways: instead of being truly open, this new digital library will be controlled by a single company, Google, and a newly created Book Rights Registry consisting of representatives of authors and publishers; it will include millions of so-called “orphan works” that cannot legally be included in any competing digitization and access effort, and it will be available to readers only in the United States. It need not have been this way.
This workshop seeks to bring a fresh, unique perspective to a complex and widely debated topic. It will focus not on the specific merits and demerits of the settlement itself, or the particular antitrust and privacy and other objections that have been raised. Instead, it will examine the idea of possible alternative universes and offer specific proposals for scenarios that may arise whether or not the settlement is approved. What can libraries, or universities, or non-profits, or Congress, do in the current landscape? And how might these possibilities help us to define a better world than the one that we have today and, more importantly, than the one that will exist if the Google settlement is approved in its current form? Regardless of what happens with respect to the Settlement, what alternative possibilities could lead to a richer, more open and better information ecosystem than the one we have today or might have tomorrow with the Settlement?
By exploring these alternatives, this workshop seeks, in the end, to help inform the debate over the Settlement and its terms and to illuminate some of the key policy considerations that are at stake. Its ultimate goal is to develop a series of options and proposals that could improve on the status quo in novel ways.