Philadelphia Shuts Down Library System

Cory Doctorow laments the closing of Philadelphia’s library system. Apparently the government could not find enough money in its budget to fund the system. The city’s neighborhood and branch libraries, as well as their community outreach programs, will close effective Oct. 2, 2009

Picture an entire city, a modern, wealthy place, in the richest country in the world, in which the vital services provided by libraries are withdrawn due to political brinksmanship and an unwillingness to spare one banker’s bonus worth of tax-dollars to sustain an entire region’s connection with human culture and knowledge and community. Think of it and ask yourself what the hell has happened to us.

 

Is Google Books Settlement ‘Legislating from the Bench?’

The Open Book Alliance kept a close eye on yesterday’s Google Books Settlement hearing. Click Read more for some of their thoughts:

From our notes, Rep. Johnson criticized the settlement as being a classic case of legislating from the bench, believes that the settlement will have a tough time withstanding a separation of powers review, and expressed concerns with the settlement’s antitrust implications. Fundamentally, Rep. Johnson commented that the scope of the settlement is most troubling, with a private settlement erecting Google as a gatekeeper.  He also cited the lack of consumer protections outlined by some witnesses as an area of concern.

It was a fitting end to what shaped up to be an informative hearing with knowledgeable witnesses on a subject that everyone – Congress, consumers, authors – needs to learn more about.

U.S. Copyright Office Doesn’t Support Google Books Settlement

The United States Copyright Office is weighing in on the Google Books/Authors Guild settlement controversy. From Yahoo! News and Reuters:

Google Inc’s plan to digitize millions of books as part of a class action settlement wrongly creates a virtually compulsory license for books, the U.S. register of copyrights said on Thursday.

 

Google Stands By Books Settlement on Eve of Hearing

The Google legal team believes that the Internet giant’s controversial digitizing of millions of books and its legal settlement with the Authors Guild will pave the way for others to enter the digital book business, according to an article at Yahoo! News. A hearing on the Google Books settlement is scheduled for today.

Court Grants Preliminary Injunction Against ‘Catcher in the Rye’ Sequel

A U.S. court has imposed a preliminary injunction against the publication of an unauthorized sequel to J.D. Salinger’s classic Catcher in the Rye. Salinger is suing the author of the sequel for copyright infringement, and sought to stop publication of the work until the copyright case can be heard. The sequel’s author is appealing the injunction.

More details are available at The Book Blog.

Authors, Publishers Continue to Struggle With Google Books Settlement

I can’t proclaim any special significant knowledge of the legal system or whether Google’s plan to create a digital library from copyrighted material is a detriment to authors and publishers. The Writer Beware blog has a good account of one author who opted out of the now famous Google Books Search settlement and her reasons for doing so.

It’s not the display of bibliographic information, or even snippets, that I object to–it’s the possible uses the settlement empowers Google to make of my work down the road (including selling my books in electronic and POD form). If those uses were limited and clearly defined, I might not have a problem–but they aren’t, and I just can’t see allowing such a sweeping license to my work, where the implications of granting that license are so unclear.

Some more information about the Google Books settlement with the Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild is available at The Guardian.

Publisher of 30 Newspapers to File for Bankruptcy

Full details at Yahoo! News:

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Freedom Communications, owner of the Orange County Register and 30 other US newspapers, is expected to file for bankruptcy protection this week, according to published reports.

The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times quoted unidentified sources as saying that the bankruptcy filing would lead to Freedom’s lenders taking over the company, which is owned by the Hoiles family.

The Times said the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, which protects a company from its creditors while it restructures, could come as early as Tuesday.

 

Publisher Joins Creditors In Attempt to Take Over Philadelphia Newspapers in Bankruptcy

More daily papers are facing hard times now. Creditors are attempting to take over Philadelphia Newspapers, and have been joined in that fight be a longtime publisher. Full details at Yahoo! News:

Creditors will extend for two months the company’s exclusive right to present a reorganization plan. Their plan proposes the auction and posts a starting bid of $37 million in cash plus real estate and bankruptcy costs. The company values the plan at $92 million.

The debtors propose to keep $60 million in debt on the books, in contrast to the company’s plan to emerge debt-free.

"We believe that it achieves the highest and best value for estate assets for the benefit of creditors," said lawyer Larry McMichael, who represents Philadelphia Newspapers. "We believe that because we haven’t been able to find anybody else to put money in."

Ailing newspapers in Boston, Minneapolis and other U.S. cities have all struggled to raise capital or find new buyers, he noted.