Death Metal writes to tell us that a growing tide of complaints are being piled at Google's feet in response to a far-reaching settlement that some feel will grant the giant too much power over the "orphan books" they have been scanning into digital format. The settlement could give Google near-exclusivity with respect to the copyright of orphan works — books that the author and publisher have essentially abandoned. They are out of print, and while they remain under copyright, the rights holders are unknown or cannot be found. "Critics say that without the orphan books, no competitor will ever be able to compile the comprehensive online library Google aims to create, giving the company more control than ever over the realm of digital information. And without competition, they say, Google will be able to charge universities and others high prices for access to its database. The settlement, 'takes the vast bulk of books that are in research libraries and makes them into a single database that is the property of Google,' said Robert Darnton, head of the Harvard University library system. 'Google will be a monopoly.'"
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