Furious Row at Frankfort Book Fair May Lead to EU Being Dropped From Google Book Settlement

Posted on October 19, 2009

Due to massive resistance to the Google Book Settlement in Europe, all European Union books might be entirely left out from the deal, according to The Bookseller. The whole thing came to a head at the Frankfurt Book Fair last week when a furious fight arose over the the Settlement.

According to various reports Professor Roland Reuss, a literature professor from Germany's Heidelberg University, struck out at Google and the Settlement, negotiated in the US by the Association of American Publishers, and the US Authors Guild with Google. He described Google's lofty ideals as "just a whole garbage of hysterical propaganda", and warned of a threat to traditional publishing, saying "you revolutionize the market but the cost is that the producers of goods in this market will be demolished".

Reuss then rounded on Bertelsmann's Richard Sarnoff, who negotiated the deal as chair of the AAP, calling him "naive" and arguing that the deal disregarded the Berne Convention, and the rights of copyright holders to determine how their work was used. According to Publishers Weekly, Sarnoff said the parties to the deal did not anticipate the backlash in Europe. And he added that European works may indeed have to be removed from the settlement.

From all accounts, the dispute was quite heated as Professor Reuss blasted the deal and all those involved. The Federation of European Publishers (FEP) definitely wants out of the deal and is furious that the AAP and the American Author's Guild is arrogant enough to thing that they have the right to negotiate on their behalf. The FEP represents publishers associations from 27 countries.

Passions are running very high in the European book community right now.

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