The Next Chapter in the Google Books Saga

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Mark your calendar for April 25, when lawyers on all sides of the Google Books Settlement will reconvene to signal how the agreement between Google, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers may change after a federal judge rejected it last month.

It's unclear exactly what modifications the parties may offer, but they'll need to do something in light of Judge Denny Chin's strongly worded judgment. "U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin in Manhattan said the creation of a universal library would 'simply go too far,' and he was troubled by the differences between Google's views and those of everyone affected by the settlement," the AP summarized.

The settlement, originally announced on October 28, 2008, has drawn objections from all types of groups. And theoretically, there are certainly good objections. Practically, though, my question has always been: who else is paying to scan 15 million books and making them available online? What are the real, not theoretical, alternatives?

I'll be investigating those questions this month in the lead-up to the April 25 court date.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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