Another Round Up

  • The Authors Guild lawsuit against Google for its book scanning efforts has been certified as a class by the presiding judge, Denny Chin. This means that the lawsuit can now proceed as a class action lawsuit with the Authors Guild representing all authors whose works have been scanned by Google as part of its Google Books project. For an analysis of this procedural ruling, read James Grimmelman’s piece here.
  • According to the Los Angeles Times, Amazon has been rewarded a patent for “electronic gift giving”. Amazon seems to have just the right touch with the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) — remember when it was awarded the 1-click patent? I don’t think it’s a new insight that the USPTO  is underfunded, understaffed, and therefore makes bad patent application grants, but the consequences of such a system continually instantiate themselves. Have a listen to this This American Life‘s episode aired last year on the subject.
  • The news of the imminent closure of Missouri University Press has caused an outpour of opinions on the Internet. (Well, outpour relative to the audience who may be be expected to have heard and cared about such news — don’t expect, say, Octomom coverage and abiding interest or anything.) See here, here, and here for a sample of this profusion. I don’t know any specifics about this particular closure and so can’t speak as to the appropriateness of the decision. I do know that there has been massive consolidation in trade and educational publishing since the 1960-1970s, that libraries today very much stress the need for consortium actions to leverage buying power and to pool resources needed to support initiatives like Open Access journals, data repositories and the likes, and that research communities are more collaborative than ever before. In such an environment, I’m surprised that there hasn’t been more mergers and acquisitions, or at least the softie partnerships among academic presses. Are the economic factors that drive operations of presses that different from from their trade publishing counterparts and the academic libraries?
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