back to article Google brands ebook monopoly critics 'shortsighted'

Poised to create a court-approved monopoly in the digital book market, Google's $125m library-scanning settlement is under investigation by the US Department of Justice and possibly state attorneys general. But Google co-founder Sergey Brin has defended the company's pact with American authors and publishers, calling criticism …


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  1. Daniel Brandt

    The settlement should be scuttled

    In the original agreement between the University of Michigan and Google, which was confidential and was acquired in mid-2005 only by using a Michigan freedom of information law, Google indemnifies the University against any and all legal threats. At that time the major concern was whether the University might be sued under the "fair use" provisions of U.S. copyright law for allowing Google to copy its books. That guarantee from Google got Google's huge foot into Michigan's door, and the scanning commenced.

    As it turned out, no participating universities were named as defendants by the authors and publishers, and the settlement itself avoids any mention of "fair use." Nevertheless, many feel that the "fair use" language in U.S. copyright law remains a key issue. The settlement, announced last October, included Google's agreement to pay for plaintiff's attorney's fees up to $30 million, subject to court approval. That helps explain why the plaintiff's attorneys are happy with it.

    But we still don't know why a handful of authors, publishers, universities, and Google are calling all the shots, and it doesn't explain why the the concept of "reader privacy" is not mentioned anywhere in the settlement, or in the extended agreement with the University of Michigan announced this week. We do learn that Google is giving the University of Michigan a free ride on subscription fees for 25 years. Is it possible that Google's money is more powerful than a public university's interest in the public good?

    "We are always concerned about protecting our users' privacy and privacy in general, but we have no particular concern with Google or other search engines in a networked world," said James Hilton, University of Michigan librarian, in June 2005. Does this mean that the University of Michigan plans to stuff Google's cookies down the throats of students and faculty for the next 25 years? We still have no idea how that's going to work. That's one of the reasons why the proposed settlement should be rejected by the judge.

  2. Tam Lin


    Guaranteeing an unearned profit for eternity by adding negative value, restricting access and leaching off the creators. Bribing politicians and the press seems to be Google's primary function lately.

  3. raving angry loony


    This from the company that claims that stopping them from keeping private data for as long as they want will cause the end of the world.

    "Do no evil" my arse.

  4. Andy ORourke

    Anyone really suprised?

    Google's (the company's) sole purpose is to make money for it's owners (shareholders) it doesn’t matter if the methods it uses are good, evil or plain illegal, they have enough money to settle these piddling little law bills and the deals they make will allow them to carry on making MORE money by ANY means, good, bad or illegal - They (the board) don’t really care, as long as profits and investor returns outweigh any costs everyone (with shares in Google) is VERY happy

    As raving angry loony puts it "Do no evil - My Arse"

    The 1st paragraph describes the capitalist system. If you have a business then your sole purpose is to make good returns for your investors, not save the world or make it a better place to live in (although these might be happy by-products of your company). It really doesn’t matter how you make that money year on year just so long as you do. That’s why you see company’s cutting and cutting staff, announcing great profits and awarding the big boys good bonuses for mediocre performance, or just like a few years ago inflating profits year after year with “creative” accounting practices.

    The system is shit for the little guys, the employees but that is just life, want to do something about it? Form your own mega company and give all the profits to charity

  5. Mark Hewitt
    Black Helicopters

    Nice cat, Sergey

    But don't those white long-hair's shed something fierce?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To be fair

    The Google scans are attrocious. I have a couple of C19 books that google has scanned and frankly the scans aren't worth what you pay for them. The images in layard's "Ninevah and Babylon" must be the suckiest EVAR.,M1

  7. Joseph Harris

    corpocracy rules!

    I was one of those shouting from October (from the UK) when this settlement became public. However Google started, it is now a corporation with every one of any corporation's faults. The chief one is that these oversize companies see themselves as our new Feudal Lords; fancy becoming a serf?

    Brin should get his head out of its dark place and smell the daisies! And learn there is a difference between agreeing with another party and sneakily using that to include everyone in the world who coulld be affected, without directly asking permission.

    The key to the arrogance of Google is the fact that those not directly negotiating have to **opt out**. Any honest deal is about *opting in*. It is called choice, rule over your own destiny.

    Both the library scanning and the Settlement Agreement suffer from the same problem, sheer arrogance and an attitude of steamrolling.

    I am delighted that the whole thing is now being looked at as the monopoly it is - or at least is trying to be.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    power corrupts...


  9. Mei Lewis
    Jobs Horns

    This kind of things makes me wish the west was communist

    "Do no evil" sounds more and more like the thug calling you 'friend' or 'buddy' when he's about to kick the shit out of you.

  10. John Smith Gold badge

    To put it simply

    We are Goggle

    All your orphans belong to us.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google ... astonishing arrogance

    Hmmmm ... regardless of what Sergey Brin thinks (or lays claim to think) the world does not revolve around Google or its plans.

    Copyright law is a beast with many efficient and sharp teeth. I look forward to watching the fur fly over their laissez faire attitudes to concepts such as ownership.

    Aye, it could be serious spectator fun. No one will ultimately win, though, except the lawyers. On both sides.

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