Debate continues to rage over the proposed Google Books settlement. The subject, which was the topic of an ACS Issue Brief by Prof. James Grimmelman and a ACSblog reply by David Balto, was taken up recently by Steve Pociask, president of the American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research.
The settlement would permit Google to give the public access to scores of "orphan works," or copyrighted material whose owners either are unknown or cannot be found.
Pociask takes issue with the settlement:
[T]he current book search settlement gives the most dominant online firm a significant competitive advantage over its rivals, delays entry by would-be rivals and hands Google favorable pricing over other Web-centric competitors. The results would likely lead to market power that could permanently lockout competitors, thereby posing anticompetitive risks to the public. Furthermore, this would be accomplished by a single judge's decision, instead of through legislative means or public discourse, or market forces.
When surfing the Internet, consumers find most of their information using search engines, and mostly using Google. Through Web site rankings and ad placement, Google already influences how we find Web content. Google also tracks and retains your Web site browsing history for the purpose of "behavioral advertising." Now, if this court settlement is approved, Google will know exactly what you are reading.