The Volokh Conspiracy’s Jonathan Adler notes recent commentary exploring a legal settlement that if approved by a federal court, would grant Google vast power to control digital publishing rights. Lynn Chu, with Writers Representatives LLC, maintains that if the legal framework were approved by a federal court, it “would permit Google to post out-of-print books for reading, sales, institutional licensing, ad sales, and other publishing exploitations,” by the online search engine giant. Chu notes that the settlement is fashioned between Google and only a “handful of authors and publishers,” but would cover every author and publisher in the nation.
Chu writes that:
There is nothing more individual in the world than a book, an author, a publisher, and the value of a contract. The aging baby boomers now flacking the settlement dome seem to understand that PDF scanning (how Google and everyone else digitizes books) isn’t rocket science; it’s cheap and easy. Books will be digitized without Google. But the Google settlement sets in amber today’s overhyped role of the Internet, ruled by that great and magnificent Oz – Google.
Chu says the court should reject the Google settlement:
We already have a good system. It’s called the system of private property and free contract, designed for dispersed, autonomous individuals – not command-and-control centers. The U.S. Constitution grants authors small monopolies in their own copyrights. Author market power is talent-based and individual, not collective. The class action seeks to wipe all this out – just for Google. But U.S. law does not grant any single publisher monopoly power to herd all of us into its list.