Amazon Revs Rivalry with Google over Book Search
Amazon comes out swinging versus Google's Book Search deal, arguing like many before it that the deal will give Google a monopoly over orphan works and too much control over the pricing of books scanned online. However, Google Book Search has several supporters, including Sony, Interread, the European Union and various civil rights groups. Moreover, Bernstein Research's Jeffrey Lindsay analyzes the deal and concludes that it is a good one for the reading public.Amazon dramatically opposed Google's Book Search settlement in a 49-page legal brief filed Sept. 1 with the U.S. District Court in New York presiding over the deal. The controversial deal, which is being studied by the Justice Department, calls for Google to scan millions of books online and charge users to read them, sharing the proceeds with authors and publishers.
Amazon, which competes with Google by scanning books to sell through its Kindle electronic reader, said it is opposed to the agreement because it would enable Google to cultivate a monopoly over millions of "orphan works," or those books for whom a copyright holder cannot be found. Amazon also said Google, authors and publishers would have the power to fix prices at will.
On balance we think the enormous potential good of the Google Books database would be sufficient to warrant allowing the company to move ahead at this stage, given that the company has developed a national asset that would have taken decades to achieve otherwise - if ever. Whether fully intended or not, Google's efforts will give rural and inner city students direct access to the same knowledge and data that is currently only truly available in the finest academic institutions. With good regulation this repository of human knowledge and ideas could be kept accessible to millions at low or zero cost while ensuring the rights to knowledge and privacy set out in the Bill of Rights could be preserved for generations.Meanwhile, civil rights, disability and education groups are hosting a call at noon EDT to discuss their support for the settlement. Read more about this issue on TechMeme here.