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September 2009

Google kicked a hornets nest in Book Settlement -- What the angry swarm tells us about Google's future

With the German Government just the latest angry hornet joining the growing swarm of opposition stinging the Google Book Settlement, how did Google's book digitization initiative go so wrong? 

If one listened to Google, their problem is two-fold:

  • First, it is just a bunch of Luddite ingrates who are too small-minded to grasp Google's magnanimity to humankind and world knowledge.  
  • Second, without competitors spreading misinformation, there would only be a world chorus of gratitude.

As I have asserted many times before in this blog, Google is its own worst enemy.

  • Google reflexively looks everywhere but inward when determining the origin of its external problems. 

So how did such an angry swarm of opposition engulf the Book Settlement making it increasingly unlikely to be approved by the Court?  

Open Questions FreePress Won't Answer

Mr. Ben Scott of FreePress answered many softball questions in a lengthy interview on the Open Video Alliance.

How would a "high-bar" broadband definition promote universal broadband?

FreePress says the "FCC Should Set Bar High for Broadband Definition."

  • Am I missing something?
  • How would that recommendation promote universal broadband anytime in the foreseeable future?
  • Doesn't the FCC need to knock down barriers to achieve universal broadband, not go out of its way to erect new insurmountable barriers to achieving the bipartisan goal of universal broadband soonest?

There is broad consensus behind promoting broadband access to all Americans soonest.

  • The FCC's Broadband Coordinator, Blair Levin, just blogged candidly that he was worried that there were not sufficient incentives or funds to achieve Universal Broadband and asked for creative solutions "that will deliver the synergies of broadband to the entire nation."

My creative solution is don't listen to FreePress.

  • FreePress is basically recommending the FCC should make an already very difficult task, mind-bogglingly more difficult by aiming for a national "world-class, 'future-proof' network."
  • Common sense dictates that when confronted with a difficult problem to solve, don't go out of one's way to make it unworkable and practically impossible to achieve.
  • Common sense dictates that when experts are clear that different geograhies, densities and circumstances may require different technology solutions, and consumers also want mobility, why on earth set a "high-bar" broadband definition that effectively pre-ordains the deployment of only one stationary technology -- fiber? 

If FreePress really believed in Universal Broadband and was trying to be constructive, it would not be pushing a counter-productive, unreasonable, and completely unaffordable "high-bar" broadband definition.

Yet more evidence of Google's hostility to privacy -- Part XV -- Privacy vs. Publicacy Series

Why did it take a high-profile FTC letter to Google for Google to finally make public a simple privacy policy for their be-leaguered Book Settlement after privacy has been a major Book Settlement issue for months?

  • For that matter, why did it take a high-profile public shaming by Saul Hansel of the New York Times (here & here) for Google to just put a link to its privacy policy on its home page, which is industry standard practice and required by California law?

The increasingly obvious answer is that Privacy International was on target in concluding that Google is actually "hostile to privacy."

However, it is more than that, as this eight-month, fifteen part privacy vs. publicacy series can attest.

“Systemic Risk Laundering” -- Financial Crisis Root Causes -- Part II

How could American taxpayers get stuck with a multi-trillion dollar tab that they weren’t even aware that they were running up? How could that huge tab still be allowed to run up unchecked today? For the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, the sad answer is one of the biggest root causes of last fall’s devastating financial crisis and one of the biggest continuing systemic risks to the financial system and the economic recovery.  


A decade ago, in what may prove to be the most expensive bipartisan legislative mistake in U.S. history, a bipartisan policy became law that effectively ensured that no Federal regulator had oversight or enforcement jurisdiction over derivative financial instruments. The Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 (CFMA) created “legal certainty for excluded derivative transactions.” That law allowed a shadow derivative overlay system to be built literally on top of the public financial system, with none of the inherent accountability of the underlying financial system.  In other words, a deliberate bipartisan U.S. government policy change a decade ago unwittingly created an unaccountable “black hole” market that sucked enormous value out of public markets, (Bear Stearns, Lehman, AIG, Fannie, Freddie, securitized sub-prime mortgages, etc.) while laundering the risk to the U.S. taxpayer.

"Competition in Cable TV" is working!

The New York Times' editorial board seems stuck in a time 1992 time warp in its "Competition in Cable TV" editorial that nonsensically disagrees with the DC Appeals Court for having the good sense to see what everyone can see -- that there is very active competition for video service in the U.S.  

The New York Times acts like it is still 1992, that since then nothing has happened, and that the 1992 Cable Act and the 1996 Telecom Act didn't succeed wildly in promoting competition.

Thank goodness the DC Court of Appeals considers facts and is in touch with the reality of "Competition in Cable TV." 

  • 32 million Americans get video service from a cable competitor: DBS providers DirecTV and Echostar, telcos Verizon and AT&T, or overbuilder RCN.
  • Cable has earned 38 million new broadband subscribers -- a completely new service since the 1992 or 1996 Acts.
  • Cable has earned 18 million new telephony subscribers, an entirely new service for cable, since the 1992 or 1996 acts.
  • Cable also has invested in Clearwire to create a fifth national wireless broadband provider.
  • And America's cable industry is the only one in the world that has built out a nationwide fiber-coax infrastructure increasingly capable of 50 MBs of broadband speed.

And that's not competition?!   

It seems like The New York Times editorial board needs to get out and about more, a lot has changed since 1992 when they apparently last went outside.


Harry Potter fans know there is "He-who-must-not-be-named."

  • Well it appears that there is also a potentially multi-billion subsidy of a company that just may be "the-subsidy-that-must-not-be-named."

Unbenownst to me until I read about it in Communications Daily, the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA) cited my 12-08 Precursor research study in a submission to the FCC about how Universal Service may interact with the National Broadband Plan. 

The reason I am blogging about this now is:

  • First to address a Google charge:
    • "a Google spokesman said NTCA has cited a Cleland study that was "thoroughly discredited" by numerous independent people including Gartner, Ars Technica, and Information Week," per Communications Daily; and 
  • Second, because Communications Daily did not give me the opportunity to respond or refute Google's blanket assertion.   

Given the interest in affordable universal broadband, I endeavored to explore the highly relevant issue about whether, Google, the entity that uses the most, and benefits the most, from Internet bandwidth, contributes to its cost recovery commensurate with its benefit.

A "Judge Greene" of the Google Book Settlement? -- Handicapping the process' four outcomes

There's been scant analysis of how the Google Book Settlement process has been altered going forward given recent major developments:

  • The "hornet swarm" of objections to the Google Book Settlement, and 
  • Google's recent preemptive concessions on:
  • To date the discussion of outcomes has been largely binary, will Federal District Court Judge Chin approve or disapprove the proposed Book Settlement?

Googleopoly IV: Monopsony Control over Digital Info Competition -- New White Paper

My latest Google antitrust white paper, "Googleopoly IV: The Googleopsony Case," is the first antitrust analysis which connects-the-dots between Google's search advertising selling monopoly and Google's information access buying monopoly or "monopsony" by explaining and documenting how Google is harming competition in digital: news, books, broadcasting, artwork, documents, and analytics; and harming consumers seeking quality digital information that is not free.

A Reasonable Take on How Innovation Evolves

The FCC's recent wireless innovation NOI has put a new spotlight on how innovation evolves in a competitive market.

With that focus in mind, I highly recommend reading Link Hoewing's very thoughtful post on Verizon's PolicyBlog: "Innovation and the evolution of technology markets."  

It makes a lot of sense.



Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths