You are here


What Do DOJ's Google-Book-Deal Views Signal?

DOJ's 28-page Statement of Interest to the Court responsible for deciding the fate of the Google Book Settlement speaks volumes. 

First, it ensures the current proposed settlement is effectively dead.  

  • It is hard to conceive a U.S. Federal District Court Judge approving a settlement, which the United States Government indicates may be illegal under three completely different bodies of law (class action, copyright and antitrust), and also may be per se illegal in multiple different ways.

Second, despite the DOJ's encouraging tone in the press release, the DOJ statement itself set a very high bar for the parties to overcome. Substantively, the DOJ is insisting on radical changes in the settlement that practically would gut the unique and self-serving going-forward public benefits of the deal for the parties.   

  • In a nutshell, the DOJ's is effectively urging the deal be radically pared back from covering:
    • ~All books -- to just books-in-print (a fraction of the seven million books Google has copied);
    • U.S. and foreign works -- to just U.S. works;  
    • Scanning and all derivative uses -- to just scanning and snippets;
    • Retrospective and prospective impacts -- to retrospective and heavily-scaled-back prospective impacts; and  
    • Just the parties who get special public benefits -- to enabling most outsiders to share equally in the settlement's public benefits. 

Third, it raises the question if there is still a basis for the parties to settle, because the DOJ recommended fixes fundamentally and substantially limit what the parties can extract from the settlement.

Wireless Innovation Regulation -- "Believe it or Not!"

With due to credit to "Ripley's Believe it or Not!®," so much odd and bizarre is happening in Washington in the "name" of "wireless innovation" and competition that the topic calls for its own collection of: "Believe it or Not!®" oddities.

Skype co-founder Niklas Zennstom, the co-founder of illegal-music-downloading site Kazaa, who had to avoid entering the U.S. because of copyright-infringement liability... is now seeking a U.S. court injunction to shut down eBay's Skype for alleged copyright violations!

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 "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?

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?  

Google Book Settlement "absolutely silent on user privacy" -- Part XIV -- Privacy vs Publicacy Series

"The settlement as it exists now is absolutely silent on user privacy" said Angela Maycock of the American Library Association at a Google Book Settlement panel per the San Francisco Chronicle.

  • This should not be surprising because privacy is simply the flip side of the anti-competitive concerns surrounding the Book Settlement.

I posit that privacy protections were not included in the Book Settlement for two big reasons -- the first reason is more privacy related and the second reason is more competition related. 

First, Google is a big adherent of the Web 2.0 movement that believes that transparency is a more important value than privacy.

Is Google's Book Search the Chicken or the Egg?

Google's latest defense of its Book Settlement in Europe has provided an illuminating window into Google's own cultural-self-awareness of Google's dominant market power over books/content.

In August 23 New York Times:

  • We believe that we are helping the industry tremendously by creating a way for authors and publishers to be found,” said Santiago de la Mora, Google’s head of printing partnerships in London.

  • Search is critical. If you are not found, the rest cannot follow."

The strong implication from Google here is that authors were in proverbial "nowheres-ville" before Google "discovered," copied and indexed them -- proving that Google is the real value creator here... not the author of the content/book.

  • Google is candidly acknowledging its unique and dominant market power over books because Google is the only entity in the world with the resources, the business model, the low opinion of the value of content on the Internet (it should be "free"), and the legal strategy to illegally copy literally millions of copyrighted books without permission.

What is more valuable the content or the search?

P2P breach endangered President/First Family -- The open Internet's growing security problem -- Part XIV

New evidence of very serious Internet security problems sheds new light on why Senate Chairman Rockefeller has taken such a forceful leadership role on cybersecurity and why President Obama made increasing cybersecurity a national security priority in his 5-29 cybersecurity address.

  • Computerworld reported testimony before a Congressional oversight panel that sensitive details about a Presidential safe house, Presidential motorcade routes, and every U.S. nuclear facility were leaked on the Internet via a LimeWire P2P application. 
  • This serious Internet security problem with P2P applications was also the subject of a 2007 U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) report , which documented the severe security implications of P2P file-sharing programs that commonly have technological features that induce sharing of information that people did not want or expect to be shared.

The continued seriousness of P2P file-sharing breaches have prompted House Oversight Committee Chairman Edolphus Towns "to call for a ban on the use of peer-to-peer (P2P) software on all government and contractor computers and networks," per Computerworld.   

Rolling Admissions the Book Settlement is Anti-competitive

Google has begun to admit and make concessions that the Book Settlement it originally negotiated with authors and publishers is anti-competitive.

To try and win the support of the biggest libraries, Google has now cut a potentially exclusive side deal giving the largest libraries the benefit of a price oversight/arbitration mechanism per the New York Times.

The Open Internet's Growing Security Problem -- Part XI

New evidence continues to spotlight the Open Internet's growing security problem.