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Public Knowledge Files on the Google Book Search Settlement

September 10, 2009 Antitrust , Competition , Fair Use , Google Book Search , Orphan Works

This Tuesday, Public Knowledge filed a brief asking the court not to approve the proposed Google Book Search settlement as it is currently constructed. The proposed settlement raises significant antitrust and class action procedural concerns. In plain English, these concerns are that the settlement represents an attempt to license a lot of books belonging to people who are unable to protest, set up a system to pay other people for the use of those books, and give a single party the exclusive right to use many of those books indefinitely. Read on for some more detail about our concerns.

But first, let’s be clear: We want online access to all books for everyone. We want a world without orphan works, where one can either find a copyright’s owner and seek to license use of their work, or else that work is available for use by all. We want all books to be made accessible so that the blind can read everything the sighted can. We are happy with Google’s current lawful scanning, indexing, and excerpting of all books, and the ability it provides to locate works which would otherwise lay dormant. We would like to find a way that anyone who wants to can offer the public even more complete access. And we have no doubt that whatever happens, Google will continue to offer searches of all books, offer full, accessible access to the books it has licensed, and find ways to locate as many rightsholders as possible to obtain more licenses.

But access through a single party is not true access: What we do not want is for books to be made available only through a single company that has, through judicial gymnastics, obtained the only possible license to those works. What we don’t want is a system where the books of absent authors are being sold and the unclaimed proceeds are going to those who should be finding those authors in the first place.

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Fun Event On Capital Hill Next Monday: I Take On The Neocons On BB Policy

July 10, 2009 Antitrust , Broadband , Network Neutrality , Network Open Access , Non-Discrimination

One of the fun things here in D.C. is getting to go to events that are (a) informative on issues, and (b) offer a free lunch. Such is the Broadband Competition Panel sponsored by The Technology Policy Institutenext Monday, July 13, at Noon (for details, follow this link).

TPI has a fairly antiregulatory/UofC/"Free Market" bend to it. Happily, the event organizer, friend and occasional sparring partner Scott Wallsten, likes panels where folks get to mix it up a bit rather than panels where everyone agrees.

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DOJ Investigation of Telecoms: Not Your Father’s Antitrust.

July 6, 2009 Antitrust , AT&T , Competition , FTC , Special Access

Although the Department of Justice Antitrust Division (DOJ) has not confirmed it, the Wall St. Journal reported that DOJ is internally considering whether or not companies "such as AT&T and Verizon" have abused their market power. Most traditional antitrust lawyers I've seen quoted don't think it likely the telcos have market power — especially given the hostility that courts have recently shown to antitrust. Indeed, in a world where even potential competition is supposed to be part of the market analysis, how can a modest 60% of the wireless market shared by the two companies, with no evidence of price fixing or coordinated behavior, support any sort of antitrust action?

Welcome to the more grown up and sophisticated view of market power in the more complex real world.

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