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The Economists' Voice 2.0The Financial Crisis, Health Care Reform, and More$
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Joseph Stiglitz and Aaron Edlin

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231160155

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231160155.001.0001

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The Stakes in the Google Book Search Settlement

The Stakes in the Google Book Search Settlement

(p.241) Chapter 31 The Stakes in the Google Book Search Settlement
The Economists' Voice 2.0

Paul N. Courant

Columbia University Press

In 2004, Google embarked on a historic project to scan and index the contents of the world’s great research libraries. However, the authors and publishers of works in copyright sued, arguing that Google violated copyright law by scanning works without the explicit permission of rights holders. The proposed settlement greatly expanded the stakes, creating a great electronic bookstore where Google would sell (with most of the revenue going to rights holders) access to millions of copyrighted works, something not contemplated in Google’s original scanning project. Before the settlement was approved by the court, it asked the parties for an opportunity to revise the settlement agreement in light of concerns raised by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and hundreds of other objectors. This chapter argues that approval of the original settlement would have been vastly preferable to its rejection, because it provided extraordinary and valuable benefits to readers and scholars. But, in at least one important feature, the DOJ may be pointing the way to a settlement that would be better than the original. The DOJ has expressed concern that the settlement, “appears to create a dangerous probability that only Google would have the ability to market to libraries and other institutions a comprehensive digital-book subscription”.

Keywords:   Google, copyright infringement, copyright law, intellectual property, electronic bookstore, digital-book subscription

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