Open Book Alliance Chief Sounds off Against Google

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This Thursday, February 18, is the day Judge Denny Chin will hold his final hearing on the Google settlement. Yesterday, Gary Reback, antitrust lawyer and leader of the Open Book Alliance, the coalition formed to oppose the Google settlement, penned an editorial for TechCrunch in which he says “If Google can stretch its advantage even further and deny its search rivals the ability to integrate the same corpus of books, Google’s lead in search will become insurmountable.”

Here’s more from the editorial:

The proposed settlement does just that, leaving Google’s search competitors out in the cold. The settlement provides no means at all for competitors to get rights to so-called “orphan works”–in-copyright books whose rightsholders cannot be located. According to the parties’ court filings made just last week, ownership has been claimed for only about one million books out of the more than 12 million books scanned and the 170 million unique works identified by Google, leaving the company with exclusive digital rights to well over 90% of U.S. books. In addition, the settlement sets up procedures that make it easy for Google to clear rights to all other out-of-print works where rightsholders can be located, but leaves rivals without a mechanism to easily resolve disputes over ownership and copyright status that preclude competitive distribution. If approved in its current form, then, the settlement will solidify Google’s hold on the search market by giving the company exclusive rights to millions upon millions of books.

So, after all the debate, what do you think? What do you hope will happen on Thursday?