Google Opens Up on Real Benefit of GBS 2.0: Search

by Peter Brantley

Daniel Clancy, an engineer and director at Google Books, provided some of the most candid reasons for the company’s most recent settlement proposal with major authors and publishers in a story on the PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.  Google hopes to benefit from it by improving our search. And we expect that we will make some money as we sell the books. ”

Although Google has continuously maintained that money is not their primary motivation, search is not a philanthropic pursuit of Google.  Search generated more than $10 billion in search revenue during the first half of 2009, according to the company’s 2009 second quarter earnings report.  Bolstering search content for Google is hardly a donation to the public.  It will significantly increase advertising revenues for a company that already owns more than 60% of the search business.

Clancy continues to cloud the issue and skirt the monopolistic aspects of Google business: “There’s nothing we’re doing that prevents anyone from doing the exact same thing.”

On the contrary, the settlement provides Google with the right to sell unclaimed orphan works with no checks and balances.  As Pam Samuelson, a law professor at the University of California-Berkeley said, “[Google] has basically turned this project into a bookstore, rather than a library.”

The Open Book Alliance fully agrees with Clancy when he said, “And the one thing that I strongly think is the wrong answer is that we should, you know, lock all this stuff up, so that nobody can discover them and nobody can use these books.”

Indeed, the best way to ensure that no books are locked up is to provide open competition in their use and distribution.  We should not rely on the benevolence of the largest for profit Internet company in the world.

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What Experts Are Saying About the Settlement…

Important Dates

December 14, 2009
Notice begins

January 28, 2010
Deadline for authors to opt out of the settlement

January 28, 2010
Deadline to file objections and/or amicus briefs

February 4, 2010
Deadline to file notice of intent to appear at Fairness Hearing

February 4, 2010
DOJ response

February 11, 2010
Plaintiffs move for final approval

February 18, 2010
Final Fairness Hearing

March 31, 2011
Deadline to claim Books and Inserts