An Introduction to Competition Concerns in the Google Books Settlement
16 Pages Posted: 3 Mar 2010
Google started its Google Books project in 2004 with the intent to create a digital library of the world’s books. There has not been such a grand plan since students of Aristotle began to gather the world’s knowledge in the Library of Alexandria some 24 centuries ago. The world’s knowledge has changed. And so has its political economy. Twenty-first century public policy questions have been interjected to delay and reshape Google’s project, questions that did not concern the royal sponsors of the ancient Library. This review takes up questions of competition policy raised in the United States, the corporate site for Google’s virtual Library of Alexandria. After presenting the factual background to the Google Books project and the procedural history of the current class-action lawsuit, we examine two clusters of competition issues concerning the Google Books project: First, whether a class action settlement in litigation between private parties is an appropriate vehicle for making public policy. Second, whether Google’s actions are on balance anticompetitive under U.S. antitrust laws. Antitrust concerns are given the lion’s share of attention.
Keywords: Google, class action, antitrust, intellectual property, copyright
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