The Google Book Search Settlement: A Law and Economics Analysis

44 Pages Posted: 1 May 2011 Last revised: 29 Oct 2012

See all articles by Frank Mueller-Langer

Frank Mueller-Langer

European Commission, Joint Research Center; Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition

Marc Scheufen

Ruhr University Bochum

Date Written: April 5, 2011


Beginning in December 2004 Google has pursued a new project to create a book search engine (Google Book Search). The project has released a storm of controversy around the globe. While the supporters of Google Book Search conceive the project as a first reasonable step towards unlimited access to knowledge in the information age, its opponents fear profound negative effects due to an erosion of copyright law.

Our law and economics analysis of the Book Search Project suggests that – from a copyright perspective – the proposed settlement may be beneficial to right holders, consumers, and Google. For instance, it may provide a solution to the still unsolved dilemma of orphan works. From a competition policy perspective, we stress the important aspect that Google’s pricing algorithm for orphan and unclaimed works effectively replicates a competitive Nash-Bertrand market outcome under post-settlement, third-party oversight.

Keywords: Book Rights Registry, Competition Policy, Copyright, Fair Use, Google Book Search, Library Program, Orphan Works

Suggested Citation

Mueller-Langer, Frank and Scheufen, Marc, The Google Book Search Settlement: A Law and Economics Analysis (April 5, 2011). Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 8, No. 1, pp. 7-50, 2011; Max Planck Institute for Intellectual Property & Competition Law Research Paper No. 11-06. Available at SSRN:

Frank Mueller-Langer (Contact Author)

European Commission, Joint Research Center


Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition ( email )


Marc Scheufen

Ruhr University Bochum ( email )

Massenbergstr. 11
BF 8.9
Bochum, 44787

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views