groups that have been critical of Google’s digital books project said
Thursday the Internet firm’s revised settlement with the Authors Guild
and the Association of American Publishers does little to fix the
structural flaws with the deal. The Open Book Alliance and Consumer
Watchdog filed briefs with the federal court weighing the settlement,
which was initially opposed by the Justice Department.
Google has argued that the revised settlement will open "access to
millions of books while providing rights holders with ways to sell and
control their work online." A hearing on the case is set for Feb. 18.
Consumer Watchdog urged the court to reject the settlement, saying
it’s anticompetitive and violates U.S. and international law. "This
scheme acts to the disadvantage of absent class members and would
result in unfair competitive advantages to Google in the search engine,
electronic book sales, and other markets, to the detriment of the
public interest. Along the way, the settlement raises significant
international law and privacy concerns," the group said in its brief.
The Open Book Alliance outlined several issues with the revised settlement in its brief.
They include the group’s claims that "Google’s anticompetitive bundling
undermines competition" in the distribution of digital books and that
the deal fails to resolve antirust concerns because it gives "Google a
de facto exclusive license to millions of books and continues to set a
price floor for out-of-print books."