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Consumer Watchdog Praises Judge For Blocking Google Books Deal

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Tue, Mar 22, 2011 at 2:35 pm

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Consumer Watchdog Praises Judge For Blocking Google Books Deal

Decision Sends Message Google Must Ask Permission Before Using Others’ Property

SANTA MONICA, CA — Consumer Watchdog praised Federal Judge Denny Chin today for rejecting the Google Books settlement and added that Google should finally learn it cannot usurp and exploit other people’s work and information without first asking permission. The decision also raised serious antitrust issues, the nonpartisan, nonprofit group noted.

Judge Chin ruled that the agreement would “grant Google significant rights to exploit entire books, without the permission of copyright owners” and would “give Google a significant advantage over competitors, rewarding it for engaging in wholesale copying of copyrighted works without permission, while releasing claims well beyond the case.”

“Google’s entire business model is to never ask permission, but to seek forgiveness if necessary,” said John M. Simpson, director of Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project. “Judge Chin has ruled simply that you can’t take other people’s property and use it without asking.  This should send the message to the engineers at the Googleplex that the next time they want to use someone’s intellectual property, they need to ask permission.”

Simpson noted that Judge Chin also found the deal raised antitrust problems.  Consumer Watchdog was among the first to oppose the agreement on those grounds and urged the U.S. Justice Department to intervene. Justice argued against the deal.

In discussing antitrust concerns about the proposed deal Chin noted:

– The settlement “would give Google a de facto monopoly over unclaimed works.”

– The Settlement “would arguably give Google control over the search market.”

– Google’s ability to deny competitors the ability to search orphan books would further entrench Google’s market power in the online search market.

“Google’s business practices continue to raise antitrust questions that need to be investigated,” Simpson said.

Consumer Watchdog filed two amicus briefs opposing the Books Settlement and was represented by Daniel J. Fetterman of Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman in New York.

“We support the digitization of the world’s books,” said Simpson. “What we oppose is letting one company steal people’s works without asking permission and then getting an unfair monopoly. We call on Congress to take up the question of ‘orphan works’ so there is a level playing field.”

Consumer Watchdog has been working to protect consumers’ online privacy rights and educate them about the issues through its Inside Google Project. The goal has been to convince Google of the social and economic importance of giving consumers control over their online lives. By persuading Google, the Internet’s leading company, to adopt adequate guarantees, its policies could become the gold standard for privacy for the industry, potentially improving the performance of the entire online sector.

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Consumer Watchdog, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization with offices in Washington, DC and Santa Monica, Ca.  Consumer Watchdog’s website is http://www.consumerwatchdog.org. Visit our new Google Privacy and Accountability Project website: http://insidegoogle.com.

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This post was written by:

John M. Simpson

- who has written 362 posts on Inside Google.

John M. Simpson is a leading voice on technological privacy and stem cell research issues. His investigations this year of Google’s online privacy practices and book publishing agreements triggered intense media scrutiny and federal interest in the online giant’s business practices. His critique of patents on human embryonic stem cells has been key to expanding the ability of American scientists to conduct stem cell research. He has ensured that California’s taxpayer-funded stem cell research will lead to broadly accessible and affordable medicine and not just government-subsidized profiteering. Prior to joining Consumer Watchdog in 2005, he was executive editor of Tribune Media Services International, a syndication company. Before that, he was deputy editor of USA Today and editor of its international edition. Simpson taught journalism a Dublin City University in Ireland, and consulted for The Irish Times and The Gleaner in Jamaica. He served as president of the World Editors Forum. He holds a B.A. in philosophy from Harpur College of SUNY Binghamton and was a Gannett Fellow at the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies at the University of Hawaii. He has an M.A. in Communication Management from USC’s Annenberg School for Communication.

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  1. PabloG » Blog Archive » links for 2011-03-24 - 24. Mar, 2011

    [...] Consumer Watchdog Praises Judge For Blocking Google Books Deal | Inside Google (tags: google books numerisation droit copyright orphanworks e-commerce abuse critique usa) [...]

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