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.