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EFF Attorney: Google Book Search Settlement Weakens Innovation

In an editorial in The Recorder, Fred von Lohmann of the Electronic Frontier Foundation says Google’s settlement with publishers and authors signals an implicit abandonment of Google’s legal team working on behalf of innovation across Silicon Valley:

.. By settling rather than taking the case all the way … Google has solved its own copyright problem — but not anyone else’s. Without a legal precedent about the copyright status of book scanning, future innovators are left to defend their own copyright lawsuits. In essence, Google has left its former copyright adversaries to maul any competitors that want to follow its lead.

Google will doubtless be considering the same endgame for the Viacom lawsuit against YouTube. If Google can strike a settlement with a large slice of the aggrieved copyright owners, then it solves the copyright problem for itself, while leaving it as a barrier to entry for YouTube’s competitors.

But when innovators like Google cut individual deals, it weakens the Silicon Valley innovation ecology for everyone, because it leaves the smaller companies to carry on the fight against well-endowed opponents. Those kinds of cases threaten to yield bad legal precedents that tilt the rules against disruptive innovation generally.

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  • bowerbird

    thank goodness people have started to see this…

    for a while there, i thought happy-talk was going to
    rule the day — and ruin our future in the process…

    i’m losing the considerable respect i had for google,
    because their self-serving twist in this case can only
    solidify a conclusion that google has indeed become evil.

    that’s not a word i normally use, but google itself is
    who brought it into the lexicon of this conversation.

    this is a monopoly play, and it’s evil.

    -bowerbird

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    You can choose your own content from the millions of articles on Wikipedia, then add them to your book, preview it and order a hard copy book to be delivered. These are individually customised books that you create for your own library on topics you are interested in. So you can have a book that contains articles on many different topics, not just a narrow one.
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  • http://www.top-car-accident-lawyers.com Injury Lawyer

    I’m sorry,

    I know a lot of people are big supporters of this google book search deal, but I think the big G is getting a little too big for its own britches. They don’t seem to abide by their “Do No Evil” slogan anymore. People are starting to take notice google, and the competition is not too far away.

  • http://www.eingutesbuch.com eingutesbuch

    Kind of laughable that the deal still is not done.

    In any event, I enjoy how technology companies challenge our understanding of intellectual property law. It seems to me that IP law is a lot softer than we thought.

    Bilski again will prove, that IP law is written on quicksand.

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