Update on Google Books Settlement – Strange Bedfellows

googleThe deadline for filing objections to Google’s settlement with the Author’s Guild and the Association of American Publishers has now past. Miguel Helft summarizes some of the last-minute objections in an article in yesterday’s New York Times.

I explained some of these arguments in an earlier post. What is interesting to note about the last-minute filings (including one from longtime Silicon Valley antitrust lawyer Gary Reback) is that they suggest not so much a coalition of opponents as a wide range of people with an axe to bear against the settlement, most with very different agendas for doing so.

The concern that the settlement gives Google a de facto monopoly on digital copying for out-of-print books seems strained for two reasons. Right now, there are of course NO publishers making those books available in any medium. Second, there’s nothing in the settlement that precludes any other entity from making a similar arrangement. If it is a monopoly, in other words, it’s only because no one is trying to compete.