August 31st, 2009 | Published in Google Public Policy
How does the Google Books settlement affect competition? The question was the focus of an event hosted here in Washington by the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), of which Google is a member.
David Balto, an antitrust lawyer, consumer advocate, and former policy director at the FTC, addressed the topic head-on when he presented his paper on the pro-competitive nature of the settlement, and a panel of legal commentators (James Grimmelmann and Jonathan Band) answered questions and provided their thoughts in response. In case you missed the event, a video of the event was just posted on the CCIA website.
While there was debate over specific aspects of the settlement agreement, I was struck by several themes that came out of the discussion: the public benefits of the settlement in expanding access to books online are overwhelmingly clear; the settlement should be approved despite the complexity of the legal issues involved; and providing more choice and more competition in the book industry is a good thing.
Helping readers get access to more books in more ways is exactly why we entered into our agreement last year with authors and publishers. We believe choice is a good thing too - our settlement agreement is non-exclusive and makes it easier for other online book distributors to efficiently license works and innovate. We hope to see more discussion on this in the future.
Check out what David Balto and Ed Black, CCIA President and CEO, had to say about Google Books in the short videos below. Other experts -- including Einer Elhauge from Harvard Law School, Mark Lemley from Stanford Law School (and an attorney for Google), and J. Gregory Sidak of Criterion and Jerry A. Hausman from MIT -- have weighed in with their support as well.
"I've looked carefully at the Google Books settlement to try to determine whether it will harm or benefit consumers, and I ultimately conclude that the settlement will be very beneficial." --David Balto, antitrust lawyer and Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress
"...there's no doubt that the project is of tremendous value and importance to society."
-- Ed Black, President and CEO of the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA)