Google Doesn't Think it has a Monopoly on Ebooks

Paul Lilly

In October of last year, Google reached a $125 million settlement as part of a three-year-old class action lawsuit accusing the search engine giant of infringing publisher and author copyrights with its library-digitizing Book Search project. But that would be far from the end of things. Last month, the Department of Justice confirmed it had launched a formal investigation into the settlement to see if it could find any evidence of anticompetitive practices, and if Google was looking for sympathy, it would be hard pressed to find any (read what Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos had to say on the matter here ).

But despite all the negative publicity -- or perhaps because of it -- Google maintains it isn't doing anything wrong and denies any talk of a monopoly.

"Of course, no one wants Google to monopolize the poor orphans," said Dan Clancy, engineering director of Google Book Search. "And I don't want to be -- what's the woman in Little Orphan Annie that runs the orphanage? I'm blanking -- I don't want to be her."

Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive, which also owns a book scanning operation, sees things decidedly different than Google does. Not only will the settlement create a monopoly, but it will create two of them, Kahle says. Kahle believes Google will have a monopoly on orphans and the Book Rights Registry, as well as a second one that encompasses all rights holders who agree to join.

"Google will have permission to bring under its sole control information that has been accessible through public institutions for centuries. In essence, Google will be privatizing our libraries," Kahle wrote in the Washington Post .

Where do you stand on the issue? Hit the jump and sound off.

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