Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.

Copyright Notice: We don't think much of copyright, so you can do what you want with the content on this blog. Of course we are hungry for publicity, so we would be pleased if you avoided plagiarism and gave us credit for what we have written. We encourage you not to impose copyright restrictions on your "derivative" works, but we won't try to stop you. For the legally or statist minded, you can consider yourself subject to a Creative Commons Attribution License.


Pros and cons on the Google book settlement

I wrote here on 6/14 "And once again we come up with the question posed by copyright, giving publishers and owners a claim on an income stream that would not otherwise have existed. There is no clear public benefit from paying them. The owners will provide no service to receive this bonanza. Nor is the public interest protected to achieve the lowest possible price, consistent with providing the service, the marginal cost to the provider." I return to Google today, focusing once more on the proposed settlement (as no doubt I will again as more of the details emerge on the proposed settlement the feds now have under review). This essay was prompted by David Carr, writing in the NYTimes link here.

The dilemma has several aspects. One is the gain from making so much written human effort readily available on the internet, both conveniently and hopefully, at modest cost. Against this is the cost that consumers will have to pay Google for access, the amount of which is still unclear. And the fact that Google will end up with a monopoly at selling access to these books, with the minuscule exception provided by borrowing the copy from a library which provided Google the chance to scan it in the first place.

That monopoly will exist by virtue of the government agreed terms now proposed by Google. No other companies willing to scan and offer public access will be in a position to compete unless they can undercut Google's resale prices and Google has the advantage of first-to-market. Libraries for the most part seem to have got little for providing access--those that provided the books for scanning and their members get free access to the Google files. In the end these institutions were funded by the public through taxes (our money) in the first place, so this seems like a clever move to capture the return from a public investment.

But the deal is still subject to government approval. Will the government try to renegotiate the deal? Hopefully yes. The cost, of course, is the delay is making access publicly available. To me, that is a small price to pay.

As an opponent of copyright, however, I would like to see the whole deal and copyright itself abolished. That is unlikely. How about a deal in which unregistered copyrights beyond five or ten years old, automatically expire. And an expiration date on all other copyrights of ten or twenty years. Not very realistic politically, but unless we find some basis for compromise, I suspect we will get no real welfare-increasing improvements.

More later.


Submit Comment

Blog Post


Email (optional):

Your Humanity:

Prove you are human by retyping the anti-spam code.
For example if the code is unodosthreefour,
type 1234 in the textbox below.

Anti-spam Code



Most Recent Comments

IIPA thinks open source equals piracy rerwerwerwer

IIPA thinks open source equals piracy Thank you for this great

Questions and Challenges For Defenders of the Current Copyright Regime Eu acho que os direitos autorais da invenção ou projeto devem ser

IIPA thinks open source equals piracy https://essaywritingsolutions.co.uk/

Your Compulsory Assignment for Tonight rerrerrr

IIPA thinks open source equals piracy rwerwewre

An analysis of patent trolls by a trademark lawyer

Questions and Challenges For Defenders of the Current Copyright Regime It is one of the finest websites I have stumbled upon. It is not only well developed, but has good

Killing people with patents I'm not really commenting the post, but rather asking if this blog is going to make a comeback

The right to rub smooth using a hardened steel tool with ridges Finally got around to looking at the comments, sorry for delay... Replying to Stephan: I'm sorry

Let's See: Pallas, Pan, Patents, Persephone, Perses, Poseidon, Prometheus... Seems like a kinda bizarre proposal to me. We just need to abolish the patent system, not replace

The right to rub smooth using a hardened steel tool with ridges I'm a bit confused by this--even if "hired to invent" went away, that would just change the default

Do we need a law? @ Alexander Baker: So basically, if I copy parts of 'Titus Andronicus' to a webpage without

Do we need a law? The issue is whether the crime is punished not who punishes it. If somebody robs our house we do

Do we need a law? 1. Plagiarism most certainly is illegal, it is called "copyright infringement". One very famous

Yet another proof of the inutility of copyright. The 9/11 Commission report cost $15,000,000 to produce, not counting the salaries of the authors.

WKRP In Cincinnati - Requiem For A Masterpiece P.S. The link to Amazon's WKRP product page:

WKRP In Cincinnati - Requiem For A Masterpiece Hopefully some very good news. Shout! Factory is releasing the entire series of WKRP in Cincinnati,

What's copywritable? Go fish in court. @ Anonymous: You misunderstood my intent. I was actually trying to point out a huge but basic

Rights Violations Aren't the Only Bads I hear that nonsense from pro-IP people all the