Robert Darnton’s New York Review of Books essay Google and the Future of Books has generated some buzz around the interwebs. Although Darnton asks “Would we not prefer a world in which this immense corpus of digitized books is accessible, even at a high price, to one in which it did not exist?”; there is a sense in the essay that he is much concerned with Google establishing a defacto monopoly on e-books.
Tim O’Reilley disagrees, calling Darnton’s piece “eloquent, insightful…and wrong.” O’Reilley notes that there is no monopoly, and that there is plenty of competition in the e-book marketplace.
Peter Brantley calls the settlement “an appropriation of sponsorship of access to our culture that is inadequately informed by imagination, possibility, and fairness.”
James Grimmelmann offers his pragmatic take on the settlement, along with specific recommendations for the court to consider in approving the settlement, and for the rest of us to think about. Grimmelmann’s bottom line is “the settlement should be approved. It makes all of us better off, and it is, in an intuitive and meaningful sense, quite fair to all involved.”
Darnton is probably right when he notes that “No one can predict what will happen. We can only read the terms of the settlement and guess about the future.”