Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Yes, Save the Google Books Settlement -- From Itself

Tim Wu, a Columbia University law professor, has written a piece for Slate headlined "Save the Google Book Search Deal!" See

Wu decries the "movement afoot" to kill the deal, and takes it from there.

So, once more with feeling from this corner: Google may be salvageable, and all the responsible voices are saying so.

Wu writes that "the best analogy ... may be a public utility." That is correct. And public utilities need government regulation.

Wu says "let a modified settlement go forward, but let the court keep watch to make sure the deal achieves its public goals without undue private gain. This is the essence of the utility model ..."

I say let a deal go forward after, at a minimum, the terms of watchfulness get heavily front-loaded (among other necessary modifications). And whether that watchfulness is a judicial or a legislative function remains open.

That is the real essence of the utility model. The alternative is a recipe for yadda-yadda-yadda while the benefits get immediately privatized and the public interest becomes an afterthought.


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