When I saw Joris van Hoboken last week, he asked two sly questions abut the Google Book Search settlement.
First, what about the used books market? How many used book sellers will go under when the every-book-on-demand platform is up and running? Bringing a zero-marginal-cost competitor into the used books market is not going to be good for anyone with a substantial inventory of printed books. Predatory pricing, anyone?
Second, what about the international angle? I parroted my usual line: this is a U.S.-only settlement, which leaves other countries to their own devices. Not so, Joris explained. Thanks to the Berne Convention, which prohibits formalities as a condition of copyright, essentially every copyright owner outside the U.S. is a member of the plaintiff class. That’s a lot of copyright owners. What shockwaves around the world should we expect as this realization sinks in?