GBS: Samuelson on Google Book Search and the Future of Books in Cyberspace

And here is a longer-format essay by Samuelson on the implications of the settlement for the future of books. From the introduction:

Part I discusses impediments to mass digitization projects, such as GBS, and how Google overcame them. It explains the litigation that challenged Google’s mass digitization project, the proposed settlement agreement, and some reasons why the settlement has become controversial. Part II contrasts some glowingly positive predictions about the future of books if the GBS deal is approved with predictions of far more negative futures for books that some critics foresee if the GBS settlement is approved. Part III considers what may happen to GBS and the future of books in cyberspace if the settlement is not approved. It recommends that major research libraries collaborate in the creation of a digital library of books from their collections as an alternative to GBS, regardless of whether the proposed settlement is approved. This digital library could greatly expand access to books, while avoiding certain risks to the public interest that the GBS settlement poses.

And from the conclusion:

This Article has shown that although there are some reasons to be optimistic about the future of books in cyberspace if the GBS settlement is approved, there are even more reasons to be worried about the settlement and its consequences for competition and innovation down the line, as well as for sustained public access to knowledge, and to doubt that the bright promise proclaimed by GBS proponents is likely to be achieved.

The future of public access to the cultural heritage of humankind embodied in books is too important to leave in the hands of one company and one registry that will have a de facto monopoly over a huge corpus of digital books and rights in them.

Google has yet to accept that its creation of this substantial public good brings with it public trust responsibilities that go well beyond its corporate slogan about not being evil.