Anyone care to tell me when the Department of Justice will butt out of the Google Books deal? Their latest claim that a revised settlement is anticompetitive further distances us from a rich, open knowledge store and the preservation of works that would otherwise sit, molding and collecting dust in library stacks somewhere. It also cuts off a potential revenue stream for authors and their estates who certainly aren't collecting any more royalties on out-of-print books or who might have limited distribution options.
According to the New York Times,
[The ruling] said the changes were not enough to placate concerns that the deal would grant Google a monopoly over millions of orphan works, meaning books whose right holders are unknown or cannot be found.
Right. So it's better to make sure that no one can read the books. It's better to wait for someone other than Google who has the technology, capital, and wherewithal to make this happen and compete with Google. How long will we be waiting to find someone with as much money as Google who wants to invest millions in scanning technology and who is sitting on petabytes of storage and massive datacenters? The answer? A long bloody time.
Authors are waiting on this deal to potentially find new revenue streams. Academics and bibliophiles are waiting to have rich stores of literature opened up online. Grandmothers are waiting to search for an obscure knitting book. Or something like that. Regardless, the time has come, the e-reader technology is here, and Google's doing a bang-up job on the scanning. Enough already, DOJ. Show me one competitor who just might be able to do what Google is doing (and who actually wants to do it) and maybe this conversation should continue. Until then, bring on the scanners!