Yesterday’s hearing on the Google Books settlement provided a great opportunity for members of Congress to hear about the many concerns that authors, legal experts and consumers have about this settlement. The deal, as currently written, would give the most dominant online firm a significant advantage over its rivals and online book competitors like Amazon. The results would likely lead to market power that could permanently lockout competitors, thereby posing anticompetitive risks to the public. Google admitted yesterday that this product would not allow consumers to download these books, but only to stream them, ensuring that the consumer views Google ads every step of the way.
This deal gives Google unprecedented access to consumers’ information. They already know how we find web content and retain our browsing and email history and now, with this deal, they will know what we are reading.