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Competition that Works: Why the Google Books Project Is Good for Consumers and Competitors

Testimony Before the House Judiciary Committee

SOURCE: AP/Paul Sakuma

The Google Books project is a remarkable transforming achievement that has tremendous potential to democratize information and knowledge.

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CAP Action’s David Balto testifies before the House Judiciary Committee. Read the full testimony (CAP Action)

Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Smith, and other members of the Committee, I am David Balto, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. I appreciate the privilege of testifying before you today on Competition and Commerce in Digital Books which focuses largely on the Google Books project and the proposed settlement of litigation between Google and authors and publishers. As many of you know, I had a long career as a trial attorney in the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department and as the policy director of the Federal Trade Commission, and I frequently represent consumer and public interest groups in antitrust and intellectual property matters and testimony before Congress. Based on my extensive review of the proposed settlement and the filings in the litigation, I strongly believe that the settlement in the Google Books project litigation does not pose significant competitive concerns and should be approved.

I have two simple points to my testimony. The Google Books project is a remarkable transforming achievement that we should all recognize has tremendous potential to democratize information and knowledge. I do not think anyone can dispute that. Second, the competitive concerns raised about specific narrow provisions of the settlement are not a basis to reject the settlement.

One of the greatest achievements in the last several years is the Google Books project, which scanned millions of books, many of which were available in only a handful of the most preeminent research libraries. This project led to class action litigation brought by publishers and authors charging a violation of copyright laws. To resolve the litigation, the protagonists entered into a settlement, which created a Book Rights Registry to make sure authors are appropriately compensated for their works. This settlement is currently under review by a federal district court.

CAP Action’s David Balto testifies before the House Judiciary Committee. Read the full testimony (CAP Action)

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