Dana Wagner, Google's top antitrust lawyer.
In case you missed it Thursday as you hurried out of the office to purchase your illegal fireworks, the Department of Justice finally confirmed that it’s probing the Google books settlement.
In a letter to New York Judge Denny Chin, the DOJ wrote that it has reviewed public complaints that a settlement allowing Google to digitize millions of books gives the search engine a monopoly on so-called “orphan works.” Those are the books where the copyright owners can’t be found or died a sad, childless death. Even though they obviously weren’t at the table, they were included in the $125 million settlement in the copyright infringement lawsuit filed by authors and publishers against Google. Critics like San Francisco’s own Internet Archive raised a stink earlier this year, pointing out that Google’s unique immunity from any potential lawsuits from the owners of orphan works is a barrier to entry for any other Web site that might want to digitize orphan works.
Google's antitrust chessmaster versus orphans, after the jump.
So this just means more work for Dana Wagner, the 33-year-old former chess whiz and current head of antitrust at Google. When we profiled him a few weeks back, he had this to say about the DOJ investigation into the books settlement:
“We've spent a lot of time thinking about the book search settlement and, while we can't solve all the problems of copyright law through the settlement of this private litigation, we think the resolution will greatly expand access to books for lots of readers and institutions ... and that it will also pave the way for companies other than Google to provide that access. So we certainly see it as a positive step for both readers and for competition, and we hope the DOJ will come to the same conclusion.”
Also, authors from around the world continue to write in their objections to the books settlement. The latest is from the SYNDlKAT — Autorengruppe deutschsprachige Kriminalliteratur. That’s 500 crime writers from Germany, Austria and Switzerland, to you. Personally, Legal Pad isn’t sure which Google should be scared of: A revitalized DOJ antitrust division or 500 angry Teutonic writers?
— Zusha Elinson