It would therefore have been deeply satisfying, on many levels, to litigate our case to the end and win, enjoining Google from scanning books and forcing it to destroy the scans it had made. It also would have been irresponsible, once a path to a satisfactory settlement became available.
Litigation, particularly litigation over the bounds of fair use, involves risk. Some critics of the settlement wrongly dismiss that risk, but the fact is that we certainly could have lost the case. Losing would have meant that anyone, not just Google, could have digitized copyright protected books and made them available through search engines. Since creating a search engine is rather simple, anyone with a website — Civil War buffs, science fiction fans, medical information providers — would then have been empowered to start the uncontrolled scanning of books and the display of “snippets.” Authors would have no say in those uses and no control over the security of those scans. The damage to copyright protection would have been incalculable.
The Authors Guild – Ursula K. Le Guin, Google, and the Economics of Authorship
This letter is wrong on so many levels.
1) Why would it be good if Google destroyed all the scans they have already done?
2) As per Mike Cane, these people are dumb. It is not easy to create search engines. If it was easy, Google won’t have a monopoly on search engines.
3) Display of snippets is still not display of the book. I don’t know if these guys know about a place where they are giving out the entire content of the book for FREE. It’s called the library.
Personally, I don’t think these guys knew what they were doing. One of the interesting that came out of the original settlement was that it gave Google a de facto, legal monopoly over all digital books. I guess this new settlement only gives Google an effective monopoly, as no other entity would spend the billions to scan all the out-of-print books.
So, new stream of income, Yes. But it would be only from Google, set by Google (with the occasional prodding from the Author’s Guild to try to increase it.) It’s not like any entity will emerge any time soon to challenge Google at this.