Smackdown! Pam Samuelson has a new op-ed up at the Huffington Post that disassembles Sergei Brin’s recent New York Times defense of Google Book Search as a 21st century “library.”
It is remarkable that over the course of the last year, Google has managed to alienate not only lots of scholars and analysts on the economic right, who objected to the company’s undertaking to scan millions of books with asking for copyright owners’ permission in advance, but also lots of scholars and analysts on the economic left, who are predisposed to argue that new institutions that provide access to knowledge are — or should be — encouraged by law and public policy, but who now advance serious concerns about monopolization, stewardship, and end-user privacy. Sergei Brin’s piece in the Times — here’s a link — struck me as particularly tone-deaf on the issue of Google’s sitting in the catbird seat.
Not everyone is hostile; Google maintains a helpful site that lists friends of the Book Search deal.
But when I hear information policy vets talk about the need to break up Google — as I have over the last few weeks — then I know that something has changed. Google isn’t the new, new thing any longer. It’s not an innovation darling. It’s a 21st century media conglomerate.