Epstein on Google

Richard Epstein criticizes Google’s book library feature, at Financial Times:

If Google can unilaterally put this burden on copyright owners, then so can all of its rivals, forcing both publishers and authors to expend valuable resources just to preserve the status quo ante. This “negative option” approach has been roundly rejected in traditional contexts, as with audacious publishers who send notices telling hapless addressees that they’re now subscribers for a year unless they return some opt out notice.

I’ll leave it to the IP experts around here to say whether he’s right or wrong on the details. If he’s right, it doesn’t bode too well for Google books.

You may also like...

2 Responses

  1. Wow! This negative option is basically the system that applies to consumers when they want to stop companies from using their personal information. Do you think Epstein would support opt in for use of personal information? Ha!

  2. Frank says:

    This is just one more of Epstein’s efforts to deploy simplistic analogies between physical and intellectual property to promote an extreme view of the prerogatives of IP-owners.

    Pretending that information is like real property, he asks “Does each person own his or her own separately? Or does every person have open access to each home within the town?,” and claims that Google’s claim to INDEX information is like some Proudhonian anarchist’s claim to a right to quarter himself in my home.

    Somebody obviously has never heard of nonrivalry in consumption of digitized information. The claim is reminiscent of another Chicago luminary’s inspired analogy between Grokster and a “machine that could teleport things out of K-Mart and into its owner’s house.”

    Oddly enough, none of these reifying theorists happen to take seriously all the LIMITS and conditions on real property ownership which law imposes. Michael Carrier’s done an excellent job cataloging them in a 2004 article on cabining IP via a property paradigm.