Antitrust & Competition Policy Blog

Editor: D. Daniel Sokol
University of Florida
Levin College of Law

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Google: The Benign Monopolist?

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Ian Forrester (White & Case) asks, Google: The Benign Monopolist?

ABSTRACT: If we are not abolishing copyright law, the proposed project raises several concerns. Some may say that copyright laws are too slow and do not adapt to developments in technology, the demands of teenagers, and the promises of novel technology. True, from the beginning of the twentieth century, content providers have fretted over the encroachment on their interests by new technology. Movie makers and artists worry that peer-to-peer sharing takes a lot of money away from the artists, and the music industry estimates that there has been an immense loss to due to unauthorized reproduction.

On the other hand, the success of the Apple iPod and YouTube prove that new techniques can make music and movies more easily accessible, can increase demand, and can bring extra revenues to the creators or extra levels of audience awareness. There is no obviously correct answer. I am content to observe that opinions are sharply divided, both as to music and moving images. However, creating an equivalent to You Tube for the book industry is a bit startling. One author might be pleased that five thousand enthusiasts had studied his work on-line whereas another author might prefer to see fifty works sold in hard copy: it is easy to understand the two points of view.

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