Google is being hit with its first (of many?) anti-monopoly inquiries by the Department of Justice this week the NYTimes has learned.
The concern is over the $125 million settlement that Google came to with the Author's Guild and the Association of American publishers. A class action suit was filed in 2005 and claims that Google's practice of scanning copyrighted books from libraries for use in its book search service was a violation of copyrights.
The October settlement gave Google the right to display the books online as well as profit from selling access to individual tax and subscriptions to its entire collection to libraries. This revenue would be shared with authors and publishers.
Judge Denny Chin of
Google, of course, had defended the settlement saying it would bring revenue to authors and publishers. They also contend that it will give the public access to millions of out-of-print books.
Truly, this is rediculous. Google a monopoly while Microsoft is not? Let me throw out a couple of definitions.
Natural Monopoly 1.A business providing a product or service which is unique or new, because no other business thought of it, or chose not to offer that product or service. 2.Any business which offers something never before seen in the market place. 3.A business which attains monopoly status by popularity of their product or service, without the use of any anti-competitive practices.
Forced Monopoly A business which attempts to stifle competition to achieve or maintain monopoly status by actively trying to prevent other businesses from offering similar products or services, or by using it's monopoly status with one product or service to gain a market leading position with another product or service, which may not have attained that position on it's own merits.
Natural monopolies come and go in the marketplace, and really don't have anything to do with inhibiting the free market. And in this sense, Google book search is not hurting competition, because they're offering something no one ever offered before. They're not actively trying to prevent Amazon, for example, from getting into the book search business. Neither have they done anything to force me to use their services instead of Yahoo or Ask, which I use frequently.
Microsoft, on the other hand, while I believe they started out as a natural monopoly by making some clever business decisions, once they attained a significant majority market share of the operating system business, began actively making deals with manufacturers to discourage them from offering other operating systems, and started buying up other tools companies, or building similar functionality into their operating system to obviate the need for other companies' products. Anyone use Artisoft Lantastic anymore? How about Central Point PCTools? PKZip or ZipMagic? Why not? Networking was built into Windows(3.1) for Workgroups. File management functions into Windows 95, and Zip functionality in Windows XP. And let's not forget Internet Explorer, the reason Microsoft went to court in the
I find it interesting to see so much focus on Google, which is winning in the market by offering innovative products and services, while so little focus is given to Microsoft these days, where the marketplace is just now beginning to fight back against Microsoft's monopolistic practices, because governments either couldn't, or wouldn't do the job.
(source : Computerworld.com)
(source : Computerworld.com)