Clever Google controls the Book Search message

You’ve got to hand it to Google.

Heading into a House oversight hearing on its controversial Book Search settlement, Google knew it was going to be at the top of the tech news cycle. So, then, the question became how to spin.

And this is where I applaud the search giant’s image custodians for their masterful message control.

David Drummond, Google’s chief legal officer, announced with a hint of magnanimity at yesterday’s hearing that Google was inviting its competitors and critics (including Amazon, whose top lobbyist was sitting to Drummond’s immediate left at the witness table) to access and resell the out-of-print books in its digital library, cutting them into the revenue stream and emphasizing the non-exclusive nature of the settlement.

And Drummond did an excellent job of presenting this as a concession, a new development in the long-running copyright feud, even though it was anything but.

This was welcome news to the press corps. We’ve all been writing about Google Book Search for too long now.

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