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Google backs away from public debate over Book Search settlement

Now that Google has amended its proposed Book Search settlement and made numerous concessions to its critics, you’d think it might be more open to publicly discussing the settlement. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, however, the corporate giant pulled out of a chance to “publicly wrangle” with the Open Book Alliance on an episode of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer last Monday.

Google Books engineering director Dan Clancy had agreed to appear on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer to debate the topic with Harvard professor Robert Darnton. With little notice, however, Silicon Valley attorney Gary Reback was added to the line up.

Reback spearheaded the antitrust crusade against Microsoft last decade and, by the way, co-chairs the Open Books Alliance, whose members include Google competitors Yahoo, Microsoft, and Amazon.com.

Apparently Google didn’t want an engineer to spar with a lawyer on national television.