"I see higher entry barriers in a post-settlement world," Grimmelmann added. "Google now has access to a market that simply did not exist before and could not exist unless the settlement relaxed restrictions of copyright law."
The settlement doesn't address whether scanning complete books is a copyright violation, Grimmelmann added. Competitors who try to offer a similar service "may find that what they tried to do is illegal at the end of the day," he said.
But the settlement offers huge benefits to society as a whole, Balto argued. Consumers will be able to search and buy books formerly available only in a handful of libraries, he said.
"What Google has achieved is truly remarkable, and potentially transforms the availability of vast amounts of knowledge," he wrote in a paper distributed at the event. "[Google's book service] has the potential of substantially increasing access to a phenomenal amount of information for millions of consumers."