Google's presented its grandiose plans of creating a new Great Library to a judge in a defense of a revised settlement to a class-action lawsuit over Google Books.
The original settlement was returned to the parties in the case over concerns that it would give Google far too much power over the eBook business.
The Department of Justice criticized the revised settlement on the grounds that it unfairly gives Google rights to scan and sell "orphan works," or books which no longer have an author or publisher to defend their rights.
Critics -- including competitors like Microsoft and Amazon -- argue that essentially granting Google a license to profit from orphan works is where the company could get its unfair advantage, and represents an end-run around congressional copyright authority.
In its defense, Google said there was plenty of competition in the eBook business, citing coverage of the new Apple iPad, which will include an eBook store.
The company also whined that here it is, willing to spend millions to create a modern, digital equivalent to the Great Library of Alexandria, so why are you ingrates giving it such a hard time?
But it is hoped that this compromise between authors, publishers, libraries, and a company willing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to digitize so much of the printed history of humanity will be another small step toward the vision that the Alexandrian Library represents.
Even Alexander or Caesar might wince at such a grandiose proclamation.