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Would an approved Google Books settlement offer competitors equal footing?

No, not according to James Grimmelmann. On our What’s New – Articles page, a new SSRN article appeared from the CPI Antitrust Journal, titled: The Amended Google Books Settlement is Still
Exclusive
New York Law School
(March 2, 2010). Grimmelmann argues that when it comes to “orphan books,” the proposed settlement would only shield Google from copyright challenges, and not its competitors. He imagines competitor “Two-gle” and walks through the paces scanning orphan works. The article is less than five pages, so take a look.