Opposition to Google Settlement Heats Up

August 27, 2009
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Aug 27 – Sept 3, 2009 Edition Opposition to Google Settlement Heats Up

Three technology heavy-weights and several library associations have joined a coalition to challenge Google, Inc.’s settlement with authors and publishers, according to The Wall Street Journal (Tech’s Bigs Put Google’s Book Deal in Crosshairs, August 21, 2009, P. B1). Microsoft, Amazon.com and Yahoo have agreed to join the coalition against the settlement, which is currently being investigated by the Justice Department.

The case would, in part, order Google to pay a small amount of money for books it illegally scanned for its Google Book Search program. In addition the settlement would expand Google’s power to display even larger amounts of copyrighted work and sets up the new (already partly in place) Book Rights Registry to police rights between Google and rightsholders for a fee of up to 20% out of already slim author royalties. The BRR, partly funded by Google, would also offer dispute resolution services for added legal fees.

Peter Brantley, a director at coalition co-founder Internet Archive, said the coalition is being co-led by Gary Reback, a Silicon Valley lawyer who has been involved for the past decade in the Department of Justice’s antitrust investigation against Microsoft Corp.

Other major groups publicly opposing the settlement include the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the National Writers Union and the Booksellers Association in London.

The coalition charges that the settlement would give Google an unfair copyright immunity in offering future services around digital books that would be tough for other businesses to match, The Journal reported.

Authors and publishers have about a month to decide whether to opt out of the book search copyright settlement between Google, and the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and the Authors Guild. The extended Opt-Out deadline is September 4, 2009, the date by which class members must decide whether to remain in the Settlement Class and receive the benefits of the Settlement, object to the Settlement, or opt out of the Settlement. Those wishing to remain part of the settlement must complete a Claim Form before January 5, 2010 to be eligible for a small cash payment.

A Fairness Hearing to decide whether to grant final approval of the settlement is scheduled October 7, 2009 at 10 a.m. in Courtroom 11A of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, United States Courthouse, located at 500 Pearl Street, New York, New York 10007.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department continues its investigation of the settlement, and has been given a deadline of September 18 to present any concerns to the Court.

(Editor’s Note: Authorlink has been voicing its opposition to the settlement since early November 2008, when it was first announced. For a full list of related articles at www.authorlink.com, search “Google settlement”, then “View All,” beginning with our analysis, “Google Settlement Has a Few Unforeseen Wrinkles for Authors.” Authorlink hopes that authors and publishers will clearly understand all sides of this issue before the Court case is decided, and also that authors and publishers will consider the long-term effects of the new rights structure that will be set in motion by the settlement.)

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