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New developments in Google Book Search settlement

A more organized opposition to the Google Book Search settlement is beginning to emerge in advance of the fast-approaching May 5 opt-out deadline. (For more details on the settlement, see here.)

Last week, a small coalition of copyright holders, including the estates of John Steinbeck and Philip K. Dick, asked federal court judge Dennis Chin to extend the opt-out deadline by four months. (Google and the Authors Guild, one of the instigators of the original class-action lawsuit, countered on Friday in a joint fax suggesting a more realistic extension of two months). According to the group’s lawyers, copyright holders affected by the lawsuit need more time to digest the 334-page report and to assess the potentially “explosive” commercial potential for  scanned titles in the digital domain, Wired reports.

For authors who do not opt out, the settlement if approved would impose a complex scheme for the wholesale allocation of rights and remedies, and compensation for exploitation of those rights, in the digital world, the group’s lawyers wrote. And it would cement that scheme in perpetuity in an area of commerce that has seen explosive growth in just the last five years, and that may well prove to be the most important and valuable channel for the distribution and exploitation of creative works.

Elsewhere it’s being reported that an attempt by rival book-scanning venture Internet Archive to intervene in the lawsuit has been thrown out by Chin. The non-profit coalition, which has a massive scanning facility located at the University of Toronto’s Robarts Library, had sent  a letter to the court last week requesting an amendment to the proposed settlement that would give other scanning initiatives “the same protections over orphan works that would be granted to Google under the terms of the settlement,” The Bookseller reports. Chin declined the request, ensuring Google’s virtual monopoly to scan and profit from so-called “orphan” works “ books that fall into a grey area of copyright law.