Author's Guild v. Google - The
After the settlement in the class
action lawsuit between Google and the Authors Guild and the
Association of American Publishers was announced last October,
nearly 400 parties have filed positions on the proposed settlement,
with the majority of them opposing the deal. Amazon, Yahoo and
Microsoft e.g. fear that the deal would give Google too much control
over orphan works. Google co-founder Sergey Brin reacted to the
critics of the settlement, saying that Google was the only company
that has stepped up to scan the millions of out-of-print books and
make them available to users. Companies that are complaining are
doing nothing for them. (see
Google Co-founder Sergey Brin Fires Back at Google Book Search
The German Governement has lodged
an objection to the deal between Google and the Authors Guild
alleging that it would undermine the rights of German authors within
the US. In its weekly podcast, German Chancellor Merkel said there
are considerable dangers for copyright protection on the Internet. "That’s
why we reject the scanning in of books without any copyright
protection — like Google is doing. The government places a lot of
weight on this position on copyrights to protect writers in Germany."
The European Commission has
called for a "European solution" to book digitisation. But a
cooperation with Google might be possible.
"Digitisation of books is a task of Herculean proportions which
the public sector needs to guide, but where it also needs
private-sector support. It is therefore time to recognise that
partnerships between public and private bodies can combine the
potential of new technologies and private investments with the rich
collections of public institutions built up over the centuries. If
we are too slow to go digital, Europe's culture could suffer in the
future," said a
joint statement by Information Society
Commissioner Viviane Reding and Internal Markets Commissioner
Charlie McCreevy. Please
note, there is already a digital library of scanned works in Europe,
calls for European solution to book digisation, Outlaw.
Google has agreed to change the
proposed settlement after the Department of Justice
said it opposed the deal: "A
global disposition of the rights to millions of copyrighted works is
typically the kind of policy change implemented through legislation,
not through a private judicial settlement. If such a significant (and potentially beneficial)
policy change is to be made through the mechanism of a class action
settlement (as opposed to legislation), the United States
respectfully submits that this Court should undertake a particularly
searching analysis to ensure that the requirements of Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 23 ('Rule 23') are met and that the settlement is
consistent with copyright law and antitrust law. As presently
drafted, the Proposed Settlement does not meet the legal standards
this Court must apply."
But the DOJ also stressed the positive effects of the greement:
"The Proposed Settlement has the
potential to breathe life into millions of works that are now
effectively off limits to the public. By allowing users to search
the text of millions of books at no cost, the Proposed Settlement
would open the door to new research opportunities."
The fairness hearing was
postponed and New York District Judge Denny Chin ordered the parties
to present the revamped deal to the court Nov. 9. The final hearing
could happen as soon as late December or early January.
Paul Aiken, executive director of
the Authors Guild, said in an interview that “the core agreement is
going to stay the same.”
It's my guess that the revised
settlement agreement will
exclude foreign authors and
publishers from the class so that the settlement has no impact on
them. This would eliminate many objections raised by the German and
French government. Let's be honest, Book Search is a service for
people in the US. I think Google can live with excluding works from
foreign authors, most of them probably not written in English.
Google was criticised for not having translated the settlement
agreement. Some authors saw a violation of an international treaty,
the RBÜ. All these objections could easily be wiped away (but there
would still be one problem: Google has already scanned many books of
foreign author's. What would happen with them? Will Google only continue showing snippets, claiming this to be fair use?).
explicitly give the book right's
registry the right to licence orphan works to Google's competitors.
Google might accept this as long as the registry is not allowed to
give competitors a better deal than itself for the next 10 years.