More Pushback Against the Google Book Search Settlement

Library Journal


A law professor’s critique
Writing in the Huffington Post August 10, University of California, Berkeley, law professor Pamela Samuelson called the settlement, if approved, “the most significant book industry development in the modern era. Exploiting an opportunity made possible by lawsuits brought by a small number of plaintiffs on one narrow issue, Google has negotiated a settlement agreement designed to give it a compulsory license to all books in copyright throughout the world forever.”

Samuelson contends that Google, which had a good case that its scanning was fair use, chose to settle with the plaintiffs, the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and the Authors Guild (AG), because it could then get access to the universe of books. And the APP and AG would be willing to settle because they’d get a privileged position as representatives of the larger classes.

Questions of fairness
Samuelson questions whether the AAP and AG were fair representatives of the larger classes, and whether the Book Rights Registry can represent “the thousands of times larger and more diverse class of authors and publishers of books from all over the world.”

She noted, for example, that many academic authors “would much rather make their works available on an open access basis than to sign up with the Registry.”

Her subsequent column will explore why the Antitrust Division is investigating. In response, Law professor Mike Madison predicted, “The Justice Department will, in the end, facilitate a deal that gives other book scanning projects a release regarding orphan works that is comparable to what Google is getting via the settlement.”