In a wide-ranging webinar discussion on May 10, “What Comes After the Google Book Settlement,” a panel of experts said they expected some adjusted form of the settlement to emerge from Judge Denny Chin’s rejection of the book settlement on March 22. Indeed, all the panelists supported Google’s original position on fair use—the issue that sparked the litigation and subsequent settlement—and said the fight over the now rejected $125 million class action settlement will likely result in legislation on orphan works specifically and copyright reform in general over the next few years.
Moderated by PW features editor Andrew Albanese and co-sponsored by PW and Digital Book World, the webinar featured James Grimmelmann, New York Law School; Skott Klebe, from the Copyright Clearance Center; and Pamela Samuelson, University of California–Berkeley Law School and School of Information. Calling the book settlement “not too big to fail,” Albanese provided a recap of the long-running dispute, which originally stemmed from Google’s scanning of copyrighted works and whether the scanning was fair use, as Google claimed, or massive copyright infringement, as the publishers claimed. Albanese emphasized that the dispute and settlement were ultimately “about control.”
Panelists were also all in agreement that, as Grimmelmann noted, “Google had a strong fair use argument.” “If Google had pursued litigation, they would have had a good shot at winning,” Samuelson agreed.