Google books settlement conference settles on more time to settle

The latest settlement conference for the Google Books affair was held a few days ago, Reuters reports. Apparently, not much actually happened there apart from all sides asking the judge to give them still more time to prepare.

"The parties are still considering what options are available," and everything "is on the table," Bruce Keller, a partner at Debevoise & Plimpton, who represents publishers in the settlement, said at a hearing before Circuit Judge Denny Chin in Manhattan federal court.

As we reported back in March, Judge Chin rejected the most recent settlement proposal, feeling it went too far in the concessions that it granted to Google. Apparently the 2 1/2 months that have gone by since then have not been sufficient for all sides to come up with a new proposal yet, so the judge has granted them seven more weeks. The next meeting will be on July 19.

So here we are, six years and counting since the original lawsuit. Google has had plenty of time to scan books and build its library, and publishers have had plenty of time to get annoyed about it. Some have said that Congress would be a more sensible place to impress the orphan work issue, but there have been no serious efforts in that direction to come out of Congress yet. It is anybody’s guess just how much time will go by before this issue is actually resolved.

5 Comments on Google books settlement conference settles on more time to settle

  1. So what’s your personal take on the Google case? I don’t know enough about copyright law to put out an opinion.

  2. Google and the Authors Guild are trying to circumvent the copyright laws for their own ends.

    Google wants free content to sell. The Authors Guild wants to represent authors or their heirs who are not members and whose opinions can’t be asked.

    Copyright belongs to the writer until it runs out.

    If the book can no longer be found because the author/heirs can’t be found, that’s sad, but it would be even sadder for a corporation known for copyright theft and an authors group who has nothing to do with the author grabbed those rights for their own ends.

  3. DensityDuck // June 4, 2011 at 8:15 pm //

    The author is entirely welcome to opt out and from the sound of things opt out is responsive and near-immediate.

  4. Opt out as the automatic option for those who do nothing is really the only fix for this situation, but it still begs the questions– who made Authors Guild the spokesman for EVERY author living or dead, and who made Google the only corporate entity to make a profit from this situation?

    The answer is they did, and they are arrogant enough to think they can get away with it.

  5. The word you’re looking for is “opt-in” :-). Opt-out by default is a contradiction.

    They’ve made a fair effort to avoid profiting directly. I think they’d have been found guilty immediately if that was the case.

    The “spokesman” effect is what happens with all class actions… but I agree with the court: the initial settlement went beyond the pale, into law-making territory, and gave Google a privileged position. The settlement should have been restricted to the actual offence at hand.

    I accept all that, but I think O’Reilly are right and the case should never have happened in the first place. Google book search (as is now, and was) goes slightly beyond traditional fair use, but it isn’t a threat to the business of selling books. All it does is make it uneconomic for anyone else to duplicate their service, and hence denies publishers the right to control who provides that service. Yet publishers seem generally happy to grant permission for Amazon to bundle an arguably superior free service (“look inside”) as a feature of their store. (Note that Google book search stil encourages sales by linking to Amazon (and makes no profit from doing so unless the publisher agrees to share the referrer revenue)).

    O’Reilly’s criticism is that they abandoned any chance of finding out what new models Google might be able offer them, and they forced Google’s hand into offering exactly the same model as Sony (and Apple, and Amazon…)

    So when authors and publishers get worried about the tantrum-throwing behemoth that is Amazon, or Apple’s exclusive control over iPad apps — if this hadn’t happened, maybe they’d have a stronger competitor for their goods. Apple might have been driven out, but I think Amazon have much too big a stake in the market to just give up on it if Google had entered the ring earlier.

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