Google Book Search Settlement Hearing Is Likely Postponed

Late today comes word that the plaintiffs (authors and publishers) and defendant (Google) have asked the court to postpone the settlement fairness hearing originally scheduled for October 7th. According to the memo from the parties supporting the request, the spark for this comes from the U.S. Department of Justice’s “Statement of Interest” regarding the settlement:

It is because the parties wish to work with the [Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice] to the fullest extent possible that they have engaged, and plan to continue to engage, in negotiations in an effort to address and resolve the concerns expressed in the U.S. Statement of Interest. The parties are committed to rapidly advancing the discussions with the DOJ. Nevertheless, it is clear that the complex issues raised in the U.S. Statement of Interest preclude submission of an amended settlement agreement by October 7.

No word yet from Judge Chin on whether he will accept the motion, but commentators say that he will likely do so.

Comments on Google Book Search Settlement Coming to a Head (Again)

Ah, it is the beginning of September when thoughts turn to going back to school, the days turn a little colder (in the northern hemisphere) and the smell of lawsuit briefs is in the air. Well, okay — the latter might not be what you expect, but this is a special September, after all. Postponed from May, the deadline for filing comments in the Google Book Search settlement is coming up. And everyone is weighing in (“again” for some) on the details of the settlement. A couple of highlights.

Interesting Bits in the Univ of Michigan Amendment to Google Book Search Agreement

On Tuesday, the University of Michigan and Google executed an amendment to the original agreement that started Google’s efforts to create a collection of scanned books. The amendment was publicized in a press release by the University of Michigan and described in a page that summarized the changes. That summary page is a the first place to start if you want to know more about the changes reflected in the amendment, but in comparing the amendment to the original agreement, I found some other interesting tidbits. The amendment amounts to an endorsement of the Settlement Agreement by the University of Michigan and, as noted by the New York Times, it also gives Google an opportunity to “rebut some criticism” (or at least clarify and expand on some of the library-related terms) of the Settlement Agreement.

Summary of Recent Google Book Search Settlement Activities

Today was to be the deadline for objecting to, opting out of, and/or filing briefs with the court on the Google Book Search Settlement. That was the plan, at least, when the preliminary approval statement from the court was issued last year. That deadline changed, and that is part of a recent flurry of activity surrounding the proposed Settlement. This post provides a summary of recent news and an index of documents that you might want to read for more information.

Library Associations File Amicus Brief for Google Book Search Settlement

The American Library Association (through the Association’s Washington Office and the Association of College and Research Libraries Division) and the Association of Research Libraries filed a brief [PDF] with the court in support of the Google Book Search Settlement while asking the judge to “exercise vigorous oversight” over details the settlement. In the 22-page amicus1 brief, the library associations say they do not oppose the settlement, but they do request that the courts provide strict oversight of the activities of Google and the Book Rights Registry. From page 2 of the brief:

The Settlement, therefore, will likely have a significant and lasting impact on libraries and the public, including authors and publishers. But in the absence of competition for the services enabled by the Settlement, this impact may not be entirely positive. The Settlement could compromise fundamental library values such as equity of access to information, patron privacy, and intellectual freedom. In order to mitigate the possible negative effects the Settlement may have on libraries and the public at large, the Library Associations request that this Court vigorously exercise its jurisdiction over the interpretation and implementation of the Settlement.

The brief then describes “concerns with the Settlement, and how the Court’s oversight can ameliorate those concerns.”

Footnotes

  1. Latin: “friend”, informal form of amicus curiae of “friend of the court” — Wiktionary []

Intervention by IA Denied; Deadline for Objections Extended

New York Judge Denny Chin recently issued two rulings in the Google Book Search settlement. In the first, he the request by the Internet Archive to intervene as a defendant in the lawsuit (and thus, presumably, be on firmer founding to guide aspects of the settlement). In his response, Judge Chin said:

The Court has received requests for pre-motion conferences by the Internet Archive, Lewis Hyde, Harry Lewis, and the Open Access Trust, Inc. seeking leave to intervene in this action. I have construed their letters as motions to intervene, and the motions are denied. The proposed interveners are, however, free to file objections to the proposed settlement or amicus briefs, either of which must be filed by the May 5, 2009 objection deadline.

On How Physical and Electronic Differ for Library Materials

I’m reading the notes from the Atlanta OLE Project regional workshop and right up at the top are these two statements that struck me as insightful. The first gets to the heart of how physical items in a library are different from digital items with respect to library service commitments:

With print items, we’re trying to give people access; with electronic trying to keep them out.

This stems, undoubtedly, from the first sale doctrine in copyright law; the library has purchased the item and chooses to lend it to others for a period of time. With electronic items, though, we typically agree to licenses, which — as contract law — trumps the rights given by copyright; those license are more restrictive in what we can and cannot do with the digital versions.

Durham Statement on Open Access to Legal Scholarship

Earlier this month a group of law schools released a statement promoting open access publishing of law school journals. Called the Durham Statement on Open Access to Legal Scholarship, it was signed by representatives from Duke, University of Virginia, Georgetown University, University of Pennsylvania, Cornell University, Yale University, Stanford University, University of Texas, Columbia, Northwestern, Harvard, New York University, University of Chicago University of California — Berkeley, Barry University, University of Cincinnati, and Fordham University.

The undersigned believe that it will benefit legal education and improve the dissemination of legal scholarly information if law schools commit to making the legal scholarship they publish available in stable, open, digital formats in place of print. To accomplish this end, law schools should commit to making agreed-upon stable, open, digital formats, rather than print, the preferable formats for legal scholarship. If stable, open, digital formats are available, law schools should stop publishing law journals in print and law libraries should stop acquiring print law journals. We believe that, in addition to their other benefits, these changes are particularly timely in light of the financial challenges currently facing many law schools.

Google Book Search Settlement and Library Consortia

The Google Book Search Settlement Agreement includes two points where library consortia come into play: discounts for institutional subscriptions and receipt of digitized books by members of a consortium. The Google Book Search Settlement calls such consortia “Institutional Consortia” and the definition of that phrase and the places in the Settlement where it occurs are extracted below.

This is a review of the Settlement document as it was submitted to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in the case of The Author’s Guild et al v. Google Inc. The court has given preliminary approval of the Settlement, but it might still change.

Preliminary Court Approval of Google Book Settlement; Final Approval Hearing Set

The Associate Press reported on Monday evening that the court has given preliminary approval to the settlement negotiated between Google and book authors and publishers over the use of copyrighted materials in the Google Book Search Library project. In giving preliminary approval, Judge John E. Sprizzo authorized the publication of the notice of settlement and set a final settlement fairness hearing for June 11, 2009.

Timeline


The judge’s decision sets in motion a series of events over the next eight months: