Summary of Recent Google Book Search Settlement Activities

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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.

First, Recent News

  • The Internet Archive, a recognized library in the State of California, filed a request to intervene as a defendant party to the lawsuit in order to represent the interests of libraries. (Open Content Alliance blog, 17-Apr-2009) The request was subsequently denied. (Court order by Denny Chin, 24-Apr-2009)
  • The judge overseeing the Settlement agreed to a request by a coalition of copyright holders -- members of the proposed plaintiff class -- to postpone the date by which rights holders needed to opt-out of the settlement class or file objections to the settlement itself to September 4th. (Wired Magazine, 27-Apr-2009; Court order by Denny Chin)
  • The Justice Department reportedly initiated an inquiry into antitrust implications of the Settlement agreement. This doesn't mean that the department will oppose the settlement, but it suggests that the department finds some of the arguments being made at least worthy of further inquiry. (New York Times, 28-Apr-2009)
  • Google began to respond to some of the criticism directed on its Public Policy Blog ("Google's views on government, policy and politics"). In this initial post, one of a promised many, the director of product management for Google Book Search describes how the settlement agreement represents expanded access over what the Book Search service currently offers. (Google Public Policy Blog, 29-Apr-2009)
  • ALA, ACRL, and ARL filed a brief [22-page PDF] with the court requesting that it provide for strict supervision over the implementation of the agreement, should the court approve it. (DLTJ summary of brief, 4-May-2009; NY Times Bits Blog, 4-May-2009)

Then, More In-depth Information

  • Pamela Samuelson for O'Reilly Radar: Legally Speaking: The Dead Souls of the Google Booksearch Settlement -- A little over four printed pages giving a very brief overview of the Settlement, describing the class action nature of the lawsuit, the potential for a Google monopoly of the largest digital library of books, and the sticky problem of orphan works. (17-Apr-2009, also scheduled to appear in the July 2009 issue of Communications of the ACM)
  • ALA/ARL Settlement Summary: A Guide for the Perplexed: Libraries & the Google Library Project Settlement [PDF]: Twenty-three double-spaced pages that is an early description of the terms of the settlement agreement with a focus on what the settlement, as currently written, could mean for libraries. (13-Nov-2008)
  • James Grimmelmann for the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy: The Google Book Search Settlement: Ends, Means, and the Future of Books -- Seventeen pages of dense prose in three parts: an analysis of the lawsuit and its settlement, an in-depth examination of the problem of orphan works, and a proposal for handling the resolution of orphan works through a legislative process rather than a judicial process. (April 2009)
  • Walt Crawford's Cites & Insights: "Perspective: The Google Book Search Settlement" -- Walt devotes an entire 30-page issue to summation of the issues and pointers to dozens (if not 100) other postings and reports on the Settlement. Highly recommended if you want to dive in and learn all you can about the nature of the settlement and the resulting commentary. (March 2009)