Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Lawyer and Author Adds His Objections to Settling the Google Book Lawsuit; New York Times, 8/19/09

Miguel Helft and Motoko Rich via New York Times; Lawyer and Author Adds His Objections to Settling the Google Book Lawsuit:

"In the latest objection, Scott E. Gant, an author and partner at Boies Schiller & Flexner, a prominent Washington law firm, plans to file a sweeping opposition to the settlement on Wednesday urging the court to reject it.

This is a predominantly commercial transaction and one that should be undertaken through the normal commercial process, which is negotiation and informed consent,” Mr. Gant said in an interview. Google and its partners are “trying to ram this through so that millions of copyright holders will have no idea that this is happening.”

Unlike most previous objections to the project, which focused on policy issues and recommended modifications to the settlement, Mr. Gant argues that the agreement, which gives Google commercial rights to millions of books without having to negotiate for them individually, amounts to an abuse of the class-action process. He also contends that it does not sufficiently compensate authors and does not adequately notify and represent all the authors affected.

Legal experts, who had not seen the filing but heard a description of it, said it could be the most direct attack on the agreement so far.

It may be the most fundamental challenge to the settlement yet,” said James Grimmelmann, an associate professor at the Institute for Information Law and Policy at New York Law School, a critic of the agreement whose blog tracks filings and commentary related to it...

“I opted out of the settlement just on ornery grounds,” said Christopher Buckley, author of “Thank You for Smoking” and “Losing Mum and Pup,” a memoir. He said he was suspicious of the claims by Google and the Authors Guild that the settlement would help breathe new life into out-of-print works. “I think books either stay in print or don’t pretty much on their own,” he said.

He said he was skeptical that the agreement was increasing the public good. “Whenever I hear capitalism proclaiming noble motives,” he said, “something makes me check my wallet.” "

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