Attorney Scott Gant has filed a massive, 47-page brief about the Google Book Settlement, laying down what Publisher's Weekly has called the "first heavyweight objection." Gant is not only a Harvard-educated class action lawyer: he is also a member of the class of authors that the "Author's Guild" claims to represent.
"He's not only the president, he's also a motherfucking client!"
Gant is the author of "We're All Journalists Now: The Transformation of the Press and Reshaping of the Law in The Internet Age," and he claims that he has yet to receive any legal notice about the settlement or his right to opt out of it.
In his brief, Gant echoes many of the objections that others have raised to the settlement in the past, but also highlights the fact that the settlement fails to protect the due process rights of absent members of the class, claiming that the settlement is a "predominantly commercial transaction," that "cannot be imposed through the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23."
Note to Google: lawyers write books, too.
From Gant's interview in the New York Times:
"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."
Gant is not taking the "Author's Guild's" smarmy advice to do nothing about this settlement. He has realized what is at stake and he is standing up for the millions of authors all over the world who are about to wake up one morning to find that they helped create a monstrous, giant for-profit digital library that has special rights to scan and display copyrighted books without getting sued.
Note: if you or I scanned a copyrighted book that is out of print and put it online, we would owe the author $150,000 in statutory damages. And that is EVEN IF this settlement passes. If this settlement passes, ONLY Google will be immune from getting sued for copyright infringement. And they are not giving these books away like Project Gutenberg does: they are going to charge for them.
And they are going to charge public libraries and universities for them, the same libraries from which they took the books in the first place.
Why do we need to give Google a giant public welfare handout at the expense of hard-working authors? Why don't we make them pay for what they want with a two-year long rights auction or by forcing Google to make individual deals with rightsholders if they want to display their books?
Posted by miracle on Thu, 20 Aug 2009 12:43:44 -0400 -- permanent link