ATRIP Intellectual Property series
Edited by Jan Rosén
Chapter 9: Two Perspectives on the Proposed Google Book Settlement
John Cross and Fredrik Willem Grosheide On September 20, 2005, the Author’s Guild and three individual authors sued Google, Inc., in a federal district court in New York.1 The complaint alleges that Google’s deal with several major US research libraries, under which Google scans millions of books in those libraries and makes “snippets” of the books available online, constitutes “massive copyright infringement.” Plaintiffs sought to have the case certified as a class action. One month later, the Association of American Publishers and individual publishing companies filed a similar case against Google in the same court.2 Google’s primary defense in both cases is the “fair use” defense provided by US copyright law.3 Before the court could reach the merits of the claims and defenses, however, the parties in both cases reached a tentative settlement. Numerous perceived flaws in the original proposed settlement led to further negotiations, resulting in the filing of a revised proposed settlement (hereinafter called the “RPS”) in November, 2009.4 The RPS still awaits court approval as of the time this chapter was written. The RPS has been the subject of widespread discussion and debate among academics, authors, publishers, and the general public. While some of the comments have been generally favorable, most have been critical of one or more aspects of the RPS. Much of the criticism argues the RPS is highly favorable to Google, while unfair to certain rightholders. The Author’s Guild v. Google, Inc., No. 05-CV-8136 (S.D.N.Y., filed September 20, 2005). 2 McGraw-Hill Cos. v. Google,...
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