Lynn Chu Says Google's Book Settlement Is a Ripoff for Authors - WSJ.com
To get through the 385 pages of mind-numbing legalese of the Google settlement, it might be better to be Nino Scalia, Bob Bork or David Boies. Preferably all three at once. Absent brain enhancement surgery, understanding this monstrosity by May 5, 2009, is going to be rough.
That's the date by which every author and publisher in America is supposed to decide whether to "opt in," "opt out," or simply "ignore" a vast compulsory licensing scheme for the benefit of Google. Most, about 88%, are expected to "ignore." That's because they know their online display rights have value, and the last thing they want is to be herded like sheep into a giant contract commitment.
After Google began digitizing the University of Michigan library in 2004, the Authors Guild, the Association of American Publishers and a handful of authors and publishers filed a class-action lawsuit for copyright infringement. Last November, those "class representatives" reached an out-of-court settlement with Google that would, if approved by the federal court, permit Google to post out-of-print books for reading, sales, institutional licensing, ad sales, and other publishing exploitations, by Google, online. The settlement gives the class-action attorneys $30 million; a new, quasi-judicial bureaucracy called the Book Rights Registry $35 million (more on this later); and $45 million for owners infringed up to now -- about $60 a title. It remains subject to a final fairness hearing, slated for June 11.