Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Official Settlement Website to Add ‘Comments’ Posting

United States District Court Judge George B. Daniels today asked class counsel, and class counsel agreed, to set up the capability for class members to post comments at the official website for the $10-to-$18-million copyright class action preliminary settlement, http://www.copyrightclassaction.com.

This development came in the course of a hearing on my motion to vacate the preliminary settlement. Judge Daniels denied the motion, as was expected on both sides.

The focus of the settlement procedures now shifts to the July 15 deadline for class members to object to the settlement terms or to opt out of the settlement. A final settlement hearing, known as the Fairness Hearing, is scheduled for July 28.

In denying the motion to vacate but suggesting the addition of an interactive communication feature, Judge Daniels made it clear that he distinguished between comments from class members, which he will welcome, and formal objections to the settlement, which he will entertain only on the schedule set forth in the preliminary settlement. He refused to remove the requirement for an objecting class member to appear in person at the fairness hearing.

(I was not at today’s hearing in New York. My attorney Charles Chalmers did travel from California to New York for the oral arguments.)

I look forward to the introduction of the comments capability at the official settlement website and to seeing what form it takes. Checking the site today, I see a page where it states, “You can email Class Counsel at: CopyrightSettlement@girardgibbs.com.” I believe that this mere listing of an email address existed before -- though I am not certain about that -- and I assume that Judge Daniels had something more than that in mind, and that the settlement parties intend to set up a more ambitious comments mechanism.

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