Thursday, August 18, 2011

Publishers Weekly: 'Freelance' Decision Effectively Kills 'Google Books'

As usual, Andrew Albanese of Publishers Weekly has the best coverage of yesterday's Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision. See "Second Circuit Rejects Freelance Settlement,"

The court essentially found "big, general author classes are too broad to be certified, and cobbling together a suitable slate of subclasses in the Google case would be an arduous task," Albanese wrote. He quoted Google Books expert James Grimmelmann as saying that the upshot for the settlement of that case is that it "is now dead. There is no square one: this case is going back to litigation."

In reviewing the complicated history, PW offered this:

Notably, the root issues in the Google and Freelance settlements, including the license by default, are almost identical, and one of the reasons why lead objector Irv Muchnick has been vocal over the years in pushing for a more "industrywide" solution to the cases that includes some kind of royalty system for creators. "For all its problems, the Google Books deal at least includes a future royalty system, which I personally consider the key missing ingredient in Freelance," he wrote last year in an editorial. "That is why I wrote last September to Attorney General Eric Holder and made the decidedly unrigorous recommendation that his office knock some heads together and try to fuse Google Books and Freelance into a truly comprehensive negotiation of all interests: librarians and information consumers, as well as publishers and a few writers’ organizations claiming to represent everyone."


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