Sunday, May 22, 2005

The UnSettlement: Here’s How the HighBeam Shell Game Works

The defendants are probably counting on something like this to happen if the copyright class action preliminary settlement gets final approval:

1. In the end, very few writers opt of the class. A $1,500 (Category A) or $5-to-$60 (Category C) bird in the hand is better than two in the bush.

2. Seduced by the incoherent saber-rattling of the alphabet-soup authors’ organizations, some will believe (as the website seems to suggest) that HighBeam is not covered by the settlement release and can be sued separately. Not (as the brief in opposition to my motion to vacate the preliminary settlement seems to suggest) that everyone who conceivably could be sued has been sued.

3. At the bottom of HighBeam infringements is the notice, This material is published under license from the publisher through the Gale Group, Farmington Hills, Michigan. All inquiries regarding rights should be directed to the Gale Group.

4. The Gale Group is a released defendant of the class action. I’ll have more to say about the history of this company's off-and-on unsavory practices -- mostly on -- in future posts.

Bottom line: the UnSettlement. Also known in carny circles as “the old shell game.”


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