Google Books: Scanning the Future

Google's settlement with book publishers is a brilliantly innovative use of the class action mechanism that could reshape copyright law. But first it has to pass muster with the Justice Department.

, The American Lawyer



Litigation Supplement 2009 Preview

It was a tough summer for the Google book search settlement. The proposed deal, which would give Google Inc. the right to scan and display millions of copyrighted books, was lambasted as anticompetitive by rivals (Microsoft Corporation, Amazon Inc., and Yahoo! Inc.), the head of the U.S. Copyright Office, and the governments of Germany and France (to name just a few). In September the U.S. Department of Justice urged the federal district court judge hearing the case to reject the settlement as constructed, because of its potential violations of antitrust, copyright, and class action law. Even digital rights advocates, who usually cheerlead for new open forms of information dissemination, gave it hell. Brewster Kahle, founder and director of the nonprofit Internet Archive in San Francisco, called the proposed settlement "a new and unsettling form of media consolidation.

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