It’s a quiet week in most of book publishing but a busy one in the offices of Federal District Court Judge Denny Chin as Friday is the deadline for filing objections to the proposed Google Books settlement agreement. (September 4 is also the deadline for opting out of the settlement entirely.)
Until recently, despite the noisy public debate about the sweeping and complex settlement, very few objections of substance had been filed with the court. The most detailed legal objections, covered here previously, were raised by attorney and author Scott Gant in his August 20 filing, while support has come from a variety of organizations ranging from the American Association of People with Disabilities to the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities and, most recently, Google’s new BFF Sony. (Sony’s support is commercial rather than legal; they believe it could “have a profoundly positive impact on the market for e-book readers and related devices.”)
But yesterday saw a wave of similarly-reasoned filings from a variety of publishers and publishers’ associations in other parts of the world: Sweden’s Norstedts (with potentially 20,000 out of print titles), Studentlitteratur, and Leopard; Germany’s Harrassowitz; and South African holding company Media24 (with approximately 15,000 out of print titles) filed in opposition, as did the publishers’ associations in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Sweden. Additionally, US attorneys for the Federal Republic of Germany filed a long challenge to the agreement, saying it “cannot adequately and fairly represent” German authors and publishers (neither of whom are allowed to join the Authors Guild or the AAP), and there was a separate filing made by a division of the Federal Ministry of Justice in Germany. (A group representing approximately 100 Japanese publishers objected earlier in the summer.)
Among the objections repeated by many of the filers from abroad are assertions of problems in providing notice to class members around the world; failures to translate the entire settlement into other languages and inadequate translation of key legal terms such as “work for hire” for countries where such legal terms of art do not exist; errors in the books database that have made it difficult for rightsholders to identify all of their works; undue burdens in the process of having to opt out for historical lines of thousands of titles; and broadly incorrect classification of works in other languages as commercially unavailable.
To survey and view filings in more, Justia.com has been maintaining an open site of most documents registered with the court–though their most recent additions are from August 28 and do not reflect the new filings cited in this story. The archive at The Public Index seems to be more up to date right now, including many of yesterday’s filings. (The more recent filings can all be viewed for a fee via the court’s PACER system.)