Chris Castle is Managing Partner of Christian L. Castle Attorneys, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
As Kate Lacey correctly notes in her post, the Google Books settlement creates what is essentially a single purpose private compulsory licensing regime benefiting only Google-assuming the settlement is approved at the upcoming fairness hearing for which the filing deadline is May 5 if anyone is counting the days.
This is, by the way, the same view attributed to the U.S. Register of Copyright at a recent seminar at Columbia Law School, at least according to various bloggers as no transcript is available.
In the first of what may be many amicus briefs opposing the Google Books settlement is in motion (amici must request permission of the presiding judge in order to be able to file their briefs–so interested counsel take note). Professor Grimmelmann discusses it on his blog which should be read regularly by those interested in opposing the settlement.
While I doubt I would agree with Professor Grimmelmann about all creator issues involving copyright and artists’ economic rights to their labor value, I think that we agree about this–the Google Books settlement is an unmitigated disaster for anyone concerned with creativity, fairness, orphan works or competition.
And again–songwriters, music publishers, and anyone taking the trouble to obtain a lyric reprint license and sellers of sheet music take note. There are also some very odd implications of the settlement for international rights holders. If you have ever published anything including sheet music or lyrics, especially if you have registered the work in the U.S. Copyright Office, it is highly likely that your rights ARE implicated and Google WILL be competing with you if the settlement is approved.
International rights holders, their representatives and their counsel would do well to examine the settlement agreement carefully for both public policy and private interests.
Opinions expressed are those of the author and should not be attributed to anyone else. Copyright 2009 Christian L. Castle. All Rights Reserved.