Grumbling Grows Over Google Digital Book Settlement

Google Books.jpgLast year’s settlement of a class-action lawsuit against Google was supposed to settle the thorny question of who profits (and by how much) from the search giant’s practice of creating digital versions of out-of-print books, particularly those still under copyright.

But, as BayNewser points out, with a pair of legal deadlines looming, some authors and publishers are getting a case of settler’s remorse. For its part, the The American Society of Journalists and Authors wants changes to the agreement:

“The ASJA… is particularly concerned that the settlement does not contain language forbidding Google to censor which books and authors will be in the Book Search database, and that some provisions effectively revise copyright law,” the group said in a statement on Monday.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports on “the latest objection” to the settlement:

Scott E. Gant, an author and partner at Boies Schiller & Flexner, a prominent Washington law firm, plans to file a sweeping opposition to the settlement on Wednesday urging the court to reject it.

“This is a predominantly commercial transaction and one that should be undertaken through the normal commercial process, which is negotiation and informed consent,” Mr. Gant said in an interview. Google and its partners are “trying to ram this through so that millions of copyright holders will have no idea that this is happening.”

Legal experts, who had not seen the filing but heard a description of it, said it could be the most direct attack on the agreement so far.

With pending deadlines, high stakes and a Department of Justice anti-trust probe launched a few weeks ago, it appears things quickly are coming to a boil.