Pamela Samuelson on the Google Book Search settlement

In this excellent article reviewing the Google Book Search settlement, Pamela Samuelson explains why the AAP and the Authors’ Guild would be willing to settle with Google at this point, and with a large class of plantiffs.

So why did Google decide to settle instead of to fight? Inspired perhaps by Rahm Emanuel, who has observed “you never want a serious crisis go to waste,” Google recognized that AAP and the Guild would be willing to settle their lawsuits by vastly expanding the plaintiff class to all persons with a U.S. copyright interest in one or more books. The settlement could then give Google a license to commercialize all books owned by the class.

Why would AAP and the Guild be willing to do this? It is largely because the agreement designates the Authors Guild as the representative of the author subclass and the Association of American Publishers (AAP) as the representative of the publisher subclass. This designation ensures that they will have vastly expanded responsibilities and powers to control the market for digital books for which they have been hankering for many years.

Under the settlement, the Authors Guild and AAP are tasked with creating a new collecting society, the Book Rights Registry, which is supposed to find class members, sign them up, and pay them from a revenue stream that Google intends to generate from its commercialization of these books.

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