What ever happened to the Google Book Settlement?

Every few weeks we have a member contact us asking ‘what ever happened to the Google Book Settlement?’ My response is always the same, ‘umm, it’s a long story’.

The proposal for the Google Book Settlement was first announced in October 2008. Even though the legal proceedings were based in the US, the Class Action aspect of the deal meant that if approved, the Settlement could potentially affect Australian rightsholders. For this reason, as a representative body, Copyright Agency agreed to participate in the Notice Program on behalf of our members. 

Over a period of more than two years, we educated our members on the Settlement and provided them with information on the steps they needed to take should they choose to participate in, or opt-out of the deal. This education process was via direct email, our website and a series of information seminars.    

However, after several amendments and ongoing negotiations between the parties, the Settlement was ultimately rejected by Justice Denny Chin in March 2011. This meant that the matter would proceed to trial; and that Copyright Agency no longer had any official involvement as one of the organisations who had agreed to inform rightsholders of the Settlement.

The matter is due to go to trial soon, but I am hesitant to post a date for the hearing because the matter has been pushed back so many times in the past.

If you wish to learn more about the rejected Settlement and the current status of the litigation, I can suggest a few sources. The Wikipedia article on the topic is a good starting point for beginners. For more in depth analysis, I suggest the Public Index, a site established to study and discuss the Google Books litigation. It is also worth visiting the administration site for the original (but now rejected) Settlement.

It is disappointing that this matter has been unresolved for so long. For those of you who went to the effort to claim your books and/or opt out of the original Settlement, it is frustrating that the US litigation has unnecessarily inconvenienced Australian rightsholders. Even though Copyright Agency is no longer directly involved, we will continue to update our members with key news items if and when they occur.

Michael Lijic
International and Policy Manager, Copyright Agency

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