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Lawyer And Author Adds His Objections To Settling The Google Book Lawsuit

Publication Date: 
August 19, 2009
The New York Times
Miguel Helft and Motoko Rich

Professor Deborah Hensler talked to the New York Times about the Google book settlement:

A growing chorus of authors, academics and other book industry figures is objecting to the settlement of a class-action suit that would allow Google to profit from digital versions of millions of books it has scanned from libraries.

When the settlement was announced last October, Google and the groups representing authors and publishers who had originally sued the company hailed the agreement as a public good. Readers and researchers would have access to millions of out-of-print and rarely seen books online, libraries nationwide would gain access to new volumes in electronic form and authors and publishers would have new ways to profit from digital copies of their works.

More recently, those questioning the agreement, which is subject to a court review, have raised concerns about whether it is fair to authors, whether it protects the privacy of people whose reading habits might be tracked and whether Google is being improperly given what amounts to exclusive rights to commercialize millions of out-of-print books. The Justice Department has begun an antitrust investigation.


Legal scholars say that class actions have been used to reshape institutions and industries, as this settlement appears to do. “It is an interesting challenge, but how the court will respond is uncertain,” said Deborah R. Hensler, a professor at the Stanford University Law School.