The Saga Continues (Or More Prosaically, A Bunch of Updates)

I dearly hope that a lawyer somewhere out there is planning to write a book on Google’s protracted struggle with the Authors Guild over the Google Books project. There have been so many twists and turns in this saga that in the right hands, the whole thing can be turned into thrilling legal monograph whose outcome we don’t even know yet. Hold your breath, ladies and gentlemen. In any case, the latest happenings are that

  • The court has agreed to hear Google’s challenge to the latest ruling certifying authors as a class for the purpose of a class action lawsuit mounted by the Authors Guild. James Grimmelmann of the Laboratorium has written extensively about the Google Books settlement-turned-litigation and specifically about the class certification happenings. Check out his excellent blog here.
  • Another salvo has been fired in yet another lawsuit that’s close and dear to my heart, the Georgia State case. The presiding district judge in that case issued her order on  declaratory and injuctive relief about two weeks ago. I think of this as the equivalent of the sentencing phase in a criminal trial. Read an interpretation of her ruling at Kevin Smith’s Scholarly Communications at Duke blog.
  • Google has recently modified its search engine algorithm, this time to take into account “valid copyright removal notices”. According to the announcement, Google “will begin taking into account a new signal in our rankings: the number of valid copyright removal notices we receive for any given site. Sites with high numbers of removal notices may appear lower in our results.”
  • In a related-but-different bullet point, I’m very excited about this bookYear Zero is satire on US copyright laws that involves aliens — how cool is that?

Here’s the premise of the book, “The entire cosmos, [the aliens] tell [the human copyright lawyer], has been hopelessly hooked on humanity’s music ever since “Year Zero” (1977 to us), when American pop songs first reached alien ears. This addiction has driven a vast intergalactic society to commit the biggest copyright violation since the Big Bang. The resulting fines and penalties have bankrupted the whole universe. We humans suddenly own everything—and the aliens are not amused”.

I should also mention that the author of the book is Rob Reid, he of the TED talk “The $8 billion iPod” fame and that he had appeared on my favorite NPR show, On the Media, to talk about his book. Oh, and that his book let me engaged in another favorite activity of mine, purchase his book courtesy of my library patron-driven-acquisitions program. I am so psyched!

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