GBS: Filings Roundup for Wednesday, September 2

As always, the Public Index ninjas are hard at work uploading everything into our organized collection. Today:

  • The big news was the extension of the objection/amicus deadline until 10:00 AM next Tuesday. The opt-out deadline remains this Friday.
  • Andrew DeVore’s literary heavy hitters filed a brief in objection. Arlo Guthrie is the lead; in addition to the names on the brief itself, the Philip K. Dick and Richard Wright estates, which have opted out, filed declarations with supporting facts. The brief makes some well-argued and carefully focused objections to particular provisions that could disadvantage authors (e.g. waiving non-copyright claims, and a particular unfairness to authors of Inserts). Interestingly it includes as an appendix a list of “Proposed Solutions” that would fix many of the objectors’ concerns; this is not a fundamental objection to the very idea of the settlement itself.
  • Judge Chin granted Consumer Watchdog’s request to file an amicus brief. Judicial tea-leaf readers will want to parse his handwritten annotation very carefully: “This application is GRANTED, but in light of the volume of materials being submitted to the Court, I would suggest a 25-page brief would be more effective than a 40-page brief. As for permission to speak at the hearing, the Court will address this question in a future order. We need to see how many requests there are to speak. SO ORDERED.” Judge Chin just ruined a poor law-firm associate’s weekend, since those 15 pages aren’t going to slice themselves out. The “we need to see” bit is a nice, human touch; it gives everyone a good reason for the judge’s reluctance to say anything about the hearing schedule yet.
  • A coalition of professional societies, led by the American Society of Media Photograhers, and calling themselves the Visual Arts Rights Holders, filed objections. They were left out of the settlement, in that the definitions specifically excluded non-textual works, and they feel that its structures significantly disadvantage them.
  • Czernin Verlag, an Austrian book publisher, is joining in the wonderfully named Harassowitz objection from European publishing groups.
  • Four more Dutch publishers sent in substantially similar letters of objection.
  • Freelance author Michael Banks, who originally disliked the settlement, has changed his mind. He wrote a letter to the court asking it to approve the settlement. Author Filomena Pereira agrees, in her own short letter.
  • A group of antitrust professors sought (and was granted) permission to file a brief in support of the settlement. The author is Harvard’s Einer Elhauge, whose paper on the settlement has some highly persuasive points, so I expect the brief to be top-notch.
  • In some housekeeping matters, the judge granted various and sundry requests for admission pro hac vice.

Andy DeVore’s filing is important too because it focuses on Google’s efforts to grab control of “non-display uses” without payments and to exploit profitable advertising on big name authors works, facts which led the Estate of famous science fiction writer Dick to opt out-see Author Dick’s daughter’s Affidavit, Laura Leslie, which points out that though this is a copyright case, Google can claim via the settlement, that it also gets control via “non-display uses” over any author trademarks, such as some that the Dick Estate has preserved for titles of several of his well known books.

Regarding Judge Chin’s promise of a future order on who could speak at the Oct.7th hearing, penned on Consumer Watchdog’s Amicus request, and given the worldwide focus on this case, he should stretch the federal rules and allow a webcast of the hearing or at least live streaming of the reporters transcript. Hello, Judge Chin,are you listening?

J.Garchik In SF and not able to come to the hearing.

Regarding author trademarks: Lynn Chu said on Twitter two days ago that ‘Google is now direct mailing authors and agents to sign onto its AdWords service using the dbase it just gathered in the settlement.’

I suppose if they don’t bite, Google may offer their names to their nearest rivals, along the lines of the Rosetta Stone affair.